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Manga / Spiral

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"What are the Blade Children?"

Amateur detective Narumi Ayumu finds himself drawn into the mystery of the Blade Children after an apparently attempted suicide at his school. The girl involved was a member of the mysterious group, the same one Ayumu's older brother, Kiyotaka, was investigating at the time of his disappearance two years earlier. Against the wishes of his sister-in-law and police detective, Ayumu begins his own investigation, assisted by the lone member of the school newspaper club, Yuizaki Hiyono.

At first, Ayumu is challenged outright by the Blade Children, who claim to know something of the whereabouts of his older brother. As he begins to gain their trust, the mystery of "What are the Blade Children?" is supplanted by "Why are the Hunters trying to kill the Blade Children?"

Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning (Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna) is a mystery manga written by Kyou Shirodaira and illustrated by Eita Mizuno, which was published in Monthly Shonen Gangan from 1999 to 2005. It was later followed by the Prequel Spiral: Alive, starring three new characters: Genki Girl Sekiguchi Imari, reluctant serial killer Amanae Yukine, and Sawamura Shirou, a boy who wants to be a detective just like Kiyotaka. Oh, and they're also in a Love Triangle. (Insert Murder the Hypotenuse joke here.) While these three are the central characters, old favorites such as Ryoko, Rio and Kousuke are still central to the plot, and most others have at least made cameos.

An anime adaptation aired from October 2002 to March 2003 for 25 episodes. Unfortunately, the anime ends without reaching the answers it set out to find, due to the fact that it caught up with the manga on which it was based.

