Recommendation : Hesitant yes – lovely art work, some good characters and stories.
Anyone following these reviews will know that I have very little nice to say about the show but I promise my final thoughts aren’t one big rant about how much I disliked it.
It won’t be one big rant because overall, quite obviously, I enjoyed it in some way.
So I’ll start with my two biggest negatives as they were what made me dislike the show.
Number one is the way that nothing was ever truly explained. I don’t mean Twenty-Faces who was, in a way, explained in many different contexts.
Take the first murder for example, we never got to see how anyone figured out who the murderer was we just had some strange explanation from Kobayashi who pieced it together out of thin air. The story made sense but we never got to see how it happened, why it truly happened and just had to go along with the rather boring and overly happy explanation from Kobayashi.
There weren’t actually that many murders to look at that weren’t to do with Twenty-Faces but each times anything had to be explained, investigated or indeed needed to happen Kobayashi was there with the overbearing smile and a explanation of how it all worked because Kobayashi is brilliant and always right.
That is the Number Two by the way Kobayashi.
Where do I start?
To begin with I don’t understand why he wasn’t just a she. There wasn’t enough of the show that focused on character development to have a gender confused character. The fact that he looked like a girl, preferred girls clothing and his best friend had a crush on him because it was easy to forget he was in fact a he just felt cheap, especially when being used on a character who seemed to find everything from dismembered corpses to his gender confusion hilarious yet boring. It made me angry every time Hashiba scoulded himself for something or Kobayashi ran out in a dress just for the sake of it. Just make the character a she or ignore that part of the character because it came across as being extremely untasteful.
Then there was the fact that nothing at all wiped that stupid grin off his face. Everything that happened was just a game to him. I know that was the point but it got on my nerves how a guy can stand in front of victims, in front of pissed off people and smile the way he does and not get hurt ever. Everyone seemed unaware of his never changing grin or the fact that he seemed to know everything before it happened anyway. There were very tiny moments of humanity in his character but these were blink and you missed them, once in a lifetime opportunities to see that the character wasn’t just a robot of some sort.
That added to the fact that many crimes were just figured out through Kobayashi just knowing what happened and it made the beginning of the series cold, uncaring and very boring.
Honestly though that is the only two bad things.
Because of them two things stories didn’t seem fulfilling or complete, there was no character development to any of the main characters or the main bad guys and because Kobayashi was the main focus it took away from some brilliant characters in the background.
There were positives though seeing I managed to stick it out to the end.
It had one of the most unsettling animation styles I’ve seen and I enjoyed that. What made the first episode so good was that artistic style and it carried through and got better and better. I liked the fact that the majority of background characters were just dummies or shadows and didn’t really matter, they didn’t bother to bring your attention to 100 nicely drawn people but focused on the animation that mattered. Then again sometimes it felt like it was the artistic style that was chosen over telling a story. There were lots of stories that looked great but had bad stories and terrible character direction.
Still it was one of the most beautiful anime’s I’ve ever seen.
The story of Twenty-Faces was also great. If you watched all the episodes and managed to cut the fat off of the story it was extremely sad. It made sense and I guess we needed both Akechi and Namikoshi’s sides of the story to see where the flaws were (other then the big one of so much death) and where they weren’t. The two characters were like two sides of the same coin sharing much the same personality but coming at the problem from two different perspectives. I think there was meant to be some kind of foreshadowing to what could happen to Habisha and Kobayashi but to be honest their friendship was nothing alike.
The biggest positive was two of the background characters. Or three.
First the police officers Nakamura and Kagami. Nakamura managed to be my favourite character without doing anything and Kagami’s story was so sad and raw. They both felt like real characters and I liked anything they did. I would have liked to have it explained why Nakamura walked runny, it was weird in a anime where everything meant something and yet we never got that explanation.
The other one was Shadow-Man.
I don’t know there was just something about him that made him interesting. Much more interesting then some of the tripe we got to deal with like Black Lizard and Minami and Corpsey.
If I’m honest though the anime didn’t feel like it ha direction or a point. It just seemed to be there doing whatever it felt like doing. In a way it kept me coming back because it was just so badly thought out. You could see the good ideas there but they were outweighed by the outright ridiculous ideas.
So I’m hesitant to recommend it but I would still recommend it. Just not for someone getting into anime, not for someone looking for pure horror or detective stuff. If you are in the mood for just something that will blow your mind in a good and bad way then Rampo Kitan is probably the thing for you.
I guess what I’m trying to say is. I just don’t know.