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Manga / Steam Detectives

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Steam Detectives is a manga by Kia Asamiya, who created it for his son. It was serialized from 1994 to 2000, starting out in Monthly Shonen Jump before moving to Ultra Jump in 1996.

The scene is Steam City, a London-ish city which represents an entire civilization run by coal and steam power. Because of steam, the city is sometimes covered in a mist. Villains take advantage of the steamy mist to hide and execute their evil plans.

Only a few dare venture into what's beyond the steamy mist. They are known as the Steam Detectives: Narutaki, his nurse-assistant Lingling, and his Megamaton robot Goriki.

It was later adapted into a 26-episode TV anime series produced by Xebec, which aired from 1998 to 1999.

This work provides examples of:

  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Kia Asamiya uses this in some intervals during the story, usually to great dramatic effects.
  • Androids and Detectives: The series pairs young detective Narutaki with a Robot Buddy named Goriki. Together, they fight crime.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Ling Ling appears in Steam King's third novel, much to her surprise.
  • A Twinkle in the Sky: Machine Baron and Crimson Scorpion are common victims.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Said word for word by Ling Ling in episode 19.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 13, wherein there's no criminal activity whatsoever and the best job Narutaki could get was tracking down a stray cat.
  • City Noir: The setting. It has a lot of crime.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Crimson Scorpion, a female thief who loves precious gems and jewellery.
  • Color Animal Codename: Crimson Scorpion.
  • Combat Medic: Ling Ling is a nurse, and she has been known to get involved in the action.
  • Dagwood Sandwich: Episode 13. Narutaki orders one at a street-side stand because he is very, very bored. He has to squish it down to the size of a normal sandwich and eat it all in one go when the stray cat he's been after all episode wanders by.
  • Deadly Doctor: Lang Lang
  • Determinator: In one scene, Narutaki is barely hanging onto the side of a bridge that was just blown up by Le Bled, who has him a cane-gunpoint. A bomb is set to explode at a nearby hospital in a matter of minutes. When taunted about how he planned to get out of his perilous situation, Narutaki simply says, "Not Give Up."
  • Distressed Damsel: Ling Ling, sometimes.
  • Exploding Calendar: An early episode uses the X'ed days variation as the Machine Baron counts down to a significant date, and plays it pretty much straight.
  • Expy: Le Bled is very reminiscent of Char, and Night Phantom looks like a villainous Batman.
  • Evil Counterpart: Le Bled and Lang Lang to Narutaki and Ling Ling. Their Megamatons too, except Le Bled's can fly.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Steam King
  • For Science!: Where Dr. Hsu and Dr. Guilty disagreed on about using Megamaton technology.
  • Great Detective: Narutaki. He's the son of a great detective, and he's a very skilled Kid Detective himself.
  • Heroic BSoD: After failing to deliver a vaccine in time to save a sickly girl, Narutaki falls into despair.
  • Hospital Hottie: Ling Ling and Lang Lang. Both are hospital workers who are quite attractive.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Ling Ling wears a pink and white nurse outfit and is very sweet and ladylike.
  • Rocket Punch: Several Megamatons, including Goriki and Shadowbolt.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Teng Shing, a gigantic hamster.
  • Samus Is a Girl: "Justice" is actually Anna. Absolutely not related to that other Justice, although the trope still applies.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of Crimson Scorpion's targets is Silent Möbius, said to be one of the world's greatest jewels.
    • In episode 11, Ling-Ling re-creates the iconic flying skirt scene from The Seven Year Itch.
    • In episode 19, Le Bled quotes a line from Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again as he flees the scene.
    • Kuroneko-sama appears on a cat of cat food.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Crimson Scorpion is fond of them. Narutaki ain't fooled.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Ling Ling and Lang Lang, complete with contrasting colors.
  • Split Personality: Steam King
  • Steampunk: It ain't called Steam City for no reason.
  • The Stinger: After every preview for the next episode, a still frame of a completely random scene from the episode (totally regardless of its importance in the plot) appears for a few second, with some cheesy music.
  • Stock Footage: Whenever Goriki is called upon and sent through the underground pass.
  • Team Pet: Teng Shing for the main cast.
  • This Is a Drill: Goriki's standard Finishing Move. Also used by Narutaki as one of his gun's special attachments.
  • Victory Pose: All the time. In particular is when Goriki (finally) places a pastry on his tray without it getting squashed. He is then summarily charged hundreds of times for the one pastry he succeeded in getting, as well as all the failures. Cue Heroic BSoD.