This isn’t the Sherlock manga that you’re looking for. This version, with the story and art by Toya ATAKA, originally entitled Sherlock Holmes wa Kage ni Sasayaku (Sherlock Holmes Whispers to the Shadow), is currently available through JManga. The other one, which is based on the BBC drama, is not available in English, as of this writing. (And honestly, please don’t ask me where to get raws/scanlations for that, ’cause REALLY?!?)
This version follows Holmes and Watson on a case to figure out what exactly happened to a promising young opera singer whose teeth inexplicably fell out during a performance and died. The investigation is further complicated with the interest of the Minister of Finance on the singer’s death. What exactly is his involvement in this situation?
I have mixed feelings about this short one-shot. As an addition to the Sherlock mythology, I think it misses the point. Sherlock as shota just doesn’t work for me. He seems too emotional and too easy to rile up — not at all what you’d expect from London’s smartest mind. He bristles when Watson calls him “kid,” and speaking of which, I don’t think it’s appropriate for Watson to carry Holmes like a princess when Holmes destroys his car. I think it’s the same cognitive dissonance each time I would watch an Edward Elric throw a hissy fit over being called short; he’s supposed to be a genius alchemist but he goes around stomping his feet over a tired joke. If you look like a kid and act like a kid, then guess what? You shouldn’t get upset when people treat you like one.
Beyond the character’s appearance, I think Sherlock’s ability as a “shadow user,” in this manga, in which he uses the shadows to extend his senses through space and time, takes away from the keen observation skills that this character is well known for. Sherlock doesn’t need to see behind doors, he already sees and knows more than the average investigator. He combines the observation with flawless deduction to solve the cases. That’s the only magic that he needs.
Does this story work well as a manga though? Sure. The two characters have a sexy, if typical, relationship going on. I mean, Watson has a checkered eyepatch! How could you not think that’s sexy? And he’s all tall seme to Holmes’ babyface. It’s easy fujoshi bait, because you know, the story of Sherlock Holmes is so immune from that sort of thing. The art is actually very pretty and the action scenes are well-done. The author manages to combine the creepy and heart-pounding elements in the panels and the artwork. The final reveal on what really happened to the opera singer’s teeth was very creepy cool.
I’m truthfully not a hardcore Sherlock fan, even though I have watched the BBC series as well as the CBS version, Elementary (which I adore! You can’t change my mind about it!). Maybe if you’re a purist, this manga would be too watered down Sherlock for you, but if you’re like me and you don’t mind looking into other interpretations of this classic character, then give this a try.
You can preview the chapter before purchasing it, even though I think we should all support JManga so that they’d continue to have more interesting titles available digitally.