I Tell C is the next in the list of cancelled titles in Jump that I wanted to check out. It’s got a unique premise here to start off with but ultimately it’s just not a good one. I’m sure there are ways you could have spun this into something interesting but it would be difficult right off the bat because this just isn’t a great idea in my opinion. The core gimmick would need to be heavily reworked to really stand a chance at being the next big thing and the series ended long before that could happen.
The series starts off by introducing us to a criminal who just murdered somebody and figures he got away. Unfortunately for him there is someone who knows what he did. Her name is Aioi and she is a detective who abuses this position in order to find out info about criminals and catch them. Thing is, she doesn’t want to arrest them but to help the criminals out. See, Aioi falls in love with anyone who commits a bad deed but is so scary with her possessive stalking that the villain then runs over to the cops and turns himself in. Can the villains out run Aioi and will the cops continue to allow her to act like this?
It’s a rather loose plot summary and the thing is…it only works for the first 3-4 chapters before the plot changes again. Unlike many titles which have an easy general plot summary, I Tell C changes its approach for each arc so it’s hard to pin down. The pilot story is effectively showing us the story from a villain’s point of view, the next arc shows this to us from a hero’s point of view, the third arc is more of a comedic tale that turns into a thriller, the next arc is a Kaito Kid adventure, and then the final arc changes gears once more into a psychological battle.
I Tell C was always changing things up which is interesting if it’s trying to go more the anthology route but those have their own weaknesses as well. One of which is that you can never expect a whole lot of consistency there since some styles will naturally be a lot weaker than others. I would frown on using this style personally because even if it can work, it’s very difficult. The easiest kind of story to adapt here would be the first and have each story be by the villain’s perspective. It may not always work but it could capture the intensity of Aioi the most.
Before I go any further, let me break down why I disliked the series. The whole thing revolves around the fact that Aioi falls in love with criminals. This is incredibly suspect especially considering she works for the police. Now, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if the villains were doing some more minor things like stealing bread from the deli or jaywalking. The problem is that almost all of Aioi’s opponents are mass murderers. These are people who are taking lives and she is talking about marrying them.
Aioi goes very far with this to the point where she defends them. One person just got done murdering at least 5 people that we know of and she explains that he was just lonely and needed someone to hold hands with. That’s just awful and the only way you could get around that would be if she was portrayed as a villain. When the series is portraying this to just be a fun quirky trait for the main character…well that’s a problem. The series missed another easy fix there which would have been to have Aioi not be a part of the police. Have her be another criminal that the police are trying to catch.
As Sakon notes in the first chapter, she may have caught the villain but she broke no less than 5 laws at the same time. So the police should really be arresting her as well but they choose to turn a blind eye. Effectively she is a villain who’s on the payroll and is tolerated because she is the best detective they’ve got. That’s just messed up and Aioi says on numerous occasions that she won’t arrest the criminals and will even help them get away if anything.
Later on she goes more into detail with her plan which is effectively that she figures if she marries a criminal then she can provide him with enough love where he will never commit a crime again. It’s just an incredibly naive goal because mass murderers aren’t going to change again. That’s yet another reason why I say the series would work better if these were just petty criminals. Then you can actually see why she would be acting like this. Reforming criminals is great and all but Aioi goes too far when she starts making excuses for them.
There’s a big difference between saying that person X deserves a fair second chance and should get a lenient sentence and saying that person X only murdered these people because he was lonely and shouldn’t have to go to prison. One is still going through the system and offering a recovery step afterwards while the other is just pure delusion. So Aioi brings the entire series down right from the jump to which I would say it never truly recovers.
The series ended with 21 chapters so there isn’t time for a lot of arcs. Lets quickly take a look at the various arcs. The series definitely had a rough beginning as the second half destroys the first chunk but I suppose it was too late for the series to properly course correct all the way. I already discussed the opening chapter for the most part but I would say it was one of the most effective ones. Seeing things from the villain’s point of view was interesting like with how demented Aioi appears the whole time. She is definitely not somebody you want to mess with.
We’re also introduced to the main two police officers Sakon and Ukon. Sakon instantly makes the most sense as he disapproves of these tactics but will never look very good. It’s just a solid pilot chapter and if the rest of the series were like this then there would be some more potential. I’ve already talked about Aioi so I’ll leave that character alone for now.
Sakon is a character who had a lot of potential. I liked him in the first chapter but after that he fades quickly. His whole gimmick is that he’s obsessed with strength so he is always lifting weights. He’s like your classic Shonen lead as he always wants to jump into action and do the right thing. These are all great traits but the problem is that he’s never helpful. He loses just about every fight he is in.
