Himitsu – Top Secret Series Review

This MRI reads your brain. An unexpected stay in the middle of fucking nowhere (perhaps better known as the Poconos in New York) (and courtesy of my dad falling asleep at the wheel in the car – fucking terrifying) has presented me with the chance to actually finish off a few series I’ve been sort of chewing away at for a while, amongst them Himitsu – Top Secret. This is a series that was taking me a while to get through in large part because the fansubs were very, very slow to come out –  the final episode was subbed about a year and a half after it aired, and the releases preceding that were fairly well-spaced. It was difficult to remain interested with such large gaps between new releases, so even once it did wrap up, the final third of the show simply sat on my hard-drive for a while.

Well, I’m glad I suddenly found myself with some free time and forced myself (essentially) to finish this show up, because I really did enjoy it overall. Himitsu is what I consider to be kind of low-level sci-fi – it is a show that takes place in a world that resembles our own for the most part, with only one truly large difference, in this case a piece of technology called MRI which allows the reading of people’s brains following their deaths. It is only this which separates the world of the storyline from our own. Primarily, then, Himitsu is a mystery series, one which exists in the same space as shows such as Law & Order and CSI; in other words, mostly episodic, and fairly procedural, with a good dose of awesome technological abilities thrown in. And with some bit of overarching plot hanging in the background which takes the entire series to truly come to the fore.

I enjoyed this show – I happen to love the genre of mystery, and I love episodic-style shows (duh, why else would I consider Jigoku Shoujo to be one of my favorites?). I will say, though, that it suffered from a pretty ridiculous final episode that lessened my overall enjoyment of the show. Quite frankly, I think the show should’ve cut off at episode twenty-four, as the wheels more or less came off in the final arc. These episodes weren’t a total waste or failure… in fact, twenty-five was good, but twenty-five could’ve easily been dispensed with since it set up for twenty-six, which was over-the-top. Oh well.

Even with a ridiculous final episode, though, I did like the show. And I was particularly impressed with its social criticisms. This show had a fairly basic premise, all things considered, and didn’t really linger much on the moral implications of sorting through a person’s memories after their death, so I wasn’t anticipating much depth to it. But some episodes were pretty harsh critiques of social ills of modern society – Japanese society got burned on its treatment of the elderly, of minorities, of the mentally ill, of drug addicts… the list goes on. You can also tally up a lot of scorchers on the matter of passivity. Certainly not the kind of thing one really anticipates in such a show.  And it only made me like it more.

If there is anything I could’ve changed about it, by the way, other than chopping off the final two episodes, I would’ve had the five remaining main characters die. I don’t know, it just felt weird that they didn’t, especially since they had the ‘walking up a grassy hill and being passed by dead coworkers’ sequence. I figured when that happened that they’d all died, but then they showed some shots of Aoki and Maki that convinced me that somehow they’d survived the explosion.

Anyway, Himitsu has become one of the latest shows to convince me that Madhouse is my favorite studio. Its so nice that someone out there is consistently making shows featuring adult characters and has thought-provoking and sophisticated themes and storylines.

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