Toward the end of 2022, I reviewed Volume 1 of Usotoki Rhetoric, a shojo title from publisher One Peace Books. Here we met Kanoko, a young woman who can tell when someone is lying. Having left her hometown behind, she found herself in Tsukumoya, where she met detective Souma and became his assistant.
We reunite with Kanoko and Souma as they’re doing odd jobs for the residents of Tsukumoya. One of these tasks leads Kanoko and Souma to meeting Kirino Kanji, who has ended up in the hospital after being hit by a car. When they first arrive, Kanji is arguing with Lily, a woman he was supposed to meet at the theatre for a date. Lily was approached by a woman holding a painting Kanji had drawn of Lily and said he stayed the night at her place after getting drunk but left the item and a movie ticket behind.
Kanji meanwhile denies knowing the woman and explains that he got hurt after taking a shortcut past a Western-style mansion in Sanjubangai. There he claims to have seen a ghost in the mansion’s window, which spooked him enough to run away and get into an accident. Of course, the idea that Kanji saw a ghost sounds ridiculous to Lily and she doesn’t believe a word of it, which is why the two are now at an impasse.
Having listened to their story, Kanoko can tell that neither Lily nor Kanji is lying about their version of events, so she and Souma decide that the only way to resolve the situation is to investigate Kanji’s ghost story. Together with Hanasaki, Souma’s childhood friend and police contact, they head toward the mansion.
Souma already knows the mansion Kanji spoke about due to it being the scene of an unsolved murder from a decade ago, so he’s hoping Kanji’s case will give them enough clues to solve both cases. Kanoko and Hanasaki meanwhile are not best pleased that they might have a run-in with the supernatural, particularly when they find themselves visiting the mansion in the dead of night and hearing strange noises that could be the ghost in question…
The haunted mansion case takes up just under half of Volume 2. The second half of the book sees Kanoko striking out on her own and taking on the case away from Souma. But without Souma, Kanoko misreads the situation and almost hurts her client while labelling someone guilty of something they hadn’t done.
This sends her into a spiral, wondering if working with Souma is the right thing to do. She left home after realising her power did nothing but hurt those around her and now she’s worried about ending up in the same position. She might even hurt Souma after all he’s done for her. Is history destined to repeat itself?
While there’s a little less variety in the cases we see Kanoko and Souma work this time around, it’s nice to see author Ritsu Miyako committed to continuing to explore Kanoko’s history. She has a lot of emotions tied to both her ability and those she’s hurt because of it. Although she’s in a better place now she’s at the detective agency, that doesn’t mean those fears are automatically resolved and so it’s important that we see her development alongside the mystery solving that is otherwise the series’ bread and butter.
Just like its initial outing, Usotoki Rhetoric continues to be charming: filled with drama, comedy and otherwise tender moments between the cast. There’s a surprising amount of depth to the whole series, that you wouldn’t expect from simply reading the rather short synopsis on the back cover. Although I will say that, once again, despite being a shojo series you won’t find much in the way of romance here. And that’s fine in my opinion since Kanoko and Souma’s relationship works much better with them as friends, especially as right now that’s all Kanoko needs. Friends she can rely on, who trust her, and will have her back if something goes wrong. Until she finds her feet in that regard, it’s too early to be thinking about a romantic partner.
As previously mentioned, Usotoki Rhetoric Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to One Peace Books and continues to be translated by Molly Rabbit. The translation reads well and the lettering, while sharing similar problems to Volume 1 (where some translations would have been better placed as notes between panels or as a page at the back of the book) is at least consistent with the first book.
Volume 3 of the series is currently due for a release in June, with #4 following in September. So it looks like we’ll be on a fairly regular release schedule, which is always nice to see especially coming from one of the smaller publishers.
Overall, if you enjoyed the first volume of Usotoki Rhetoric then you’ll certainly enjoy this one. With some longer mysteries this time around and plenty of growth for Kanoko, we’re getting to see the strengths of mangaka Ritsu Miyako. This series continues to be a real joy to read.
Our review copy from One Peace Books was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).