Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace

(11ish episodes)

What’s it about ?

Surely you’re aware of Edogawa Ranpo, the godfather of Japanese mystery fiction ? The guy Detective Conan took half of his pseudonym from ? The creator of characters such as Akechi and the Fiend with Twenty Faces, who often get referenced or namechecked in mystery anime & manga ?

Well, later this month is the 50th anniversary of his death, so here comes this tribute project. It’s notionally adapting some of his stories (starting with The Human Chair), but with the original mysteries reframed completely in a contemporary setting and different characters involved. In many ways, it’s not entirely different from UN-GO, a similar project from a few years ago.


Kobayashi, our 13-year-old protagonist. Despite appearances, totally a boy. He wakes up one day in his classroom with a saw in his hand, and the mutilated corpse of his teacher at the other end of the room. Normal people would see this as the start of a very bad day ; Kobayashi is actually thrilled to the gills at something interesting finally happening to him.

Hashiba, the class rep and student council president, does his best to defend his friend in front of the police… and gets progressively more and more weirded out by the way Kobayashi is lighting up instead of showing any hint of panic. The really obvious solution would be for him to be the culprit, but I hope there’s more to the mystery than that. And it’d be kind of a waste to lose the one normal dude in the series whom everyone can explain the plot to.

Akechi, a 17-year old detective on the case. Notionally he’s in high school, but he’s got a special license to avoid going there in exchange of helping the cops out on weird cases like that. He’s exactly the kind of excentric genius you’d expect to find in this type of story. Kobayashi makes a beeline to become his apprentice (and is certainly clever enough to track his home address down). Akechi’s answer is that if the kid solves the case, it doesn’t matter whether he accepts ; Kobayashi will get dragged down into this world anyway. Of course, it wouldn’t be fun if Akechi didn’t stack the deck against him, such as calling the cops on him.

Kobayashi is totally game for this.

Production Values

The show makes the weird decision to keep all the characters in silhouette until Kobayashi bothers to truly pay attention to them. (You’d expect the cat-eared new teacher to warrant his attention sooner than she did, but apparently not.) Together with several other staging decisions, it contributes to make the proceedings eerily artificial… and hey, it’s not like classical mysteries aren’t artificial constructs anyway.

I think it’s great at setting the mood ; the jazzy music also helps.

Overall Impression

You had me at “mystery”, but this has turned out to be actually quite good. Very well paced, an intriguing and fun protagonist with incredible cheerfulness and communicative enthusiasm… Clearly the staff had a blast creating this. It oozes fun and love for the genre from all pores.

This has the potential to be very good, and in any case it’ll certainly be fun. I’m all in.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015


(12 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Adaptation of a crime manga series featuring sex, drugs and ultraviolence.


The show follows the “Handymen”, a two-man team of hit-men/middlemen/whatever-you-pay-them-for-men, operating in the wretched hive of scum and villainy of Ergastulum. They take jobs that the big gangs would rather have a “neutral” party handle, although they also help out the local population on occasion. While they’re violent thugs, the idea seems to be that the city would be even worse off without them “regulating” the doldrums of its criminal underground.

Nick is the muscle of the pair ; an Asian-looking dude who wields a sword and does moves out right this side of wire-fu. He’s impressively lethal, although he can also leave people alive if he doesn’t like them. Also, the big gimmick of the show is that he’s deaf, overcompensating with heightened sight. He communicates mostly through grunts and sign language, although he can talk (in the very slurred way deaf people often do) if he gets angry enough. It’s certainly quite intimidating.

Worick, his partner, understandably handles most of the talking. And boy does he keep babbling. Fortunately, he’s got enough charisma not to be too annoying. He mostly uses guns, and holds his own enough to run a playful kill tally against Nick.

Our plot this episode involves a small gang of upstarts thinking they’re all that and making a move into “forbidden” zones against their superiors’ orders. Clearly they’ve bitten up way more than they can chew, as the mafia lords commission the Handymen (through the intermediary of an unsurprisingly corrupt police officer) to get rid of them. Which they do without breaking a sweat.

Alex is a prostitute often hanging in the back-alley behind the Handymen’s office. Her abusive pimp was part of the upstart gang, so in theory she should have been wiped out with the whole of them ; however, the pair obviously grew sweet on her, and spared her. She’s back in the alley by the end of the episode, but Worick does ask her to mind the phone whenever he’s away (since obviously Nick can’t answer it). Clearly she’s under their protection now, and there are worse positions to be in within this hellhole of a city.

Production Values

Quite nice indeed. The fight scenes are decently animated, and there’s some good direction to keep the action fluid. It does good work at selling Nick’s deafness. It’s also mercifully way less brown than you’d expect of such a premise, although only the OP & ED sequences really get wild with colour.

Amazingly, it’s way less exploitative than you’d expect, given that one of the three main characters is a prostitute we often see on the job. Those short scenes are rather tastefully done.

Overall Impression

Hello, Black Lagoon clone ! And hey, there are worse shows to emulate, especially when it’s actually rather well executed. The characters are fun, the city has lots of atmosphere (I like that the Handymen spend some time helping out random “citizens”), and I’m already getting interested in the struggles of influence between the major gangs. (Which includes the police, presumably.)

The “deaf” gimmick is a bit weird, but at least the show makes enough effort to sell it without feeling too contrived. As a pilot episode, this works very well.

I’m sold.

Source: [In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2015