First Look: Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace

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Alternative titles: Mysterious Stories of Ranpo: Game of Laplace
Anime Original by Lerche
Streaming on Funimation, Thursdays, 1:25 pm EST

Premise

When a grisly murder takes place at his middle school, Kobayashi meets the infamous detective Akechi and volunteers to be his assistant.

Artemis’ verdict: Not My Kind Of Game

Having little idea what to expect from Laplace, I was nonetheless mildly optimistic about this one. Admittedly I’m not much of a horror fan, but on the other hand I’m a huge fan of Daughter of Twenty Faces, in which Edogawa Ranpo’s Akechi appears as a pretty cool supporting character. Unfortunately, Akechi as depicted in Laplace is a Sherlock-esque high school-aged detective with an addiction to painkillers, and has little resemblance to the Akechi I already know and love. Even more unfortunately, main character Kobayashi comes across as a total psychopath, even though I’m pretty sure that’s not the show’s intention. The guy’s so bored that his reaction to waking up to the grisly murder of his own homeroom teacher and with the murder weapon in his hand is, “cool, finally some excitement around here,” and in his own words, he views the entire thing (including his own inevitable arrest) as a game to be won. It’s not all terrible – I’m reasonably impressed with the production values, and the first minute or so looked especially high-quality – but I found the characters so dislikeable (or in the replacement homeroom teacher’s case, utterly ridiculous) that I’m hesitant to even watch a second episode.

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Jel’s Thoughts: It’s like the Sherlock of Anime…

…is almost certainly what Funimation’s promotional materials will say about Rampo Kitan when it comes time for home release. For once, there’s a shred of truth to that. There is a lot of the BBC’s current version of the world’s most famous fictional consulting detective channeled into this very anime school setting. Both Akechi and Kobayashi share the same self-destructive fascination with the “game” of catching killers and I can see a lot of the same issues (i.e. being mistaken for the killer) will be popping up. That’s all well and good but I have to ask: does anybody actually want that? Does retreading that ground in anime territory really add anything? Maybe that’s just coming from my perspective as someone who isn’t familiar with Edogawa’s works, but my answer is “no”. I guess if you’re really into murder mysteries and some light horror then this seems to be doing a decent job of that, so there is some value here. I do like the dark, artsy presentation, particularly Akechi’s jukebox slideshow. There’s not enough here for me personally though, so I’m out.

Marlin’s verdict: Unhinged

When they say inspired by Ranpo’s works, they sure mean it in the loosest sense of the term. I looked up the plot of The Human Chair, and it is so far removed from the context of this narrative I can’t think of any reason why you would call it this except to attach the name. Unlike Artemis, I actually think psycho-shota is actually meant to be taken as unnerving. I can’t see anyone writing that kind of character by accident, unless they have the worst idea about what an investigative mind is supposed to sound like. I get the feeling that the show in general is about people being more than they appear on the outside. The prim and proper kid is way too interested in Kobayashi to be healthy, and the kitschy looking new teacher is the first time I’ve seen suicidal behavior hinted at in anime for a long while. The show could have claimed the edgy slot for this season, but Gangsta is already knocking that out of the park. I love The Silence of the Lambs, so this mystery at least has that demented vibe to it. I’ll give it a few episodes to see if it’s worth putting up with these know-it-all preteens.

Gee’s Thoughts: The OP was Pretty Good

Overall, while it has some potentially interesting ideas and certainly some style, there’s not enough of it to overcome the general lack of substance. Honestly I’m just here to say that I really liked the OP and it could certainly end up a contender for my OP of the season thanks to its slick visuals.

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