Let’s Watch a Random Anime (#1)
Hello, everyone. There’s a lot of great anime to watch in the world. So many, in fact, we’ll never see even half of what we would like to. Even if this is the case, I have a fun little game I like to do every now and then, and I thought I’d like to bring that to the blog.
Sometimes I get the urge to watch a completely random anime. One I’ve never heard about. I did this in the past with 11Eyes, and that was an ok series that actually means a lot to me. I’ll talk about that in the future. Point is, there’s something fun to me about going into something without any knowledge of what you’re about to get yourself into.
In the past, I would go on a streaming service, sort alphabetically, and go to the top or bottom, or something like that. Now, however, I’ve learned of a better way. This great site right here. This is a random anime generator, and it’s wonderful!
You can pick how many series you generate, what genre they are, what genres they aren’t. There’s a lot. I have decided to use this great website to start a new series.
At the end of every month, I will get one random anime to watch and talk about. I have no clue what we’ll get. That’s kind of the whole point. First, let’s generate our series. I won’t have anything disabled. I want it to be truly random.
Personally, I’m hoping for something along the lines of action. I’ve been watching a lot of slower, calmer series as of late. I’m excited to see what happens. I think this is a great way to watch some new stuff.
RNGesus has chosen. Who am I to question our god? Apparently, we’re watching something called Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace. Let’s look at the description, shall we?
“After what appears to be just another ordinary day, middle school student Yoshio Kobayashi wakes up in his classroom to make a terrifying discovery: his teacher has been mutilated, and Yoshio happens to be holding the weapon used to commit the crime. Despite the initial shock of finding himself in this predicament, the curious and detached Yoshio can’t help but be secretly thrilled about this attempt to frame him. His put-upon friend Souji Hashiba is turned into a willing accomplice, and together, they are determined to prove Yoshio’s innocence. Additionally, Kogorou Akechi, a genius high school detective, has come to the scene of the crime in order to investigate the case and when Kogorou meets the young man found guilty, an intense mutual interest sparks between the two of them. Kobayashi wishes to enter Akechi’s world of crime-solving as his assistant, and Akechi is determined to see if the enthusiastic boy is up to the challenge.“
That certainly doesn’t sound slow or calm. From the little I’ve read, it looks to me like it will go one of two ways. It will either be really creepy, with mature themes and be a good watch, or it will be one of those series that tries so hard to be dark it will fall flat on its face and just make me laugh.
Which of those it will be, I don’t know. For extra clarification, I’ve never heard of this before at all. I have no clue what I’m going to get myself into. See you on the other side!
Now With A High Schooler!
What I can tell you is that Ranpo Kitan was a lot more fascinating than I expected, but not for the reasons you may think. From the summary, you basically have the plot of the show down. It does what it says.
The plot focuses on our genius lead, Kobayashi, who finds most things in life boring. To satiate this boredom, he joins Akechi as his apprentice, and along with Hashiba, who is dragged around by Kobayashi all the time, the three solve crimes together.
This is a very uninteresting setup for detective mysteries. It’s about the most overused one there is. Young apprentice joins, the hardboiled detective takes a liken to them, they join forces. It’s easier to present the crimes to the viewer when there’s a less experienced character around for the detective to explain things to.
It’s where calling someone a “Watson” comes in. Kobayashi is Akechi’s Watson, and Hashiba is both of their Watsons. It’s all pretty standard stuff. Nothing is that fascinating about the plot, but detective mysteries are fascinating because of the mysteries.
This is where I have to bring up what’s so interesting about this series. So, I didn’t know this until I watched the first episode, but this series was made in 2015 to commemorate Ranpo Edogawa’s death, who passed 50 years earlier. For those of you who don’t know (I knew the name but needed a refresher myself), Edogawa is responsible for popularizing mystery and detective mystery in Japan.
He created a series of novels and short stories following detective Kogorou Akechi, which this anime is based on. He was very much inspired by Sherlock Holmes, so despite his works being different, you could see him as the Japanese Doyle. The father of Japanese mystery, more or less.
