First Impressions – Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace


Come in, relax and take a sea- …okay, don’t do that.

This show has human chairs, traps, and bdsm in the opening. Yes, I think we’ve stumbled upon something interesting here.
Murder she wrote.  But in this case the she is just an extremely feminine guy.  And the murder probably wasn’t committed by him, its likely he was framed.  But no one is gonna say “that androgynous guy who was probably framed for murder but wouldn’t surprise me if years later he’s going around turning women into furniture.”  It just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

spring15-sams OK, before I talk about this actual episode, I need to give a talk about what the gimmick is about the show, in a basic fashion that doesn’t really do it justice. If you did your homework, you know that Ranpo Kitan is based on the writing of Edogawa Ranpo, possibly the most important mystery writer to come from early 1900’s Japan. Ranpo, whose pen name is the engrish way of saying Edgar Allen Poe, was instrumental in something called the Ero Guro Nonsensu movement. Ero Guro is exactly what it sounds like, erotic and grotesque imagery and stories the are designed to horrify and shock people. These stories were at the height of their popularity in the 1920’s, when Japan was experiencing an interwar boom, fascism was gaining sway, and the bourgeois class was in a realm of hedonism and nihilism. Take the human chairs, which is one of Ranpo’s novels of the same name. There is horrifying image of women’s bodies being turned to furniture mixed with the eroticism of the naked body. The original human chair story is less gruesome but more disturbing, its the story of a man who hides inside chairs and derives great pleasure from feeling women sitting on him through his chair. Artists like Suehiro Maruo (who adapted The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Ranpo into an amazing manga) Kentaro Miura or Go Nagai all have DNA of the Ero Guro Nonsensu movement in their manga.

I hope knowing the legacy this show is coming from helps your enjoyment in some way. I’ve read just a small bit of Ranpo’s vast amount of work, but his stuff is darkly fascinating. Which brings me to the actual show in question. Just look at the body, how there is the horrifying image of a mangled and decapitated corpse amidst flowers, not tho mention the meditation like stance the body has been placed in. This is the kind of horrifying imagery that Ranpo made his name on. There are dead bodies, then there is this kinda stuff.


Some other things I liked was the way non existent characters are treated. This show is clearly done through Kobayashi’s perspective, and Kobayashi is probably a sociopath. The way that everything he doesn’t care about (read almost everything) is grayed out shows his disinterest with the world, and the colorful way the body appears in his eyes (the flowers are probably his own illusion overlapping with the body). Kobayashi is seeing the guro like the rest of us, but he also can see the erotic nature of what is happening. Another thing was the teacher, who immediately set off my bullshit detectors. But when Kobayashi sees that sensei has been trying to slit her wrist, suddenly Kobayashi actually bothers to acknowledge her existence. Oh yeah, the music is great!


This will surprise no one, but I am pretty into this kinda stuff. What little I know about Ranpo’s work leads me to want more, but there are already several winks and nods in the show to his work. The human chair I already explained, how the Detective Akechi is based on Akechi Kogoro, Ranpo’s signature character. Its a tribute to the power of Ranpo’s works that we are even getting this show and I can’t wait for more.


I would still advise against sitting down.

winter15-karaAmazingly for a show with this kind of content, almost nothing was censored by the great light in the sky that appears in so many anime, or a black bar across the screen (because screw subtlety, buy the Blu-rays). The dead body was shown intact (well, for the most part), which is good because if it was just a giant black blur where you couldn’t tell what was going on, it would have made the scene less impactful. It would have also made the scene less artistic, which is what they seemed to be going for and which worked with Kobayashi’s point of view on things. There was the shading at the bottom of the body, as shown above, but again, unlike most censoring, would you really want to see what’s hiding under there? Plus the shadow it isn’t so intrusive, since with it’s position, it could be mistaken for a more natural one.

