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Enigma 9

[scanlation by CXC Scans]

Congrats to Sakaki Kenji on earning enough votes for a top-5 Table of Contents spot and a color page. This manga certainly deserves it.

Last chapter, we were left waiting with baited breath to find out the nature of Matsurigi’s “cubic subtraction” ability. This chapter wastes no time with the reveal: Matsurigi can shrink (and otherwise modify) objects. The ability does fit the name, but I’m not sure how a miniaturized flagpole will solve our current predicament.

Further proving that these abilities are well thought out, the cubic subtraction ability is numbers-based, restricted to powers of 10. This makes it a bit less useful than straight alchemy, but such a limit allows Matsurigi’s character and intelligence to be brought to the forefront. Even the most creative power is still only just a power until it gets paired with an interesting user.

Matsurigi’s motivation is perhaps the easiest to appreciate of any other thus far; he wants to be a doctor because he wants to save lives. His motivation, more than any other, hints at character development he underwent between discovering his power and the current e-test, probably something having to do with seeing his parents work as doctors. It’s an appreciably subtle way of hinting towards something deeper with this character.

Ok, that’s how you use a shrink-regrow power. That whole sequence – shrinking it from 600cm to 6cm to get it through the crack, then partially regrowing it to 60cm to block the heat vent, then returning it to full size to ram down the incinerator door – was an unpredictable level of badass from this character. That’s what I’m talking about; limited powers make their users look much cooler.

Cool guys don't look at explosions

Haiba reminding Matsurigi of “that man” is a worrisome tidbit. First of all, we don’t have any clue who “that man” is. Also, it feels a little soon (specifically for a mystery series) to start drawing comparisons between the main character and important people from the past. It’s not a huge concern, but this device for building up the main character has been abused a lot over the years.

Of course, there are consequences for Matsurigi’s busting down the incinerator door: Haiba now has blackmailing material to get out of cleaning toilets. This is a delightful short comedy bit showcasing the chemistry between these two characters.

Not friends in everyday life

They’ve acquired the third password, along with a capsule which cures the shadow. Shockingly, Matsurigi not only chooses to avoid taking it, but makes a big show of fooling the others into thinking he has. I can only guess as to what his reasons are, but they’ve got to be good ones.

Now the guy wearing the mascot costume is evidently set for an arc. Talk about total unknown quantities.

Final Flash: The use of cubic subtraction was the most badass utilization of powers this far this series, and one of the best-planned.

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