Now bear in mind, I have never read his works as of yet, so everything I say take with a grain of salt. From what I’ve gathered, this anime is “based” on those stories, not an adaptation. That’s an important distinction to make. Studio Lerche took quite a few liberties when creating Ranpo Kitan.
For one, Kobayashi joins the detective agency much sooner and serves a slightly different role. That not enough? Well, how about the fact that rather than being a full-grown, married, adult man, Akechi is now a 17-year-old prodigy working for the police with horrible hair that really bugs me for some reason? Yeah, this just proves that every anime needs to be about high schoolers. Damn those demographics!
Because this is based on existing tales, the questions then become how well they were implemented. Again, I can’t speak to that yet, but I can tell you what I thought of the mysteries and how they were executed, as I am a big detective/mystery buff. There is quite a bit of variety in the mysteries.
You have a weird, disgusting, fat pedophile guy who kidnaps little girls to become his “family” and buries the ones that don’t want to in cement. You have mysteries where a girl sells her body to rich people who then use that to make giant dolls modeled after her that dance around in an amusement park, tourist trap thing. FUN stuff.
There’s also just your normal murders and jazz. I actually give this series credit for its mysteries being based around darker themes than the normal stuff we see. There are damn near more pedophiles and rapists in here than there are normal murderers. It made me a little uncomfortable, but I think it did a good job setting the darker tone. A tone that feels a little forced at times but does decent enough. I didn’t ever want to laugh at it, as I thought might be the case.
The biggest problems with the mysteries are the resolutions to them. Because anime has such short episodes, only around 23 minutes, it means that things need to be fit into those episodes, obviously. The problem is a lot of the mysteries last one episode. This means they need to introduce the mystery, give you all the evidence, set everything else up, and solve the crime in that time.
That means the viewer doesn’t get the chance to really solve the crime. By the time the scene is set, we go straight into Akechi’s or Kobayashi’s explanation of how the crime was done. This is common in mystery, but novels give enough time for you to piece things together yourself before it’s spoon-fed to you. Ranpo Kitan doesn’t have enough time for that.
But to its credit, I feel like it would be pretty hard to allow for that with the limited timeframe, especially when you’re basing the series around something pre-existing rather than building mysteries from the ground up.
What Ranpo Kitan has going for it are its main characters. They bring a lot to many of the mysteries. One of them, at least. Akechi isn’t that interesting, to be honest. He’s your typical detective character. Smart, good at just about everything, always one step ahead. Nothing you haven’t seen before.
What’s upsetting is that I think they could have made Akechi far more interesting with their decision to make him 17. It would have been a chance to make a detective that’s far less sure of himself. It could have given him a much more interesting personality. Unfortunately, they didn’t do that. He ends up feeling very bland. He’s just a detective that is now 17.
The interesting character is Kobayashi. He’s fantastic. I adore him, and he’s a phenomenal character for the setting. One that’s utilized quite well. You see, Kobayashi finding everything boring isn’t just character motivation for joining Akechi. It’s ingrained into his personality and psyche.
Something we even see through the show’s artwork. Most everyone in the world, through Kobayashi’s eyes, is just bland. They’re blank, devoid of any souls like you see above. They’re boring. But once Kobayashi sees someone interesting, he sees them for who they are. Akechi is interesting to him, so is Hashiba, each for different reasons. The masses aren’t.
One of my favorite scenes that really shows this is how Kobayashi sees his new teacher the same as all the other faceless people, but when he notices her cut, scarred wrists, color fills her. He no longer sees her as “boring.” A little brutal, but drives the point home.
Hard, detective-type characters aren’t unusual, you have to be somewhat cold to do the job, but Kobayashi is interesting because he isn’t quite a detective yet. He’s not mature enough. He’s just a kid that lacks pretty much every emotion. He’s not just cold. He’s practically emotionless.
He never gets angry, he never cries, never laughs with any true feeling. He can watch people commit mass suicide on live TV and say how fun it is. He’s completely warped to the point of feeling nothing. This creates an interesting dynamic with Hashiba, who’s always trying to pull Kobayashi back into reality, yet to no avail.
