At the end of the first episode of Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 – Biblia Rare Books Hall Case Files), we already got the start of this episode’s case. I felt this it was a very good way to end an episode because it gave a sense of forward momentum and left us interested in what would happen next, but it also meant that this episode started by recapping the same material.

The episode will focus on a book called “Gleanings” that is easy to find and therefore inexpensive – certainly not the sort of thing a rare book shop would normally be interested in . . .

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. . . if not for Shida-san (Takahashi Katsumi) from Sedori Books, good friend and roommate of Biblia’s proprietor Shinokawa Shioriko (Gouriki Ayame), who is in a pinch because he lost it on the way to a temple.

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Shida suspects that a schoolgirl (Mizuno Erina) who bumped into his bicycle took it because she thought it was valuable.

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Shinokawa’s new assistant, Goura Daisuke (AKIRA) understandable finds it hard to believe that a schoolgirl would take a book for such a motive.

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Shida saw the girl bump into his bike as he was rushing to the toilet, and only found the books missing when he got back. Shinokawa asks what the state of his books and bike were when he returned, and he reveals that Kasai, a co-worker, had appeared to pick things up for him. Hmm . . . .

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When they suggest asking Kasai about what happened, Shida immediately goes from being worried about the book to claiming that it’s no big deal. For some reason, he doesn’t want them to talk to Kasai.

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That’s when Shida walked into Shinokawa’s private quarters in the back of the shop as if he lived there. Daisuke wonders what that’s about, but Shinokawa evades the question.

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Instead, she explains that “Gleanings” is a book very close to Shida’s heart – one that he would never sell. That’s why even though it’s common, he was very distraught about losing it.

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Daisuke decides that he’ll contact Kasai after all, and basically take up the case.

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Kasai shows Daisuke the spot and tells him that the girl asked for scissors when he passed her on a path. It so happened that he did have a pair (is it normal to carry scissors wherever you go, or should he explain why he had them on him?) and she returned them to him wet with water.

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But while she appeared to be running to the bus stop, she didn’t get on the bus.

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Well, even though the crime is at the most petty theft, we’re sure getting some clues. While the school girl is the primary suspect, Kasai should technically be considered one as well, though they’re indicating pretty clearly at this point that he’s completely clear of suspicion.

 

 

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Suddenly, Shinokawa says “Charles Dickens – Our Mutual Friend Volumes 1-3″, and names five other works by various authors after that. It was very computerish – like returning search results. But she explains that those were the books she bought from Shida yesterday.

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I’m not going to go into the details about why this is important – you’ll have to watch to really get all the minutia in the case. Besides, Shinokawa really gets down to the crux of the case here.

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Anyway, what she reveals leads Daisuke to rush to back to the bus stop to meet this fellow, Nishino (Asaka Kodai – a former Johnny’s Junior I haven’s seen in a long time):

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Daisuke gets the girl’s contact information from him, but Nishino’s attitude was very odd.

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Instead of trying to contact the girl, though, Daisuke decides to go hunt for a copy of “Gleanings”.

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Is it really as common as they say? What will he find out through this search? What will happen when he contacts the girl?

Oh, and what’s the relationship between Shida and Shinokawa?

We get a token scene with Shinokawa Fumiya (Jesse) – Shinokawa’s younger brother – but you’ll have to forgive me for not getting a screenshot. It was less than ten seconds long. Really, Jesse-kun really seems to be in this series just for the sake of getting an extra credit to his name, because so far there’s been no reason for him to be here. I hope that changes.

That was followed by the slowest scene in an already very slow episode. I can’t watch this at night – I start dozing off.

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Well, that takes us to the halfway point in the episode, and we’ve met all the players, though we’ve only encountered the prime suspect indirectly. The core of the solution actually gets revealed soon after the halfway point.

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But this time, they have other hurdles to clear once the question of why the book was taken gets resolved.

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This episode was a good story, but I once again felt like it could have been done in less time. I guess half an hour would have made it feel too rushed, though, so perhaps there was no choice but to drag it out a bit to fill an hour block.

In solving the mystery, Shinokawa made certain assumptions that are less about connection clues and more about reading people’s minds. While all her conclusions had justifications, some of them did not necessarily follow from the known facts – they were just possibilities. But here, I’m judging the mystery by murder story standards. You see, when the mystery is about the theft of a book, you really don’t need to establish a logic that will hold up in a court of law. Shinokawa takes advantage of the fact that she doesn’t need to be so rigorous about the unraveling.

That said, I’ve seen worse reasoning when the mystery really does involve a murder. Things is, a murder also carries with it built-in tension that we don’t have here. I’m not sure a stolen book is enough to keep viewers coming back for more – not unless they have some other reason to watch like being a fan of the actors. So far, the acting is perfectly neutral – nothing wonderful, nothing horrible – but there’s no way we’re going to get spectacular acting unless the plots intensify.

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