I’m a big fan of mystery stuff. I’m a mystery buff, you could say. I love solving crimes along with the characters and getting the chance to play the role of a detective. It’s fun. And I’m glad these kinds of stories exist because actually being a detective would not be fun. It would suck. Do you know what would also suck? Being the sidekick to one.
I mean, think about it. Being the Watson to someone’s Sherlock really just means that you go through all the same danger, plus do the menial labor and get absolutely none of the credit to boot. It’s the more thankless version of a thankless job.
That’s exactly what Kimihiko Kimizuka is forced into, quite literally. The middle schooler who always seems to be a magnet for trouble finds himself on a plane getting hijacked and just happens to sit next to Siesta, a world-famous detective. He is then forced to be her assistant, and the two live happily, poor, ever after except not really.
In case you missed it, the story is called “The Detective Is Already Dead.” Now, perhaps this has a deeper meaning than you think it does since the detective is clearly not dead when the anime starts, but no, it doesn’t. After episode one, there’s a time skip, and it’s revealed that Siesta died. Thus the title alluding to the fact that the detective, in this case, Siesta, became deceased prior to the story’s events.
Now, I personally don’t think that counts as a spoiler because it straight up tells you that right off the bat. I think this is an incredible idea for a story. It’s a fascinating premise. It makes everything somber in a way. It has a perfect setup. It’s suspenseful. I mean, I really want to know why that detective was already dead. But there’s a problem—the anime’s weird.
Pretty much everything about the series is consistently good. The voice acting is great. The writing is solid and really funny when it wants to be. The mysteries are ok but good enough. The art is pretty solid despite a few hiccups. It’s pretty damn good, or at least it should be. But you see, Deadtective, as I’ll refer to it is, has one major, very bad flaw. All of its parts are great, but the execution really sucks. It’s the difference between having all these fancy ingredients to making the best cake in the world, but the baker that makes it is like a 10-year-old, as opposed to a distinguished adult, with actual training.
Bear in mind, I’ve heard that the light novel is quite a bit better, and I believe that, and I will be reading it soon. In fact, I’m currently holding it in my left hand, unopened. But we’re talking about the anime as its own thing right now. The anime series Deadtective itself, in a box, without any outside factors. It’s not great. And I’m not saying it’s awful, and the staff should be ashamed, it isn’t. Notice in the title I said “weird” and not “awful.”
This series just makes some choices we’ll call them that I don’t quite understand, and that’s not entirely the anime’s fault. So, let’s start at the beginning. The title, as I said, is very good. One of my favorite I’ve seen in a bit. It’s intriguing. So why do we start with the detective not being dead? It takes 40 whole minutes for the detective to be deceased.
From that point on, we get introduced to Nagisa Natsunagi, probably the most interesting character in the story, if not the most controversial, but we can all agree has the best name. After some events we’ll call them, Nagisa becomes the new detective, but is the opposite of Siesta. See, this story had many ways it could have gone, and I’m just amazed that it went down the weirdest one. It’s like it snaked through all the possibilities and somehow found the strangest direction from every avenue.
I personally think a story just with Kimi and Siesta would have been the safer bet. Their chemistry with each other is absolute perfection, and a mystery series about the two of them would have been amazing. And then they kill her in the title. I think a great idea would be to make a spin-off series about all of Kimi and Siesta’s adventures. It may be better than the original.
But with that said, taking it down the already dead route is interesting, and having Nagisa, a person as undetective-like as possible, is cool. It puts the spotlight on Kimi and makes the title work. I could see a story of the two of them working out. It’s almost like a rite of passage for Kimi to now be taking the lead in these situations. These two continue their way through two alright mysteries. Then what happens, you ask? Oh, we liked Siesta better, so it’s time for a flashback. Ok, I’m sure it won’t be too bad. How long? 5 episodes. No, you heard right. Longer than the series has been to this point.
That means that the series titled after the fact that the detective died before the start almost has more episodes in which the detective is not dead than is dead. What the hell is that about? In fact, if you go by the runtime, considering the first episode was the length of two, that means there are 7 episodes worth of content where the detective is alive in this 12 episode series about the detective being dead. It’s a lie. I don’t know what to tell you.
And it is oh so confusing. So, let me just summarize the series up to this point. We see 40 minutes of Siesta and Kimi’s first meeting. Kimi meets Nagisa. The two solve a problem together. There is a 5 episode flashback of the events leading to the detective’s death, and then we jump back to Nagisa. Am I the only one who sees a problem with that progression? It’s giving me whiplash. Is she dead or not? Who am I supposed to like here? Kimi? That’s about it.
The reason I’m so baffled right now is because this is a series that I think only does decent because of the shock value and intrigue of its name. The actual story is not good enough. It’s all over the place, and when it finally stands still, it’s still not great. BUT if they just wouldn’t have killed Siesta and marketed this as a normal mystery series, it would have been exceptional. Why? It’s like they just wanted this to be difficult.
And then when we actually have a good premise with Nagisa and Kimi, we go back to Siesta before we really get started, and now that we’re back, we don’t care anymore. Deadtective is still a really good idea on paper, but it has some of the oddest choices made in execution that I just don’t understand. It’s like nobody could decide which detective was better and kept arguing over who gets the spotlight, but as a result, it just ends up a mess that can’t commit to either. All of its pieces are good. It just needed someone to put them together better. Not that I am that person, but I do have a suggestion for how it could have been really good.
Have the series start, not with Kimi meeting Siesta, but with his first encounter with Nagisa. It’s a decent scene, and his depressed mood would set everything up pretty well. After the big moment is dropped in that arc, end what would be the new episode 1 and have the next two be Kimi meeting with Siesta and all the events of the old episode 1. It would explain what happened with Nagisa in the same way, just better.
Next, progress the story as normal, but don’t have a five-episode flashback. Continue along with Nagisa and Kimi, and at certain points in the story, when something reminds Kimi of Siesta, take the time for a flashback related to it that only lasts an episode at most. This could give us information as to what’s going on in the present, and it would set up the relationship between Kimi and Siesta slowly, so you know why he’s so hurt by what happened. You’ll feel it more.
And finally! Do not show how Siesta dies. I think it would be better to leave it vague, but at the very least, don’t show her death so quick. It takes away all of the emotions the title originally invoked. All suspense is gone, and the series went from being mediocre with intrigue to just mediocre. That was a really bad call. Siesta should be less a physical character and more a traumatic memory for Kimi. One that affects his daily life.
Again, does the light novel do better? Probably, but if the story follows the same structure, I’ll still have my reservations. I’m not a believer in early flashbacks, especially one so long. Deadtective is a series I was really hopeful for but ended up letting me down in a lot of ways. It’s not bad. It’s just ok. That is the strongest feeling it envokes in me besides confusion.
If anything, good old Deadtective is a good example that it doesn’t really matter how good your parts are if you don’t know how to put them together properly. It shows that execution is about the most important thing for a story, and I can’t lie, it is. And this series made me realize that for the first time. That’s something.
Thank you very much for reading
How would you have done the story differently, or do you like it as it is? Let me know!