Another thing was how the human chairs were handled. Obviously that’s some heavy content right there, but unlike most shows with naked women involved, the scene didn’t seem to be trying to give anyone a boner. (…Which in this case, would have been very intrusive.) The chairs were just in vague shapes of women, the animation went out of it’s way to avoid any potential vagina shots and they didn’t detail any nipples or anything when those could have easily been included. It was a pretty horrible scene, but they let the viewer see it and just focus on the awfulness. Maybe this treatment of delicate subjects will be handled more crudely as the show goes on, but for now this was a pretty good balance of showing and hiding.


Kobayashi’s character was another interesting point for sure. Mystery based anime often get the character who starts solving mysteries because they believe in justice, or because they want to clear their own name and then they end up solving more because it was interesting the first time. Rarely (if ever, since this is my first time encountering one) does the main character just want to solve mysteries because finding human bodies and trying to figure out how killers think is the best thing ever. Plus Kobayashi is really young, which just makes the situation darker. An adult who seems to like the concept of murder? That’s undeniably creepy. A child who seems to like the concept of murder? That’s even more disturbing. It seemed odd in the show’s description about how the murders seemed to take place in a middle school, since that age was pretty young for this kind of content, but now the choice of setting makes sense if it was used for more thematic purposes.

As awful as some content might be some times, I like when shows don’t pull punches when it comes to disturbing things. Having Kobayashi wake up next to a corpse is one thing, but they just kept piling on the awfulness with the human chair development. I also liked the clever budget saving with the background characters. One one hand, yes there’s less to animate, but on the other, it helped show just how dull Kobayashi found the world. If anything I’m surprised that Kobayashi even bothered acknowledging Hashiba in the first place, since he seemed really mundane. Maybe that was for the viewer’s sake or maybe something interested happened with Hashiba in the past, but I guess we’ll find out eventually. I don’t normally try to figure out who the culprit is in these kind of shows since I like enjoying the ride, but it’s also nice that the mystery isn’t being very predictable or straightforward in it’s developments too. With this kind of show, the more twisted, the better.

I am so glad we still get shows like this made today. In an era when anime is mostly “safe” shows Like Ranpo come along and satisfy all my sick fantasies. I like to imagine that including a suicidal cat girl is a fuck you to cliches in anime. I’m not very good at actually solving mysteries, lord knows how rarely I figured out the trick in Detective Conan (Edogawa Conan huh, I wonder what thats a reference too?) But that just means I’m rarely the guy who knows whats happening before the show shows it to me. All In all I cannot wait for more of this show, I don’t know what I’ll get next. But I hope its messed up.



We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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16 Responses to “First Impressions – Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace”

  1. skylion says:

    That was something I missed; how they were grey until they interested Kobayashi, then they got full color. I thought it was a something like the trick that they put in Mawaru Penguindrum. With the iconic people signs.

    Not a bad start to a series. I like Queen Rie in the lead role. I don’t know if the mysteries themselves will hold my interest, but this one seems to treats it’s puzzle like a character…which is a good sign.

  2. Foshizzel says:

    I didn’t like how calm the main character was like who the hell could honestly sit there with the murder weapon in hand and not have some kind of reaction? I guess they want to be edgy or something or is the main numb to things like that? Either way I was expecting something a little different…course its a minor thing and I want to see more so ill keep watching.

    • bobob101 says:

      Fosh, that’s the point. He sees the world in grey because he is bored. He is calm around murder because he is bored. Kobayashi is a complete psycho! I garuntee that this type of story would not work with a typical over-reacting style MC. An Ero Guro show is not compatible with typical character types with things like morals or compassion.

    • BlackBriar says:

      In my opinion, he may be numb. Based on his behavior, Kobayashi might have a nihilistic outlook on the world bubbling up. He talks about the teacher’s death but in a way, it feels without remorse, like he sees such things every day. At least he’s no Ganta Igarashi. I’d hate that.

  3. zztop says:

    The murder scene reminds me of the new Hannibal TV series, where dead bodies get turned into gruesome yet somewhat beautiful artwork. The only thing missing is the gourmet cannibalism.

