Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace 08-11 [END]

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Side scroller spin-off game when?

I feel with Ranpo Kitan it is best to start with my conclusion about the series and work my way backwards. Because to me Ranpo Kitan is absolutely my Anime of the summer, an opinion I don’t see being argued anywhere else. So how did I get to this point? It all started at my local furniture store…
Yes, I believe Samsura is the biggest fan of this show, since the reactions generally seem to be “why wasn’t Kobayashi a girl”, and “there wasn’t enough BL in this”. …Which really doesn’t have a lot to do with the main storyline at all. Or mysteries too. Though then again, the show didn’t have much to do with mysteries to begin with, it seems.

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spring15-samsSeriously though, Ranpo Kitan is a special show. But I also have to talk about what the show ISN’T. Ranpo Kitan is not a mystery show. While mysteries are constantly brought up in the show, these mysteries are also solved without giving the audience a chance to solve these mysteries. This is different from poorly constructing a mystery. When looking at how the case of Panorama Island was solved, the solution of “All these humongous naked lady statues are all actually the secretary, so obviously she is guilty” would make a good mystery to solve if the point of this show was solving mysteries. But that is not the case. What Ranpo Kitan is more than anything else is a character study anime.

The reality is that if you asked me what show I would compare Ranpo Kitan to most I would actually say it is similar to a Monogatari show. Those shows frame their plot lines around supernatural mcguffins, but in reality Monogatari is a show that uses the supernatural as a way to analyze characters, world views, and philosophies. In Ranpo, the horrific murders done by the first 20 Faced Fiend Kagami is a way to allow Kagami’s story to be told. Less important is the mechanics of the mystery compared to the characters story behind them. Seeing Kagami’s story as he slowly loses faith in justice, has the most important person in his world taken from him, and the cruel vigilantism that he embraces is what truly matters. It’s the same with the Dark Star computer program Namikoshi and Akechi made. No amount of logic or reasoning for why a computer program could show people how to seek retribution will ever matter.

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Lets talk about homosexuality. Despite all of Hashiba’s blushes or Kobayashi’s androgynous nature, its important not to mistake how the story frames male relationships as something more sexual. Edogawa Rampo himself had much to say on the topic, calling male friendships the most pure kind of relationship there are. Now is there a noticeable home-erotic undertone going through this show? Well lets just say me and Anaaga have sparked some heated debates about this show. But beyond the shipping, the real point of all these relationships between men is that the bond they have is something that might not make sense, but it is totally worth risking your life over. I don’t believe Hashiba loves Kobayashi, but the show makes it very clear that Hashiba would do anything for Kobayashi. The same can be said about Namikoshi and Akechi. For Namikoshi, Akechi was practically his whole world. Everyone else around him was just skeletons, illustrating another unique way sociopaths may view the world. The real thing that broke Namikoshi beyond years of abuse and social isolation was when Akechi turned his back on him. These close relations are in the end the most important aspect of Ranpo Kitan, and upon re-watching much of the show I can definitely say this show is consistently strong with themes of friendship and lost in every episode.

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The last thing I will gush about is just how much I adore the visuals of this show. From the mannequin orgy that was Panorama Island to the clock tower from the very last episode to the DIY furniture that started this crazy ride, Ranpo Kitan kept pulling out wonderful visuals. This show feels less like a living world and more like backdrops to be switched for a stage performance. Well no kidding! I love the framing device of the characters narrating to the audience, because it both makes things more and less ambiguous. Whether it is Kagami or Akechi or Namikoshi, the narrators being observers to their own tragedies makes the stories even more fun to watch. Its kinda like a behind the scenes interview, except about melting someone in a bath tub while barely keeping them alive instead of seeing scrapped footage!


Overall, Kobayashi’s character never really bothered me. He kind of reminded me of a character from an older show called Shigofumi who (spoilers) commits kills himself. It’s revealed that he (more spoilers) did it for no specific reason, but just because another character mentioned it and he wanted to know what dying was like. There are just some pretty detached people like that. Of course, Kobayashi isn’t the type to concern himself with what the people who care about him would think of his death, so having him want to die just to help a concept he agrees with makes sense given his character. Other people might call him stupid for throwing away his life, but he probably didn’t see it that way since he was accomplishing something he believed in.

