CMX, don’t you get your cover images in to Amazon on time?
Title: Deka Kyoshi Vol 1
Author: Tamio Baba
Publisher: CMX/Flex Comics
May Contain Spoilers
Toyama is a rough and tough police detective, and he’s been sent back to school. On assignment, he’s working undercover at an elementary school, investigating the mysterious death of a teacher. Once in the classroom, Toyama learns that dealing with a group of kids is a lot harder than he thought it would be! In addition to the usual rowdiness, he also has to deal with Makoto, a young boy who is being bullied because he claims he can see monsters. What if he’s telling the truth?
Deka Kyoshi follows in the path of Kindergarten Cop, where a tough guy is forced to interact with a bunch of kids. Toyama is taking the place of a deceased 5th grade homeroom teacher, hoping to discover if she really did commit suicide, or whether or not she was pushed to her death. His students are the usual mix of bullies, class clowns, and overachievers, with one unusual kid. Makoto says that he can see monsters, but nobody believes him. Because they all think he is lying to get attention, the other kids pick on him mercilessly, and even the other teachers aren’t very patient with him.
There is one person who believes him, and that’s Toyama. Toyama quickly realizes that Makoto can see the demons lurking inside of people, and when they manifest themselves, something bad is going to happen very soon. Makoto and Toyama quickly team up, and they are scrambling to figure out why so many weird things are happening at the school. Are they coincidences, or is something much more sinister afoot?
Judging this book by the cover, I was honestly not expecting much from it. I was surprised to find an engrossing story with likeable characters and creepy monsters. Toyama is not the brightest guy on the police force, let alone the classroom, but his dedication to his job and then to his students, makes up for his shortcomings. He is big and a little clumsy, but his determination to solve the mystery at the school is admirable. He is also very sincere and earnest when it comes to the students in his class, and after a few false steps with them, he wins them over and then begins to care about them. Keeping them safe from whatever is menacing the school quickly becomes an overwhelming concern for him.
I sympathized with Makoto right away. The poor kid is picked on mercilessly, just because he can see everyone’s inner demons. OK, so that’s a little creepy, but it’s no reason to beat him up all the time. Quiet and shy, he just wants to be accepted for who he is, and when Toyama does just that, Makoto starts to gradually emerge from the shell he’s withdrawn into. Working with Toyama gives him the courage to reach out to other kids in the class.
Deka Kyoshi is an enjoyable romp with mystery, suspense, and the monsters that lurk inside everyone. The pacing is very fast, as Toyama and Makoto race to save the students from themselves, and research the teacher’s death. Each chapter focused on another student and the monster that threatened to consume them, and the atmosphere was very tense as Toyama and Makoto tried to figure out a way to save them. Each scenario was interesting, making me wonder what they would have to do to get rid of the demon. There is also the compelling aspect of the larger mystery – what really happened to Ms Shimizu?
The CMX/Flex titles have been surprisingly fun, and Deka Kyoshi is no exception, despite the awkward title. Deka Kyoshi? It sounds like a newly discovered species of frog. Eh?
Review copy provided by CMX