Ask anyone if they think kids can successfully pull off an entire trial like that of grownups and 99% of people will answer with an astounding “hell no!” What if they’re proven wrong and kids can do just that and make it entertaining? “School Judgment” by new mangaka Nobuaki Enoki does just that with art by Takeshi Obata (“Deathnote,” “Bakuman,” “Hikaru no Go.”)
Schools are experiencing an insane rise in poor behavior. So a new system has been put in place called the “School Justice System” where kids are put on trial and both the lawyers and judges are fellow kids trained in the justice system. Enter Abaku Inugami, a brilliant defense lawyer transferred to “Tenbin Elementary.” It is here that he does battle in the courtroom against one of his biggest rivals, cute prosecutor Pine Anzuki.
That is a brilliant plot. The idea of creating an entire system based on kids doing an entire trial and doing it well is amazing and a lot can be done from this. In this volume Enoki does have some decent ideas, though basic (one of these includes did the “perfect” student really cheat on a test.) In a way, this is acceptable in this situation (they are elementary school kids after all.)
Of course, who really did the crime and why does come across as pretty basic and may turn off some older readers. Also, this volume does leave readers wanting more backstory on this world and this system. It’s explained, though only the basics. Further chapters should go into detail about these.
The two main leads are great. Inugami and Anzuki are so balls to the walls crazy that they are the absolute best characters in the whole manga. Anzuki is what would happen if a magical girl became a prosecutor and Inugami constantly outwitting people with his ronpa (“to use argument to refute another’s theories; to verbally defeat someone”) is always a treat to watch. It’s actually nice to see a character who can win arguments by destroying someone else’s is awesome.
As great as the two leads are, the secondary characters aren’t all that interesting. They seem to come across as basic elementary school archetypes whose personalities are their character descriptions. Enoki’s strong writing makes this con less noticeable, though.
Obata’s art is more akin to “Bakuman” than “Deathnote” which will sadden some readers. This is actually a positive thing since “School Judgment” is meant to be more of a light-hearted comedy than a dark, brooding thriller/mystery. As a whole, it looks nice and the techniques used are spot on.
Despite some minor downfalls, “School Judgment” has a great plot, writing, and main leads. It was a brilliant idea to have Obata do the art since the art is one of the best things about this manga.