Fire Investigator Nanase 3 by Izo Hashimoto and Tomoshige Ichikawa: B

From the back cover:
“The Towering Inferno” continues! Nanase and her team are sent into the Astro Tower, a brand new skyscraper that everyone believes to be practically indestructible. But when the anti-fire device system suddenly goes down, there is no advance warning when the boiler blows. Now, Nanase is trapped in the fiery building with all of the terrorists, but the Wolves of Vengeance might not be what they seem. And when people start dying from non–fire-related deaths, there might be a real killer on the loose… but who?!

The third volume of Fire Investigator Nanase finds our titular heroine trapped in a skyscraper that’s allegedly the target of terrorists. As she tries to work out what’s going on—this series still feels a great deal like Case Closed to me—more fires and explosions erupt inside the building, and with various civilians depending on Nanase to see them to safety, she’s forced to come up with some clever solutions (occasionally with some possibly telepathic help from Firebug, a notorious arsonist who has taken an interest in her) on the spot.

I really want to like Nanase more than I do, since it has such a neat premise, but the fact remains that the culprit here is entirely easy to guess and even indulges in some stereotypically evil cackling after his/her deeds have been discovered. At times, it feels more like a shounen series than a seinen one, but then you’ll get a particularly grisly and random death by fire to remind you that this series is intended for older readers.

I like Nanase okay as a character, though I find her most interesting when she’s interacting with Firebug. The highlight of this volume for me is a scene in which he’s goading her to kill the culprit, even showing her how, but she resists. As the volume concludes, she learns a few things that may forever alter their working relationship. Is the series about to get truly good? I hope so.

Lastly, a note on the art, specifically Nanase’s wildly improbable anatomical proportions. I think if one were to take her measurements, they’d be something like 35-16-17, because her bosoms have at least twice the circumference of her tiny waist. The bosoms play no part in the story, thank goodness, but they are there and fairly distracting in some panels. I guess I should consider it just another concession to the demographic.

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