There’s on moment in particular that was embarrassing where he knocks a villain down and instead of pressing the advantage he tells everyone to run and gets out of there. If you tie up the villain at this moment then there is no danger to run from. He blew it in that arc but the main issue is that he seems to blow it in every arc which is a problem. He’s the resident strong guy but it never feels like it with how often he loses.
Then you have his brother Ukon who is more by the books. He’s with the rest of the cops in how they dislike Aioi so he doesn’t mind if she gets injured or dies on the case. As a result Ukon takes more of a backseat in these cases. He stops appearing fairly early on in the series and there’s not time for him to have a proper character moment. As a result he ends the series as a bit of an empty character.
After the opening case, we have to deal with an opponent who has been murdering a lot of girls because he’s another twisted guy. Even though he is murdering tons of people, Aioi finds this charming and wants to marry the guy. Problem #2 with this, she has no plan. She allows him to knock her out with the sleeping gas and get tied up. This was part of her plan but she had no exit strategy. This means that if Sakon doesn’t show up at the absolute perfect time then she would be dead right now.
What kind of main character is this? The story also felt unnecessarily dark with how this all played out. The heroes are able to save one victim at least but when you consider how many died that is just brutal. You don’t want to introduce a villain who is this much of a psychotic creep like this. Maybe for the final boss or something but it’s too dark too fast particularly with Aioi here. The first villain was at least rather normal and just murdered somebody.
So I really didn’t like that case and it’s probably the weakest in the series for me. The next case is the longest as the group heads to a mansion for some hot springs. Of course it turns out that the place is filled with murder. The mass murderer who destroys people and then steals their hands is in the area as well. Of course Aioi is thrilled about this but nobody else is.
It also introduces the main villain of the series Hikaru. He won’t appear in any more cases so you’ll have to savor him now. For reasons we don’t know yet, Aioi can’t stand him and he is the one villain that she wants to take down. From the context clues we do get, it seems like he pulled a Darth Vader and basically murdered himself. So the new him is now evil and the old Anakin version is no more.
Still, the old version did kidnap Aioi and cause her to get this whole Stockholm syndrome so he doesn’t seem like a great guy. I’m sure that the series would have gotten to this at some point but there’s no time. The guy’s not very interesting though. He doesn’t seem like a super mastermind with how easily they caught him. He doesn’t feel pain which is handy but it’s still really sloppy that Sakon let him get away. You should never let someone get away when you’ve defeated and disarmed them. The whole thing was embarrassing.
Lets just say that Sakon’s guard is so low he allows Hikaru to reach in his pocket and take out the gun. Ok….that’s sad. Hikaru can’t really fight either so he just takes every blow to the point where Aioi nearly murdered him. He sees the whole world as his personal novel to write so that could be an interesting trait. Him getting beaten severely by the heroes in their first appearance is hard to get back from though.
As for the hands villain, he was pretty awful. Remember once again that this is someone who has murdered a bunch of people. So it turns out that he just did need to hold somebody’s hand, in this case Aioi’s. Then he’s a changed man to the point where he even has a speech and attacks Hikaru. It’s just so disrespectful to the people he murdered that the guy could be changed so easily. He was also seconds away from murdering Aioi so it’s good that she can forgive and forget so easily.
That arc was a bit of a mess without a doubt. Next up is another big saga which introduces the Phantom Thief Mar. So this is a legendary thief that nobody knows the identity of. Mar steals a bunch of paintings of women and always returns them in a deformed state. Well, this time Aioi and the others have been asked to help. Why?
Well, after the events of the last case we got a time skip and the group was removed from the police. They’re now a shadow unit known as the I team who help out on the trickier cases and can break the rules. Of course by the same token they are also unofficial so it would be very easy to frame or shut them down. To introduce this concept there was also a pretty quick case where Aioi has to stop a bank robber and she makes her first arrest. At least now she is finally arresting people since it’s her only chance to get closer to finding Hikaru again.
Mar decides to let the heroes know her true identity though. It turns out that she is a girl who is obsessed with her own beauty. It’s not just a random character trait though as it actually ties into her backstory. Lets just say that she needs to be beautiful in order to complete her main objective. It’s an interesting plan and I’ll give the series credit for this being a unique one as well. Of course Aioi is torn because part of her wants Mar to succeed while part of her needs to catch this villain so it’s a tough call.
