Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace: Ep. 1: This is my design

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Just kidding. If only I could like this show as much as Hannibal, and the truth is, I don’t even like Hannibal all that much. I mean, it’s okay. I do enjoy stories about serial killers. It’s just no True Detective, which is not only a mystery (and I love mysteries), but also bares its characters’ souls to the audience. But to be fair, Hannibal has its interesting moments. Most importantly, I can still relate to the characters in Hannibal. Moreso for True Detective. Maybe the 2nd season has been a bit too over-the-top with just how many fucked up characters it seemingly wants to cram into a single story, but at the end of the day, I can feel for these guys. I can see myself in Velcoro’s shoes. I can feel what it’s like when this is the worst day of my life. Now, of course, we’re talking apples and oranges here… to a certain extent. Yep, to a certain, very particular extent, I can’t compare a show on HBO to, well, anime. But even so, I shouldn’t feel so disconnected to Laplace’s characters! And that’s an understatement! I just do not understand these fuckers. I do not understand this world. I do not understand anything. No, I’m not talking about one’s basic understanding of the story’s narrative. No, I’m not talking about an intellectual understanding. Rather, I’m talking about a pure and simple human one — so simple that its utter absence creates a gap between me and the story. But let’s start from the top.

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Symbolism.

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Did you not hear me? I said… symbolism.

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And notice how washed out the world is. What could that mean? The easiest and simplest interpretation is that, well, the world is probably drab and boring, but we’ll see.

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After the opening credits, however, the world is colorful! Wow! What’s changed? And why is there a bloodied saw in the main character’s right hand?

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Oh. And normally, this would be a pretty punchy way to start off a mystery, but then the main character adds, “That day, my boredom came to an end.” Oh, so you’re as fucked up as whoever killed that dude. I mean, really? You see blood every-goddamn-where and your headless teacher dismembered and grotesquely arranged into the shape of a chair, and all you say is, “Yay, interesting!” Okay, fine, maybe the main character is screwy in the head. That’s possible. And it’s okay, too… within limits. But the problem is the anime goes careening across that limit. You’ll see.

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So the main character’s name is Kobayashi. And in case you hadn’t realize, it’s a boy. Uh-huh. Sure.

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And less-than-important characters appear as nothing more than grey silhouettes. If the anime does something later with this, then sure, it’s a metaphorical. Let’s hope it’s that and not laziness.

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When a character’s important, however, they come into view. Yep, 26-year-old superintendent. He’s an adult, but not really.

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Faces of anime… The thing is, no one really acts as if they’ve just seen something fucked up. I don’t care how many years you have under the belt, no one walks into a room with a headless, dismembered corpse and is just so… unaffected. But you never get that moment where the inspectors just stop dead in their tracks because human nature can be so messed up. There’s no WTF moment here, especially when the murder was so theatrical. But therein lies the irony! The theatricality ends up being diminished because no one seems to care one way or the other. I mean, the main character is less bored…

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…that, we can play see. And sure, you can argue that these are veterans (yeah, 26-year-old veterans), so it’s possible that they might have seen it all! But even then, you need someone who is normal in order to serve as a contrast to these dudes. An audience stand-in, basically. Maybe it’s supposed to be this kid:

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But I don’t know. He seems preoccupied with protecting his weirdo friend than really reacting to everything around him like a normal person would. So there’s nothing here to help drive home the fact that something horrific has taken place. So like a falling tree in an empty forest, is it really that horrific?

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These characters just can’t help acting like anime characters. And that sounds like such a dumb thing to say when you’re watching an anime, but it really makes me think that no matter what, anime feels bound to its patterns and mannerisms. Like the dude above who’s too cool for school… don’t worry, you’ll soon learn that he literally is too cool for school. But for now, he’s everything that’s wrong with this story:

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Not only does he smirk as he walks up to a dismembered body, he’s this brilliant, 17-year-old meitantei. There’s a serial killer on the loose, and the main focus here is how fucking cool this kid is. Goddamn.

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Man oh man…

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And the people who are slightly concerned? Can’t see them. More importantly, you can’t see their faces.

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But we sure as hell can see his!

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At one point, Kobayashi gets lost in his own thoughts as he does his Will Graham thing where he tries to understand the killing from the killer’s point-of-view. Will Graham is a sympathetic character because he can’t help being so empathetic. He knows the crimes are fucked up, but he can’t turn it off. He can’t not feel what drove the serial killers on Hannibal to do what they do. Here, the kid’s just bored, and this is fun to him. So there’s no duality here. Just some good, ol’ anime fun.

