First Look: The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED

Alternative title(s): Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited
Novel Adaptation by CloverWorks
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

Haru Katou works in a section of the police department that could only be described as deadbeat, assigned to looking out for wayward children when he’d clearly rather be out there cleaning up crime and looked upon as a real police officer. His office is thrown into disarray when Daisuke Kanbe, a detective with both God-like assets and a God-like attitude, enters the picture.

Artemis’ verdict: Kanbe. Daisuke Kanbe.

It took me a little while to make up my mind about whether I enjoyed this episode or not. On the one hand, Kanbe is, to put it bluntly, a giant douchebag. Everything he does is purposefully larger than life, and he has a god-like attitude to go along with it. With his inherent ‘foreignness’, tailored three-piece suit and ostentatious cigars, combined with his apparently exhaustive knowledge of foreign languages and fancy cars (among an array of other subjects, no doubt), AI butler and quite literally unlimited bank balance, I can only imagine that to a Japanese audience, Kanbe couldn’t pass for anything other than unbelievably suave. Of course, he’s also a total asshole, especially compared to his I imagine soon-to-be partner Katou – just your regular overworked and underpaid office worker who, while clearly repulsed by Kanbe’s ways and not in the least shy about saying so, will very likely always end up with the short end of the stick and literally dangling off bridges.

It’s a lot to take in, but luckily, Balance: Unlimited doesn’t look like it’s the type to take itself too seriously. The James Bond-like aspects are overdone almost to the point of parody, yet I definitely wouldn’t call the series lazy or outdated. On the contrary, it’s quick flashes of often very self-aware comedy, mixed with a surprising amount of attention to physical detail, make it slick in a way I just didn’t at all expect going in. I honestly can’t think of another anime title quite like it – purely in terms of tone and general atmosphere, Eden of the East meets Lupin III, maybe? It’s difficult to describe, but absolutely something worth watching if only for the fact that it’s so unique for the medium.

So long as Balance: Unlimited continues to be so ridiculously over-the-top while also refusing to play its tropes completely straight, I think it could be a very entertaining watch.

Jel’s verdict: Rich

Can something be both cool and stylish as well as ridiculously dumb at the same time? That is exactly what happened in this episode and the end result was pretty fun. Rather than a serious crime drama, the tone was playful and even borderline silly as the titular millionaire detective steamrolled his way through problems like a tornado made of dollar bills. Kanbe almost comes off as a James Bond parody more than say, Sherlock Holmes. I would much prefer that over your typical detective show.

I do kind of hate both the main characters and yet I think their chemistry has potential to serve as the heart of the show. Between them and glimpses of the rest of the cast, I’m hoping they can find enough angles to keep things interesting beyond whatever wacky ways Kanbe can save the day with money. The first episode was certainly fun enough to give it a shot.

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