Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin Ep. 4: Twists and turns

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Yukihime: “Did you choose us as your partners to keep that master detective out of danger?”
Juugo: “Of course not. I just didn’t want her finding out who I really am.”

I’m not sure what to make of this show anymore. But what’s clear is that Juugo isn’t as bland and ordinary as he had let on in the first three episodes. He supposedly has ties with Matsuri, a phantom thief troupe. In a phone call between Juugo and his father, we learn of a few juicy tidbits. First, Juugo refuses to succeed his father, and this might be why the kid has been exiled to this bizarre island. Second, Juugo has this interesting bit to say: “You say you’re noble thieves who steal from the wicked, and who help people in trouble, but that’s all bull.” If Juugo’s father isn’t in charge of Matsuri himself, he is at least a high ranking member within the organization. Finally, Juugo’s father reasons that since Juugo is incapable of loving another, our hero was never really qualified to succeed him to begin with. Basically, Juugo’s either a misanthrope or he’s selfish. Perhaps even both.

Ultimately, however, the main thrust behind this show is really the mystery surrounding Nanana’s death. We see in the cold opening that the ghost’s previous tenant had abandoned the mission out of fear of reprisal. The girl was afraid she’d be killed too if she discovered the truth behind Nanana’s death. As if to mirror the cold opening, the ending suggests that Nanana sincerely believes that Juugo will somehow succeed where others have failed. Not only that, she also believes that Juugo is a good person, which counters a lot of the evidence we see in this week’s episode. First, of course, is the phone call between Juugo and his father. From that, we know that Juugo is supposedly a selfish person who hates other people. But not only that, Juugo apparently tried to betray Tensai. Did he really intend to, however? Or was he just putting on airs. Finally, Juugo speaks as though he has derision for other people’s dreams.

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Oh yeah, Isshin wanted to use the Wizard’s Cane in order to achieve world domination (I’m so tired of hearing the “Sekai seifuku!” phrase). In response, Juugo rants not just about Isshin’s dreams but Tensai’s master detective spiel as well. According to our protagonist, these two characters’ dreams are embarrassing. Frankly, that’s a rather bizarre stance to take, isn’t it? As ridiculous as those characters may sound — and I do agree that being a self-proclaimed master detective is pretty silly — why does Juugo care? What difference does it make to him that other people have dreams that are perhaps a little too unrealistic and grandiose? In the end, Juugo even admits he’s being a hypocrite, so he hold himself back from punching his betrayer.

I guess this is where we currently stand: Juugo has been sent to this island because he’s given up on his dreams or something, and he seems to have some level of contempt for his peers. In other words, he’s not exactly a good person at the moment, i.e. the goody-two-shoes you’d typically expect from the average anime protagonist. Nevertheless, he’s Nanana’s sole hope in solving the mystery behind her death. Nevertheless, Juugo’s father claims that his son is incapable of loving another person. I guess he’ll have to learn to love Nanana then. After all, if the previous tenant was afraid for her life, I doubt that same threat will have suddenly gone away. It’s highly likely that Juugo will also endanger his life if he truly tries to help Nanana.

Having said all of this, however, I still don’t know what to make of this anime. It’s part murder mystery, part treasure hunting, part drama, part comedy, so on and so forth. I’ll admit the show can be slightly intriguing, I guess, but I can’t quite say I’d recommend it to anyone just yet. It feels all over the place at times, unsure of what it truly wants to be. Am I supposed to feel bad for Nanana even though she just sits there, plays video games all day and night, and consumes buckets upon buckets of pudding? This is just one example of the show trying its hand at every little genre, yet excelling at none of them. But why is that? Because ultimately, time is an important factor. With four episodes bouncing around all over the place, no aspect of the show has really had the time to really develop itself. I have yet to think, “Wow, they really put a lot of thought into X,” where X can be anything in the anime.

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I just have one last thing to talk about. I always want to fall asleep whenever Tensai launches into one of hers “Let me explain everything to you and thus the audience” mode. It wouldn’t hurt to give her a tiny weakness or two, guys. In fact, it would actually make her more interesting as a character. Unfortunately, Tensai continues to be two billion steps ahead of everyone, and this makes her seem like nothing more than a walking, talking answer key. And after four episodes, it doesn’t even feel as though this will change anytime soon. It’s not just that she’s perfect; it’s that she ends up doing everything. In both episodes two and three, Tensai single-handedly solved the puzzles to both Ruins, and Juugo ended up doing nothing but the grunt work. In the first half of this episode, another character ends up distracting Tensai for a short bit, and it’s like, “Wow! You mean to tell me there are other characters in this show and they actually have important things to say?” But she eventually reappears to offer up another one of her dry explanations and I just can’t help but roll my eyes. Even Superman has more flaws than our master detective.

 

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