And since Kobayashi is still a kid, his actions are uncontrollable. He’s not loyal to anyone, not even his friends. He only has an interest in things that aren’t boring. So whoever promises him a “fun” life wins.
This is explored in Akechi a bit, with him seeing most people as puppets rather than faceless masses. Still, he’s mature enough not to do the ridiculous things Kobayashi does. They’re similar but fundamentally different in their mindsets. Akechi may seem cold, but he has a heart. Kobayashi doesn’t, at least not a very functional one. His mindset is very black and white. Something’s either fun and worth his time, or boring and isn’t. There’s no in-between.
He doesn’t have the ability to emphasize or feel sympathy because he really doesn’t feel anything. How could you feel something for another when you don’t feel for yourself? It makes him perfect for solving crimes, but it makes you feel uncomfortable about the whole thing when he’s willing to dress up as a girl so Mr. Pedophile Man can kidnap him and make a new “family member” just because it’s “fun.”
He’s more twisted than half the villains, but it makes for a good character that adds a lot to the plot. A character that isn’t necessarily bad, but you can’t like much either. However, if you remove Kobayashi from the equation, things are a lot less interesting. It becomes a pretty bland, typical detective mystery series that has a slightly darker tone than usual.
Still, to give this anime some credit, I do like the approach they took on the police. A lot of the plot (including the main villain) talks about how not every crime gets solved, or not every criminal gets their due. It focuses on how the police throw people back out in the world to commit more crimes because they get off on technicalities, something that does happen in real life.
I thought that was a really fascinating focus for a detective story, and I think they handled it pretty well. For only having 11 episodes, The anime did a pretty solid job at establishing itself and telling a half-decent story, and even making a fairly dark setting for our characters to live in. I was surprised.
That’s why certain choices were weird to me. Like why there’s a girl that literally combusts with lust every time she sees Akechi. There was apparently some sexual tension between them in the novels, but Akechi’s a kid now. It’s really weird. I didn’t like her in any way, and I wasn’t happy with how often they showed her. I guess not every character can be Kobayashi, huh?
With that being said, I still enjoyed Ranpo Kitan a lot. It actually excelled at a few things, its art being one of them. The way the characters shifted to being actors on a stage when exposition was given was wonderful. It helped keep things interesting, and the same was true for Akechi’s spoon-feeding sessions. It managed to make talking interesting.
The way the masses were shown to reflect each person’s view of the world was also expertly done. Though it was a little hard to follow along with sometimes, it gave the series identity. It was a really neat way to see the world through the character’s eyes. It also helped really hammer how Kobayashi feels, which makes us understand his actions more.
Still, many of the mysteries are rushed, and Kobayashi is about the only unique thing the story has going for it. It has a darker tone that I appreciated, but it’s still nothing but a detective solving crime after crime with little issue. Akechi was a waste of potential, even if he got better towards the end.
All of his amounted to a series that was pretty alright. I admit I didn’t have the biggest hopes when I saw it. I assumed I wouldn’t be able to take it seriously, but that wasn’t the case. There were quite a few tense moments, again, mostly from Kobayashi. It’s a series that I think mystery fans would definitely enjoy, even if it feels lackluster at times.
I personally enjoyed it just because it gave me a chance to learn about Ranpo Edogawa. As someone who is currently reading through Sherlock Holmes, you can imagine why the Japanese Doyle would be fascinating to me. It also taught me that the detective from my favorite game (Persona 5) is very unsubtly based on Kogorou Akechi. I didn’t expect to learn that.
This just goes to show that you never really know what you’re going to be getting into with this random anime thing. There’s always something new to discover. I’d recommend some of you try this as well. It’s pretty fun. Well, I’ll be back next month with another. Who knows what we’ll find next.
Thank you very much for reading
What do you think of watching a random anime? I personally think it’s a fantastic way to experience shows you might not otherwise. Big thanks to Kyle for creating the wonderful website that is RandomAnime.org. I literally couldn’t have made this without you.