It is currently the summer broadcasting season for Japan’s various anime, and I’m going to go ahead and share some of my thoughts on six shows I decided to give a shot. These “first impressions” posts will be reviews of their first three episodes… Let’s start with Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace! Easily the weirdest of the six anime I’m going to cover here.
I’ll go ahead and drive that point home right now. Ranpo Kitan is really weird. Bizarre to a fault, but you might say that’s the point? I think it’s up in the air how good any of this is, but for now I can at least say the show has my attention. It’s entertaining… if it clicks with you. Don’t worry–if it doesn’t click with you, that’s understandable.
Ranpo Kitan is loosely based on the mystery stories of classic author Edogawa Ranpo (a pen name stemming from Edgar Allan Poe). And when I say loosely based–well, I can’t say much since I haven’t read the original works, but I’m going to go ahead and say this anime adaptation probably takes a lot of creative liberties.
The protagonist is a thirteen-year-old named Kobayashi, who is introduced by waking up in his school classroom with a weapon in his hand. Nearby, in a pile of gore, rests his murdered teacher! It’s a game of Clue gone horribly wrong–but instead of feeling shock or terror, Kobayashi actually finds his circumstances wonderfully entertaining. Long story short: our protagonist is an unhinged little androgynous boy, and the two-parter opening mystery allows him to interact with a variety of other rather unsettling characters.
There’s lots of potential here, and at times the execution has been pretty creative. Though the characters’ bouts of mystery-solving come off as probably too convenient and straightforward, the scenes are at least interesting to watch thanks to its unusual “play-within-a-play” method of conveying their explanations. And really, this seems to encapsulate my impressions of the show in general: not much to write home about for the mysteries themselves, but the characters are so “out there” that you can’t help but keep watching and wondering… what the hell is with these people?
We’ve got a killer who makes murder victims into chairs (no… seriously), an amoral teen detective who uses the protagonist as bait without a second thought, a pipsqueak teacher so cutesy she feels completely out-of-place in the whole series (which, in a roundabout way, means she fits in perfectly?), and most random of all… Paper-Bag Man: Master of Disguise and Defender of Lolis. Like I said, it’s all painfully absurd.
But I kind of like it? I’ll go ahead and keep watching this one, and probably write up a review once it’s finished.