Sakon gets wrecked again as always though. It’s a pretty decent case even if Aioi is annoying the whole time though. Any scene of Aioi trying to pull the moves on Mar is a bit much and of course she hasn’t gotten completely past her phase of making excuses for the villain. Keep in mind that Mar is actively defacing popular paintings which are worth a ton of money and by the end this is portrayed as something almost heroic. Her father and grandfather look awful in the flashbacks though. Terrible characters through and through. Especially the father who completely lost sight of what matters. Also going back to the defacing property, lets just say that Aioi isn’t above doing such things as well.
So we got to meet Mar and interestingly it seems like she would not have been a reoccurring character. I liked the fact that she could fight but of course it did come at the expense of Sakon looking really bad again. This guy seriously could not catch a break and there’s no way I could take him seriously as a fighter after this. There was just no way. Mar’s origin story was certainly emotional although it doesn’t justify her wrecking private property like this. She easily beats a lot of the other villains we’ve seen so far though.
Then we have the chief of the I team Akiraka who is Aioi’s self proclaimed father. Technically there is no relation but that’s the role that he sees himself in which is something. There’s not much to him yet so he’s more of a bland character than the others. Finally this takes us to the last case where we meet the suicide bomber Aichi. Basically he wants to throw his life away because he has lost all hope and has stationed himself inside of a building.
There is a clear timer on the bomb so he is giving everyone a chance to leave safely. The password to deactivate the bomb is one letter long but you only get one chance to guess or the bomb will blow up right away. It makes for an interesting word game and some solving skills. It’s a fairly small case but one that works easily enough. The main issue is that afterwards Aichi joins the team which is how the series ends. You’re telling me that a suicide bomber who nearly blew the building up and caused a lot of damage is allowed to join the I team just like that? I don’t know that seems like a bit of a stretch.
Aichi seems to have a crush on Aioi but there isn’t a whole lot more that we know about his personality yet. He has a bit of a sarcastic streak to him but ultimately the series ended before we could learn more. There’s also Aioi’s informant, but we don’t know much about him beyond the fact that he likes everything to be in perfect halves. It’s an interesting quirk but right now that’s all it is so we’ll have to wait a bit to see if he’s a good character or not. Right now I’m not impressed.
Finally you have Homura who has a crush on Sakon but you already know that she is doomed since inevitably Aioi would get picked. Homura is an expert with a gun but that’s not too helpful when Mar is a bullet timer and Homura doesn’t appear for the other cases. She has a lot of potential and is one of the more likable characters. It’s just too bad that she didn’t get to appear much. So that wraps up the characters and the plot of the series. As you can see, I just can’t get past the core concept of the series.
When you start to try and make excuses for the murderers running around town I just have a hard time buying into it. Aioi’s obsession is taken way too far with all of her lines being about love and marriage with the villains. Even casually she won’t talk to characters much unless they have some kind of criminal record. It’s all meant to be very funny of course but the humor really doesn’t click.
In general the writing is okay I suppose. I found it a bit ironic that most of the arcs have no actual mysteries though even though this seems like it’s supposed to be a mystery series. The only case that would qualify are the first 2 so after the first 3 chapters that is dropped entirely. The hotel is a thriller, the phantom thief arc is really just a chase, and the final arc is a negotiation. Maybe the author got bored of doing straight mysteries.
As for the art, it’s not as great as some of the other recent titles I’ve read but it’s good. My main issue is that the character designs aren’t always very distinct. Some panels will have a lot of detail and then suddenly others won’t. It’s not super consistent but it’s still clear enough where I can always tell what is going on so ultimately I would give the series a green checkmark on this.
So, how would I prevent this series from being cancelled? Well I’m sure you know what my first change will be. Definitely completely change Aioi’s character to the core. No more falling in love with every criminal and justifying their actions. Now, if you need that to be present or this would be a different series, then instead just have her be another villain. Make this a Carmen Sandiego kind of series.
Aioi always finds the villain first and tries to marry them only for the main two cops Sakon and Ukon to appear and foil her plans. She always runs off while they catch the villain. I think that would immediately be a much better dynamic and would fix things in a pinch. That would make the series a whole lot more approachable and I just think it would be a much better core concept. As a mild aside, I would also say to make the main villain a little more threatening so he shouldn’t get completely beaten up in his first appearance. That’s not the right way to set up the villain.
Overall, You can just see why I Tell C was cancelled. You really just won’t be able to save this premise very easily and it’s a shame because we can always use a good mystery series. Aioi has to be one of the worst main characters I’ve ever seen in a manga. Hopefully if the series were to ever come back the author would be able to fix some of the issues here. Just go for a big change up and hope for the best.