First Look: Vatican Miracle Examiners

Alternative title(s): Bachikan Kiseki Chōsakan
Light Novel Adaptation by JC Staff
Streaming on Anime Strike

Premise

When a miracle is declared in the Catholic Church sends examiners to verify their authenticity. This is apparently how Japan thinks that works, so it’s pretty much all gothic horror and occultism.

Marlin’s verdict: #HERESYWATCH 2017

Looks like another show is giving me an excuse to flash the “I am training to be a priest” card. Often times in Japanese media the Church gets a short shrift, more used as a creepy or mysterious backdrop put on to a particular genre, whether it be horror, shounen battle, or whatever the heck Index was.  In this case, I’m getting a distinct mystery novel feel from this show, on top of the classic gothic horror backdrop that most church stories use. As Gee and I were talking about the show, he actually led me to a pretty interesting point: This is basically a spiritual X-Files. Robert is a traditionalist who works in antiquities, while Josef is a science focused skeptic. I honestly think that would be a cool angle to take this show, however I’m not really sure this production is up to the challenge. The direction is the most glaringly bad thing about the show, constantly switching focus and emphasizing absolutely bizarre points in scenes to the point of near absurdity. The characters are also a little ridiculous: we start out with an English priest and what seems to be a half Korean half Japanese priest, which isn’t that strange since the Vatican has people from all over the world. However, once we enter “Mexico” to the church claiming the titular miracle, the names are all German and Itallian. There’s no real consistency in its setting and it makes watching it very jarring.

One of the things I’m honestly very impressed about is the level of detail put in to Catholic knowledge. While there are certain visual details that seem amiss (saguaro cacti in the middle of a Mexican rainforest, or most glaring, the church missing many items necessary for a proper sanctuary), you can see this author did not simply try to staple the Church onto his idea. Since the show knows it can’t expect its audience to know a lot about the church, it has to spend the time to explain theology for why the priests are denying certain things. This makes some scenes come off strange, since these educated priests seem to be discussing some things you learn in Confirmation class, so deep cuts like references to St. Therese of Lisieux’s Little Way do a lot to show there’s a deeper knowledge here. My biggest trepidation going forward in this show is that it seems like the show is just going to be about finding the natural tricks and phenomena behind heretical “miracles”, but I can’t tell yet if it’s really equipped to do that in a mature way.

Iro’s verdict: The Cross-Files

The idea of a specifically religious-themed detective/investigation show isn’t inherently bad (and one might say it’s actively interesting), but I feel like this could stand to pick up the pace some. Really, there’s nothing actively bad on display in Vatican Miracle Examiners, other than it just being a bit dull? As Marlin says, anime depictions of Catholicism tend to fall into the same bizarre cliches about demon hunters and such, so I guess it’s a bit of a novelty to have something that’s at least vaguely accurate to the mythos. If you don’t mind some slow exposition and the idea of a religious mystery sounds up your alley, I suppose there are worse things.

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One thought on “First Look: Vatican Miracle Examiners

  1. I thought I was the only one extremely ticked off by the cacti in tropical south Mexico (also, they’re being sent to “South America” but Mexico is North America… Japan pls) and the German-English names in the supposedly Mexican convent (also that’s not the kind of church arquitecture you’d see in south Mexico, let alone in the middle of the jungle). It was kind of off-putting to see that they did research on Catholic mythos and iconography (the depictions of the saints in the stained glass were accurate) and then completely dropping the ball on the location, which stripped it of all sense of realism. I also feel it was way more unintentionally funny than it was meant to be, it was so cheesy at times I was giggling

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