“Usotoki” is a Japanese word that refers to lying, and Kanoko, the lead in Usotoki Rhetoric, has a unique skill: she can tell when people speak lies. It’s made her a freak and outsider where she lives, because, well, people who lie don’t like being called out for it. Knowing that she’s no longer wanted there, Kanoko journeys from her home, trying to find a new life and work elsewhere.
The story takes place in 1926, the first year of the Showa Era, and not a time where many jobs were open to women. But Kanoko accidentally stumbles into the perfect job for herself. Her powers are witnessed by a handsome young detective named Soma, and he puts two and two together and realizes how helpful it would be to work with someone who can sniff out lies. Kanoko becomes the detective’s assistant and they begin to take on cases.
It’s never explained how Kanoko is able to recognize lies, and maybe that will remain a mystery, or maybe that will be revealed later on. The first book in the series introduces characters and gets things moving. The main characters are enjoyable and appealing, and of course there’s a hint of romance between Kanoko and Soma. Soma is a good hero, because he cares about Kanoko, he wants to help people, and he has a friendly personality. There are comedic moments as well as more serious moments, and Kanoko is a good lead with a sense of integrity.
Figuring out the cases that need to be solved is also fun. The mangaka gives notes on the side now and then, talking about her work and the time period.
This is no lie: Usotoki Rhetoric is a delightful and charming manga that can whisk readers away to another world. The first volume comes out October 13 from One Peace Books.
Story & Art: Ritsu Miyako
Publisher: One Peace Books
Translator: Molly Rabbit
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.