The Kindaichi Case Files

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Kindaichi Hajime, as the grandson of famous detective Kindaichi Kosuke, picked up the tricks of his trade from Grandpa and, after proving himself to the skeptical police in his first case, finds himself tangled up in the murder mystery from hell on a regular basis.

Though fairly obscure in the west, Kindaichi was Japan's most popular manga for much of its original run (1994-2001) and remains quite popular today. The series relies on a strong formula that mixes the horror and detective genres: the atmosphere is similar to a well-made slasher film, with the killer usually taking the persona of a legendary monster. He then murders his victims in gruesome ways relating to the legend, thus providing a more violent version of a Scooby-Doo Hoax. He still leaves clues, though, which Kindaichi is inevitably the only person to notice. There's always some secret tragedy from the past (often surprisingly moving) motivating the killer as well. All of which leads up to the climax of each story where Kindachi unmasks the perpetrator in a dramatic Summation Gathering. Each story is also a rather challenging Fair Play Whodunnit so clever readers may be able to beat Kindaichi to the solution.

As of 2004, the series has restarted in Japan. The first series was distributed in the US by Tokyopop, but is now[when?] out of print.

Tropes used in The Kindaichi Case Files include:
  • Accidental Pervert - Both played straight and subverted; Kindaichi himself tries to pass himself off as this on multiple occasions, but he's also walked in on people he didn't mean to. (This even provides the solution to one of his mysteries.)
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle - Said word for word by Kindaichi in the book "Smoke and Mirrors" when he explains at the end the difference between the American version of a clue, and the Japanese version of the same clue.
  • Asshole Victim - More often the rule than the exception.
    • There's often at least one pure-hearted innocent among the piles of dead assholes, though.
    • Rarest exception is when the victim was thought to be an asshole turns out to be sympathetic in the end.
  • Ax Crazy - Subverted. At first it always seems as if the killer follows this trope to the letter and is killing people at random. But in reality, their victims are always carefully chosen, and the murders themselves are part of a larger, complex plan.
  • Bandaged Face - Not uncommonly
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: Combined with Bluffing the Murderer. On at least one occasion, Kindaichi stages a fight and pretends to go off alone in order to lure out the suspected killer.
  • Book Dumb - Kindaichi pretends to be this so that he can slack off in class (as he is too lazy to study for tests), but as a detective he demonstrates a wide range of knowledge.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: As noted above. School bores Kindaichi, so he just coasts by with a bare minimum of effort, frequently napping in class. Give him a mystery to solve, though, and he shows his true genius.
  • Brother-Sister Incest - The death of a man's sibling lover kicks off a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in one mystery, though the fact that they are siblings don't come to light until after the case has ended.
    • The same case alludes to another tale of brother/sister incest which made the location of the mystery (the lake where the pair ultimately drowned themselves) particularly bizarre.
  • Busman's Holiday - Most of the time, Kindaichi is called out to the locations due to his reputation as a detective, but he's run into his share of murders while on vacation.
    • Kenmochi got this in his first appearance in the series, having stayed at the Opera House hotel for a vacation.
  • Cannot Spit It Out - Kindaichi is coy about his feelings for Miyuki, and the one time he does manage to spit it out, his confession is muffled by the marching band.
  • Catch Phrase - "In the name of my grandfather..." and "This mystery is solved!".
  • Chekhov's Gun - Any incidental object (or sometimes person) in a scene could provide the solution to the mystery.
  • Childhood Friend Romance - The "unlucky" sort. Miyuki in particular, and several of the other victims as well.
  • Chivalrous Pervert - Kindaichi is something of a skirt chaser, but he is still more or less a gentleman.
  • Clueless Mystery - Averted and then some thanks to Tokyopop's attempts at Cultural Translation.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Except for a few close friends, everyone at school thinks Kindaichi is an idiot.
  • Cultural Translation - Quite a few of the clues that rely on Japanese language or culture were changed for the English version so that the clues could still be solved by an astute reader.
  • Driven to Suicide - The occasional fate of a cornered suspect, though Kindaichi always does his best to prevent this from happening.
    • This also happens to quite a few of the people who the murderers are off to avenge.
  • Dying Clue - Quite often left in some form of code.
  • Eureka Moment - If the change in Kindaichi's expression doesn't tell you he's had one, then the Catch Phrase drop certainly will.
