On a day like any other, Ayumu Narumi takes a nap on the top of the roof of his school waiting patiently for the belt to ring. Then suddenly, a loud scream catches his attention. When he goes to check it, he finds himself looking down over a dead body. Before he even gets the time to process the situation, somebody points a finger at him and accuses him of murder. The police quickly make their way to the crime scene, and with an eyewitness claiming to have seen Ayumu pushing the victim of the balcony, he becomes the prime suspect. In spite of the accusations, Ayumu is not phased in the slightest. He knows he did not do it, but with everything stuck against him, can he prove his innocence? This is how Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning opens up its story.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning sets up a twisting mystery
Ayumu is now accused of a murder he did not commit needs to prove his innocence to two detectives. This has its own twist: one of the detectives is actually his brother’s wife. What’s more, ever since his brother’s disappearance they have lived together and formed a very close relationship—close enough to almost get him off the hook. Despite the exemption his sister-in-law gives him, Ayumu becomes determined to go one step further. He sets out to solve the case himself putting together clue after clue and reason after reason as he gets closer to the truth. With the help of soon-to-be psychic Hiyono, a noisy girl with a sincere ability to dig out any information, he manages to figure out the culprit. However, the case suddenly is thrown a curveball when the culprit is assassinated seconds before Ayumu is given a name: the Blade Children. It is a phrase Ayumu has heard before and believes it is associated with his brother’s disappearance. Continuing to investigate these so-called “Blade Children,” Ayumu has the realization that he is being hunted by them. But who and what exactly are the Blade Children?
This is one of the most engaging stories I have had a chance to read. Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is a lesson on how to write convincing plot twists that will linger in your mind for hours after you have experienced them—which is no surprise given that the manga comes from the hands of Kyo Shirodaria, the author behind Blast of Tempest, a fantastic fantasy story and a personal favorite of mine. Just like Blast of Tempest, Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning has three main facets that hold the manga together: a philosophical take on mystery, fantastic twists and turns that are bound to blow you away without actually damaging the plot, and finally connection between characters, which is also the most important one.
Shirodaria plays to their strengths
Blast of Tempest focuses primarily on two characters: Mahiro and Yoshino. And one particular connection they have is Aika, who was murdered. Throughout the series, they are working together to find a person responsible for her death while we get to learn about each of their relationship with Aika, what she meant for both of them, and what her influence had led them to. With little clues sprinkled here and there, we get to piece the puzzle together. This focus on connections between people is the bread and butter of the story with a generous amount of jam topping it off depicted by the mind-blowing plot twists, which do not affect the plot’s consistency despite their significance.
It may sound like this is pitching a different series, but the exact same play on connections happens in Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning. Compared to Blast of Tempest, Spiral is spread wider since it focuses on quite a few characters while being a lot more concise. Here, ties revolve around the central mystery of the series, the Blade Children. In the most spoiler-free way possible, the Blade Children are described in the series as cursed individuals born with unique abilities such as increased speed, formidable intellect, and other various talents. They are distinguishable from other people by their missing seventh right rib bone. That’s hard to identify in everyday situations, but thankfully they also have cat-like slits for pupils and they all inevitably develop a tendency towards violence.
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Throughout the series, we get to know some of the Blade Children. Outside of their personalities and quirks, we learn what they are capable of, why they are feared, who wants to get rid of them, and who they want to get rid of. The most important question that dominates all others and will be brought up at the very end of the series is the destiny of the Blade Children, an intriguing clash of philosophies that is surrounded in mystery. These individuals who are progressively becoming more and more violent to the point where killing becomes as natural as drinking water. It is seemingly a phenomenon they have no control over, but what if they do? What causes these violent tendencies? Would it be better to simply get rid of them or try to help them out? Can they even be helped? It is a spiral of questions that Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning will continuously encourage you to ask.
Mysteries are truly compelling stories
The ability to cause the reader to question is what makes Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning a great story. A compelling mystery should bring up loaded questions and then make you think about them in depth. However, there is always an answer, and if you pay close attention, you might just pick up the answer along the way. Do not get fooled by the early chapters where the story might come off as a domino of murder mysteries with a bunch of random and unrelated cases thrown in for our protagonist to solve. The actual story is nothing of the sort. Those mysteries that may seem to be related will eventually show their connection, but for the time being, they are meant to establish Ayumu’s detective skills and prepare us for the level of deductions we are going to get later in the series.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning gives the reader room to participate and also has some very clever scenes that reward them if they’re staying on top of the mystery. These are not monumental deductions that a reader will have no way of possibly knowing. The narrative of Bonds of Reasoning does a great job of developing all major and minor recurring characters. They all have their own complex motivations and no one is initially what they seem on the surface. It was very interesting to look back on those characters at the end of the series and see how my opinion on them totally flip.
While initially the story only follows Ayumu and Hiyono with his sister-in-law occasionally popping in, the cast gets increasingly larger with many different and interesting characters joining in. Outside of some irritating mystery points, the manga keeps a high level of quality throughout. There is an anime adaptation if that is something you prefer over the manga, but the anime leaves out some of the most important questions unanswered and that leaves the mystery less satisfying. The story has this incredible flow that manages to constantly keep the level of suspense and wonder at an all-time high. The more we get to know and the closer we get to the truth, the more intense and violent everything gets. Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is truly a wild ride in every sense in the world.
Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is available in print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kinokuniya.
Featured image © Kyo Shirodaria, Eita Mizuno/SQUARE ENIX