|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2008)|
He first appeared in the story "The D Slope Murder case" in 1925 and continued to appear in stories for a quarter of a century. Edogawa Rampo (a pseudonym for Tarō Hirai) is considered the father of the Japanese detective story and was a great admirer of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Akechi is the first recurring detective character in Japanese fiction and is clearly inspired by Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
Like Holmes, Akechi is a brilliant but eccentric detective who consults with the police on especially difficult cases. He is a master of disguise and an expert at judo whose genius lets him solve seemingly impossible cases. Also like Holmes, Akechi makes use of a group of young boys to gather information. His version of the Baker Street Irregulars is known as the Boy Detective Club. Akechi smokes Egyptian cigarettes when he is thinking about a case.
Kogoro Akechi is a tall, handsome man with heavy eyebrows who dresses well. He is married to a woman named Fumiyo and has an adopted son, Yoshio Kobayashi, the leader of the boy detectives club. Kobayashi often plays an important part in solving cases. Like his mentor, he is an expert at disguise and is especially adept at posing as a young woman. Aside from these relationships little is known of the detective's personal life, which always takes a back seat to the mystery in his adventures.
Detective Akechi's most frequent foe is the infamous Kaijin Nijū Mensō (the 'Fiend with Twenty Faces'). The fiend is a master criminal whose infallible gift for disguise may have been inspired by Hamilton Cleek, Thomas W. Hanshew's heroic but amoral "Man of Forty Faces." The Fiend is a non-violent criminal who steals to demonstrate his brilliance rather than out of need for money. He and Akechi have a mutual respect in the stories.
The Akechi stories are based mainly in the detective's home city of Tokyo, though some move the action to the Japanese countryside. The stories often feature supernatural and erotic overtones, though not so much as Rampo's other fiction.
Akechi has become a fixture in Japanese pop-culture. There have been a number of movies made based on his adventures, some of which pit him against other fictional characters such as Arsène Lupin. The actor best known for playing the detective is Eiji Okada. Akechi has been featured as a character in the anime series Lupin III and references to him are common in Japanese fiction. He is probably best known in the west through the 1994 movie, The Mystery of Rampo.
Another notable movie featuring Akechi is the 1968 film Black Lizard (aka Kurotokage). The movie was adapted from Rampo's novel by noted author Yukio Mishima, who also appears briefly in the film. The story pits the detective against a female mastermind, known as the Black Lizard, who is played by transvestite actor Akihiro Miwa. The film is considered high camp with its bizarre conventions and over-the-top performances but has a loyal following among fans and critics alike.
Modern references to him can also be found in Japan's popular and extremely long-running manga series, Detective Conan, known in the U.S. as Case Closed. One of the characters, Detective Richard Moore (Kogoro Mouri in the Japanese version) is a persistent and courageous yet highly flawed and lecherous private detective—almost a parody of Kogoro Akechi. He has his cases solved for him by the youthful main character, Conan Edogawa. Further Akechi references can be seen in the TV series' inclusion of a non-violent antagonist, the Phantom Thief (Kaitou Kid), a brilliant disguise-master thief who steals high profile items for recognition. It is worth noting that the Phantom Thief (Kaitou Kid) character is actually an earlier creation of Gosho Aoyama, prior to his Detective Conan series. The name of young Conan's elementary school detective club is the "Junior Detective League" ("Detective Boys" in the Japanese version). Akechi himself is highlighted in volume 2 of the manga, in "Gosho Aoyama's Mystery Library, a section of the graphic novels (usually the last page) where the author introduces a different detective (or occasionally, a villain) from literature.
Both Akechi and the Black Lizard are referenced in the Sakura Taisen series of video games and anime. One of the musicals performed by the Teikoku Kagekidan is Benitokage ("Crimson Lizard") and features the title character, a criminal femme fatale, along with a handsome young detective named Akechi Kojiro. The manga and anime Nijū Mensō no Musume, or the Daughter of Twenty Faces, focuses heavily on Akechi's arch-rival. Akechi himself is featured as well, but as a much more minor character. Akechi is also referenced in the character of Police Superintendent Akechi Kengo in Kindaichi Case Files, a popular detective manga series. In the media franchise, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Akechi is represented by a girl police detective named Kokoro Akechi.