Directing is a rough skill to master. It takes years of experiences and build up of lower positions from key animation to episode directing — in the case of animation — for someone to become as great as they are. Yamada Naoko started off as a key animator to Air and episode director and storyboarder of Clannad before she was able to get her first directing role with K-on. Even someone like Akiyuki Shinbou — with his crazy style — worked on shows like Yuu Yuu Hakusho as episode director and storyboarder before he did shows like the Monogatari Series.
For the first time director Kurihara Manabu, this experience may have been what was lacking in Tantei wa mou Shindeiru.
Let’s back up a moment to look at the first episode which honestly impressed me quite a bit. The first episode introduced us to two different characters, Siesta — the legendary detective — and Kimi — the problem magnet. The first half of this monster 50 minute episode starts off with a mystery: a plane looking for a detective while on air. By having Siesta creatively solve the mystery that was presented to us — albeit not to most interesting mystery with a lot of standing around — we are given a sense of the type of mysteries that we would be looking at throughout the show.
We also get this incredible action animation between Siesta and the first villain, Bat. Other than the fact that the chairs looked really cheap, everything from the movement of the camera from back to front, the quick jump from Siesta, to the shot of the gun from the front angle made the scene extremely exciting.
In the second half of the episode, while we aren’t given the crazy action of the first half, we get to see something even better: Siesta. Like the aforementioned animation quality, the visuals in episode one were great too. This was especially present in the character design of Siesta. I know that people are saying that she looks like the Date Alive character, but her design in the anime came out a lot smoother with a better facial ratio or size to make her look a lot cuter on screen. I think they did pretty much a perfect job moving her illustrations from the light novel to the anime. Having this kind of well designed character pretty much go through sweet romantic comedy moments in a school festival with some Hyouka-like interesting school mystery is pretty hard to go wrong with. I’m sure everyone watching was pretty damn happy to see Siesta in the wedding dress.
To put it shortly, episode one was great. It was exciting, heartwarming, and fun.
But then the problem arises slowly in the following episodes. To give a slight background on this show, This show is directed by Kurihara Manabu. Kurihara was a director that mainly did keyframes and animation direction with ENGI; the guy never had storyboarding experiences of note. Essentially, he skipped the steps of being an episode director or storyboarder that most directors go through before they become a series director.
To start at the most simple level, the visuals, unlike the first episode, become a huge problem. Despite the high fluidity in movement that we saw throughout the first episode, episode two onwards started to show a lot of still frames. While still frames or lack of character movement is not always the problem, it definitely is when nothing is done to compensate for it.
This becomes a huge problem when directing different scenarios with a tense atmosphere. When we have been built up to the climax of a show with very tense moments to hit the peak of that build up, we expect something grand in animation to match up with it. However, in episode 2 and 3 of this show, we often had directing choices where characters are having a relaxed conversation with still frames during such situations. While I understand that the show was trying to go for a balance between seriousness and comedy, it’s always better to place them in different situations so you don’t end up with a scenario where the attempted seriousness kills the comedy and vice versa.
This really peaked at the end of episode six when we were given this supposedly awesome mecha fight with the robot that Siesta got from the government to save Kimi. Hilariously, while they were chasing Hel, who was shooting missiles towards their robot, we were given a spectacular shot of Siesta avoiding those missiles in this Touhou project manner. The robot moved completely horizontally kind of like how you click “move layer” on photoshop and start dragging around the drawing. It was one of the worst animation moments that I’ve seen in my life. Hilarious stuff.
Naturally, a lot of this is from failed expectations. We saw this great action scene from the fight on the plane or the character running through the hallway of the school in episode one. However, when we still have such uncomfortable character movements from following episodes, the audience is naturally going to get disappointed.
Next, I want to talk about this show’s job adapting this show from its original light novel. First, I want to clarify that I haven’t read the novel or the comic before at all. As someone who hasn’t, the impression that I got from this show was that the anime was made merely to advertise the novels, not necessarily to create an enticing series. My biggest reason for suspecting this is because there’s a lot of story elements or directing choices that seem hard to understand precisely because I don’t have this previous knowledge that light novel readers would have. If it is not this, the show clearly made a mistake deciding what order to present the different events that were in the light novel.
Take for example, the appearance of Charlotte’s appearance at the end of episode four. As audiences, we’ve never seen this character before. Because of this, we are left pretty much clueless at her relationship between Siesta and Kimi. Naturally, we would be expecting her to come out in the next episode to get introduced to a new character. However, throughout the next 3 episodes that are currently out, we never really see her. The only part where she appears is when Keroberos transforms her appearance to look like Charlotte. This makes me assume that her introduction was purely because they wanted to show the transformative abilities of Keroberos by making him transform as someone both Siesta and Kimi would know.
This is especially confusing for the anime only viewers because Kimi finds out that Kerobero is not actually Charlotte by her speech pattern. The thing is, I had no clue that she was using this abnormal honorifics that she was using. IfI knew Charlotte beforehand, it may have been a clever way for Kimi to find this out. But now it merely feels like some made up thing that the author did to give the characters a reason. I would guess that in the light novel she was introduced in previous arcs and this scene was pretty good in the light novel. Even in the main story, already with the story being complex as it is, would have been much better if they did a better job clarifying the different things that were going on and building up to the characters or stories before they decided to present us with a shocking story element. It’s really hard to fully enjoy what’s going on when there’s a lot of mysteries with who these characters are and what they are doing here.
I think fundamentally, they made a mistake killing off Siesta in the first episode. I mean, she was like the poster girl of this show and episode one did pretty much everything to make her seem like the cutest, most attractive, really fun character to be around. In the first place, I don’t think Nagisa is really that interesting of a character relative to Siesta to carry a show. I felt like she was more or less a normal character without much motivation for the things that she did. I’m sure a lot of people dropped this show because Siesta died.
I genuinely think they could have changed the order from the light novel to have the past with Siesta and the current with Nagisa alternating every 2 or 3 episodes and ending with Siesta’s death at the end of the season with the heart reveal at the end. This would have kept both characters relevant, made the story a little bit better to understand, and make us wonder throughout the show why Siesta and Kimi aren’t together anymore. Most importantly, the shocking ending would have made the audience buy the book. I’m sure I would have if she died in the first episode. (I’m still going to buy the novel so I can compare it to the anime but it would have been more motivation)
Outside of this, the show gave us a lot of surprises in a bad way which made me a little bit confused. Just from the plot, I was going into this show expecting a mystery romance type show. But we are suddenly given these androids, super power, and these giant robots that were quite different from what I was expecting. Throughout the show, I feel like there are a lot of elements that aren’t really mysterious. Even with the short mystery-like parts we get, the solutions feel a little forced and a bit fantasy-like in most scenarios.
But despite all of these complaints I’m giving, I’m actually watching the show and having quite a bit of fun with it. You can probably expect my main reason — Siesta — from the way that I talked about show, but other fun elements make the show really shine as well. For example, the voice acting that really brought out the cool, calm, yet cute character of Siesta, or episode seven where Siesta gets drunk and starts acting super cute with the gap moe, or episode five with the beach episode with Siesta, or the different expressions that Siesta makes throughout the show when she is teasing Kimi or flustered by her mistakes, or the cool action scenes with Siesta, just to list a few are great as well!
Huh? What is that? The photos aren’t related to what I wrote at all? What do you mean? Siesta is the only reason to watch this show and all the negative comments I wrote about are cancelled by Siesta.
That’s right. Siesta is great and everyone should watch this show.