Naoya Fukamachi is a first-year university student. He doesn’t know yet what his major should be, but he ends up in Professor Akira Takatsuki’s folklore class. The professor is a little bit odd, but he’s a hit with the students—he’s good looking and his way of teaching is interactive. One day Professor Takatsuki asks Naoya to join him in his study, and suddenly Naoya finds himself with a part-time job helping the professor solving paranormal mysteries.
This is not the part-time job that Naoya had in mind, but helping with one case couldn’t hurt. Especially as the Professor is quirky. When people come to him with their paranormal queries, he gets all excited and his sense of navigation is non-existent, so he needs Naoya to make him realise some common sense. Their first case together gets started when a young woman comes to them for help. She lives alone and at night she hears knocking and scratching sounds. Professor Takatsuki doesn’t think twice before taking on the case, so the two of them finds themselves at the woman’s place. Takatsuki solves the case quickly, but Naoya realizes that there was something else going on. He has a secret: he can hear when people are lying. It’s not something he tells people, because from experience he knows that people then start behaving differently toward him when they learn of his skills.
However, this skill might be useful working with Professor Takatsuki and when their next case presents itself, Naoya needs to figure out what’s going on and fast if he wants to stop someone from getting hurt.
When I first read the blurb of this manga I thought it was going to be a mix between Case Closed and Supernatural, so definitely up my alley. It’s not really, but I still enjoyed it. It seems that both main characters, Naoya and Professor Takatsuki have significant backstories. We know something is up about their pasts thanks to a few hints dropped in the story, but we don’t know yet what happened. However, it seems that both suffered from trauma, and folklore studies were Professor Takatsuki’s coping mechanism. Maybe it will be the same for Naoya as well. It’s too early in the series to know for sure.
Professor Takatsuki is young to be an associate professor, but hopefully we’ll get to know and see the skills that allowed him to become one at his age. He has a way of dealing with students and people in general that doesn’t follow societal norms. He needs someone to keep him in check. In the past it was his friend Kenji Sakamura, but now Takatsuki is trying to get Naoya to assume that role. That Naoya wants it is quite debatable, but he seems pretty good at it so far. I wonder what’s going to happen to the two of them. Especially as Takatsuki is surrounded by odd characters as well. Kenji is one of them—a detective with a scary face. Ruiko Ubakata is another one—a grad student under the mentorship of Takatsuki, who tends to fall asleep on Takatsuki’s office floor.
I usually go for romance manhwa and manga, however, it seems that this series won’t have much romance in it. I was slightly scared to read the volume as the premise of the series is about paranormal mysteries, and I tend to avoid scary stuff, but it wasn’t scary at all. If you were expecting some horror scenes (think Junji Ito), then you’re going to be disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed by it not being scary—actually I was pretty happy about it. I’m curious to see how Takatsuki and Naoya’s working relationship develops, and what happened to both to cause their traumas.
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture Volume 1 is based on the novels of the same name by Mirage Sawamura, and is illustrated by Toji Aio, with character design by Jiro Suzuki. The manga is published in the English language by Yen Press with a translation by Katelyn Smith. Volume 2 is slated for release in November 2023.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.