Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin is a new manga by Ryuhei Tamura. Tamura is known for his prior manga Beelzebub. This manga is the latest from Shonen Jump. I liked Beelzebub, so I am confident that I will enjoy what Tamura has in store for us with Chapter 1 of Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin. Let’s hit this full spoiler review!
Words: Ryuhei Tamura
Art: Ryuhei Tamura
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Cast: Boyle Samejima aka Shark: Samejima is the hard boiled cop. He does things like a cop from an old pulp detective story. Unfortunately, Samejima’s old school ways land him in constant trouble. The result is that Samejima finds himself kicked off the Tokyo police force and transferred to Ogasawara. Samejima is the co-star of this manga. Samejima is given the nickname “Shark” since the kanji in his name is “shark.”
Orpheus aka Orfie: Orpheus is the Dolphin. In fact, Orpheus is a large anthropomorphic dolphin. Who is also a cop. Yeah, it makes no sense to Samejima, either. Orpheus becomes Samejima’s partner when he gets transferred to Ogasawara. Orpheus is the co-star of this manga.
Umi Nanase: Umi is the well endowed police officer in the Anegadhima Police department in Ogasawara. Umi is the first officer to meet Samejima upon his arrival in Ogasawara. Umi is a spunky and by the rules officer.
Princess Otsukoto aka Chako: Chako is a five year old girl who was raised by dolphins. We know little about her other than Orpheus rescued her and she calls him her “Papa.”
Synopsis: We begin with narration about how mankind has only observed 5% of all aquatic life. That means the remaining 95% is unknown.
We shift to Tokyo with the police responding to a man who has take a woman hostage. Two police offices arrive at the rooftop of a building where the criminal has the woman hostage. The two police officers attempt to diffuse the situation by talking to him.
Suddenly, Samejima appears from behind the criminal and gives a Dirty Harry style statement where no matter what the criminal does Samejima is going to shoot him. (This is fantastic. Tamura knows his Dirty Harry!)
The criminal goes to attack Samejima and Samejima quickly punches out the criminal.
We cut back to the police station with the Captain chewing out Samejima. The captain says that Samejima is a relic. That Samejima is something out of old pulp noir police stories. The Captain says that times have changed and police have a different standard of conduct. The Captain says that Samejima is fired.
We shift to Samejima on a boat heading to the Ogasawara islands. Samejima thinks how there is no place for a deadevil like him anymore. Samejima smokes a cigarette while everyone around him stares and at him and coughs. Samejima thinks how he better quit smoking, too.
Samejima says that he is lucky he talked the Captain into not firing him and instead transferring him out to this remote island. Samejima exits the boat and thinks how it is time he introduced himself to the reader. Samejima says that he is such a hard boiled cop that even his internal monologue boxes have hard boiled blood splattered on them. That the blood splatters are not from nosebleeds from thinking dirty thoughts. That even if he did think dirty thoughts he would not get a nosebleed. That nobody does.
Samejima is greeted by Umi who welcomes Samejima to the Anegashima Police Department. Samejima notices Umi’s large breasts. Of course, when Umi waives hello to Samejima the button on her shirt pops open revealing her well endowed breasts. Umi apologizes and says this happens to her often. Umi buttons her shirt back up and leads Samejima to her police car. We see Samejima now has a nosebleed as he says that it is time to stop these blood splattered narration boxes.
During the car ride to the Anegashima Police Station, Umi talks about how they requested a detective from outside of the area to help them investigate the case about the girl raised by dolphins. That a sea cult worshiped her and called her Princess Otsukoto. The girl is now in police custody. The girl’s name is Chako.
The sea cult’s founder, Nirai Kanai, claimed that the sea was going to flood the world in a few years. He preached finding paradise as the only salvation. Chako was worshiped as an oracle.
The sea cult got on a ship to head to paradise and the ship either vanished or sunk. Chako was carried to shore by a dolphin and then found by the police. Samejima thinks how this case could be his big break. If he can solve it then he can get back to the Shinjuku precinct in Tokyo.
We arrive at the police station. Samejima sees Chako playing. The Captain introduced Samejima to his new partner: Lieutenant Orpheus. Chaka runs up to Orpheus and calls him “Papa.” Orpheus says that Chako is his daughter.
Samejima is stunned that Orpheus is an anthropomorphic dolphin. Samejima wonders why no one else is stunned by this fact. Samejima wonders why no one is saying anything. Samejima wonders if this is normal around here. Samejima cannot believe he is being outranked by a dolphin. Samejima also wonders if Orpheus is wearing a mascot costume or if he really is a dolphin.
We shift to Samejima, Orpheus, and Chako outside. Samejima is smoking a cigarette. Orpheus asks if it is okay he calls Samejima “Shark” since the kanji for shark is in Samejima’s name. Orpheus tells Samejima that he will kick his butt if he smokes around Chako. Orpheus then says that Samejima can relax. That he is not going to eat Samejima.
Suddenly, Orpheus punches Samejima and calls him a fool for being way too slow. That one hint of “her presence” and Samejima would have been taken out.
