Shibata Taketora is a police detective, working in the Koenji Station Public Safety Department, Youth Division, to bring help and guidance to troubled and victimized teens and children. His credibility is hampered though, by the fact that he looks even younger than most of the teens he's supposed to be policing
. But he has powerful assets on his side; a deceptively keen analytical mind, national champion level kendo skills
, an apparently supernatural ability to sense when others are in peril, and most important of all, an overwhelming ability to see and bring out the best in the people around him.
Although it tends towards the idealistic end of the scale
, Shibatora delves deeply into some sensitive issues such as child abuse, drug addiction, and sexual exploitation, making it significantly darker than most Shōnen
series. The series is complete in Japan, and was adapted into a live action drama in 2008
This series provides examples of the following tropes
- Anyone Can Die: Aoyama Ruka and Machida Rika.
- Badass: Fujiki Koujirou. When he attests to Shibata's ability to handle himself despite his looks, Mizuki asks "Is he the inheritor of the Hokuto Shinken or something?" Fujiki's response: "That would be me." It's not an idle boast.
- Badass Adorable: Shibata, to a high degree. Even without a swordlike weapon available, he can usually handle himself with whatever comes to hand, even a simple pocket pen.
- Buried Alive: Happens to Shibata and Rika. The grave is shallow enough for them to dig their way out because the people who buried them weren't really trying to kill them at all.
- Cast of Snowflakes: Features a highly physically diverse and distinctive cast, especially among the older characters.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Houshou Mizuki becomes one, insisting on calling herself Shibata's "wife" and getting aggressive towards any other girl who appears to be getting close to him.
- Compensated Dating: In a series focusing on youth-related crime, it's no surprise that this features repeatedly.
- Conviction by Contradiction: Kuma, in the Angel storyline. Not actually conviction, but arrest by contradiction (the protagonists being police rather than lawyers.) However, once he's kept from walking, the case against him builds easily.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Hakuto. He completely fits his nickname of "White Pig," but when the chips are down, he can stand with the biggest badasses in the series.
- Crusading Lawyer: Kuma Gorou. He's set up to be an Amoral Attorney given his son's despicable behavior and expectation that his father will come to his defense, but he turns out to be one of these.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: A delinquent high schooler challenges Shibata to a kendo match, but knowing that Shibata is an expert, demands that he get to use a bokken (a solid wooden sword, much heavier than the bamboo shinai,) and Shibata have the handicap of fighting without protective equipment, and that they fight until one of them can't get up. Not only does Shibata accept the terms, he doesn't even need a shinai, he beats his opponent down with an imaginary blade. Afterwards, he compliments the delinquent's aptitude, for instinctively reacting to the sword as if it were real.
- Cursed with Awesome: Shibata's childish appearance makes it hard for him to earn respect from adults, but it's fantastic for going undercover in his work as as a Youth Division detective. He also points out that his non-threatening appearance makes him easy for people to trust and get close to.
- Dirty Cop: Saitou, the cyber investigator. He first appears as a Spear Carrier of no particular distinction, but he's probably the single most despicable character in the series.
- Diving Save: Shibata rescuing Katou from being hit by a subway, and later again to stop Shinjou from being hit by a car.
- Eye Scream: Mizuki is kidnapped and loses her eyesight when a painful, perhaps acidic, substance is purposefully dripped onto them after Diamond Shadow realizes that her accurate facial composite drawing capabilities might reveal his identity.
- Flashback: Fujiki has a number of these revealing his past history with Shibata.
- Friend to All Living Things: Doesn't come up much since they're living in the middle of a city, but Shibata alludes to this being the case for him in one of the flashbacks.
- Functional Addict: Machida Rika had been hooked on some fairly dangerous drugs since well before Shibata met her, but is still exceptionally sharp witted, and he doesn't recognize her problem at all at first. However, the revelation of her addiction recasts some of her earlier behaviors in a new light.
- Generation Xerox: As it turns out, Taketora's father was also a kendo champion and police detective in the youth division of the same district, who carried the same ideals Taketora does. The prospect that their careers will be too similar is a worrying one, since he was killed by a juvenile delinquent in the same sort of criminal organization Taketora is facing in that arc.
- GIFT: Features heavily in the Gasoline Man storyline.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Shibata. He can be a bit too trusting at times, but much less so than he lets others think, and his analytical abilities are first rate.
- Great Escape: Shibata ends up pulled into one when he goes undercover at a juvenile prison.
- Heel-Face Turn: Many a young criminal when they encounter Shibata. Subverted at one point.
- I Have No Son: Kuma Gorou's reaction when he learns about his son's crimes. He only agrees to rescind his disownment if his son confesses to everything.
- Improvised Weapon: How Shibata usually makes use of his kendo skills.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: How Shibata manages to arrest Angel.
- Interrupted Suicide: Shibata to Houshou Mizuki in the first storyline.
