If you’re into symbolism, the macabre, and solving crimes with a touch of yaoi… yes I said yaoi, then you’ll like this next show which has drawn mixed reactions from the anime community. Honoring the 50th anniversary of Ranpo Edogawa’s passing comes an adaptation of one of his works. This is Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace.
Akechi is a child prodigy and a brilliant detective. The police turn to him to help solve crimes, but there is one case that has been tormenting him his entire life.
Enter Kobayashi… a young boy who is bored with life and seeks something that will bring excitement back into it. After being framed for a murder, he meets Akechi and decides to take up detective work. Akechi is hesitant but after Kobayashi proves himself, he agrees to let him on board. The two of them, along with Kobayashi’s friend Hashiba, try to solve the case of Twenty Faces.
Game of Laplace’s is pretty straight forward. It’s all about unraveling the mystery of Twenty Faces and how it progresses from unmasking each individual masquerading as Twenty Faces to finding out who is behind all of it. Outside of that story, there really isn’t much to the show. It does use a lot of symbolism, however, and some of the scenes depicted in the show can be pretty confusing because of it, but with narration, it makes everything work well to the point where nothing really gets too convoluted.
Despite everything getting tied together, Game of Laplace’s story just felt kind of flat. They did invest some time into the characters, which is hard to do in an 11 episode series, but a lot of it felt pretty rushed, especially the ending. I was left wanting more substance than what we got and some of what we got felt completely unnecessary. There were many instances where they had the opportunity to tell a better story and just opted not to. This kind of hurt the series quite a bit.
Perhaps the reason why this show is getting a bad rep is because of its main character. So let’s discuss them and find out why some people are not giving this show the time of day.
Move over Nagisa from Assassination Classroom, we have a new contender for trap of the year (well, not really)! Kobayashi is a boy, but looks very much like a girl! The high-pitched voice, the long eyelashes, and the fact that in a couple of episodes he dressed up like a girl… and liked it… really adds on the layers of confusion.
The character is also portrayed rather oddly. Kobayashi seems to have no awareness of the consequences of his actions. He is the kind who will dive head first into the most dangerous of situations all because it’s not boring. Not to give away spoilers, but if you see the ending, you will definitely realize that this kid is a few cards shy of a deck and the fact that everyone around him never questions the fact that he may just be clinically insane, is rather disturbing. Sure Hashiba scolds him from time to time for acting and thinking irrationally, but he’s too busy with being in love with Kobayashi to be concerned about his mental well-being. In fact, doesn’t that make Hashiba insane as well?
Let’s find out!
A member of the reknown Hashiba family, he was bullied and treated like an outcast growing up because of his family’s social status… until the day he met Kobayashi who became his very first friend. Hashiba is overprotective of Kobayashi and acts more like a nurturing mother to him more so than a friend. If that wasn’t disturbing enough…
Even though it is never stated outright in the show, Hashiba is in love with Kobayashi and Kobayashi, deep down knows it because he teases Hashiba in subtle ways throughout the show. The fact that Hashiba blushed and acted embarrassed just because Kobayashi’s stomach was exposed while he was sleeping was proof enough. Nevermind the fact that he got extremely flustered when Kobayashi was bent over picking something up off the floor.
Also…even though I know very little of the Japanese culture, I do know that best friends will usually call each other by their first names, yet, Hashiba and Kobayashi always call each other by their family names. For two people who are supposed to have a very deep friendship (and possibly something more), that struck me as kind of odd. Oh well.
Hashiba himself is the most annoying character in the show. Sometimes his over the top ranting is justified… other times (which is more often than not) you just find yourself wanting to back hand him as hard as possible. Honestly, this show would have benefitted a lot better if Hashiba wasn’t in it.. like.. at all. Sure it would disrupt some of the plot points in the show if you took him out completely, but maybe it would have forced the writing team to be.. you know.. creative.
He is the child prodigy turned detective who works for the police department and has a permanent excuse from school for life. He is assigned to solving the mystery of Twenty Faces. He constantly suffers from headaches and can, apparently, only drink coffee. He spends most of his time staring at his laptop in an effort to decipher a code that he believes is the key to solving the Twenty Faces mystery.
