First Look: Case File No. 221: Kabukicho

Alternative title(s): Kabukicho Sherlock
Anime Original by Production I.G.
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

A group of eccentric detectives are gathered in Kabukicho to solve mysteries and compete for cash. One of the detectives is the famous Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. John Watson has also arrived in Kabukicho to seek his help.

Jel’s verdict: Humor Mysteriously Absent

I like comedies with black humor and characters that are horrible people, and Kabukicho Sherlock should fit that bill. It doesn’t. Instead of being funny, it manages to be both boring and insensitive. Overall, I just had a bad taste in my mouth when it was over.

When it comes to black humor, I think it’s best to focus on the funny and absurd aspects of the circumstances and leave the details of the “dark” parts to the imagination. Basically, be a comedy first. This episode was a murder mystery first, one that happens to have weird characters doing silly things. I personally find the murder mystery genre way overdone, and Kabukicho Sherlock does nothing different than the millions of similar stories we’ve seen over the past 100+ years since the original Sherlock Holmes appeared. It’s boring.

Then we get to the actual murder itself, which made me uncomfortable. It’s pretty gruesome and I feel like it was handled in a very insensitive way. The worst bit was when Sherlock is confronting the killer and explains what happened, all while a flashback of the event shows on screen. Some light, fun, and jazzy music is playing in the background as he casually explains that he attempted to rape this woman, then killed her, WHILE it is happening on screen. It made it feel like the woman was just a prop for a very unfunny gag and that did not sit well with me.

As a bonus you can throw in some casual homophobia and possible transphobia baked into the setting, so that’s not going away anytime soon. It all adds up to big disappointment with a show that I thought had a lot of potential.

Artemis’ verdict: Bad Mystery, Worse Comedy

The biggest problem (and really the only one I could focus on) with Kabukicho is that I just didn’t give a crap – not about the characters and certainly not about the mystery they were trying to solve. I get that the series isn’t going for anything approaching a serious vibe, and that’s fine; not all mystery shows need to take themselves seriously in order for me to enjoy them (in fact, I think a solid argument could be made for many, maybe even most mystery shows, whether anime or live-action, being guilty of taking themselves way too seriously these days). The issue here is that Kabukicho doesn’t at all succeed as a comedy either, probably because it’s so busy attempting to make every character as bizarre and/or ‘quirky’ as possible that it forgot to put any actual jokes in – or at least any that make sense. Instead, the audience is left to giggle at the apparent absurdity of a bunch of drag queens, gay couples, bad wigs and socially inept detectives. I wasn’t offended, but I sure wasn’t laughing either. At best, I was vaguely confused. Suffice it to say I won’t be checking back in with this show any time soon, and I can’t recommend anyone else does either.

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