15th Manga Division Excellence Award
HIMITSU THE TOP SECRET
Manga published in book form, in magazine [Japan]
Set in the near future, this manga depicts the activities of an investigator for the “National Research Institute of Police Science 9th Forensics Laboratory,” which deals with serious cases. The brains of the victims and perpetrators of crimes who have died are put through an “MRI scanner,” which creates images of their memories while they were alive, and usually the investigator closes in on the truth of the crime based on the “secrets” in the brains of other people, which it would not usually be possible to find out. Although drawn with delicate lines, the charm of the characters who appear and the world view presented therein provide a powerful drive to this substantial tale which goes beyond the boundaries of the suspense genre. Currently being serialized in Melody, the bimonthly magazine published by Hakusensha.
Reason for Award
This elaborately constructed psychological thriller is set in the Japan of fifty years in the future, at a time when the technology of “MRI Investigation” makes it possible to reveal hidden truths about cases by recalling, from the brains of dead criminals and victims, visual memories dating back as long as five years. The story follows Senior Superintendent Maki, the capable leader of the independent investigative agency responsible, and the investigators who adore him as they take on the challenge of solving crimes for which there are no leads. It confronts fundamental questions about authority and justice: how forgivable is it to expose the secrets of people’s pasts and private lives for the sake of a criminal investigation? Can people really stand knowing the truth? The work earned high praise in particular for its outstanding balance of sometimes-grotesque depiction and gorgeous design, its fine storytelling and appealing characters, and its contemporary themes. With a subplot revolving around the protagonist’s own secrets fast approaching its climax, the moment seems ripe for the award.