i tell c is a new manga series from Kazusa Inaoka. The header of this Shonen Jump series says that it’s a “…unique take on the crime-suspense genre,” and they’re not kidding.
The first chapter opens with news that entertainer Haruka Shinomiya had been murdered. The story then follows another entertainer named Atsushi Tagame who is interviewed first by the news media, then by the murder investigators. The media, Tagame, and the investigators all seem to think Shinomiya had a stalker who could have been the culprit. Then something strange happens—Tagame is followed by someone.
He can’t seem to shake this person who is following him well after he finishes the interviews. In the background, glimpses of this woman who is tailing him are revealed. She has portraits on the wall full of…well, other people. Other people she stalked? Was she the killer? We don’t know until she suddenly approaches Tagame.
Turns out she is another investigator named Aioi. In her obsession for solving crimes, she becomes so enamored in the person she’s tracking that she gains romantic feelings for them. Aioi her love for the criminal as she stalks them.
According to the lead investigator, Aioi was a kidnapping victim five years ago and suffered from severe Stockholm syndrome, falling in love with her captor. While she escaped, her kidnapper is still at large and since then she has connected romance with crime. She literally falls in love with the criminals she tracks. She always asks the criminals to run away with her and they always say no, confessing to their crimes instead.
The art is fantastic. The way Inaoka shows the faceless stalkers moments in the crowd is a great, coupled with the cutesy art of Aioi and the other members of the cast.
However, something about the entire concept bothers me. Aioi’s obsession with criminals and her lack of agency is unsettling. It’s a good sign that the chapter ends with one of the other investigators calling out her behavior. It’s unhealthy for her.
The first chapter does introduce an interesting plot and this definitely is a different approach to the crime genre. Aioi is such a brilliant character in her ability to track down a criminal. However, her romantic obsession is unsettling; and yet here I am wanting to read more.
I genuinely want to know if Aioi is able to overcome her obsessions or if they will find her kidnapper.
My hope is that as this moves into its own series, that we see Aioi have agency beyond her obsession with the criminals she’s tracking. Hopefully, her fellow investigators will help Aioi through her emotional issues. Definitely interested in seeing where it goes next week.
i tell c can be read at Shonen Jump. The most recent chapters are always free.