‘Sherlock: The Blind Banker #3’ reviewed

❉ Kadokawa’s adaptation of the the second episode of Sherlock preserves its BBC feel while adding a manga pacing to it.

It’s always a bit of a thing to review a word-for-word adaptation of something everyone’s already seen. ‘The Blind Banker’ is an early entry in the Sherlock series, and has the misfortune of being the non-Moffat/Gatiss work that tends to get judged more harshly. Whether it’s a fair judgment or just a matter of suffering from being someone else’s name on the script will vary from viewer to viewer. Still, I recall ‘The Blink Banker’ being an intriguing one, with some especially entertaining scenes between our leading men.

Kadokawa’s adaptation continues to have changed essentially nothing. A camera angle here, a bit of timing there, but otherwise they’re putting the story on the page as we remember it. What becomes evident quickly, though, is that manga pacing and framing do lend a different flavour to the piece. It’s subtle, but what actions and angles are emphasized can definitely alter the tone of a scene.

The Sherlock manga is an interesting mix, in that it preserves its BBC feel while adding a manga pacing to it. Manga artist Jay. has managed to make the two disparate styles work in harmony here, without feeling particularly overwrought by one or the other. This is likely in part because while it does follow many manga tropes, it doesn’t go hard with the ones that might alienate a non-Japanese reader – an interesting choice, as it was made for a Japanese audience, but one that helps Titan immensely in their localization.

Speaking of Jay. I mentioned before how their art style bordered on the caricature-ish. It seems as though this is toning down just a bit. Sherlock and John are still both heavily modeled on their original actors, but some of the extreme uncanniness is fading into a more comfortable, consistent style. Yes, Sherlock does occasionally flash one of those pointed alien smirks, but our leads are starting to look far more at home with their supporting cast. I suspect that by the time we get to Series 2 adaptations, there will be a very notable fluidity to the whole thing.

As for the localization and typesetting itself, it continues to be quite good. Readable text, good use of speech bubbles (always a challenge for localizing manga, as English text runs perpendicular to Japanese text and a translated bubble can look awkwardly empty if not spaced well)… they still occasionally go a bit too literal with sound effect translations, but it’s getting better. Again, that’s one of the greater challenges of translating from a language where anything can be a sound effect.

Jay.’s cover art for this particular edition is especially lovely, especially the full wraparound version. Question No. 6 does a charming, stylized cover, too – it has a fantastic retro feel to it. The B cover, which features a photo of Sherlock against a white background, seems a bit oddly cut – not as bad as I would have done it in Photoshop, but there’s a strange starkness to it (not to mention an utterly lethal cheekbone). And while I love a good photo cover, I feel it could have benefited from a background rather than emptiness.

The Sherlock manga continue to be successful, I believe, largely because of the degree of Jay.’s faithfulness to the original, Titan’s faithfulness to both the script, and the format of the manga – we do live in a post-flipped-manga society, but I still appreciate the fact that it’s left as it was. There seems to be a great degree of desire to just ‘do the show’ on the part of everyone, and while the occasional artistic liberty is taken for the sake of publication in a different medium, it’s a relief to see that no one tries to get fancy. I look forward to the closing out of this story and the move forward into the next part.

Largely because I cannot wait to see how Jay. draws Moriarty!


❉ ‘Sherlock: The Blind Banker #3 (Writer: Stephen Thompson; Co-Creators: Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss; Artist: Jay) is published by Titan Comics on 8 March 2017, and is available in print from Titan Comics, RRP £3.30 or digitally from Comixology, RRP £2.49.

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