Someone is trying to kill Maejima, the unassuming archery club coach and math teacher at Seika Women's High School. Pure luck has gotten him through several attempts, but he has no idea who's behind it, and the school principal would rather not involve the police in what's surely just a student acting out. With the entire faculty and students as suspects, will Maejima figure out who's responsible before his luck runs out?
Houkago is a decent murder mistery that commits a very big mistake that tends to happen in that genre. It startswith an enigmatic scenario, the one you can read in the synopsis, but eventually the resolution of the case is almost entirely mechanical. While most of the time is dedicated to the emotional points the resolution comes from information that was omited to the viewer that leads to solving it as if it were a puzzle and getting an infodump that connects the pieces of information we couldn't have had tied together by ourselves and just explaining motivations that would had been more interesting if
we had seen them slowly showing themselves.
Being a very short read (two chapters slowly above 100 pages each) and with a very nice style that lets you diferentiate the characters and see the emotions in their faces beyond eyes changing, I'd say it's a good manga for people that are into the genre. Just don't expect anything actually psychological being dealt with beyond expaining motivations at the end.
It's also extremely low in terms of gore or mature content, just a pair of boobs and some blood, so don't be afraid of getting any sexual violence or other unconfortably edgy things.
The story is decent and easy to follow – it’s the typical murder mysteries set within an all-girls high school and how the protagonist, the school’s maths teacher goes around solving them and gathering the pieces of puzzles together while in danger of being the next target.
At the beginning, new characters are introduced at every few pages and it’s easy to get lost and confused. Nevertheless, the art style makes up for it as each character is distinctively drawn, although remembering their names can be baffling. However, given that the characters and their circumstances are intertwined with one another in some way, these
characters are not redundant as they add to the bigger picture.
The murder mystery and methods of execution is somewhat easy to solve and this could be due to the fact that rather than focusing on the complexity of the murder methods, the author wanted to focus more on the dark side of the characters through the series of events that unfold.
Nevertheless, I believe that there could have been more depth in the development of the characters and the way they interact. Further, the hint of a teacher-student affair could have been more elaborated - I was a little disappointed that the relationship between Maejima (the male protagonist who is married) and one of his female students were brought across so placidly and ended way too abruptly. From the tone of their conversation and the way they interact, there is definitely something deeper between the both of them which I believe would have made the story more appealing if the author had dwelled more into developing their relationship. Without revealing any spoilers, it’s hard to describe the frustration one felt towards the end.
Further, the motive for murder wasn’t that compelling and I wasn’t convinced by both the victims and the culprits. Most of the characters failed to move me although I must say that after completing the series, I developed a love-hate relationship towards the male protagonist, who in some way is that typical gentleman cum jerk who destroy the lives of unlucky women albeit unintentionally.
Overall, this manga is still a good read, although I believe there are even better titles of the same genre out there.
Houkago is more than just a shoujo-ish adaptation of a mystery novel. At first glance, the characters seem bland, predictable, and especially the teacher is the prototypical flawless main interest. However, with each new revelation, his characterisation becomes darker. It is his human side that made me root for him, despite his faults. My advice: Don't go into this thinking that there will be some miraculous love story, don't expect some clever trick. Just enjoy how your evaluation of the situation, your perception of the characters changes. Achieving that sort of subtlety is more difficult than coming up with a good locked room murder. Kudos
to the mangaka.