The Gist: Inoua and Noro join the club, rounding out the generic Leader, Girl, Muscle and Brains slots of the group. Meanwhile, their mentor has a nightmare that his shadow murders him and then commits suicide, which leads into un-approved security upgrades to their rented building space and a quick escape by helicopter-backpack from the landlady, who doesn’t speak but may or may not be pissed.
Later, 20 Faces puts a plan into action via a hologram emitting party invite. The club doesn’t really fall for the ploy and 20 masks is further undermined by not knowing how to turn off the projected image.
The Verdict: I imagine these style could be enjoyable if you were high. Paying attention or understanding what is going is optional. It’s all about a atmosphere and it succeeds for the most part. I smirked and chuckled with its effective use of timing and I found the colors and shapes pleasant.
But I’m not a stoner and the wandering nature of the show isn’t going to hold my attention forever. Not as a reviewer anyhow…
The Gist: Neo is a short format kids humor show, vaguely in the vein of the original Power Puff Girls. Neo features a club of young detectives and a mentor, who has a criminal mastermind nemesis. It’s set in a pleasant scifi future world, but the imagery and gadgets is stylized enough that the setting doesn’t really matter.
There is a plot, both for individual episodes and across the season’s arc, but it does not feel especially important. This time around, a cockroach interrupts the cast reading a 100 year old newspaper, followed by a gun fight with the cockroach who isn’t as indestructible as he thinks. Later, we learn he was an agent for the villain.
The Verdict: CSTN’s style is quite pleasant, possibly even unique with the insertion of classic illustrations amidst the hyper simplified shapes of the characters and environments. The character expressions are wonderful too, in an unexpectedly abstract way.
Less engaging is the story, humor and characters themselves. Despite being quick and full of frantic animation, not much happened in the story and the humor is child-friendly, in a safe way not meant for me as an audience. I would suggest this for younger audiences, except we live in a post Adventure Time world, and Neo has nothing approaching that level of thoughtful structure and dynamic characters.
Over all, I think I like it but I’m not sure if I will stick with it for an entire season. Depends on how quickly I tire of its opening theme, which is, for now, a delightfully 8-bit jingle. It reminds me of playing Sonic the Hedgehog on a Saturday afternoon all those years ago…
Just when Twenty Faces surfaces with a new intricate plot into which to lure Akechi and the Boy Detective’s Club, Hanasaki is stuck at school, attending his compulsory school day a month. That hardly sounds like enough to make a difference, but Akechi insists, keeping Hanasaki out of this week’s action.
As for Twenty Faces’ plot, well…it leaves a bit to be desired. The most impressive feat he accomplishes is when recorded video of him correctly predicts Akechi’s responses, making for an unexpected bit of dialogue between the two that initially sours Akechi’s interest in taking on the case, which involves a police officer Twenty captured. He changes his mind when Kobayashi exhibits some fire, then pairs him up with Inoue Ryou.
The clashing personalities make for a promising dynamic, but all they really do is trudge through some dark hallways, try to hide using the lamest tactic imaginable (a stealth umbrella, not bothering to move to the edge of the room), and get trapped in a chamber, the doors to which Kobayashi can’t bust through even as it starts to fill with water.
Throughout the episode we get flashbacks of Ryou and the mission that led to his paralysis and his partner, classmate and tennis star Katsuda, to quit the club. But this backstory seems shoehorned in and doesn’t really gel with the present events in any meaningful way, other than for Katsuda to warn Hanasaki “always listen to Akechi.”
All that aside, I can hardly feel apprehensive about Kobayashi being trapped in a chamber filling with water when it’s already been established he can’t die. That, and backup will probably be on the way before they have to worry about Ryou drowning.
In previous episodes I could at least look forward to a case beginning and then ending within the space of twenty-odd minutes, but the cliffhanger tries my already thin patience. I’ll see how things are resolved, I guess, but after that…likely Dropsville.
UPDATE (27 OCT):After further deliberation, I’ve decided to summarily drop Trickster, effective immediately. To fill the gap it leaves, I’ll be taking over reviews of Fune wo Amu from Zane.
Trickster continues its somewhat unambitious competence with another case-of-the-week, and I’ll admit I had to really fight not to immediately dismiss this week’s client—an elderly woman whose son is missing—as the culprit once more.
The search for the old NEET becomes Kobayashi’s official trial run: Inoue thinks it’s too dangerous to keep the kid around, but Akechi is willing to give him a shot. I would mention, however, that this is the third straight week Kobayashi threatens to run off and tells Hanasaki to leave him alone. Dude, do you want to die or not? Continued instances of this behavior will be annoying.
Hanasaki sees value in the kid, and actually wants to convince him to drop his death wish. That value is clear when the two infiltrate the creepy cult / corporation that essentially stuffs old people into pens, and when the time is right, harvests their organs, then tosses their bloody organless bodies on the floor to be disposed of by a central “body blender”…all in the middle of a room with windows for all to see.
This company of organ smugglers couldn’t be more idiotic, but in the universe of this show, apparently the city is full of murderous assholes wanting to make a buck. The former police medical examiner seems to be the ringleader, and talks a very thin argument about saving lives, but let’s get real here: dude wants to get paid.
The security guards of the facility are also armed, which I didn’t know was legal in Japan. Then again, these guys are making ElderSmoothies so it stands to reason they’d flout gun laws. Hanasaki survives their assault thanks to Kobayashi’s impenetrable shield, and thanks to Noro’s technical expertise, the good guys have the bad guys on tape doing fucked-up shit and the police arrive to arrest ’em. They also found the guy whose mother hired them to find, so Case Closed.