The series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The series has a lot of these, especially early on while The Blade Children are testing Ayumu's abilities. Examples include:
    • Ayumu's ability to get out of a locked room before bees he's deathly allergic to are released
    • A game featuring a bomb around Ayumu's neck that needs to be removed before the time limit goes off while also hoping to obtain evidence of The Blade Children's murderous activities
    • A bomb placed into a crowded concert hall before a performance
  • Actual Pacifist: Though he eventually gets forced to turn into a Technical Pacifist, Ayumu will not kill anyone.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Eyes has purple hair in the manga art, but the anime changed it into white. Kousuke's hair also goes from pinkish red to a more purplish red in the color art for Spiral: Alive. Word of God was that this was for contrast: in the black-and-white manga, there were too many characters with gray-screen tone hair, so Kousuke was switched to being inked black—as per his earliest pre-production designs. The color art was adjusted to match.
  • Always Someone Better: Kiyotaka is better than Ayumu at everything, even though he has disappeared.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Playyed with. The series eventually explains that The Blade Children are children of a terribly horrible man, hoping to repopulate the world in his image. However, since the man wasn't much older than wasn't so ancient after all.
  • Badass Adorable: Rio specializes in bomb construction and has taken down numerous would-be assailants single-handedly.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Eyes is a well-educated, upper class boy, but is certainly capable in a fight
    • Ayumu defeats people with logic.
  • Chick Magnet: Kanone attracts a lot of attention when he decides to enroll in Ayumu's school. After Hizumi drags Ayumu into socializing, Ayumu does as well.
  • Clone Degeneration: Ayumu and Hizumi both suffer from this, with dramatically abbreviated life expectancies and a slow declines of all body functions.
  • Clones Are People, Too: Despite Ayumu's parents absolutely not buying into the idea of Ayumu having his own personality, everyone else in the series encourages him on this once they discover what he truly is.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Chapter 68 has Ayumu very unexpectedly pull this on Eyes, easily overpowering him by: 1. Aiming a gun at an unarmed Eyes, 2. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, 3. Punching him in the chest... meaning, on the wound he got from Kanone in vol 6. Low blow, Ayumu.
  • Composite Character: Sayoko Shiranagatani originally wasn't part of the Blind Without 'Em incident, but the anime co-opted her from the locked room mystery story to simplify things and create a better segue between them.
  • Expendable Clone: Ayumu is this for Kiyotaka; their parents created him to basically be warm storage for extra organs for his older brother.
  • Existential Horror: Ayumu, Hizumi, and the Blade Children all suffer from a lot of internal angst once they realize the statistics regarding their futures and the purpose of their creation.
  • Explosive Leash: Ayumu gets a bomb collar for his rematch with Rio.
  • Freudian Trio: Kousuke as Id, Rio as Superego, Eyes as Ego. In Alive, Kousuke as Id, Ryoko as Superego, Rio as Ego.
  • Foreshadowing: Hiyono is about to say the name of Kanone's father when he interrupts her.note  And then there's the fact she knows that name at all. No, it's not just her insane info-collecting skills.
  • Gambit Roulette: Everything from the BlaChil meeting Ayumu to Kiyotaka stealing his crush was planned by Kiyotaka, and it gets steadily more convoluted as the story passes, especially in the manga.
  • Great Detective: Ayumu works entirely off logic.
  • Holding the Floor: After Kanone shot Ryouko and threw Kousuke out of the window, he called Rio out to face her alone and ready to shoot her. However, Rio then explained her whole plan of cornering Kanone, including how she had Ryouko wear a bullet proof vest with blood attached. Of course Kanone assumed Rio was bluffing because she had no reason to give away her own plan. Then Rio finished off by saying that even if Ryouko wore a bullet proof vest, she'd need time to recover from the shot and the conversation is to stall for that time. Uh oh.
  • Idiot Hero: Subverted. Ayumu's lounging on the roof, ditching class. He must be just like every other stupid shounen protagonist, right? Wrong.
  • Invisible to Normals: No huge explosions, but the Blade Children and Hunters are not common knowledge, and their activities are covered up regularly.
  • Literary Allusion Title: A huge number of the manga chapters are ripped straight from science-fiction novels and short stories, including:
    • Cold Equation
    • Lest Darkness Fall
    • The Game of Rat and Dragon
    • A Scanner Darkly
    • Footfall
    • The Mote in God's Eye
    • Time Enough for Love
    • Childhood's End
    • To Live Again
    • Confessions of a Crap Artist
    • Reach for Tomorrow
    • The Immortality Option
    • Blood Music
    • Untouched by Human Hands
    • The Two Faces of Tomorrow
    • The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth
    • The Toynbee Convector
    • And My Fear is Great
    • The Divine Invasion
    • With Delicate Mad Hands
    • The Lost World
    • Reasons to be Cheerful
  • Little Miss Badass: Rio looks like a young girl, acts cheerful, and carries around stuffed animals with bombs in them.
  • Locked Room Mystery: One of the early mysteries Ayumu solves in involved a murder alone in a locked room.
  • Magic Square Puzzle: One of the puzzles the Blade Children pull out to test Ayumu is solved by him recognizing a magic square and relying on luck to figure out which of two options it is.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Certain characters are literally unable to commit suicide—one character survives around 25 separate attempts to off himself, one of which was a straight 90 meter drop that shattered his spine. It is repeatedly stated that they can only be killed through the "composition", i.e. by their metaphysical opposites.
    • Also, a brilliant geneticist was unable to find a biological cause for the Curse of the Blade Children.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: One of the murder victims uses a ball to suppress her pulse in order to fake her death, convincing everyone, including the detectives, that she was dead, only to be murdered for real by her accomplice.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Rio and Ryoko for Eyes and Kousuke; some mild inversion in that being one also softens up Rio's own character.
    • It's arguable whether Rio also this for Kiyotaka as well, or if seeing the unshakeable trust she has in him makes his actions seem worse.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Pretty much all of the guys are Bishounen, but Eyes Rutherford fills the "Bait" part particularly well as he's the reason many fangirls got into this fandom in the first place.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Kousuke claims this is his opinion of Ryoko. In Alive, she wonders why it's only girls asking her out, and her classmates explain all the boys in town are afraid of her and the "Takamachi Ryoko Legend." Which is, basically, a bunch of over-exaggerations of things she actually has done.
  • Noodle Incident: In Spiral : Alive.
    Ryouko: "(...) like that time it looked like I was being attacked by an anteater !!"
    Rio, thinking: "But why did it look like you were attacked by an anteater.... ?"
  • Omniscient Morality License:
    • Both played straight and subverted with Kiyotaka. The Blade Children believe that whatever he is doing, it must be for the best, while his younger brother questions this.
    • Although that changes for some characters as the manga goes along; for instance, Ryouko seems to distrust him, and Kousuke cannot tolerate (nor, at first, believe that Kiyotaka played with Kanone and Eyes' relationship.)
  • Out-Gambitted: The major appeal of the series is watching Ayumu, the BlaChil and later, the Hunters, attempt to outsmart and kill each other. The Kanone arc of the manga is basically five volumes of these.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ayumu's parents both seem to be gone and he lives with his brother's wife, in a rare case of Sibling Abandonment. In the manga, they're revealed to both be still alive, but Ayumu decided to leave them and live with his brother when he was still young. He went back to live with them after Kiyotaka got married, then came back to take care of Madoka after her Husband Abandonment when they moved into respite care.
  • Running Gag: Hiyono stealing Ayumu's lunch. Ayumu (and once Madoka) commenting on Hiyono's weird song. Also a minor one near the beginning of the series where every time qualified detectives Madoka and Wataya are investigating a murder, Ayumu and Hiyono just pops in as they please to give insight as if no one minds. Most people not remembering or never even learning Hiyono's name (when Hizumi asks in volume 12, Ayumu thinks about it for a long while then admits he has forgotten. Hizumi thus just calls her "the pigtails girl").