Samejima stands up and punches Orpheus and asks how do dolphins get to join the police. Samejima and Orpheus stand there and suddenly they both begin to laugh. They both think how they are not going to let the other guy one up them.
Suddenly, they get a call from the police station of a hit and run accident. We cut to Samejima, Orpheus, and Umi responding to a car accident. A Mini Cooper full of obnoxious teenagers from Tokyo are trying to set up an innocent driver by claiming that an old man rear ended them. The old man denies any wrong doing.
Samejima isn’t buying any of the teen’s story and proceeds to ask for the kid’s license. The teen refuses to cooperate. The three teens in the Mini Cooper start calling Samejima a “pig” and that they will record him and put it on social media. The teens dare Samejima to do something like hit them so they can record it and put it on the internet. They continue to call Samejima names and try to provoke him. They say that the police cannot refuse to be filmed.
Suddenly Orpheus appears and says, “Hell yeah we can.” The teens are stunned by Orpheus’ appearance. Orpheus says that filming anyone without their permission is a violation of privacy rights. Orpheus demands that the teens turn over their phones.
Orpheus says that he talked to the old man. The old man says he has a dash cam that shows the teen ran the traffic signal and caused the collision. The teen says that if his recording is illegal then so is the old man’s dash cam video.
Umi jumps in and says dash-board cameras are not illegal so long as they aren’t used for commercial purposes like the teen’s videos.
The teens then race off in their Mini Cooper. Both Samejima and Orpheus pull out their guns. Umi is stunned and says that the two are going way overboard. Umi talks about how Japanese police officers rarely pull out their guns. That most Japanese police officers retire without ever having used their guns. She is shocked by what Samejima and Orpheus are doing.
Both Samejima and Orpheus shoot their guns. We see their bullets blow out the two driver’s side tires on the Mini Cooper. The teen’s Mini then crashes to a stop on the side of the road.
Orpheus tells Umi to look closer. We see a mother and her young son in the crosswalk that were about to get hit by the teens’ car. Orpheus says that a firearm is a tool to be handled with extreme caution. But, if you don’t shoot when you must then you fail those you could have saved. Umi says that she did not see the mother and son.
Orpheus takes note of Samejima’s impeccable aim since he had a harder angle than Orpheus.
We shift back to the police station. Samejima thinks about him talking to his girlfriend about his transfer to Ogasawara. His girlfriend says that Tokyo is too small a pond for Samejima.
We see Samejima sitting on a rock looking at the ocean and thinking how huge it is. Chako walks over and says that the ocean is perfect for Shark. She saw so. Chako says that Samejima and Orpheus will be the best police officers in the world.
Chako says that there are lots of bad guys around. Sea turtles who take peeping photos and shoplifting sunfish.
Samejima asks how both he and Orpheus can be the best in the world at the same time. Chako say that will come down to a manly fist fight.
Chako then says that Orpheus helped her escape. That is why he is “Papa.” Samejima thinks how the first page has opened on his hard boiled ocean case file. End of chapter 1.
The Good: Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 is a strong start to this new manga. Tamura wastes no time in quickly assembling his core cast of characters and letting the reader know what journey we can expect on this new manga.
Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 is a well paced and plotted story. The story has a pleasant flow. Each scene naturally flows into the next one. The story moves with a purpose but is never rushed. Tamura retains a sharp focus and never loses sight of his story’s goals.
I love that Tamura wastes no time in introducing the main cast of characters for this manga. I also appreciate that Tamura gives the reader a good sense of each character’s personality and their role in this story in a concise fashion.
Tamura treats the reader to an interesting cast of characters. I like all of them and think they have so much potential as this story progresses.
We can start with the co-stars of this manga. Samejima is a charismatic character that the reader immediately likes. I dig that Tamura makes Samejima an anachronistic man. Samejima’s old school tough guy character helps to make him stand out among many modern day characters. What makes this approach work so well is that Samejima is painfully aware how out of step he is with modern society. From the way that Samejima conducts his police work to his smoking in public, Tamura never wastes an opportunity to show how out of place Samejima is with modern society.
The fact that Samejima has self-awareness and acknowledges that he does not fit in helps to make Samejima a more admirable character. Samejima’s willingness to live by his own code of honor and way of life rather than confirming to the demands of modern society makes him a character that readers respect and secretly wish they could be more like.
Behind the tough exterior, it is obvious that Samejima is a good man. This makes Samejima a hero that is easy to root for in this story. Tamura also blesses Samejima with an excellent hero’s journey. Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 begins with Samejima at his low point after being forced to leave Tokyo and go to the remote islands of Japan. The case involving the sea cult and Chako presents Samejima with his opportunity to price himself and rebuild his career. The reader is eager to join Samejima on his journey toward redemption.
Orpheus is a fantastic co-star to this new manga. I dig the bizarre impossibility of an anthropomorphic dolphin as a cop. Luckily, Tamura does not rest on just this oddity with Orpheus’ character. Tamura gives Orpheus a badass personality that is half wise zen spirit and half take no shit cop. It is fantastic and immediately makes Orpheus a compelling character.