- Irony: The girls who (correctly) accuse a businessman of taking underskirt photos of them at the beginning of the Sneak Photography storyline are themselves taking sneak photographs of their classmates and selling them online.
- Jailbait Wait: Hakuto suggests he's prepared to do this for Yuria at the end of the Angel storyline. Considering just how young she is right now, the rest of the gang does not approve.
- Jerkass Has a Point: The narrative usually favors Shibata's philosophy of rehabilitation over Shinjou's philosophy of prevention by example, but when Shinjou berates Shibata for tending to a friend's injuries while letting the Gasoline Man, who's liable to hurt far more people if he's free, escape, Shibata admits that Shinjou is completely right.
- Kick Chick: Machida Rika. Turns out she learned karate to defend herself from her sexually abusive stepfather.
- Magic Realism: Shibata's ability to see "shinigami hands" is implicitly supernatural, but the rest of the series stays strictly within the realm of the mundane.
- Man on Fire: Asakura, during the Gasoline Man storyline. Definitely not played for laughs.
- Older than They Look: Shibata is 22, but is usually mistaken for a middle schooler. Angel's modus operandi also relies on this trait.
- Only in It for the Money: Katou claims this as his motivation for becoming Onigami
- Panty Shot: Not done for fanservice, but shows up a lot in the Sneak Photography storyline. Rika features first though, with her Kick Chick tendencies.
- Parental Abandonment: Multiple characters have suffered this. Unsurprising considering the series' premise.
- Perp Sweating: Shibata is particularly good at this. However, this mostly happens with characters who haven't actually been arrested yet. When another policeman tries this on Kuma once he's been formally arrested, Kuma points out that he can invoke his right to remain silent, and clams up completely.
- Princess Curls: Machida Rika has a couple of big ones. Ironic considering she could hardly be further from a high class lady.
- Pretty Freeloaders: Mizuki, to Shibata. She announces that she's going to be freeloading off of him at the end of the first storyline, and she hasn't left yet. Although Social Services appear to exist, Shibata doesn't have the heart to kick her out.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Chiba Sakura, Chief of the Public Safety Youth Division. Despite the fact that Shibata is definitely not a By-the-Book Cop, she tolerates his methods because he shows so much success in genuinely helping and rehabilitating at-risk kids, not simply making arrest quotas. Shibata himself is one to the kids he polices.
- Red Herring: Mura isn't really Onigami.
- Running Gag: Shibata being mistaken for a minor and being refused service or kicked out of venues.
- Reformed Criminal: Fujiki Koujirou, Shibata's best friend and lancer is one at the start, and others join them over the course of the series due to Shibata's efforts.
- Scare 'Em Straight: Shibata usually employs gentler methods, but he pulls a Reverse Psychology form of this on a runaway girl, while pretending to be a fellow runaway, bringing up all the dangers and hardships a girl of her age faces living on the streets while claiming that they're "probably not a big deal." Afterwards, he pretends to reconcile with his parents and encourages her to do the same.
- Self Harm: Risa is involved in this.
- Shaming the Mob: Several characters try this on the people mobbing Murayama at the end of the Gasoline Man storyline. Unusually for a work on the idealistic side of the scale, it doesn't work. However, Shibata encourages Murayama to take the view that the important thing isn't that the mob condemned him, but that several people stood up for him.
- This Is Unforgivable: Shibata claims this a few times, but he usually forgives them anyway. In the case of Cyber Investigator Saitou, on the other hand, he definitely does not.
- Unbelievable Source Plot: the main character can see spirit hands reaching out towards the soon-to-be-deceased. It's not the only thing the main character uses to solve cases, but it is a supernatural source of knowledge that he keeps secret.
- Unstoppable Rage: Shibata, when he catches Cyber Investigator Saitou. Fujiki claims that this has only happened to Shibata once before in his life.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The pedophile doctor in the Angel storyline.
- Warrior Poet: Shibata. After surprising a hotheaded young kendo practitioner, he cautions him that "A fighting heart is not a strong heart. A heart that seeks conflict will never find true strength." He also attests that he was "saved by kendo" in his youth.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 94, when Shibata fails for the first time to follow up on a vision of the shinigami hands, and Aoyama Ruka is hit by a car, raped, and then beaten to death in the middle of the night. Chapter 123, where the Diamond Shadow is revealed to be Mouri.
- Wham Line: Chapter 124: The Diamond Shadow is you... Katou Gakuto-kun!"
- Yakuza: Mizuki's father was one. They show up occasionally later, sometimes exploiting the younger delinquents.
- Younger than They Look: Yagi Yuria, AKA Mary-chan, can pass for over eighteen while she's working at a maid cafe, but is actually only twelve. After talking to her out of work, Shibata correctly concludes that her employer must have been able to tell she was underage, since she doesn't act any older than she really is.