Plot: Inspired by the book Crime and Punishment, Miroku Tachi is college dropout who has spiraled into depression. He holds no job, barely leaves his apartment, has poor social skills and no hope for his future. His mother and sister, mostly his sister, have been supporting him financially while believing he is still in college studying to be a teacher like his deceased father.
In what Miroku believes to be an effort to marry into money to support Miroku’s ‘dream’ further, Miroku’s sister announces that she’s marrying a man that Miroku despises. He concocts a plan to become financially stable so she won’t need to marry him – a plan involving murder.
Breakdown: This was one of those manga that I really got into and had to keep reading chapter after chapter. It is an incredibly interesting read that gives us a take of the old tale of a regular guy eventually being lead to murder in a fairly different way.
It’s hard to say that Miroku’s really likable. He’s actually pretty much an asshole, but the weird thing is that he’s an asshole for seemingly good reasons. He hates that his family has all of these expectations for him, yet feels like he can’t reach these goals. He really doesn’t seem like he wants to either, because his mother is fixated on him becoming a successful teacher like his father, but he deplores his father because he cheated on Miroku’s mother with one of his students and ended up committing suicide alongside his lover.
He eventually falls into a deep depression and becomes a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) with the only people he really sees or talks to being a neighbor girl who has a crush on him and occasionally his sister.
Miroku’s sister Yoshino is the only one in the family with a stable job, and she provides Miroku with money to help with school and his everyday needs. However, it seems like she may not make enough to support herself, Miroku and possibly their mother.
She announces that she plans to marry a successful businessman, and Miroku believes she’s doing this purely for his money so she can support them all and Miroku’s supposed ‘dream’. Miroku despises this engagement and his suspicions about the reasons behind the marriage, so he becomes hellbent on becoming financially independent so she won’t have to marry him. The problem is that he has to do it in a short amount of time, and he won’t find financial success so easily in his actual dream of becoming a writer.
In comes Hikaru Baba, one of the most sociopathic bitches this side of Japan. She’s evil to the core, and runs a prostitution ring at that. She manipulates young girls into joining the ring and is even perfectly fine with setting up rapes in order to hook in girls and drum up business. Despite not even being out of high school, her business is incredibly vast and successful even tying into the yakuza.
Realizing how horrible of a human being she is and the money that she has, Miroku believes it to be justified and in his best interest financially to kill her and take her money. He’d be doing the world and possibly the girls a favor, and he’d be able to at least get enough money to be stable for a little while.
He eventually does succeed in murdering Hikaru, but before he even leaves the apartment things start unraveling fast. He has blood on his hands, the police on his tail and his sanity continues to fall apart every day.
The main reason this seemed more interesting to me than most murder stories is that this isn’t some master murderer who knows he can get away with it. He researches Hikaru and her routine extensively before he even finally decides to kill her, but every step of the way is filled with doubt and confusion about his actions, and this gets worse and worse after he does the deed.
There are many steps along the way where you can see flaws in his operation, especially if you have a thing for procedural dramas like yours truly. He wears gloves, he takes some precautions with the cell phones, but he still makes various mistakes, and you know that within those mistakes will eventually lie his undoing.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about this manga is that Miroku is incredibly weak and a total wimp. It’s obvious that Miroku must have some psychological issues, but what exactly he has I am at odds to figure out.
He definitely has depression, I know that much, but that alone doesn’t explain his other behaviors. Sociopathic tendencies as well? Schizophrenic? He doesn’t meet a lot of the criteria for the latter, but maybe some for the former. It’s a difficult area to analyze. I don’t want to straight out say he’s a ‘wimp’ or a ‘loser’ or whatever other insults were flung his way over the various comment boxes I read because it’s obvious that there’s more to it than that.
That’s not to say that these factors don’t make him annoying. They do, especially when he gets into a monologue, but there’s reason for it. The tone does get a bit overbearing because there’s hardly a person in this manga that’s likable. There’s about….eh two maybe three people who are likable in this manga, and even some of them get on your nerves. The odd thing is that the tone makes you get used to that fact and even strengthens the dark and psychologically stressful air about the entire book.
The manga has a bit of a slow start as it takes quite a few chapters before we even get to the murder, but I am more or less forgiving about that since they really wanted to firmly establish the background behind the murder instead of just explaining it later. I’m cool with that, but they still could’ve shaved off a chapter or two.
The real kicker in the pacing is in the title. See that? A Falsified Romance? Yeah, well, they only barely get into an actual romance at around chapter 65. Even though I haven’t read the rest, the manga is a full 93 chapters long. That means that two thirds of the book are over before we get into any romance at all let alone a ‘falsified’ one, so it makes you wonder why it’s titled that to begin with.
The way the investigation is handled is also quite interesting. By all intents, Miroku shouldn’t have much problem getting caught. The fact of the matter is he mixed his decent intelligence with incredible luck on whom he chose as a target.
Hikaru was a high profile murder victim because of her parents, so the police had complications from the get-go in investigating this murder, especially given that Hikaru was running the prostitution ring.
If that wasn’t enough, the yakuza being involved made it even more complicated, and eventually they even gave Miroku an out by purposely sending one of their lambs to the slaughter and forcing him to confess to the crime so the investigation would stop.
In addition, there are only two people in the police department who really believe Miroku is connected to begin with so that already starts off the investigation on rocky shores.
This manga seems to be unfinished in English with new translated volumes coming out arbitrarily. However, if I can determine what would be the best end, Miroku really just needs to be caught or turn himself in and go to jail. I don’t want him to get away and live happily ever after, he’s still a murderer after all, and he doesn’t seem in the least bit interested in pursuing psychological help with this either, so I really think his best end would be to go to prison. I hope to see if the story heads this way in the future, but for now I can only surmise.
I don’t really want to see Miroku die at the end, but if it had to end that way, it would probably be understandable.
Art: The art is very detailed and sharp. Everyone has a very distinct and easily recognizable character design, and the backgrounds are great. I think Miroku’s expression gets a little tiresome. The guy always looks like he’s going to vomit, pass out or reveal a supervillain outfit, but it’s nothing too annoying.
Bottom Line: It’s an interesting look into the mind of a murderer. There are various flaws from story to characters and even pacing that can gnaw on you, but it was never overly irritating for me to stop reading.
Recommended Audience: There are graphic depictions of murder and sex. There’s a rape scene, implied gang rape, prostitution, nudity of course, uncomfortable atmosphere altogether, creepy situations. 17+
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