Umi is a good supporting character. Tamura quickly establishes that Umi has a pure heart and is a by the rules police officer. Umi will serve as a perfect foil to the more outrageous personality of Samejima. Umi will also serve as a character that can stand in the reader’s place as she reacts in a surprised fashion to Samejima and Orpheus’ actions.
Of the four main characters in Chapter 1, I found Chako to be by far the least intriguing character. To be fair, she is five years old so there is not much Tamura is going to be able to do with her character. Having said that, Chako should serve well in the role of the mysterious oracle who drops cryptic hints about the future.
Tamura did a fantastic job with the teenagers as the villains of this chapter. Tamura absolutely nails the obnoxious teenager personality. Their personalities are incredibly annoying. These are villains that the reader enjoys hating. The reader is practically begging for Samejima or Orpheus to punch the teenagers’ faces inside out.
Tamura cranks out plenty of great dialogue. The characters all have their own unique external voices. The characters’ personalities are all distinct. It is also rather impressive how quickly Tamura is able to generate some quality chemistry between the characters.
Tamura also treats the reader to some well executed humor. Tamura understands just the right amount of humor that is necessary to keep the story from ever taking itself too seriously and also giving it a fun vibe. I like how Tamura is able to get meta without getting in the way of the story or pulling the reader out of the story.
A good example of this is when Samejima points out that he is so hard boiled that his narration boxes have hard boiled blood splatter on them. This meta moment that does not distract the reader or make the story clunky. It is also some great humor.
Tamura delivers more well done humor with the next scene of Samejima scoffing at the old manga trope of men getting nosebleeds when thinking dirty thoughts. Then Tamura has Samejima getting a nosebleed upon seeing Umi’s breasts. It is just such well timed humor. It is also Tamura showing that he is never going to take the story too seriously even if Samejima views himself as hard boiled.
Another moment of Tamura getting meta in order to deliver some humor is when Samejima wonders if Umi is really a flighty boob who believes in myths like a girl being raised by dolphins. Tamura has Samejima comment that this cannot be the case because having a character with large breasts be a boob would be a tacky idea that even a third rate manga hack would not touch it. Again, it was a well played meta moment that gets the reader chuckling.
My favorite comedic moment is when Samejima is irritated with Orpheus and feels that Orpheaus is trying to butt in and steal his bust of the teens. Tamrua has Samejima ask if Orpheus is trying to steal his bust. Then Samejima tells Orpehus to go chase a fish. Samejima then asks if Orpheus wants him to throw a little ball for Orpheus. Tamura then has Orpheus respond, “Oh, would you? That’d be great. Huh?” It is a humorous moment made even better by the fact that Tamura quickly moves the story on as if nothing had happened. It is a combination of good comedic dialogue and impeccable timing.
To be sure, Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 is a character driven story. However, that does not mean that we do not get action. Tamura infuses just enough action between the fight in the opening scene, the quick scuffle between Orpheus and Samejima and then the shooting of the teens’ car. Tamura signals to the reader that Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin is going to be a balanced manga that does not appear to lean to heavily in one direction.
Lastly, Tamura does a wonderful job constructing the world of this manga. The reader understands that Tamura is creating a world that blends the pulp noir aspects of old cop stories with surreal magical elements such as an anthropomorphic dolphin and a mystical little girl.
I particularly like how Tamura ends Chapter 1 by totally inverting everthing on the reader. Up to this moment, the reader viewed Samejima having to leave Tokyo for a small island as a demotion. That Samejima is now a big fish in a small pond. However, Tamura flips everything on its head as he has Samejima’s girlfriend tell Samejima that he has moved from a small pond in Tokyo to the wide world of the ocean. This is followed up with Chako telling Samejima how endless the ocean is and what greatness is in store for him. This is excellent thematic work as it dovetails perfectly into the beginning of Chapter 1 where Tamura talks about how 95% of the ocean has not been observed by mankind.
This now makes Samejima embarking on a grand journey far larger in scope than where he was in the beginning of Chapter 1 in Tokyo. This also hints to the reader that the wide world of the ocean and all of its mysterious are going to provide fertile fodder for future stories and adventures.
All right, now it is time to talk about Tamura’s artwork. Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 is excellent looking. I love Tamura’s art. He has such am excellent slick style of art. Tamura has incredible attention to detail. All of the buildings and landscapes are so well fleshed out. The impressive detail work on the teens’ Mini Cooper made the car look like it just jumped out of a car brochure. I love it when artists draw detailed version of real cars instead of just a generic automobile.
Tamura also does a great job drawing all of the characters. They all have good designs. Of course, Orpheus has the coolest design. I love his look! Tamura is able to draw excellent facial expressions, too. This helps inject plenty of emotion into the story.
The Bad: I have no complaints of this chapter.
Overall: Hard Boiled Cop and Dolphin Chapter 1 was a blast to read. This is a fun start to what should be an entertaining Shonen manga. I think Tamura has a fun ride in store for us. I would certainly recommend giving this new manga a try.
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