Reviewed by: Joe
Released by: Yen Press
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Shima Shinya
Page Count: 210
The whole of London is shocked when the mayor is found dead on an Underground train, but perhaps none more than university student Al Adley. Though he took the Tube at the time of the fatal stabbing, he doesn't remember seeing anything unusual-certainly nothing to explain how a bloody knife found its way into his pocket that night. However, in spite of this damning evidence, Detective Ellis believes Al's claims of innocence. Now the two must work together to conceal Al's involvement and clear his name in the face of shadowy forces working to see Al take the fall for a crime he didn't commit...
Lost Lad London is Shima Shinya's latest manga offering. The story follows university student Al Adley, who is being framed for the murder of the Mayor of London. Unofficially working together with police detective, Ellis, they set out to discover the real murderer and the motivation for framing Al, all while hiding Al's involvement in the crime.
Being based in London I snapped up a chance to read a manga set in the city because I'm always curious to see how London is portrayed in manga. Lost Lad London paints a fairly realistic view of the city. It name drops popular shops like Tesco and Sainsbury's, shows the London Underground Roundel where appropriate and generally it feels authentic to modern day London. Refreshingly the Union Jack is not used at all in the manga to establish we're in London.
Shinya's art style is reminiscent of Natsume Ono, with minimalist styling and chunky, often rectangular hands. In particular, the line work and detail on characters faces is deceptively minimalist but still shows great level of expression. The manga is rendered in black and white, with a consistent and well used screen tone pattern of light grey or dark grey to texture and detail.
The story focuses heavily on Al and Ellis. The main character Al has some character development during the first volume, but he comes across as fairly cold, logical and very direct. The police detective Ellis is a much more likable character and adds just a little twist of humour with his interactions with others. It would be nice to see more depth and development for the supporting characters in the future volumes.
The manga aims to be realistic and that's where it falls just slightly to hit the mark. London itself is shown with lots of accurate detail with things like milk cartons being clearly from the UK. However the police procedure is where it goes off track. I'm willing to suspend belief for certain aspects of the story, such as the police detective believing a suspect and not reporting Al to the authorities. However other details around the investigation just don't stand up. These could have been explained in the story, but it's feels like not enough thought has been put into this aspect and that makes it a bit jarring to read.
The translator Eleanor Ruth Summers has used British English spellings and a lot care has been taken to use the correct British English phrases.
Overall, the first volume sets the scene well and lays down the ground for the mystery to be unravelled. There are clear gaps in the story. As readers we don't know yet if it's deliberate or an oversight, but it doesn't feel like intentional foreshadowing.
All in all Lost Lad London gets off to a good start, although it's not without its faults. I'm keen to see what happens next in Volume 2 of this manga and to discover which way the story will go.
Translation by Eleanor Ruth Summers
Lettering by Abigail Blackman