Kindaichi is a weird bird. The manga has been ongoing with 66 volumes since 1992 and the animated series ran 148 episodes from 1997-2007. It’s been out there a long time, with several live action J-drama series before this most recent one. However, it is still a runner up to Japan’s favorite kid detective show, Detective Conan, which currently clocks in with 84 volumes of an ongoing manga, close to 800 episodes of the anime series that’s run from 1996 to present, 15 movies and more. At the end of 2014 though, they put on a new 9 episode J-drama called Kindaichi Case Files Neo, neo meaning new. This is the perfect jumping on point for people unfamiliar with the character so let’s take a look at this new series and see how it rates.
High school student Kindaichi Hajime is the grandson of the famous detective Kindaichi Kosuke and attributes his amazing mystery solving skills to him. He always finds himself in trouble and there’s always a murder attached that only Kindaichi can solve, if he can get his mind out of the gutter first.
My biggest problem, and this is a problem for Detective Conan too, is that most of these mysteries are so absurdly complex that nobody would ever do what these murderers do. The mysteries are both ridiculously complicated in some ways and very simple in others at the same time. At the beginning of almost every episode, they have a short pre-credits scene where Kindaichi encounters some technology or some device or some idea that always comes into play later. Even given that, most of the mysteries are very difficult, if not impossible to solve on your own before Kindaichi calls everyone together for the big reveal. I know the Japanese have a thing for locked room mysteries, but they show up entirely too often for my tastes and the solutions are often ridiculous.
Our cast is diverse. Yamada Ryosuke plays Kindaichi and even though he’s pretty young, he’s been in Tantei Gakuen Q and Hidarime Tantei EYE, as well as several other Kindaichi Case Files projects. Kawaguchi Haruna is Nanase Miyuki, Kindaichi’s close friend and would-be girlfriend. She’s been in several Kindaichi series and specials, as well as guest starring in Galileo 2. Then there’s Yamaguchi Tomomitsu, the detective that is probably closer to Kindaichi than anyone else, Kenmochi Isamu. Unfortunately, I can recommend nothing he’s been in, even though he’s an older actor because he’s mostly done family and historical dramas. I did like him so I’m going to keep an eye out for his future work. It’s actually difficult to find actors from this series that have done much, most are young, playing high school students, and have a career spanning just a few years. I will, therefore, break tradition and name a fourth actor, Asari Yosuke, who played Makoto Makabe, a police detective, he’s been in a ton of things I’ve liked including ATARU, Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de, Meitantei Conan Season 1 and BOSS.
It feels bad saying that I dislike the show’s shtick but that’s really what it comes down to. I loved the acting overall. I liked the casting. I enjoyed the stories. I just keep getting thrown out of the moment with these absurdly complicated plots that just left me shaking my head. It’s why I don’t watch the Detective Conan anime or pay any attention to the manga. Not being entirely realistic is one thing but it feels like a plot is going to come along and say “the murderer cooked up a radioactive substance in the bathroom, after which they jumped into a nearby stunt plane, flew an obstacle course like a pro, performed ninja acrobatics and then stuck a knife in someone’s chest.” It just doesn’t resonate with me, sorry.