James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

Imposter Syndrome

Usotoki Rhetoric, volume 5

By Ritsu Miyako 

15 May, 2024



Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

2015’s Usotoki Rhetoric Volume Five is the fifth tankōbon in Ritsu Miyako’s historical mystery manga series. Usotoki Rhetoric was published in Bessatsu Hana to Yume from June 26, 2012, to March 26, 2018. The English translation of Volume Five was published in 2024.

Kanako Urabe, a young woman who can tell when other people consciously lying, has partnered with private detective Iwai, a young man with a knack for solving mysteries. It’s a precarious life, but one that allows them to use their uncommon gifts.

Like Volume Four, Volume Five is episodic.

Case one: a silent stranger who never makes eye contact and who leaves a woman’s hairpin behind in a restaurant. Perhaps the hairpin is a precious memento. Perhaps it is evidence tying the stranger to a series of attacks on young women. Kanako and Iwai must backtrack the stranger’s movements to determine if the silent visitor was unlucky or something much worse.

Case two: a stranger comes to Tsukumoya, seeking Kanako. The stranger’s quest should be simple enough. She knows the name of her quarry. She has the quarry’s address. But the visitor is confounded by Tsukumoya’s counter-intuitive street-numbering system. Her path crosses that of Iwai, who can lead the visitor straight to Kanako… but first he must determine the nature of the visitor’s interest in Kanako.

Case three: a wealthy woman searches for her long-lost grandson. Her quest is all too successful. Two plausible candidates present themselves. Determining which one is lying is trivial for Kanako. Proving he is a fraud might be more difficult.


The author appears to embrace the adage When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras.” Yes, from time to time the pair encounter villains — the series has featured murders — but the odds favour innocent explanations.

Case in point, the visitor searching for Kanako is none other than Kanako’s mother. She wants to know if Kanako is OK, but she is afraid that Kanako will be distressed to see her. Kanako fled her hometown after her gift made life there too difficult. How will she react when she sees her mother again?

This tankōbon is even lower key than the previous four. The only story with high stakes is the missing grandson story. In that story, the antagonist is a charming scallywag who isn’t inclined to press the issue as soon as he realizes the game is up. The only ominous note is that he appears to realize how Kanako knew he was lying.

There’s not much one can say about this volume that wasn’t true of the previous installments. The series offers acceptable artwork, mildly diverting stories, but the author does not seem interested in straying outside their chosen boundaries. I’ll reserve the series for future comfort reading, but unless there are unexpected, dramatic developments, I might not get around to reviewing them.

Usotoki Rhetoric Volume Five is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books). I did not find Volume Five at Apple Books.