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Dated 4 May 2014: Three detective shows of spring 2014

Miyuki and Hajime

I'm watching three shows about detectives this season: Detective Conan, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns, and Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin. All three are pretty good, but I'm most pleased with how Nanana is progressing.

I hope one of Nanana's treasures is a Buster Machine.

Of these three, Nanana is my clear favorite this season, largely thanks to its master detective. This is fortunate, because my original reason for watching the show appears determined to spend all of her eternal damnation playing video games. I guess ghost hands can't cramp up. Between Detective Conan and Kindaichi Returns, I definitely enjoy Conan more. However, I'm not sure if that's due to the strength of the show itself, because of my pre-established familiarity with the characters, or because I just happened to discover Meitantei Conan before I learned Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo even existed.

It helps that Juugo is sort of a punk.

I've basically been on board with Nanana as a matter of principle since I heard about its premise. There's no Ghost Girlfriend Clause, but perhaps there ought to be. It's also not a exactly a detective show, although there's a detective in it. Through four episodes, she's stealing the show. I'd be pretty okay with her as the lead instead of Juugo.1

Tensai and Juugo
She probably swiped through all of your pictures, too.

I am exceptionally pleased with the character Ikkyuu Tensai, a self-described master detective with a ridiculous name. Specifically, I'm astonished she actually is a master detective, and apparently stays that way the entire time, not just when the plot requires it. It's too early in the year to know who's going to win, but I think it's pretty likely Tensai will at least get a nomination for the title of 2014 Girl of the Year.

Ran has better hair than Miyuki.

I'm putatively watching Detective Conan this season, but actually following it will depend on whether or not the current episodes get fansubbed. The usual suspects are falling quite behind again, or they've taken their work to the Dark Web. Yes, that insidious DARK WEB which you have surely heard about from a television news special report. The DARK WEB which teems with pornography and hacktivism and unofficially imported family-friendly cartoons STRAIGHT FROM JAPAN. Actually, there's probably still that one dude on YouTube who's subbing Detective Conan as a goof. I haven't fully embraced streaming video yet when it comes to anime distribution, though. No, really.

Ran and Conan
Ran bends over again.

Luckily, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns has, well, returned from an extended absence with this season's aptly named show. I was wholly ignorant about this franchise, but its description reveals a lot of similarities with Detective Conan. Based on what the Wikipedia tells me, the Kindaichi manga actually predates the Detective Conan manga. I don't know if Meitantei Conan copied the Kindaichi formula, but there are a lot of similarities, at least based on the few Kindaichi episodes I've watched so far. Detective Conan isn't a total ripoff, though. At a minimum, it made the Kindachi elements more accessible by (eventually) toning down the crimes (even though someone still dies in some horrific manner basically every week) and by making it less realistic via reverse-aging formulas, implausible techno gadgets, Ran's youthful lack of lower-back problems, and Professor Agasa's amazing ability to periodically cram five neighborhood children into his wheezing Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle and drive them into the wilderness without attracting any attention.

Ah, now I see.

Even though Kindaichi may have come first, Detective Conan is clearly the better established leader in the high school detective genre and probably better known to all but the most ardent Kindaichi fans. The similarities are undeniable: Teenage master detectives solve crimes the police cannot. Loyal aerodynamic childhood friends serve as putative love interests. Perhaps as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Detective Conan, the first episode of Kindaichi Returns features a man trying to flag down Miyuki by calling her "Ran" during a moment of mistaken identity.

Note 1: I've seen others accuse the male lead of being too generic, but that's patently unfair. In my view, "too generic" should refer to cretins with zero distinguishing positive characteristics such as Junichi from Amagami SS and all the various harem comedy leads who spend every waking hour trying to become the leading chickenshit stupid asshole champion ever since the last dude scorched off his balls by clumsily handling the Chickenship Stupid Asshole Torch. Tragically, there's at least one important objective distinction that immediately separates Juugo from Potato-kun: He's not afraid of touching girls—not even dead ones. It's tragic that this simple quality is now sufficient to segregate worthless members of the Otaku Virtues congregation from the increasingly less common non-craven punks, but that's a separate blog post altogether. I was going to write about detectives.

Dated 26 June 2014: Digging for Nanana's Buried Treasure

Nanana looks okay for a dead girl.

Despite being consistently good and reigning as my top-rated show all season long before being nipped at the very end by Hitsugi no Chaika (indeed, it would get a No Bad Episodes ribbon except I've decided not to award that anymore for shows with less than 20 episodes), there's something unsatisfying about Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Nanana's Buried Treasure). Don't get me wrong, I certainly liked Nanana a lot as a whole. I was particularly impressed with its master detective character character, Tensai, and relieved that the male lead, Juugo, wasn't a passive, craven, potato. However, I was disappointed in its titular character, Nanana herself.

The Best Girl in Nanana has a silly name.

There's nothing actually wrong with Nanana, and perhaps that's the real problem. She's the ghost of a murdered genius now stuck haunting a tiny apartment on the island she helped create, but nothing about her seems particularly genius or spectral. She spends all of her time playing video games. (Being a ghost, she doesn't need to sleep.) Aside from that, she doesn't do much else except eat pudding and occasionally dole out hints about her "buried treasure."

Nanana actually isn't very aggressive for someone with
lingering regrets keeping her from the afterlife.

About that first part: Why does she eat if she's a ghost? How can she eat? Since she can eat, why does she eat only pudding? I guess she eats pudding because she likes how it tastes, but she has no interest at all in any other food? Did she enjoy nothing else when she was still alive? In a way, I guess Nanana's pudding diet is allegorical of Nanana herself. No matter how much you love pudding, anyone alive would get sick of the lack of variety. Likewise, no matter how much you might like Nanana, you'd want to see her display some other facet of herself. She might as well be an an A.I. or a Dutch wife.

Nanana and Juugo should have fought more often.

Tragically, this is one of the rare examples of "girl roomie" anime, and it completely goes to waste. I'm grateful the show did not devolve into stupid mishaps testing Otaku Virtues or degenerate into something hopelessly contrived like Nozoki Ana (which was technically also about challenges to the Otaku Virtues). I didn't watch enough Bleach to see how it handled the situation, but I heard Rukia eventually moved out of Strawberry's closet. Aside from Rizelmine, I can't think of any other "girl roomie" shows off the top of my head, but surely there some example that occupies a zone between constantly freaking out about the girl in the room, and spending every waking moment ignoring her. (Oh, wait, IS <Infinite Stratos>.)

I'm going to start planting screenshots from totally unrelated shows in my blog posts.

Anyway, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is really a lot better in basically all the areas I expected it to stumble, but I'm still left somewhat disappointed because it turned out to basically avoid everything I thought the show would actually be about. I suppose it's better this way. I'm not quite optimistic enough to believe it would have been a better show by focusing on either the "girl roomie" or "ghost girlfriend" dynamics. I certainly can't complain about getting a Grade A detective out of the affair. If only there were fewer jumping puzzles....

Dated 18 July 2014: Spring 2014 season wrapup

Fredrica and Akira
This cat is so chill.

Just a few months ago, I noted I followed an unusually large (for me) number of shows. This time around, I tried following too many shows and ended up DNFing on shows I wanted to follow but didn't get around to finishing even though I never officially dropped them. Apart from that, there were no major deviations from my expectations addressed during my initial impressions.