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The same goes for Namikoshi of course, though he had the extra reasoning behind his actions too that he wanted Akechi’s attention/to prove his theory right. On that note, it’s interesting that Akechi wasn’t really condemning the Black Star’s purpose in general, but more that Namikoshi wanted to die to complete it. It was basically just a fight between two view points that involved more people than just those original two.

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It would have been really nice if Kuro and Kage Otoko (more so Kuro) had more character development other than to make the cast seem more strange (let’s not even get into the loli cat sensei). Even Minami had something to her character with the reveal about her brother and reasons for joining Namikoshi. Meanwhile, Kage Otoko was just (apparently) Akechi’s rival for some reason who admired little girls and Kuro was just… there engaging in some sort of one sided BDSM play. Both characters were a mystery, which isn’t terrible on it’s own. Looking with Samsura’s view of how this is a character study, just seeing the characters in various situations without really having them develop is fine. But then none of the characters really ever seemed to change or react differently even when the situations were different. We knew Kobayashi would be amused by whatever was going on, and that Hashiba was going to worry about whatever Kobayashi was doing. Of course, that kind of changed in the ending with Hashiba’s concern finally getting through to Kobayashi (shown not only through the tears, but also in how Kobayashi seemed to see the people walking in front of him as more than monochrome shapes), but I feel like a lot of characters still seemed really one dimensional throughout the whole anime. I guess in the long run, this was just Akechi and Namikoshi’s anime. I just kind of wish that if that was the intent that they would have brought that part sooner so I could have had a clearer view of where the anime was going.

The anime did end up exploring some really interesting topics. It probably didn’t help with views of cynicism towards society. Like with the criminals going free for technicalities even if they were repeat offenders, or how the reporters in the final episode were asking how Akechi was going to save everyone, but also completely blocking his way (if they weren’t part of Namikoshi’s group anyways). What, was he going to give a 20 minute interview while 4 people died? Plus with the relentless bullying that Namikoshi faced that he only solved when he took things into his own hands, it really seems like 20 Faces was a necessary thing in Ranpo Kitan’s world. Though of course, the anime has left us to think about this and come to a conclusion by ourselves.

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Ranpo Kitan is an amazing show. As someone with an immense interest in Ero-Guro works, this show is also right up my alley. I perfectly understand why most human beings don’t think this show is as amazing as I do, but I urge everyone to give this show a try, because even though this show is technically an adaptation, it is unlike any other piece of media out there. I don’t think this show will blow anyone away to the degree it did me, but I guarantee that Ranpo Kitan is a show that will entertain you unlike whatever else came out this season. I’ll end by linking to the music video by Amazarashi for the Anime’s OP, it’s a little something I like to describe as the Sadako Swing.

I guess a lot of people are upset that this didn’t pan out into a mystery anime (and given the first two episodes, I also thought that this was going to go in that route), but what actually happened wasn’t terrible on it’s own. I appreciate that it went into a lot of uncomfortable topics (like giving consent to being murdered or if lolicon is okay if there’s not a sexual intentions behind it) without giving off a heavy handed “you should think this about this subject” attitude. I guess that kind of is my problem with the anime too since I never really understood what it wanted or there were things that were never explained things in a way I was satisfied with. On one hand I was okay with the concept of the Dark Star and how they didn’t go into the details of  how it worked. I mean, anime makes you accept unrealistic things all the time. However, I really struggled with the show just saying “yeah, these two teenagers did math that can predict the future”. I guess I just had a problem with the Dark Star thing in general, the other thing in the story that really stopped my immersion was how even after all of Namikoshi’s plans seemed to be completed and with his ambiguous death, nothing seemed to come of it. Though that’s another part of the anime that was supposed to be left up for the viewer. Overall, I loved the art direction of Ranpo Kitan, and like I’ve said a lot of times above, the topics of the anime were pretty interesting to me. However, the story wasn’t as coherent as I would have liked (the episodes did admittedly link to a bigger storyline, but something still felt really disconnected) and there was so much more they could have gone into (like developing the characters better) but never did. But hey, this anime was pretty unique and that’s definitely something.


