Title: School Judgment Vol. 3
Author: Nobuaki Enoki (Story), Takeshi Obata (Art)
Publisher: Viz Media
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
In this final volume of School Judgment, Abaku Inugami has to solve two of the biggest mysteries yet, while proving the innocence of his friend and legal assistant Tento Nanahoshi. With a classmate seriously injured and found locked in the bunny house, the stakes are the highest since the Red Ogre incident. Can Inugami prove Nanahoshi’s innocence and discover who the Red Ogre is before the end of the school year?
Here we are at the third and final volume of School Judgment. The final volume primarily focuses on one case, but it also looks to solve the overarching case of who the Red Ogre is at the same time. Here, we have Reiko Shiratori knocked out and unconscious in a cage meant to house rabbits with Tento Nanahoshi as our prime suspect… again. If you haven’t read the first volume, he was the suspect in the “murder” case of the class fish. Once again Akabu has to “Ronpa the hell” out of this case in order to clear his friend’s name.
Even though this is the final volume, we are introduced to a new character who is, yet, more competition for Akabu. Her name is Yui Kijimi and she is the third “tongue” among the prosecutors who survived the bloody massacre. I’ll touch upon her a bit more in the character’s section. Overall, they solve the case with the most coincidental and boring explanation imaginable, but we still have the whole Red Ogre unveiling to see who really did commit that bloody massacre… until that, too, was the most mundane and unimaginable resolution I’ve seen. I spent most of the time sitting there staring blankly into the manga as they explained the whole incident after Red Ogre was unveiled. It was so cliché as to who the Red Ogre was and the dry explanation on top of it just put the cheesiness at an all-time high.
Honestly, this manga isn’t bad if you’re in elementary school and you want a cool, innocent mystery manga to read after you do your homework, but for grown adults, this manga is something I just can’t take seriously. I get the demographic that this is aimed towards, but the demographic is not me. If you are looking for something to give to a kid for a gift, then I think this manga would be perfect for them as the level of mystery in here would stimulate a younger person’s brain, but if you’re over the age of ten, you’ll probably be bored and uninspired by this work.
I have to admit I liked this volume the most thus far – so what does that actually say about this series? It took me a while to read through this because the characters are just so ridiculous and the story is so absurd. As Josh nicely summarized, a student gets seriously hurt and is found locked in the school’s rabbit house. Tento Nanahoshi is a suspect and our main attorney has sworn to prove his innocence. I think the only reason I found this volume interesting is because the characters were also trying to solve the mystery of the Red Ogre. The multi-tasking kept my brain busy.
With the exception of Yui’s introduction and Tento being the star suspect of another case, we really didn’t get much in the way of character development and with this manga being aimed at a younger audience, I wouldn’t really expect much development whatsoever.
Yui was kind of an out there character. She came across as an S&M character more than anything as she loved intimidating and causing mental pain to get the answers to her questions. Now, with my recommendation for children, you’d wonder why I would make such a recommendation with a character like her. Well, first off, you have to understand that Japan doesn’t hand hold their children like we do in America. A lot of stuff that is deemed “too graphic” for young audiences is shown to children in Japan regularly with hardly any impact on their own society and since this is a Japanese manga, a character like this isn’t really shocking or out of the ordinary. Second, she doesn’t really come off as someone that’s all that scary so I highly doubt she will give your kid nightmares.
Regardless of all of that, I didn’t really enjoy the character mainly because she looked to be thrown in just for the sake of fulfilling the missing gap in the overarching story. She really didn’t add much to the final case and she was defeated pretty easily by Akabu. She’s about as throwaway as throwaway characters come.
Tento, on the other hand, received some development and since the majority of readers probably won’t pick up this volume, I’ll go ahead and spoil it. Tento, Akabu’s friend, is the Red Ogre. No, he did not commit the bloody massacre because he just happened to be home sick with something when the incident took place. He is the fourth and final survivor of the incident and was basically being used as the catalyst to bring the three tongues together only to realize that there was no perp still on the prowl from that case. In fact, it was their teacher who killed all the students and then himself. So yes, Tento basically tells them that the entire bloody massacre case is a dead end, thus wasting three entire volumes of build up.
As Josh mentioned, there really isn’t much in way of development. We’re introduced to an S&M character whom we’re supposed to just accept up-front as is. The reader is expected to believe that she was around this whole time – as someone Sarutobi and Inugami knew since the bloody massacre. This is bothersome to me because we have so many flashbacks from Inugami and we never once hear about this girl. Apparently she was a bully who made him cry an awful lot. We know Inugami was picked on because flashbacks in previous volumes indicate that Sarutobi helped him gain his courage – but then why not just throw this character into the flashbacks. We’re supposed to care about her because this volume introduces her flashbacks (or lack thereof since she cannot remember the face of the Red Ogre in her visions) but I’m not given any real reason not to hate her.
There is a lot of focus on Nanahoshi and the development of his character. He becomes very important in this volume, unlike the time when he was accused of killing the class fish. I don’t really need to go into the details of this since you probably read everything you need to know in the spoilers above.
If I were to grade this as a manga for people over the age of ten, I would say it’s a 1 out of 5. For under the age of ten, probably a 3 out of 5. The level of enjoyment for School Judgment will vary depending on who will be reading it. I think I summed up my thoughts pretty well at the end of the story section, but as a quick recap: little to no character development, semi-decent amount of uninteresting characters, and cases that are disguised as adult-level crimes, but are really just elementary school problems all mix together in an underwhelming effort. In fact, you know a manga is desperate to sell when the WRITER isn’t even promoted on the front cover, but rather, the ARTIST from Death Note is. Yes… they had to use Takeshi Obata’s past fame and recognition on the front cover to move copies of this manga. Yeesh.
I’m really upset that they would even mention Death Note on the cover of this series. It’s completely misleading. I have read pretty terrible manga before but the disappointment with School Judgment is even heavier simply because I had some sort of expectations. I should have seen the name drop on the cover as a warning, not as a beckoning. At the same time I wonder if I’m the target audience for this series? Who was this even written for? I’m glad it’s over.
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media