Not too long ago, I took a look at the J-drama series Kindaichi Case Files Neo, which came out in 2014, but there’s also a 26-episode anime series with a similar name and hey, never let it be said that I let a good mystery series go by, so my wife and I sat down to watch it.
Now granted, I haven’t reviewed a lot of anime lately, mostly because there hasn’t been anything I’ve been interested in watching, the serious sci-fi market in Japan seems to have hit a rather significant low, but I can make do with detectives, can’t I? So let’s see if we can’t figure out who done it in Kindaichi Casefiles Return.
Like the first series of Kindaichi, these are all independent multiple-episode mysteries that have nothing to do with each other, except that Hajime, Miyuki and Detective Akechi are almost always involved in some way. The cases are wildly complicated, nobody can ever just shoot someone else, and it’s up to Hajime Kindaichi, grandson of the famous literary detective Kosuke Kindaichi, to save the day.
I have the same problems here that I did with the live action, that the cases are just absurdly complex, so much so that no murderer ever would even attempt to use these ridiculous methods to get away with their crimes. Yes, I get that it’s supposed to be exciting, trying to figure out these ludicrous crimes but it just leaves me shaking my head at the totally unnecessary showmanship.
Worse, there was a big 5-part mystery in the middle of the series where they had finally come face to face with the Puppeteer, an insane mass murderer. He’s standing about 5 feet away, on the other side of a fire. The police were there. They were armed. They had already put two slugs in his chest but he had a bullet proof vest. So what do they do? They just stand there like idiots and let him slowly walk away. No shots to the head? It’s certainly not optimal, police are trained to shoot for the center of mass, but given that he had a vest, they couldn’t shoot him in the legs or the head? Seriously? It’s just dumb and it’s done for plot purposes only. No cop would ever act that way. They’d all be emptying their guns at him, given that he just murdered someone else right in front of them. It’s things like that that drive me crazy.
Add to that the rather ridiculous idea that the police are going to let Hajime conduct murder investigations as a teenager. Sure, I can understand that when he’s out in the middle of nowhere, cut off from the rest of the civilized world, he can look into anything he wants, but when the police are involved and they are deferring to him because he’s smarter than they are, that’s another matter. In fact, Hajime and Kengo Akechi have a rivalry going that, while I guess it’s supposed to be cute, comes off as incredibly immature.
This isn’t just a problem with Kindaichi though, as I’ve said before, Detective Conan does the same thing, although I think Conan is a little more subdued in the murder insanity. If you watch American detective dramas, there are twists and turns but never the kind of over-the-top insanity that characterizes Kindaichi. Further, as I’ve talked about before when it comes to mysteries, one of the major attractions of the genre is trying to figure out the mysteries as the case goes on, but often, it just isn’t possible. There’s a story in the second half of the series about a murder on an airplane and the whole thing hinges on which characters smell of smoke, something that is never mentioned during the show and certainly not something that viewers can detect on their own. So how can we figure anything out? We can’t. That’s a major disappointment.
Once again, I just can’t recommend this series to mystery fans and that’s a shame. The characters are decent but the mysteries themselves are ridiculous. If you like that kind of thing, more power to you. I don’t. I want to exercise my detecting skills as the episode goes on and so much of the Kindaichi shtick doesn’t allow that. I guess I’ll just have to look elsewhere for my mystery fix.