What if it's possible to extract some two or more years of a person's memories (projected onto visual display for all to see) from the brain after the person's death? It would certainly be beneficial for solving difficult murder cases since the memories would display the victims' last moments. But at what cost? What of the dead's privacy as strangers poke about in their most private memories? What about the effects the imageries may have on the persons whose jobs require going through psychotic murderers' minds and experience whatever emotions and feelings these murderers felt as they skin and disembowel their victims? In The Top Secret, Shimizu-sensei explores the idea of re-displaying images of decedents' memories from their brains.
NOTE: This story is not for everyone. I do NOT recommend this manga if you cannot take gore. There are at times VERY graphic depictions of organs and blood and things along those lines.
Story (9) : Himitsu: The Top Secret is a thriller/horror manga based around the premise that the human brain retains its memories even after the body is dead. In 2060, a Japanese police force known as the 'Ninth' investigates gruesome crimes by watching the memories of the victim. The story begins with a prequel of sorts talking about the very first time this "MRI scanning" was used, and goes on to tell
the story of Aoki, a man who joins the Ninth and meets its eccentric leader Maki and the rest of the members of the Ninth. The plot centers around a lot of separate 'cases' the group investigates. Get ready for a LOT of side stories (don't worry, they're all well written).
Art (10) : The mangaka (Reiko Shimizu) is, quite frankly, very, very good. Her use of color in the little spreads she has that are color is spectacular, and to be honest I have never seen any other mangaka draw gore with such accuracy and flair (that sounds horrible, I know, but it was good artwork). The art is refined and gorgeous and I loved it. There were a few cases where I literally had to pause to take in the beauty of the spread.
Character (8) : I loved the leader of the Ninth, Maki. Very interesting character. Aoki was very good as well. The other members of the Ninth, however, are fairly interchangeable, which is sad because there are several characters that the mangaka could have expanded upon. Otherwise, many side characters will alternately frighten you, disturb you, and pull violently at your heartstrings.
Enjoyment (8) : The only reason this is an 8 is for personal reasons (namely, there were times I had to step away from the computer because I was scared. I will never look at characters in theme parks the same way again). If you are of a less frail emotional state, you will definitely enjoy it more than I did.
OVERALL (9) : I will reiterate - do NOT read this if you cannot take gore or violence. It is graphic, and at times very disturbing. Please refrain from eating while reading this (this is a serious warning that comes from experience!). However, if you can get past that, you'll find an extremely complex storyline that has shades of everything from the exploration of the ethics of privacy in police investigations to what it means to be loved. I recommend this story to anyone with a strong stomach!