First, let me praise this Kobayashi dude for reigniting my hype for this show, because his entire character design hinted me very strongly as to what are the contents of this show. But then, I stayed with this show for reasons others than the contents hinted at by Kobayashi’s appearance. Or, to be more straight-forward, I came for the yaoi, and stayed for the mystery.
Right off the bat, I’m not quite sure of how I feel about background characters being drawn as humanoid living Photoshop gradients. It probably symbolizes something, maybe, and it adds to the show’s atmosphere, but I fear that it is actually just a cost saving measure. We’ll see if it gets around to mean anything. In the meanwhile, one can only hope.
The first thing I must praise Ranpo Kitan for is its atmosphere and setup. Right from the beginning, it manages to create some intrigue regarding both Kobayashi’s character and the first mystery of the series. The mystery of a human arranged as a chair is both repulsive at a visceral level, yet at the same time it’s intriguing, and Kobayashi’s lack of reaction to waking up with the murder weapon and next to the “artistry” is doubly so.
Seriously, Kobayashi is a pretty interesting character. It’s already a well-worn trope, but the contrast between his girly, innocent exterior and his clearly fucked up personality is intersting; whether it ends up being cliché or unique is still up in the air.
Back to the yaoi that made me watch this show in the first place, there’s this guy here named Hashiba and no amount of arguing will ever convince me that he doesn’t have feelings for Kobayashi. There’s being the class representative and then there’s going out of your way to actively defend a guy despite all initial evidence saying otherwise. This guy has the hots for Kobayashi and nothing nobody will say will ever convince me otherwise.
The show then properly introduces Kogoro Akechi, also known as Japanese Sherlock Holmes and the whole thing just blows up. It’s a fascinating scene that manages to smoothly establish characterization further and work on solving the mystery of the IKEA fanatic serial killer. Also, Akechi is awesome. After using them to analyze the murders, he then reveals that he called the cops on the two guys. Classic Akechi.
This show definitely has a lot going for it in its first episode, even if the first half was rather slow and more about setting up the show itself and also that scene with the teacher that didn’t amount to much. The production by Lerche is excellent, as they actually managed to do good animation this time around. The music is fitting and further adds to this show’s strong atmosphere. All in all, this is a very well put together series.
Like any mystery, it’ll depend on whether it can deliver on creating an overarching mystery or being an episodic mystery show that keep being entertaining. But only time will tell. And because I love talking about mystery so much, as my sizeable collection of murder mystery novels by Scandinavian authors with increasingly unpronounceable names may tell you, I’m going to cover this series.