Jun 22, 2021
At the moment when this title started I was thinking, ‘why aren’t any (good) mangas about cops. That’s kinda a market hole… hmm’. And a little bit later there it was, ‘Hard-Boiled Cop and Dolphin’! I was really hyped, especially when I saw it was made by Ryuhei Tamura, the author of the successful ‘Beelzebub’ (which I haven’t read or watched) from which I heard a lot of good things about. Sadly, this hype died very soon but I hoped for something better until the end, which never came.
- Overall (5/10):
This manga definitely failed at the beginning, with missing pre-building and introductions and the
short/bad written buddy-cop principle. Too many characters and the unsuccessful attempts to change the genre dulled the greatly written mystery story. However, it has its moments, the story is told and not ended abruptly, while Chako (the little girl) puts her childish energy again and again into it to push the story further, create funny moments and shake your heart at the correct time.
But let us dive deeper!
This manga struggled a lot at the beginning and tried a lot of genre mixes which was definitely the reason why it dried out. The problem is that buddy-cop stories work the best if they have enough humor and/or action and a good chemistry between the 2 main cops. The action and humor were mostly missing… It started with a good mix, but after the first ‘He is a human, but has a dolphin head and sometimes does dolphin things’, the impact of the jokes calmed the waves. While the action, which was often just some underwhelming gunshots and punches, was barely existing like the survival chances alone in the open water. These failed genre parts drowned the interesting and steadily working mystery part, which contained humans evolving into fishmen, mystical powers, weapons and creatures as well as an evil cult trying to reach their goals. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
But as I said, it fought for its life like a fish in a net. The author saw the weak action-comedy and tried to put a bit of ecchi, slice of life, wholesome and even romance (?) in it, but these attempts were just confusing and weakened the good mystery part and lost its readers. To be clear, for a really good mystery manga (or else), you need a lot of prebuilding and introductions to unfold its core step by step. And these were missing just to put unconceptional things in it! For example: Some strange fishman attacks the people! But don’t worry, it got arrested… So maybe we should investigate this? Meh, the next chapters are about finding a new apartment! Or about some delinquents trying to impress the female cop, but in the end it is totally enough just to see her bra… Or introducing a bunch of characters 2 whole chapters long (of around 50) where maybe one was truly relevant?! Come on! What a marine pollution!
At the end, this dolphin in the net was already dead before it got catched, due to irrelevant waste in this mystery ocean… And even a hard-boiled cop wasn’t enough to stop the junk before it got thrown into the deep water…
- Art (5/10):
As it tested different genre parts, at the end the typical ‘battle shounen’ remained… Which I understand, because one of the best chapters were, when the fishmen got arrested with some nice action. But most of the fights were totally unsatisfying. For the typical ‘battle shounen’ you need a lot of creative powers, weapons, magic, transformations or at least something! And I know, there are people who don’t like that, but if you focus on the fights, you need these things to get excited for them! And these are best shown in the art. Creative designs for the villains or the different powers are almost a must have. And yes, we get fishmen and kind of water kung-fu or whatever, but these are mostly underwhelming.
Want an example? Sure: There is fishman 1, who looks like a normal person with strange skin. Okay. Fishman 2, looks like a normal person, but with strange teeth. Hmm… Fishman 3, looks like a normal person, but with strange eyes… Or our main villain looks like a normal person… That’s all! Holy sea cow! How uncreative is that? Yes, for normal people the fishmen look scary or rowdy, but they are supposed to be some ocean-creature human hybrids! The ‘special’ powers were poor too. For example: a breathing technique underwater to be drawn exciting is damned to fail. The fights per se lack the dynamic moves. You can create a battle manga without inhuman powers, like a martial art type, but if your characters are static, you won’t catch the readers' attention. Again an example: If your super one-hit k.o. attack is just to put your hands together and create a boom, then nobody will care at all! It’s too weak compared to titles like ‘Black Clover’ or else.
So yes, this forced ‘battle shounen’ elements failed completely, especially with this weak illustration. But it is supposed to be a mystery manga, so how are the backgrounds and the settings?... They are fine. I mean, we are on an island far from a big city where nothing amazing happens. So you won’t get fired up, but it is good. It looks like a small nice village. While the sea- and underwater life are greatly illustrated. What about the character designs?... They are fine… I mean, yes, they are uncreative for some fish-human fusions, but the illustrations of the humans are… okay. The female characters more or less look all the same, especially the ‘white’ haired ones, while the male characters show some diversity. Looking at the two and a half main characters (Hard-boiled, Dolphin and the little girl), they have a solid design. Nothing extraordinary, but good.
Overall, it definitely lacks creativity, especially for the villains, but everything else is solid and good.
- Characters (4/10):
Continuing with the characters. They may don’t look too interesting, like a youtube aquarium video, but maybe they have something beneath that? Sadly, no. Like I mentioned in the story part, without pre-building or introductions or at least, for Poseidon's sake, a backstory, they are just randoms tossed in the ocean… Especially in the last 10-15 chapters. We suddenly get more than 10 characters, but you could not tell more than 2 facts about them, except for 2. But even the female cop, introduced at the beginning, is just there! At least at the very end we get some backstory and closure for 2-3 characters… out of 50 or so...
Of course, the problem is it was too short, but you can’t make interesting characters without their backstory, or some introduction, then it’s not the fault of the length… If you would focus more on a bunch of them, before putting new ones in, the readers may have stayed.
But okay, look at these 2-3. As I mentioned, one of the crucial parts of a buddy-cop story is the chemistry between the 2 cops. And here is the most disappointing thing! At the very first, they were like oil & water. But just a few chapters later they were like two identical characters just one of them has a dolphin head… So one of them is totally unnecessary, however, the dolphin has to be there for the mystery line… Which is swamped by filler like chapters… So I can totally understand those people who dropped that after 10-15 chapters. However, one glimpse of hope was the ‘half’ character, the little girl Chako! Due to her childish attitude she not just created chaos and pushed the story further, she also refreshed the wholesome, heart-shaking and comedy parts. Especially at the end she catches the reader and saves us from the plastic ring of ‘who cares?’
- Enjoyment (7/10):
This will sound strange, but even if the manga failed in many sections, I enjoyed it a lot! Mostly because of the mystery part, which I really wanted to know and was well written! The mangaka definitely had a good concept in his mind. The hard-boiled main character was cool too and the little girl adorable. Also in a not ‘battle shounen’ viewpoint the action was good enough for the arresting parts. And the fishmen were uncreatively designed, but they still had their epic (few) moments. So I could ignore the micro- (and sometimes macro) plastic junk in our dolphin, but a lot of people won’t and that’s totally okay.
Altogether I would say: give it a try! If you are hooked, nice! You will enjoy it, because the quality is mostly stable, but if you don’t like the bait, ignore it and keep swimming, just keep swimming...
What did you think of this review?