What a dumb case! But you know what? It was still fun, if not particularly intellectually stimulating. Hanasaki’s got an endearingly casual attitude towards everything, and Kobayashi may be whiny, but he’s got a good heart. Also, Gackt Twenty Faces seems poised to show up next week to challenge Akechi and his agency once more. Presumably he’s less idiotic than the last two baddies.
It happens so often, especially in old detective stories: a beautiful, seemingly pure and innocent “Dame” walks into the private eye’s office, claiming they’re the victim of some heinous crime…only to end up being the femme fatale using the P.I. to frame someone else for crimes she’s committed.
That’s the case here (literally), and despite the dame’s attempts to misdirect (not reporting a crime, only suspecting her boyfriend of possibly being up to something illegal), the episode couldn’t keep up the charade for long.
Indeed, when she reached for her bottle of mineral water rather than touch the coffee, I knew she was up to something. It was pretty darned obvious.
Before I pat myself on the back for correctly suspecting the woman, I’d just note that the episode put that clue there for a reason, which is to get us questioning her motives. Her obsession with the pure and organic is revealed to extend to a hatred of anything non-organic, and she targets the genetic scientist whose activities go against her ideology.
So even though the big “twist”, when it comes, comes far too late, I still enjoyed the journey to get there, which included some key assists from Kobayasahi, who is convinced this week that if he wants to die, he should stick with the kid in yellow.
Kobayashi’s ravenous hunger (and the unsettling threat of “food being stuffed down his throat” if he tried to starve himself) lead to him tasting poison soup meant for the scientists.
It was poisoned not by the client’s boyfriend, but by the client herself, without the boyfriend’s knowledge. Hanasaki, not the worst judge of character, initially determined the guy’s face was too “pure” to be capable of those letters. And he was right.
When the time comes to stop the scientist from drinking the poison water the client personally serves to him (indicating she didn’t care what happened to her as long as he died), the door is barred, but Kobayashi uses his power to break it down so Hanasaki can save the scientist and nab the perp.
Thus the case-of-the-week is wrapped up with an almost too-neat little bow. Ultimately, this case wasn’t that important, or high-stakes, and the criminal this week, unlike Twenty Faces, was extremely dumb for not cutting her losses and staying far away from her failed, overly convoluted plot.
But the case didn’t matter so much as how it affected the characters. When he places his hand on the stage where the scientist had thrown a glass, a shard of it sticks in Kobayashi’s hand, and he bleeds. That’s the second time that’s happened hanging out with Hanasaki, so his best chance yet to get what he wants (death) is to join the club.
Hansaki, on the other hand, is starting a race with himself: will he find a way to kill Kobayashi first, or find a way to get him to not want to die instead? It’s an intriguing challenge; I look forward not just to the results, but the events and means by which they were achieved. But yeah, there was definitely an old-fashioned flavor to this story.
What is it:Trickster, based on the stories of Edogawa Ranpo, focuses on the “Boy’s Detective Club” as they pursue the famous master thief Twenty Faces (Gackt) and attempt to learn what he’s plotting. One member, Hanasaki Kensuke, meets Kobayashi Yoshio, a barefoot, suicidal boy with an invisible bubble around him that makes him invincible.
After Kobayashi comes to rescue him at a fire at a heavy industries facility, Hanasaki offers him a job at the detective club. In the incident, Kobayashi recieves a cut on his hand that starts to tingle.
Why You Should Watch: The Ranpo pedigree aside, this was a well-paced, well-plotted, and well-directed lark, which starts out super-dark (due to the initial Kobayashi POV) but is brightened by Akechi’s cavalier attitude and Hanasaki’s infectious optimism. The agency, its members, and its activities (another stalemate with Twenty Faces) are efficiently laid out while the story of the invincible kid takes the spotlight.
Rather than come off as annoying or arrogant, Hanasaki just seems like a decent kid who is always trying to see the best in people and situations, even when they can’t see it themselves. His crossing paths with a boy in Kobayashi who definitely sees his “ability” as nothing but a cruel curse seems to instill new purpose in the kid’s life…even if he promises to grant his wish by killing him someday.
To be specific about the animation, Trickster is definitely on a lower frame rate than ‘good’ anime. However, the gestures and the quality of the character designs (being stylish and specific but not over designed, which would break up gestures) make it a gem to watch hear, with awesome music, including an OP sung by Gackt.
Why You Shouldn’t Watch: Twenty Faces’ part of the story feels more like a B-plot here; little more than a taste of what’s to come and a vehicle introduce how the detective agency operates and who they’re after.
The other characters perform their roles competently but no one other than Hanasaki really stands out yet. With 24 episodes ordered, if you’re in this, you’re in it for the long haul. That’s about all I can think of in Devil’s Advocate mode.
MagicalChurlSukui’s Verdict:Trickster is off to a slick, stylish, understated start, and I’m fully on board after just one episode. It can spin a good yarn, and there’s certainly a lot more where that came from.
Oigakkosan’s Verdict: its very easy for me to draw comparisons with Ronpo’s Bungou Stray Dogs, which feels very similar. However, Stray Dogs ultimately (and quickly) fell apart because it was ‘too quirky for it’s own good.’ I do not think that will be the case here. The mood is just more serious – Not brooding or drama-grim – TAKEN more seriously.