About detective novel Master Takagi AkimitsuRead completely
The book reviews 4 novels by Takagi Akimitsu – «Tower», «Destructive Justice», «Mystery of Genghis Khan», «Mystery of Yamatai Koku».
About detective novel Master Takagi Akimitsu
© Oleg Torbin, 2023
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There is no writer in Japan that could be hugely popular domestically and totally unknown abroad like Takagi Akimitsu. After his passing away in 1995 some of his novels like «Destructive Justice» (Hakai Saiban) were repeatedly published for 6 times but in English only one novel «The Tattoo Murder Case» (Shisei Satsujin Jiken) was published. Let us go through his biography and some of his novels to find out the roots of such paradox.
The author was born under the name Seiichi («Akimitsu» became his penname later) in 1920, Aomori Prefecture, northern part of Honshu Island. His mother passed away soon after giving birth to Seichi. He was illegitimate son to his father so he had to study at an orphanage school. Seichi studied very earnestly so after graduating the school he could succeed to Ichiko (currently Tokyo University). At the University he could develop further his analytical skills and after graduation was employed by «Nakajima» air engine company.
Defeat of Japan in WWII brough a sharp turn into his life: the factory was closed, Seichi became jobless. In desperation he went to a fortuneteller who predicted to him a success if he becomes a writer. The prediction was right – Seichi wrote a hundred of novels, short stories to any taste – from sophisticated intellectual crimes to deep historical researches (e.g. «Mystery of Yamatai country», «Mystery of Genghis Khan»). Some of the plots were borrowed from real life – he used his analytical skills to help a friend who worked in police. Seiichi Takagi was also a Master in Shogi chess – stably reached best-8 at all-Japan competitions: in some of the novels, for example «The Tattoo Murder Case», he uses a psychological trick when the detective Kamizu Kyosuke (read as Sherlock Holmes) goes to play a game with a suspect and defines from his playing manner his psychological situation.
In the next chapters there are summaries of 4 novels. Publishing of full translations is impossible due to lack of the copyright.
Collection of novels, 2002, «Fusousha Bunko» Publishing, additional print run
«Tower» («Waga Ichiko jidai no hanzai»)
The main character in the novel is Kamizu Kyosuke, whose model is author himself. Based on real events occured when Seiichi Takagi studied at at the first year of Ichiko in 1937. The novel was published in 1951, one of the earliest masterpieces..
The action takes in a dormitory, a room for 16 students. Kamizu Kyosuke surprises everyone with his pedantry – every day he cleans his coat with a brush. Another strange thing – he never attends classes, nobody ever saw him reading books on incumbent subjects, but he can be frequently seen puzzling over chess tasks. Nevertheless, in the rating of successful students he always ranks No 1. Every day at 03 a.m. he wakes up and goes to the class room of advanced mathematics, the only place in the university where light is on 24 hours a day. For his accuracy and pedantry everyone calls him a Pedant.
In the same room there was a student with the nickname Fraten. He studied at Philosophy faculty, never drank, never smoked, all the time studied English and dreamed of becoming a minister.
One more inhabitant of the room was a student nicknamed Blue Bird. Like the character of a fairy tale by Charles Perrault who had 7 wives Blue Bird had relations with seven girlfriends. For each girlfriend a fixed day of the week was defined. Whenever he would part away with one of the girlfriends he would immediately find a replacement for her.
Another inhabitant was nicknamed Westerner. He received the nick because of his earnest methods of hardening by Western European methods. He slept on a hard bed without a mattress, hardened himself by jumping from a bath with hot water into a bath with cold water and back again. His younger brother Kenjiro was standing by with sand watch measuring the time and giving signals so the intervals would be exactly same.
Narration is made from the face of author who also lived in the room, nicknamed Ultra-Super. Got this nickname for his ability to drink 15 cups of bean jelly at random.
On an April evening above 6 friends had a bet whose nerves are tougher – to climb on the roof of the campus tower and turn by turn sing three verses of the university hymn. Fraten draw to be the first, climbed to the roof, sang, returned back. Second was Westerner. He climbed but did not return. The friends searched for him everywhere – on the roof of 2nd floor, all around the tower – but discovered only the coat, a towel and sand watch. Westerner disappeared without a trace like Faust carried away by Mephistopheles on Walpurgis night by means of a coat and sand watch…
A day before the accident Ultra saw that Westerner was meeting a girl near university gate. The same girl he occasionally saw at a cafeteria talking with a man of repulsive appearance, wearing a uniform coat of Ichiko student. The talk was obviously nervous, the man was aggressive putting pressure demanding something. Ultra could catch only a few fragments of words «…disappear?…» After leaving the cafeteria Ultra lurked nearby trying to follow the suspicious man. He lost him from view near a saloon, waited until midnight and only one army officer left the saloon late night.
Kamizu Kyosuke starts his own investigation. Firstly he together with Ultra meet the girl. She appeared to be a stepsister of Fraten from a lover of his father. Fraten was avoiding her being afraid she might negatively impact his future career of a politician. The girl was happy her stepbrother could enter Ichiko but later seeing Fraten’s cold attitude she hated all Ichiko students. Moreover, she agreed to become an agent of secret police Kempeitai, sniffing out liberal students. Westerner was one of such students who triggered attention of Kempeitai.
After leaving the girl’s apartment «Sherlock» and his compagnon decided to lurk and wait what effect their visit would bring. In half an hour the girl left apartment and walked towards metro station. The two Pinkertons followed her keeping distance. The girl used metro until «Jingu Mae» station, walked by lanes and approached a barrack in which road construction workers live. She stepped in the barrack, stayed there a few minutes, left it and walked back to the station. The Sherlocks entered the barrack, discovered a coat belonging to Westerner, saw anti-fascist literature on the shelves. There was no Westerner himself.
Kamizu Kyosuke assumed that Westerner disappeared from the tower escaping from the Secret Police. He did not take academic leave but preferred to disappear. How Westerner did the trick – Kamizu Kyosuke also had a guess. Now he was worrying ony about one thing – how to distract attention of Secret Police from Ichiko, so that increasing censure would not press down the rest of liberal free thought. Kyosuke announced to police officers that he guessed of the truck guts and can demonstrate his findings as an experiment.
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