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11 Responses to “Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace 08-11 [END]”

  1. zztop says:

    This article discusses how Ranpo Kitan’s writers adapted the source novels for the anime.

    The anime was trying to modernize Ranpo’s works for its audience by loosely adapting the basic themes and characters from each Ranpo story/essay and reworking them into the anime.
    So some in-depth knowledge of Ranpo’s works helps to fully enjoy the anime and its take on the source material.

  2. Samsura says:

    Now there are plenty of places on the internet with the “Required Edogawa Rampo Works to Read lists” and whatnot, but is there anyone who would be interested if I made a list like that here? It would be a fun exercise for me, and I would get to bring up some of the weirdest things Japanese pop-culture has to offer. Please let me know if this is a thing you would read.

  3. IreneSharda says:

    This was an interesting series. It, like Rokka, was advertised as one thing and ended up being something else. I have to say that I kind of liked what both ended up, even if it wasn’t what I expected.

    Now, make no mistake, Rokka was definitely the superior show, but this did have some interesting element to it near the end. I was by no means “good”, but it was interesting. I think the main character (and I mean the one that wasn’t the annoying kids in high school) detective really was interesting in the end, and his relationship with his friend and the whole plot at the end was good.

    I wouldn’t see any more from this series, but I can’t say I didn’t like some of it.

    • zztop says:

      Will you do a final review of Rokka as well?

    • Samsura says:

      I feel it is unfair to compare Rokka and Ranpo just because they turned out to be not what you expected… especially since to me Ranpo is exactly what I expected it to be. Falling for an advertising trick and having a misconception about what the show is delivering are two completely different things.

  4. sonicsenryaku says:

    this show left a lot to be desired…and not because it didnt turn out to be a mystery series. The fact of the matter is it’s just really poorly written and directed. It didnt do much for me really..if i had to give it a rating it would definitely be a like a 5/10.

  5. zztop says:

    It’s likely the anime was trying to modernize Ranpo’s works for its audience by loosely adapting the basic themes and characters from each Ranpo story/essay and reworking them into the anime.

    This means some in-depth knowledge of Ranpo’s works would help viewers to fully enjoy the anime and its take on the source material.

  6. Overcooled says:

    I liked it! Not as much as Samsura, but it definitely kept me entertained. It looks like director Seiji Kishi finally decided to branch out from bad video game-to-anime adaptations and make something good. He got so good it’s kind of scary. Was he holding back all this time? Because Ranpo Kitan looked gorgeous!

    • Karakuri says:

      Yeah! If I hadn’t looked it up, I would have never been able to tell that this guy was the same director.

  7. BlackBriar says:

    While unraveling into somewhat of a mess, I can still say I found some enjoyment in Ranpo Kitan, whether it was trying to be serious or humorous (Maybe both at the same time). What I always find fascinating of these series is how easy it is to rile the masses into a crazed mob. All you need is to use a form of known injustice that they can all relate to and it all sparks off.

    From start to finish, I was never bothered by Kobayashi’s aloof personality. I find the detached, determines their actions by reason, doesn’t follow the crowd kind of mindset far more interesting than the typical, irrational personality that gets overly emotional in a moment’s notice and makes it painfully apparent they need masses of people to define themselves. If a person can have a handful of friends beside them, that would be enough. Akechi has similar traits of the former so he works out just as much. Hashiba’s just an annoying third wheel that acts like an overprotective mother hen and excluding saving Kobayashi in the final episode, has done next to nothing. I think the series could’ve done well without him.

    • Karakuri says:

      Hmm, I thought the same about Hashiba until I read Samsura’s bit about male friendship being an extremely important theme. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe because Hashiba was always around to nag Kobayashi, that was the reason why Hashiba’s final jump off the building seemed to change Kobayashi a bit. Kobayashi knew vaguely that Hashiba cared, but maybe until the moment Hashiba caught him, Kobayashi didn’t know how much that care extended.

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