Well… where to begin? Well, there were some decent moments in this opening episode, but there was also a lot of really obnoxious, very “ANIME~~~” type stuff as well, and they grated pretty heavily. This is one of the worse opening episodes of shows I’ve tried to far (I’ve seen K: Return of Kings, The Perfect Insider, Gundam Iron-blooded Orphans, Haikyuu!! S2, High School Star Musical, Dance with Devils, Concrete Revolutio, Comet Lucifer, Magical Somera-chan, Kagewani, and Osomatsu-san), and its definitely the weaker of the mystery shows I’ve tried. Despite it having been one of the shows I anticipated most, this isn’t smelling much like a show I’ll be looking forward to weekly.
One of the biggest issues with this show is that its visual direction seems to have been by two different people who had very different ideas for what they wanted to do and where the show is going. One of them is apparently disappointed they’re not working on Valkyrie Drive -Mermaid-, as we get introduced to a high school girl boobs-first, and the camera tends to cut to her chest whenever she’s the focus rather than her face. I could gripe about rendering female bodies into objects, but its more that its irritating since this isn’t a fanservice show. But, this trend of zooming in on sexual characteristics to the exclusion of faces continues with a bizarre and useless close-up of the male lead’s crotch. I still can’t at all figure out why this choice was made, as its not really fanservice-y nor does it have any discernible storytelling aspect. For a brief moment I felt myself worrying that he was going to wet himself, before I quickly reminded myself that, lol, he’s a male character, of course they’d never do that to him… arguably, it also wouldn’t make much sense in the show, but, then again, zooming in in the first place didn’t make any sense, either.
The second person in this hypothetical “two people doing visual direction” thing is competent at their job; their visual direction makes sense, and they even manage to give us some good stuff a few times. They’re not fantastic, but they don’t feel like they have no idea what they’re trying to accomplish either.
Now, I realize that there’s only one person handling visual direction BUT the fact is that its so Jekyll and Hyde that it may as well be two people.
The second big issue is Sakurako, and this is another area where there seem to be two different things at war. Is Sakurako a cool, slightly mysterious yet slightly prickly woman? Or is she a bratty, petulant, and spoiled ten year old who is being forced by the adults in the room to share her birthday cake? The show so far wants to have it both ways, and it isn’t a mix that gels. I realize that giving female characters who tend toward cool, dark-haired, and handsome “cute” foibles is not a new concept, but even fairly low-rung shows manage to balance it more competently than this… and, well, and they tend to not be adults in the first place, anyway, so it feels less discordant.
This characterization also means that mid-twenties Sakurako does things like throw a tantrum when the police try to prevent her from bringing the skull of a murder victim home, and Shoutarou gets to be the mature one who steps in to tell her to calm the hell down. Now, this sort of relationship isn’t terribly unusual for a detective-type series – i.e. the somewhat ‘weird’ mystery solver and their normal companion who handles ensuring social niceties. Quite a few recent interpretations of Sherlock Holmes use this approach, Monk did it (perhaps worth noting is that both Elementary and Monk use a very similar set-up, as in both cases a female medical professional enables a mentally ill male detective to do his job), Bones does it (perhaps the best comparison point?!), and there’s even shades of it in the Hercule Poirot books. And this isn’t a bad set-up, necessarily, either. But whereas those other examples all involve adults, in this case we had an adult woman who is supposedly brilliant having her rear end saved by a sixteen year old boy because he’s more mature than she is. So much for being happy to have an adult female lead who looks like she is an adult and also wears clothing that makes sense for her occupation!
*(Actually, which brings something else to mind – that this episode does nothing to demonstrate why Sakurako even bothers to keep Shoutarou around is a misstep. Shoutarou even tells us that Sakurako doesn’t really like people, and Shoutarou seems pretty darn boring; its impossible to figure out why one earth she bothers to keep him around. Sure, he’ll do stuff at her behest, but she’s also wealthy enough to have a housekeeper, so she could surely employ someone to assist her anyway.)
So, what did I like?
In writing this, I’ve realized that I liked just about nothing! I mean, I like murder mysteries, and this piece wasn’t bad, although we barely got anything of it. I liked watching Sakurako explain why she suspected that one murder victim had been killed a century prior to the present-day, and then later on why she suspected that an apparent double-suicide was really a double-murder. Shoutarou wasn’t a terribly interesting boy, but I didn’t dislike him, either. (I despised the episode title.) Sakurako likes driving fast and playing her music loudly, which I can completely relate to. The soundtrack was quite good at points (although also too loud at points as well). *twiddles thumbs* Um, that might be it.
I’ll give it another episode or two, although more because I like mysteries as opposed to any particular strength the show displayed itself.