Akechi is a mixed bag of character types. He’s cold and callous, but shows some resemblance of caring… he’s critical in his thinking, but sometimes can’t solve something on his own so he enlists some of the oddest help you could imagine. I guess the best way to describe him would be to say that he’s rather eccentric.
For someone who is supposed to be a main character, Akechi kind of felt like he was in the background a lot… and that’s odd to say given the fact that he had plenty of screen time. I just couldn’t connect with the character or buy into it and even with the revelation of who was behind Twenty Faces, it just fell flat because it was really predictable.. especially with the lead up to the big reveal. This is one of those problems where you wish that they did something different, but at the same time, you just don’t know what they could have done differently given what they had to work with.
That does it for the main cast. The show had a bunch of support characters, but you weren’t really made to care about any of them. A lot of the characters that were shown got a little build up and then they disappeared from the story for various reasons. It’s like they gave you just enough to make you try to care about them, and then they took it all away. Everything from the police detectives to the medical examiner… they all felt like throwaway characters just to help move things along when they couldn’t come up with something better to do the same job.
Art, Animation, and Sound
The art is where this show actually shines. As I mentioned before, this show loves to use symbolism and there are a lot of scenes that take place in what appears to be alternate dimensions, but it’s just a representation of what is happening in the real world. That kind of style is risky because it could end up confusing the viewer, but it actually worked in this case. Each scene depicted this way tied into the story very well and conveyed the overall feeling that the story was trying to sell… the only shame was that the story wasn’t exactly Pulitzer Prize worthy so a lot of that symbolism ended up looking like unnecessary fluff.
The characters were also not that well designed. It seems as if they spent more time developing the Twenty Faces mask than they did on the actual character designs. Akechi, Hashiba, and Kobayashi just looked plain and uninteresting.
The mask of Twenty Faces
The show had an overall gritty feel to it and the opening pulled that off flawlessly. Not only was the opening song amazing, the art was as well. It mixed the real world with the anime world, but not in the way the ending to Heroman did. It actually did an amazing job of blending fantasy and reality together seamlessly to the point where you had to guess if it was just really smooth animation or if it was actual real world video.
I can’t say much about the OST because it is completely forgettable. I can’t recall one song from the show outside of the opening and ending themes. By the way, “Mikazuki” by Sayuri was AMAZING. It is, in my humble opinion, the best ending theme, or perhaps, the best overall theme song out of any anime this entire season. Not only that, but it is Sayuri’s debut into the world of music and if that’s what her debut sounds like, I can’t wait to hear her do another track whether it’s for an anime or for a single.
I like mystery shows and I’ve seen a few of them in my day so I decided to give Game of Laplace a try. I think the internet is overreacting to this show because of the hints of yaoi and the poorly conceived characters, but the story, while flat, wasn’t really THAT bad. It was watchable at best although the fact that this anime will be remembered for its awesome opening and ending themes and not the actual show itself is going to be rather sad. The whole yaoi aspect of the show didn’t really help it either as it just added something unnecessary to the characters. Hashiba was annoying enough as it is.. they really didn’t need to add that aspect to his character on top of the annoyance.
They’re just really close friends, right?
The show had promise.. it really did… but it just couldn’t execute it well. When you only have 11 episodes to work with.. it gets tough. I don’t know if giving this 25 episodes would have saved the series given the nature of some of the characters, but maybe it could have helped draw us into the world some more to make us forget about the poorly contrived characters.
This isn’t really a “go watch” or “skip” decision. It’s not bad enough to warrant skipping, but it’s not good enough to go out of your way to watch. It’s one of those shows where if you want to watch it.. go ahead.. if you don’t want to.. then you’re not missing all that much.
I imagine nobody will walk away from this show looking like this!
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
More Golden Butterflies Than a Beatrice Painting
Boring characters and a flat story keep this from being amazing, but it’s actually not bad enough to ignore. Just an average anime
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