  • Everyone Knows Morse - Justified when Kindaichi finds himself among a group of war game enthusiasts.
  • Fair Play Whodunnit: The translators have gone to great pains to make this true even in the English version. Though one story arguably breaks the "no identical twins" rule.
    • In the comic's heyday, figuring out the solutions to Kindaichi mysteries became something of a national craze for the Japanese. The storylines typically ran for two or three months, leaving plenty of time for fans to speculate. Later storylines have much tougher solutions as the authors strived to keep things challenging for fans who often collaborated on figuring out the answers.
    • The animated adaption dealt with this by adapting the comic stories but often changing the solutions, with a different character turning out to be the killer than in the manga.
  • Genre Savvy: As mentioned above, the killers usually try to make it look like they're following the Ax Crazy trope in order to throw Kindaichi (and the reader) off of their true plans.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger
  • His Name Is-- - If someone besides Kindaichi discovers the identity of the culprit, you can bet that person will be dead before he can tell anyone.
    • In one story, a character realizes who the killer is, but fails to notice said killer standing right behind him, about to bring an axe down on his head.
  • Infant Immortality - Averted in The Undying Butterflies.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot - The clues are all there for the reader to find, but good luck coming to the same conclusion Kindaichi does in the grand reveal.
  • Live Action Adaptation - Featuring some very Squick-tastic sound effects.
  • Locked Room Mystery - Almost every story.
  • Motive Rant
  • My God, What Have I Done? - Many a killer has experienced this after the case has been solved when Kindaichi presents them with information that makes them realize how misguided their actions were.
  • Never One Murder
  • Old School Building: A murderer trying to hide a Dark Secret in an old school building commits several murders to keep the truth from coming to light.
  • Pull the Thread
  • Revealing Coverup: The killer of volumes 10 and 11 accidentally does this when he realizes that the real hidden code he was after laid in the names of the message givers he had been silencing. Names which would be printed in order of death in the next newspaper thus providing the necessary clues to everyone.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Most of the killers are on one of these.
  • The Rival - Kindaichi occasionally faces off against arrogant pretty boy detective Akechi, and gets a Moriarity-esque recurring character who uses every opportunity to taunt Kindaichi on his uselessness.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: Subverted. Supposedly a serial killer has gotten loose and is killing everyone trapped in the Closed Circle, but Kindaichi figures out that they're all connected. While the murderer is looking for one specific person, he doesn't care that he's killing innocents in the process.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal - Kindaichi's reaction to many a Motive Rant and/or Suicide Attempt.
  • Spanner in the Works - Kindaichi himself is this on occasions when the murderers try to factor in his reputation as a detective in their planning. Specifically, though, in House of Wax, the murderer's otherwise well formulated plan, which required keeping the fireplace lit at all times, hit a snag when the air conditioning broke down.
  • Spin Offspring - Hajime is the son of Kosuke Kindaichi.
  • The Summation - All the time. Can sometimes go on for several chapters.
  • Summation Gathering - Also all the time. If someone is in any way connected to the case, they'll be present when Kindaichi solves it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - Saki #2, who looks so much like his brother that Kindaichi mistook him for a ghost at first.
  • Sympathetic Murderer - The large majority of the ultimate suspects turn out to be this.
  • Tarot Motifs - Unfamiliarity with how a Tarot deck works is used to point out the murderer in one mystery.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims - Played straight in nearly every story.
  • Theme Initials - A major part of The Legend of Lake Hiren
  • Thanatos Gambit - A variant is pulled by Reiko Chikamiya, the mother of Kindaichi's archenemy Yoichi Takato. Reiko's death was caused by the members of her magic troupe who wanted her to divulge the secrets behind her various, hand-created feats of illusion. After her death, they stole her book of magic tricks and used them for their own. As it turns out, Reiko had two of them in case of such a situation. The real one was sent to Yoichi, while the others kept the copy which contained a bonus magic trick. This extra trick was created so that anyone who tried it would wind up killing themselves. The reason Yoichi agrees to go to jail after killing most of the ones responsible for his mother's death is that he KNEW the last surviving member would attempt this trick (and this one is implied to have been the one who specifically caused Reiko's death), so he felt that his mother would be able to get her revenge posthumously.