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Dat head.

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Right, 32…

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Don’t know where she got that idea…

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But here’s another moment that made me cringe. Your teacher just died, a serial killer’s on the loose, a death occurred right in this very goddamn room… but it seems as though everyone’s worries have gone poof like a fart in the wind! How would I feel in that situation? I sure as fuck wouldn’t be talking about how cute the main character is — how he’s even cuter than the girls in his class. I’d be like, “Mom, I’m ain’t going to class today. No way, no how.” But here, it feels like anime has to anime. So when we get to know the characters, it’s not some solemn conversation between two people that perhaps reveals one man’s nihilistic worldview which thematically ties into the crime that just preceded everything. No, it’s this shitacular, vacuous babble about how girly the main character looks. Fine… fine… the main characters are nonplussed. But the whole world, too? No one’s horrified? And I mean truly horrified. Not this fifteen seconds of, “Uguu they haven’t found the killer, rig–… AMG LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS!” bullshit.

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Eventually, the main character goes to meet Mr. 17-Year-Old Meitantei, and just in case you didn’t already surmise just how goddamn smart he is…

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Livin’ the anime dream, man… get to skip school (but still kick ass on the exams), get to solve murder mysteries, get to have the constitution to smirk at horrific murders, get to have some cute trap walk up to your door… livin’ the anime dream. There are some attempts at a tantalizing glimpse at Mr. Meitantei’s past…

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…but I’m too busy rolling my eyes at his lines. This would’ve been comedy gold if the jukebox had started playing Evanescence.

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So they get around to talking about the case, and Mr. Meitantei reveals that he has squelched any possible media attempt to cover the story. After all, this will surely drive the attention-hungry serial killer crazy. Our boy genius then offers an insight on the Japanese people:

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Hm, yes, quite. As opposed to us geniuses who take interests in stuff we don’t perceive.

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But wait, there’s a twist! The victim — Kobayashi’s teacher — was actually a serial killer himself! And worst of all, the main character’s prints have been found all over the murder weapons! What say you, buddy?

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Sometimes, it’s a sad world because evil is just out there, an undeniable part of the landscape in this eternal struggle between light and darkness. Sometimes. Here, everything is just a fucking game, and nobody really cares so long as it’s fun. But hey, what did I expect, right? The word “game” is literally in the show’s title. No, I’m not expecting True Detective: The Anime, but c’mon… I’m probably just getting too old for this shit.

Anyway, I’ve been absent lately, because bad things happen. Not to me, but bad things can happen to people I care about. So I’ve been putting in as much time at work as I can, because sadly, money is the solvent to most of the world’s problems. Not all of it, but a good deal of it. And at some point, I was too backed up on the spring season that I just told myself to wait it out. Wait until the summer. So for now, I can start blogging again… but as always, real life will come first if need be. Still, thank you to those who are sticking around, and I’ll probably cover at least the last Fate episode before the week is over. I want to watch that Manglobe show first, though…

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12 thoughts on “Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace: Ep. 1: This is my design

  1. Akeem

    When I saw that there was a new post I was pretty surprised, I thought you had taken another break or work hours increased.

    I’m glad you decided to do this one though, mostly because I just finished it. Everything was going fine for me until that line “That day, my boredom came to an end.”. Why oh why, that totally broke my immersion. The thing is that that angle can be interesting imo, it’s atleast a character trait than can be used to good effect; but the problem is when you just come out and state something like that. I originally thought the black characters were for symbolic/metaphorical reasons but I can’t see why they needed to be kept like that throughout the episode. I think it would have been better to just hide their faces too, blanking them out is just distracting and over the top.

    This crime reminds me of the one in psycho pass only like you said it doesn’t feel like some horrific event. The fact that it’s so organized should only make it more shocking too. I mean to set the body up like that must have taken time.

    If it makes a difference, I think you can forgo posting on last season’s shows. I’d like to read the fate post though since I enjoy them but every other show just.. ended really. Nothing significant especially from the dungeon anime. Oh I watched the Manglobe show (Gangsta) too. Disappointed. It’s no Black Lagoon and I think the main problem is the same here -too anime- but I’d love to see what you have to say since it’s a bit more mature.

    “Anyway, I’ve been absent lately, because bad things happen” Man my heart stopped for a sec reading that part. Hope everything works out for you.

