Title: School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei
Author: Nobuaki Enoki (Story), Takeshi Obata (Art)
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shounen, Mystery
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Takeshi Obata, the famed artist behind Death Note, Bakuman, and Hikaru no Go, is back with another series, this time teaming up with newcomer Nobuaki Enoki to produce a manga about Abaku Inugami; a child prodigy that has a knack for “ronpa.” Ronpa is the act of using arguments to refute another’s theories and verbally defeat them. Abaku is a transfer student at Tenbin Elementary School which has recently adopted the Classroom Arbitration Session system. In other words, any disputes that happen in school will be settled in a courtroom environment. Abaku, however, has a rival in Pine Hanzuki, a girl who “cutely” prosecutes those who she feels are guilty of crimes. A back and forth battle of wits now awaits us in School Judgment Gakkyu Hotei!
School Judgment has a Phoenix Wright meets Danganronpa feel to it. Not only is the courtroom battles reminiscent of Phoenix Wright, but Abaku has a habit of yelling OBJECTION a lot as well. It also has that Danganronpa feel to it because the cases here involve children… just without the whole trying to kill each other aspect. The first case does involve a murder, however, but before you think this series is going to be dark; the murder was that of the class fish Suzuki.
Right away the first case sets the tone for this manga. It’s a manga that is light-hearted, but tries to take itself seriously at the same time. They are trying to place kids into adult situations, but keeping the cases and problems at the elementary school level. In fact, the judges in these cases are 4 year olds who look like they’re in their mid-30s due to the stress placed on them from constantly judging others. The reasoning behind using pre-schoolers all goes back to the whole “innocence of children” angle. I know Obata is pretty good at art, but those judges… yeesh… not a fan of that art.
Without spoiling anything, the manga’s first volume leaves us on a cliffhanger as Pine discovers the identity of the “Masked Dude,” turning this case in an unexpected direction. If you like courtroom dramas, but want one that doesn’t really take itself too seriously, then School Judgment will be an entertaining read, but I wouldn’t compare the intellectual drama in here to be the mental chess game that was Death Note. It’s not meant to be that way, but even understanding that, the first volume was a decent read, but not something that can grasp and hold your attention for very long. Perhaps this is an issue they can rectify in future volumes.
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**this item was provided for review