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Manga / The Daughter of Twenty Faces

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"He has many different faces... and I'm one of them! "

The Daughter of Twenty Faces (Nijū Mensō no Musume), an action/mystery manga in the vein of Lupin III and Cowboy Bebop, was made by Shinji Ohara and was serialized from 2003 to 2007 in Comic Flapper magazine. An anime adaptation aired in Japan from April 12 to September 27 in 2008, produced by Studio Bones and TMS Entertainment's Telecom Animation Film and promoted internationally as Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief (though to this day, it still hasn't been formally picked up for English release).

The focus of the story is Chizuko "Chiko" Mikamo, a young girl who desires to get away from her home because her uncle and aunt have been slowly poisoning her and leaps at the chance when international Gentleman Thief "Twenty Faces" comes to "steal" her. Abandoning her old life, she learns the way of proper cat burglary from Twenty and his merry band of men, and eventually must come to terms with Twenty's legacy and her position as The Daughter Of Twenty Faces. This manga is a derivative of classic detective fiction. Twenty Faces first appeared in the late 1920's as the Worthy Opponent of Endogawa Rampo's detective Akechi Kogorō, who is also featured later on.

Not related to the CLAMP manga, Man of Many Faces (the title character is called "The Man of 20 Faces").

Tropes: (warning, spoilers follow)

