Comics Reviews

REVIEW: The Detective Is Already Dead Manga Vol. 1


Kimihiko Kimizuka had a penchant for getting into trouble before he met ace detective Siesta, when his life was turned upside down.

The Detective Is Already Dead aka Tantei wa Mou Shindeiru (Tanmoshi) is a popular light novel series by author Nigozyu and illustrator Umibouzu that spawned a successful franchise in Japan. As of 2022, there are six novel volumes published along with two manga adaptations and an anime. The hit franchise even got Machia Sobi Café in Japan to serve Tanmoshi-themed food and drinks to its customers for a brief time.

While the reception of Tanmoshi in the United States is still in its infancy — with only two volumes of the light novel published in English and the anime currently streaming on Funimation — it has developed a small but passionate following. While the anime has received mixed reception among US fans due to not following the light novel as closely as hoped, fortunately the first volume of the manga adaptation has made it to Western shores. In stark contrast with the anime, The Detective Is Already Dead manga offers a more faithful adaptation of the source material.


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The Detective Is Already Dead Vol. 1 opens with an iconic sequence: Kimihiko Kimizuka onboard an airplane that’s being hijacked by an unknown assailant. He’s not there by his own free will, but because he is a magnet for trouble and somehow got mixed in with some shady people who made him board the plane with a mysterious attaché case. In the air, he hears a request for a detective in what is obviously an emergency situation. To his surprise, a very young detective named Siesta was sitting next to him all along.

While The Detective Is Already Dead manga doesn’t adapt the entirety of the corresponding light novel, it does portray Kimizuka’s first encounters with Siesta and Nagisa Natsunagi in the same exact sequence. In stark contrast with the anime, the manga does not devote an entire chapter to Kimizuka’s initial meeting with Siesta, nor his first two cases with her in one sitting. Instead, his past with Siesta is gradually revealed and interspersed with the present storyline involving Natsunagi. Not only is this consistent with the light novel, but it also makes more sense from a narrative standpoint.


There are two more mysteries at play, the first being Siesta’s mysterious death. Between the past and present storylines, it is never disclosed how or why she died, only when. The other mystery at play is the identity of Nagisa Natsunagi’s heart donor, which is actually driven by cellular memory transference — a mysterious phenomenon where an organ transplant recipient acquires the habits and memories of their donor. Between the two ongoing mysteries, only one is resolved by the end of the manga, which reveals how the past and present stories tie together without divulging the full details of why. This keeps the reader interested in finding out more in Vol. 2.


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The manga’s artwork by Mugiko is simple but also very similar in style to the original light novel artist, Umibouzu, which is most strongly noticeable with their successful replication of the latter’s iconic cover for Vol. 1. Not only does Mugiko successfully capture Umibouzu’s character designs, but they also successfully translate Nigozyu’s prose with an easy-to-follow panel layout. Their illustrations follow Umibouzu’s originals from the book, though Mugiko provides more visuals of the novel’s iconic moments.

In terms of execution, some of Mugiko’s illustrations look identical to the visuals in the anime while other sequences are more faithful to their description in the light novel. While most of the illustrations are in black and white, some of the opening pages are digitally colored, which helps to establish the story’s lighthearted tone. Mugiko also excels at capturing the characters’ personalities through their body language and facial expressions. Mugiko’s Siesta is just as playful and confident as depicted in the light novel while Kimizuka is just as grumpy-looking as he’s usually written. Mugiko also excels at capturing Natsunagi’s passionate, but energetic personality.


On the whole, The Detective Is Already Dead Vol. 1 manga is a worthwhile read for fans of the light novels who want a more faithful adaptation of the source material than the anime. For newcomers to the series or those who are on the fence about checking out the light novel or anime, it’s an easy entry point and a great way to sample the story.

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