In the first episode, what I thought Kyokou Suiri would be was a show which I greatly enjoyed every episode. The characters were unique and amiable while the atmosphere and events were still intense. I had no doubt in my mind that this show would be one that I would love.
That doubt, however, slowly started to appear more and more as I continued on to later episodes. In my previous post, I expressed some of my worries about how the show immediately gets boring as soon as Kotoko leaves the screen. And this episode was no different. Not to my suprise, the new character, Saki-san joined Kurou in the “characters who leech Kotoko for survival” club.
The characters being boring this way was something to be expected. We already saw how boring the show got when Saki was talking to the other police as their conversation seemed to drag on forever without any interesting ideas, backgrounds, or settings. As for Kurou, we just haven’t seen him alone without Kotoko. But I’m sure everyone noticed his rather boring style of dialogue and appearance (which frankly does bounce off Kotoko fairly well). Sure, it may not be a bad idea to have a rather calmer character in front of a colorful and vibrant character (such as Kotoko) since too much flair in characters can make the show’s cast a little bit messy. But even such, these calmer characters must have an interesting personality to keep the audience entertained. What makes this problem more crucial in Kyokou Suiri is that the youkai cases take on more of an omnibus styled structure that ends in an episode or two, which it is hard to get invested in too quickly.
A perfect example of all these flaws coming together was shown in this episode. After Kotoko left Saki’s house, Saki started investigating the death of Nanase Karen, a former idol who supposedly died of a horrible accident. The show uses this opportunity to give the audience information about the cases though a monologue within Saki’s thought. Although it succeeded in giving the audience information, it failed in giving the audience enjoyment. There were two major problems in this scene: the lack of an interesting setting and the lack of an interesting personality. The former is commonly occurring with many shows nowadays, with exposition scenes happening in locations like cafes or houses for an extended period of time. Saki’s scene fails to be even slightly interesting with her setting since the scene merely shows her sitting down in her room which even Kotoko described as “lacking personality”. What makes shows like the Monogatari series so good is that even in scenes with extended dialogue, it keeps the viewers entertained through extremely unique and good visual presentation. This show fails to do so. The latter comes from Saki herself. Saki literally has no special trait about her. She is literally just “the ex.” Without Kotoko to talk about Kurou with her (which also makes no sense since she broke up with him 2 years about and ran away from him), she is just a cop with no emotions. With her narrating a setting the viewers haven’t had too much time to see or be invested in, the case itself isn’t able to pull through Saki’s lack of character.
Now let’s take the scene that comes prior when Kotoko is researching Nanase Karen. Kotoko looks through a computer, in what seems to be a room in a small computer cafe, searching through the same wikipedia page that Saki saw. This scene was vastly better than the one with Saki because of multiple reasons. First, as she browsed through the wikipedia page, the show switched the shot over to Kotoko while showing multiple facial expressions that were very expressive and fun to look at. Second, Kotoko’s setting was a lot more interesting than Saki’s. The small crowded computer room is one that exists in Japan for many who don’t have homes. As the viewers who haven’t seen Kotoko’s house, it was much more refreshing to see these types of small information on Kotoko life unlike Saki’s house. Finally, unlike Saki, the viewers know that Kotoko is an expert on these Youkais. We see from this scene that she found something out about Nanase Karen as she sees the photo on the wikipedia page. Because much of the information that Saki saids in her scene is repetitive to the police scene or Kotoko’s scene, I think a much better way to have handled this scene would have been to just follow Kotoko leaving Saki’s house to the computer room, have her explain what Saki did, and after realizing something, move on to request for Saki’s help. This would have allowed the viewers to continue to watch Kotoko while keeping Saki’s character more refreshing with the character dynamic with Kotoko.
Regardless, all the positives stayed positive. The sound track was all fun. Kotoko’s facial expressions are great, and the case was somewhat interesting enough to keep me entertained. The opening of a show that Nanase Karen was in just randomly playing in the middle of the show was so out of nowhere that I just started laughing. I’m hoping the show gets to the level I expected it to be when I watched the first episode. But as it is now, I expect this to be a rather okay show with a very lovable main character.