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Dear Detective: Photon's Case File GN 2-3


Mimi and Saku continue to solve the cases encountered earlier 100s Ginza, helping save young orphans from criminals, giving voice to voiceless retail workers, and settling with the police. But when the case involves Saku’s brother, can they maintain a neutral investigation?

My Dear Detective: Mitsuko’s Case Files is translated by Samuel R. Messner and written by Barru Shrager.

19201920 1920 For our review of the first volume, go here. 1920

Female detectives as characters usually date back to earlier s, when two novels – The Revelation of the Female Detective

andThe Female Detective

– published in the UK, but when Stratemeyer Syndicate started in 1920s, things really started. Obviously, this is highly simplified, but it feels more self-evident that heroine Mitsuko “Mimi” Hoshino takes inspiration from Nancy than Miss Marple, Miss G. or Susan Hopley. Mimi may not be a brave high school girl, but she has the same determination as Stratemeyer’s immortal female detective, and her adventures are often safer than some of her literary counterparts. Mimi’s writing leans more towards “amnesia victim” and “bullyed employee” than “murder”.

This makes both books a very comfortable read. The books combine cases well, and they vary in duration; the shortest cases are only a chapter long, while the longest take up most of the book. There are also various materials. The second volume opens with a continuation of the missing orphan case that formed the suspense of the first volume, involving a criminal gang taking advantage of the lonely child. Mimi and Saku must find Alan and figure out what makes him vulnerable to gang predations. It’s more interesting than solving the mystery because the story delves into the kind of hurt this young orphan went through in his life, his dashed hopes, and a little bit about what it’s like to be an orphan s Japan. It has a warm resolution, like all the cases so far, but the chapters in the middle are worth reading.

That’s the best way to describe all of Mimi and Saku’s work: what makes them great is the “why”, not the ” how”. This is most evident in the story of Saku’s older brother, Hitoya. Hitoya is in business for the family’s department store after a railway accident in England, and he seems to have lost all his memory. Mimi soon realizes that Saku’s family situation is more complicated than she imagined, and that he is actually his father’s stepson. With this revelation and some additional information about Hitoya, the case is less about Hitoya’s alleged memory loss, and more about a conflict between old and new ways of doing things. The early Showa era was a time of major changes, and neither Saku nor Hitoya were entirely happy with the idea that these social changes might apply to them also. Interestingly, their father is more modern and more concerned with his son’s well-being than traditional inheritance norms, which gives the story more punch because it feels like it’s showing a more nuanced image of intergenerational relationships in times of change. Parents aren’t always the ones with problems.

This expansive view of history is one of the series’ great strengths. Small details, such as Mimi’s matchbox with information about her institution printed on it, like the use of paper napkins in modern stories, do a great job of setting time and place, and the translation instructions for volume three show real examples 100 Ito’s ads and products included in the story. The notes are generally pretty good, providing slang translations for terms like “handbag boy” (

is not a

compliment ) and point to the exact tailoring manual that appears in a chapter. Since the series is only available on Azuki’s website/app, there are notes after each chapter, which is frankly more useful than all the groupings at the end of the volume. At other times, Ito gives us enough context to understand how things were different. In one case in volume three, criminals are described as “bleeding from their fingertips”; Saku discovers that they may have painted their nails, which was popular in Japan at the time. Mimi isn’t familiar with manicures, but Saku does when she needs tidying up, another fun detail that fits naturally into the plot. (In case you were wondering, red nail polish is in the 300s; before that, neutrals were all the rage.)

The art of the story is also solid. Ito does a great job of showing how the world changes through the combination of vehicle style and fashion. Mimi wears almost exclusively suits and a bob that is the hallmark of her modern womanhood; when a case involves a young woman about to embark on an arranged marriage, she wears her hair long and wears traditional Japanese clothing. There’s also a sense of the hustle and bustle of Ginza, with the streets filled with people, cars, carriages and other things, and the restaurant scenes feel grounded in time and place. In every way, this is a well-assembled piece of historical fiction.

Mimi doesn’t get much character development in these two books. It feels like Saku is taking Watson’s character over to her Sherlock Holmes, and he’s getting a lot more grown up. It’s a bit of a disappointment, but the rest of the story is engaging enough that it doesn’t matter that much. is a frothy collection of historic comforts, and if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s definitely worth the money.


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