  • Adaptational Heroism: Sorta. Twenty Faces is certainly not heroic by any measure, but is at least given a somewhat understandable back story. Turns out he was a scientist for Imperial Japan who vowed to destroy the super-weapons he helped create after World War 2 devastated the planet.
  • Beach Episode: Though fairly short and containing less Fanservice than normal.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Angie, who doesn't snap so much as she was always out to get Chiko, and seems oddly jealous of her even when playing nice. Angie also provides nice examples of The Dragon (playing a Chiko to Tiger's Twenty in the first narrative arc) and Ax-Crazy.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Ken and Chiko. It's so blatant that multiple characters hang a lampshade on it.
  • Breaking the Bonds: Chiko was taught how to untie herself by the gang, and uses the information to do just that in episode 13. Shunka also manages to break free after Chiko rescues her from Kohei.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In Episode 5, Chiko teaches Angie a sleight-of-hand trick while posing as a circus performer. In the following episode, Angie uses the same technique to floor Chiko during their fight in the train cabin.
  • Clueless Detective: Akine, chosen to locate Chiko by her aunt specifically because he's not very bright. Though he is brighter than most people around him think; he's probably fully capable of handling getting evidence for a divorce case, for example.
  • Coming of Age Story: Absolutely, but Chiko doesn't have a "typical" childhood.
  • Cool Ship: Twenty and his gang use a double-balloon airship as their main mode of transportation.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday and/or Growing Up Sucks: Shunka has to cram all the excitement and wacky adventures she can get into her life before she turns sixteen and gets stuck in an arranged marriage, which she figures will require her to become respectable and dull.
    • Later subverted. She seems to like her new fiance a lot.
  • Deconstruction: Heist shows like Lupin III or Cat's Eye often have random employees (guards, maids, servants, ec.) who end up drugged, Bound and Gagged, or just knocked out by the antiheroes or antivillains during their robberies, and Episode 5 examines the notion of these crimes supposedly being "victimless". Here, Chiko befriends a young girl whose father is the head of security at the museum Twenty plans on robbing, and the girl states in no uncertain terms that her family will likely end up on the streets if the heist goes off as planned. Chiko is conflicted about carrying out the plan, and for the first time in the series, actually begins to question the morality of what she's doing. This becomes a bit of a Broken Aesop though, when it turns out the girl is actually a mole working for Tiger.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When a kid wants to enter your vulnerable submarine, of course you don't have to frisk her or thoroughly check what she's carrying in her basket. Even when she accompanies known crooks. Sure.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Episode 6, oh god. The only ones left after Tiger and his gang kill everyone are Chiko and Ken. Twenty's fate is left ambiguous, however.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Played straight twice, first when Chiko finds out that Twenty wants a successor and hints that he wants it to be Chiko (d'aww) and again when she overhears a significant amount of plot exposition from Kayama in episode 8.
  • Expy: The "white-haired demon" is a dead-ringer for Suigintou from Rozen Maiden and seems to share her cruelly jealous personality. She's even got the doll-joints down.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Ken, after episode 6. The character also takes a turn for the Darker and Edgier at this point.
  • Gentleman Thief: Twenty, of course; he's practically the embodiment of every Gentleman Thief ever. Not really a Phantom Thief because Twenty is a showman above all.
  • Genre Shift: The show starts off as a heist/caper story, before morphing into a detective series after the events of episode 6.
  • Great Detective: Chiko, good thing for her health too. Also, she doesn't really use her powers of deduction for legal purposes...
  • Heir To The "Dojo": Chiko, although it isn't really a dojo she inherits and thanks to episode 6 there isn't that much to inherit.
  • Hollywood Density: Skipper effortlessly brings back two big cases filled with gold. By himself. Even underwater, just one case would already have been too heavy for several strong men to lift.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Well, Kayama is "tiny" only compared to Tsuya in episode 8.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Subverted first in that Twenty applies this philosophy to everyone, not just "big villains", who oppose himself and his gang, as his objective is "taking treasures from pigs" and he has no reason to want to cause actual harm (plus he has some kind of war-related past that has made him hate killing and suffering); he even dissuades Ken from killing people. Later on, the whole thing is subverted again in episode 6 when everyone, even Twenty, must kill or they absolutely will be killed themselves.
  • Informed Ability: Twenty Faces is supposed to be very clever, but his plans are actually pretty transparent, so it's weird that most anyone falls for them.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Twenty Faces pulls this off in the very first scene of the show. Chiko doesn't take too long to follow in his footsteps.
  • Improbable Age: While tweens-to-young-teens are very flexible and the best gymnasts are often young teens, and Chiko's age is often used to realistic effect, she's still a little young to be quite as good as she is. Some of the members of Twenty's merry band do hang a lampshade on this, however.
  • Jumped at the Call: Chiko is so eager to go with Twenty that the only thing preventing her from getting out the door before he does is her episode 1 illness.
  • Mad Scientist: Most of the outrageous technology in the series was invented by Twenty.
    • And there's an even madder scientist later in the series.
  • Magic Skirt: Granted, Chiko's is longer than most, but still, considering all the acrobatics she does...
    • There are several scenes in which Chiko's panties would have shown, had the camera not focused away. The director seems to work VERY hard to not make Chiko a Moe/Fanservice character.
  • MandysLaw: Hans dressing up as a girl in Twenty Faces' circus.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In the early part of episode 15, when Tome walked in on Chiko and Shunka... talking with each other, then remarked that she used to do the same.
  • Münchausen Syndrome By Proxy: What Chiko's aunt and uncle were trying to do her in the first episode and the aunt later does it to the uncle.
  • Mythology Gag: The boy Chiko and Sunka rescue in the final episode is named Kobayashi, the same name as Akechi's adopted son/Kid Sidekick in the original novels.
  • The Ojou: Chiko again, and it's a bit of a subversion in that she throws it all out the window to go with Twenty. She may still be an Ojou depending on what she inherits from Twenty.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of Chiko's actual parents are quite dead, and she lives with relatives. Well, both parents appear dead, but a couple scenes with Twenty... well...
    • Ken was rather brutally abandoned by his family. When he realizes that Twenty Faces seems to care more about Chiko than him, his abandonment issues fuels his Darker and Edgier turn.
  • Perfect Poison: Deliberately averted in order to set the plot in motion; Chiko's relatives are attempting to poison her slowly over time in order to kill her and take her inheritance. Chiko is too sharp to fall for this, however, and attempts on her own to avoid poisoned food until Twenty "kidnaps" (read: rescues) her. Chiko's (non-blood) aunt then goes and uses the same poison on Chiko's uncle in a surprising double cross so that she may take all the inheritance for herself, and the uncle cannot call her out for fear of exposing what was done to Chiko.
  • Plucky Girl: Shunka. Nothing's gonna stop her from excitement, even when she gets in trouble.
  • Save the Villain: Episode 6: Angie overexerts a swing, loses her footing, and is about to be swept off the train by the wind. Chiko reaches out to save her, but like every other brutal thing in this episode, she fails and Angie (apparently) dies.
    • This of course involves some classic Take My Hand! imagery as well.
  • Schizo Tech: The series is set in The '50s, but there are a number of things in it that could never be built with real world fifties technology, like The giant tank Twenty's gang uses as a hideout up to episode 2, which appears to have battleship cannons.
  • Spoiled Brat: Chiko appears to be this in the first episode, refusing to drink expensive tea or eat veritable feasts that her aunt and uncle provide; we later find out that her behavior is in fact due to her using her Great Detective skills to figure out that her guardians are attempting to assassinate her via poisoning to steal her inheritance and she is desperately trying to avoid eating anything they provide.
  • Muta does also engage in a low-key, Stoic version of Drill Sergeant Nasty in episodes 3 and 4 especially in order to drive home the skills that Chiko will need if she's serious about surviving on the edge of the law.
  • Super-Soldier: Several, the Human Tank formula being the most prominent, with wooden pseudo-cyborg replacements being the other. Both are the result of Twenty Faces' war research.
  • Taken for Granite / Literally Shattered Lives: Poor Tome in episode 12. This turns out to be a misdirect, as the real Tome was actually Bound and Gagged inside a stone shell meant to make it appear as though she'd been killed and turned into a statue. She's later rescued.
  • Tightrope Walking: Chiko walks the tightrope when Twenty's gang poses as a travelling circus.
  • Token Minority: Poor Hans, you'd think Twenty's gang would be more diverse given that he's an international thief. He drops Gratuitous German to boot.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: Or more accurately Tokyo Pillar of Light
  • Translation Convention: Except in specific instances to highlight foreign speech or media, everyone speaks and all the signs are in Japanese. Even Hans as shown above. Contrast episode 5, the Middle Easterners speaking to each other, and the town in the U.K.
  • True Companions: Twenty's gang is this in the early portion of the show.
  • Waif-Fu: Chiko's fighting becomes more and more like this as the series progresses. It's usually kept within fairly realistic limits though.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Kohei Kakihara is genuinely impressed by Chiko's fighting spirit and asks her if she wants to become a daughter of real Twenty Faces.

Alternative Title(s): The Daughter Of Twenty Faces