Thursdays at 2:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll
As soon as Saikawa and his students arrive on the island, Moe sets out to explore the Magata laboratory and meet Shiki. However, the programming prodigy hasn’t had any physical contact with anyone in fifteen years — and she hasn’t given a sign of life in days.
Hoo boy. If last episode made you wonder where the heck the murder mystery was supposed to be amidst all this philosophical pontificating, this episode shook up the stagnant status quo with disturbing revelations about Shiki’s past and a macabre crime scene straight out of a futuristic gothic horror story. In all honestly — I fell for the age-old trick. When The Perfect Insider was announced, I always assumed Shiki would be the suspect, not the victim, simply because she was so prominently featured in the promo art. Joke’s on me, huh.
Obviously, her elusive past will feature prominently in the mystery solving to come, as anyone with half a brain can probably figure out that it wasn’t Shiki who killed her parents. The whole locked-room mystery, tied with a disturbing murder case in the past is more than reminiscent of the Ace Attorney games, though whatever kookiness The Perfect Insider may have is quickly torn to pieces with bleak realism. Moe is by far the worst offender here, as this episode doubles down on her insufferable, manipulative antics in effortlessly winding even the savvy professor Saikawa around her little finger.
What’s especially striking, though, given the show’s tendency to show her adorable pouting, is that Moe is essentially a twisted spin on a stock anime character the original novel predates. While peppy young girls with ill-advised crushes on someone they really shouldn’t be crushing on would be considered adorable by modern anime standards, Moe — oh the irony — is portrayed as nothing other than petty and pathetic, a vapid, spoiled teenager who latches onto Saikawa’s demagogic brain farts because she’s probably never heard real cleverness in her entire life — even though she seems more than capable enough of becoming truly brilliant herself.
Yet The Perfect Insider has a sense of ironic self-awareness few other anime possess. Rather than being a mere comic relief character, Moe’s interactions with the other characters both mirror the young Shiki’s less-than-comfortable behaviour, and support the looming sense of dread pervading throughout the episode; a dread that only reaches its tipping point in the episode’s final minutes. The rest of the episode is less college philosophy class and more foreshadowing of several details which will undoubtedly play a role in the detective work to come, so a rewatch might be due. Yet the characters remain front and center, and The Perfect Insider once again manages to cram a lot of profundity in its 22 minutes.
A peculiar focus of this episode was the difference in how Saikawa and Moe perceive Shiki. To Saikawa, she’s obviously an icon, simply because she embodies the academic’s wet dream — locking yourself up for more than a decade and focus on your research without having to bother with any physical interaction. Cue Moe, who not only knows a thing or two about living in isolation, but has also actually met Shiki. Whether it’s out of pity or jealousy towards the young genius — or just another one of her underhanded ways of getting Saikawa’s attention — she pleads inability to understand what value Saikawa could see in Shiki’s isolation. There’s clearly something going on between Moe and our murder victim, yet if it’s enough to suspect the perky assistant I can’t say. After all, she has a pretty watertight alibi.
So who is the titular Perfect Insider? Is it Shiki, the paragon of academic perfection, who can afford to stay inside 24/7, unbothered by human whimsy and lesser necessities? Or her killer, who managed to sneak into her meticulously sealed chambers without leaving a trace? Does the meaning of whatever nonsensical Engrish phrase the author decided to slap onto his novel even matter? Probably not, but at least I can try to sound clever. Sort of fits the occasion.
- Funny how the title song for this show is called “talkin'”. How fitting! The song itself is rather generic Japanese indie rock, but the accompanying animation is brilliant. All anime should have dancing in the OP.
- In either an unfortunate coincidence or a brilliant casting gag, Shiki is voiced by Ibuki Kido, who previously voiced the creepy incestuous little sisters in both OniAi and Pupa.
- I cut off the arms and legs so the doll stays in place. Static and beautiful. I will maintain her snow white skin for all of eternity. In a bridal gown she is carried out of her dollhouse. She will not get to see what the world outside looks like. This is my design.