    Reply
  2. contrasena842003

    First of all, my best wishes to the people close to you. I hope that everything ends well for you and them. I sincerely say that, even as I don’t know the details of your situation and we do not share more than these occasional blog interchanges. Just selfishly thinking of the people I care about and myself on bad situations moves me to sympathize with you.

    Back on anime topic. It was a boring episode. Like a mix of the related shows that appears at the end of your entry (Un-Go, Persona4) + Dangaronpa. But it lacks the needed “feeling” to it, and every character is disposable and unlikable.
    As anime shows like this one tend to be “originals” I’m guessing that the killer is the protagonist’s (best?) friend: the “rational” “good guy” (pressed from a powerful family he rebels against the system and blah blah blah) and the new teacher is just weird.

    Reply
  3. Puddo

    First of all glad you’re back and best wishes to you and those close to you.

    I’m trying to finish some shows of last season that I had put on hold and I’m currently watching Plastic Memories and this show really reminds me of it in a bad way. Like for example here we’ve a MC who is clearly fcked up and we have teacher who is putting up an act (at least I don’t expect her to be truly happy if she is a cutter), which could be interesting in the long run, but I’m expecting that it will be just like Plastic Memories. Some interesting things/moments here and there but in the end held back because, like you said, anime gotta anime.

    I had to pause the show for a few seconds after that line about Japanese people not really making a big fuss. Seriously a teacher was just murdered and the prime suspect is still going to school, I don’t know in which fcked up world people wouldn’t care about that. It even annoyed me a bit this episode that nobody actually seems to really care about the whole murder. Like you said I know I wouldn’t go or at least wouldn’t want to go to school after my teacher was just murdered the other day. Sure the MC is fcked up and thinks it’s a game for some reason but what about the “normal” students? Why don’t they care (more)?

    I’ve to say though that I actually like the idea of the silhouettes (for now). Everyone that the MC considers to be uninteresting is a silhouette. The police guy only became visible after he said a certain line. The genius kid only became visible after he saw his badge. The teacher only became visible after he saw that she cut herself. Also his parents were also silhouettes if I saw it correctly, which of course isn’t that surprising and I assume the show is going to say that that is one of the reasons why the MC is a tad weird.

    On a side note, anything you’re looking forward to this season besides Gangsta?

    Reply
  4. Lim Cheng Yi

    and for a brief moment, i thought, awesome, a proper detective anime… then nope, from what u wrote, sounds like a typical slice of life + murder thrown in as an after thought..

    Reply
    1. Crell Hudson

      I actually thought it was really good because I totally sympathized with the main character’s point of view. However, it’s important to note that this anime is neither a mystery nor a horror, so don’t go into it expecting it to be one.

      Reply
  5. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    Good to have you back, mate. I’ll send a prayer your way and hope more light comes to you and yours than shadow.

    As for the episode: This review was great, almost like you took the words right out of my mind. It’s clear the show is meant to be conveying the protagonist’s perspective of the world hence why it has that peculiar styling, but having no one react with horror to a very clearly horrible sight really does dampen so much potential right out of the gate. His friend should have freaked out more and gotten more anxious as a counterbalance. Or maybe like in Dexter or even Death Note the protagonist should have feigned terror for the sake of not letting everyone know he’s mentally off/a sociopath. Then the ever-so-clever young detective could peek through that mask and during their private candid discussion a dynamic between them would form. You know, like in other shows who do this exact same thing.

    I have no problem with the trap being a trap so long as it plays into the character/story and isn’t just for fujoshi or something. I really would like to get into this show but after this it feels like the airplane’s maiden flight took a nose-dive right after lift-off. I wonder if it’ll at least stabilize at some point because if nothing affects any one of the main characters we’re in for a very boring crash.
    Could be fun to watch the flames, though.

    Reply
  6. Valerie

    Everything you’ve written I agree with so much.
    Everyone being calm just ruins most of the show.
    Also, I don’t see how he stopped all information about the crime getting to the media. Wouldn’t any of the students at least tweet, post or blog about it?

    I’m glad you’re back.

    Reply
  7. Day

    Initially, when I saw this announced, I was intrigued – an adapation of Edogawa Rampo’s work? sounds good to me! But then I read the text of the article announcing it, saw “middle school”, and decided not to touch it with a ten foot pole. Good to know I wasn’t being hasty.

    Reply

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