While it has been in print for just over five years, it was only recently that I learned of the existence of the Japan-only Professor Layton manga, Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery. At first I was excited to get it and dive into another original puzzle-filled Layton adventure. Then my anticipation plummeted when I found out it was aimed at children and centered on Luke. Still, my curiosity peaked, I picked it up—and it's a good thing I did. It is hands-down one of the most over-the-top, batshit insane things I have ever read. And this is no better exemplified than in the chapter titled Professor Layton and the Secret of the Hat.
The story begins normally enough with Luke and Layton talking in his office when the conversation turns to Layton's trademark hat. Luke asks the Professor to take it off… and is promptly shut down with a simple, blunt "no" from Layton.
But just like every fan of the series before the release of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future in 2008 (2010 for those outside of Japan),
Luke finds himself consumed by one burning question: "What is under Professor Layton's Hat?" With Layton's refusal to remove it, Luke decides there is only one way to solve this mystery:
Check out Layton in the shower.
Of course, to Luke's chagrin, he discovers that Layton does, in fact, wear his hat even in the shower. And when Luke once more confronts Layton about taking off his hat, Layton informs him that it's not that he won't take it off, but rather that he can't—a fact that stuns not only Luke, but Layton's arch rival Don Paolo.
...And as this is the first panel with Don Paolo in it this chapter, this leads to a few slightly more worrisome questions like: "Why is Don Paolo there," "how long has he been there," and "does he routinely watch Layton in the shower?"
Seriously. Just look at Luke's face as he realizes this.
Luke and Don Paolo then begin to speculate on why Layton can't remove his hat. Luke believes it is because there is a living thing under the hat (namely a fully grown apple tree). Don Paolo goes the Dr. Wiley route and states is must be a giant missile—which, let's face it, would be the truth in the coolest of all worlds. And after suddenly appearing from stage left, Flora gives her two cents worth stating that she thinks the Professor is simply bald.
Of course, there is only one way to know for sure so the three form a pact and showcase their elite bondage skills by subduing Layton and tying him to a chair.
And as Luke reaches out to take off the hat, it—and I swear I am not making this up—opens a single giant eye and turns into a multi-tentacle eldritch abomination.
Yes, you read that right: Professor Layton's hat is a Lovecraftian Old One.
And after apparently passing his sanity check saving throw, Luke wisely decides that maybe it's okay that the mystery of Layton's hat remains a mystery after all.
Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery ran in monthly manga anthology Besatsu Korokoro Comics from February 2008 to June 2012 and has been collected in four volumes. There is no word on an international release.