Episode 1 Impressions: Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace

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Inspired by the works of the great Japanese author Edogawa Ranpo, who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction, quite a bit is riding on the shoulders of Studio Lerche as they venture into this new title. But as its opening focuses on introducing the guts of the cast, one may be lost on where the mystery lies.

Synopsis
Kobayashi has never found life to be interesting. Dull and without reason, he lives his days one at a time feeling as though the world is a dream and dreams are reality. However his life soon changes when he wakes up in his classroom with a saw in hand and his homeroom teacher chopped up into the form of a chair.

Although suspicions are upon him, he isn’t arrested and instead allowed to go free thanks to the odd decisions of a lead investigator named Akechi. While Kobayashi’s friend Hashiba tries to calm his fears, Kobayashi actually becomes very intrigued by his circumstances. He sees it as a game to find the real killer.

e1rampokitan04This leads him to confront Akechi, a 17-year-old who is actually a student allowed to skip school. Under a secret government organization called the Imperial Household Agency, Akechi is given privileges in return for him using his advanced skills in detective work for the government.

After more bodies are found at the victim’s parent’s home, leaving the possibility of a mass murderer turned victim, Kobayashi is arrested due to a large amount of evidence leading once again to him.  Akechi gives Kobayashi the hope that if he solves the murder, he’ll allow him to become his assistant. Something Hashiba finds absurd as he tries desperately to protect his friend. But the warrant leaves no room for complaining as Hashiba becomes an accomplice to the murders as well.

Thoughts
e1rampokitan06Using the works of an old mystery writer is definitely an interesting route for Lerche to take. I’m really curious to see what Uezu Makoto does with it, but sad to admit that I’m not versed in Edogawa Ranpo’s work to begin with. That said, I do have my reserves already with the setup as Uezu Makoto worked on Assassination Classroom for Lerche as a similar role, and a lot of that show seems to bleed over. A boy that’s easily mistaken for a girl (round eyes, female figure, female voice actress), classroom setting, government enrolling kids, secret organizations, news cover ups, etc.

Despite these fears, the show manages to catch my attention. Sparing little time, it jumps right into its first case, which is surprisingly graphic and not for the faint of heart. Afterwards, we spend most of the episode introducing the characters and e1rampokitan08the detective organizations. Namely Akechi and his government backing.

Although I can’t help but feel a bit too much was revealed in this setup. Hashiba, who seems like a side character, gets much more character build than the supposed main character Kobayashi. Which already lends itself to a twist that Kobayashi is in fact a killer and Hashiba is actually the main character. But I hope I’m proven wrong because I feel Kobayashi has enough quirkiness to him that adds a bit of flavor to the mix.

Though a more interesting twist would be to have Hashiba be a vigilante who killed the teacher and is trying to protect Kobayashi because he stumbled upon his victim’s crime scene. Turning it into a fight of minds between Hashiba and Akechi.  But that’s all just me throwing theories already.

e1rampokitan11The visual style has been pretty solid so far, although once again taking a bit too much from other work. I’m both bothered and intrigued by the choice in silhouetting characters the way they do. Most companies use it as a way to avoid having to draw and color extras, but in this show it seems like a way to isolate key players and possibly highlight potential suspects.

It will definitely require a couple more episodes to really decide on Ranpo Kitan, mainly because there was a lot to set up. The mystery remains a key part in my interest of this show, and unfortunately that was put to the side in order to establish the characters. For now, I’m liking the dark feel, the grittiness to the murders, the characters, and the setup. What they do with it from this point, we’ll have to wait to see.

This show is streaming on Funimation.com!

Episode 1: The Human Chair, Part 1

THUMBS UP!

IMPRESSIONS VERDICT:
Good

Pros:

  • Dark and Gritty
  • Good Setup
  • Decent characters

Cons:

  • Mystery left suspended
  • Mostly setup
  • Lots of Assassination Classroom similarities

Impressions are based on a single episode and don’t necessarily reflect the series as a whole. Unless dropped, we will continue to give updates on thoughts and impressions of the series as time goes by.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.