  4. anaaga says:

    It’s interesting how the gray changed into objects/people when two things happened:

    1)unusual/abnormal things such as the cuts on sensei’s wrists because I’m pretty sure he won’t even bother to actually memorize sensei’s face if not for the cuts

    2) anything related to mysteries, such as the gray detectives changing into detectives when Kobayashi found out that they are related to the police/detectives

    Basically he will black out anything that is not related to death and mystery. But what’s intriguing is the irony of Kobayahi’s best friend Hashiba. So far, he is the ideal epitome of “normal, boring things” and yet he is the only character that is not in gray when he enters the scene. It’s probably because he is Kobayashi’s childhood friend, but it should be noted how the classmates Kobayashi definitely knows are still in gray even though they talk to him. So I wonder how Kobayashi still “sees” Hashibe in his world?

  5. IreneSharda says:

    I really wanted to enjoy this series. I love murder mysteries, I thought it would be interesting to have middle school children be the main characters rather than high schoolers. I even like Edger Allen Poe in moderation, though I never associated him or anything in his vein with mystery or detectives (except once, in my favorite Poe story, “The Purloined Letter“), he’s really more of the horror or macabre genre than mystery, and nothing about this episode carried that kind of atmosphere, but that’s just me.

    So, I was interested in seeing this show. Yet, after one episode, I was highly disappointed. Firstly, maybe I missed it, but I never realized the main character was supposed to be a boy, and when he turned out to be a trap, it became highly distracting. There is no reason for him to be male, it provides nothing to the plot other than for others to comment that he looks female. I have no idea why if they wanted a feminine design, they didn’t just make Kobayashi female.

    But male or female, I don’t think I would be able to take Kobiyashi’s character at all. His thought process, which I’m beginning to think might be some kind of psychosis, is highly irritating and bordering on completely unlikable for me. In fact, none of the characters, except maybe the main detective, are likable to me. So, that was already a major strike against it.

    The mystery itself is only okay. I’ve seen better on crime procedurals even such as Psycho-Pass. The way they have gray people turning into into color like that, didn’t come off as “smart” to me, but instead pretentious. In fact, much of the series, like its main character, carry a pretty heavy stench of pretentiousness.

    I will try one more episode and see if it can change things around for me, but I’m not especially hopeful.

  6. BlackBriar says:

    This is why I said things were being balanced out this season on the Aoharu x Kikanjuu First Impression. A reverse trap lead in that series and a regular trap here in Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace.

    A likable first episode. Very within my strike zone for dark, ominous themed series that give off similar vibes Another and Shinsekai Yori did. Even Red Data Girl had some of those elements. I crave stories and scenarios that out of the ordinary.

    Kobayashi is one of the lesser used type of leads in anime: quiet, detached from the world and uninterested in its activities while searching for means of personal satisfaction to stave off boredom. He’s alright in my book since characters that overreact to almost anything and everything; I’m not much a fan of. Someone like him takes their time and analyze whereas the latter of what I’ve just said can be irritatingly all over the place. For him to be so composed after waking up to a crime scene and framed holding the murder weapon, he may have a low opinion of the world. Makes his mind interesting and worth exploring.

    Here’s where I’m conflicted. The human chairs look well-presented and placed even though their sheer existences are supposed to be the result of a gruesome and morally bankrupt activity. Plus, just looking at them, I’m reminded of what Rikako Ouryou from Psycho-Pass did: mutilating and turning the corpses of her fellow female classmates into grotesque works of art to be displayed after she’s had her fun with them however she saw fit. Her name and choice of criminal acts always manage to stay in my mind.

    Overall, not a bad first run and I can see myself sticking with this. The fact Funimation is simulcasting means it could have a good English dub version later on.

    • skylion says:

      I’m going to wait and reserve some judgment, but the entire genre of Ero Guro sounds very pretentious.

  7. Highway says:

    The show made me think of Akuma no Riddle, probably because of the character style and color palette.

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