Monday, February 22, 2016

Anime Review: The Perfect Insider

I find it funny that even though the noitaminA timeslot has returned to just one show a season that the past three have all been mysteries, it's just such an odd coincidence! So I tried out this one to see if it was any better than Ranpo Kitan and the answer is yes but not as good as I had first hoped.

The Perfect Insider (Subete ga F ni Naru or Everything Becomes F)

Years ago, right after she became a doctor, Magata Shiki killed her parents at age 15 and willingly went into solitary confinement for the rest of her life. This girl clad in white has been barely seen since but rich, connected Moe recently had an interview with Magata and is teasing her old-friend and romantic interest Souhei with the information. Moe continues to tease him and say that their club should go to the remote island that Magata's laboratory prison is located on for a camping trip but once they do they're caught up in a far more complicated scheme than they first realize.

This show had one of the best opening episodes of the fall season, the mystery wasn't truly introduced until a few episodes later but there was already hints in the air that the affair with Dr Magata was about to become a lot more personal and complicated for the other two leads, Souhei and Moe. Souhei seemed prone to going on long, existential tangents about life but they were all followed by Moe going "yeah but do you want coffee or not?" so it felt like the show was winking at the audience and saying "the characters might believe this but we take it with a grain of salt." It's hard to pinpoint exactly where the show started slipping for me but by the half-way point the show had drunk it's own kool-aid and was fully buying into ramblings that felt like they should have been coming from a first semester philosophy student, not a professor like Souhei, and Moe was becoming less and less relevant to the show.

I came into the show hoping for a more interesting mystery than the previous noitaminA show, Ranpo Kitan, or Perfect Insider's contemporary Beautiful Bones. The mystery is an interesting one to start with, a locked room murder with some bizarre details all around and set on an island so it was like a double locked room. However, the show never adequately explained some details, indulged in pusedo-science (multiple personalities! I know the original work was written in the 90s but people must've known better even then), and cared more about twists than execution in the very end. I felt like there were two main twists to the mystery, one I rather liked but the other one (which was necessary for the other) I thought was completely dumb and breaks one of the big rules about mysteries that I really care about (no it's not the "no Chinamen" one).

The way this mystery seemed to crumble reflected how the characters seemed to stop caring about reality as they came up with wilder and wilder theories and patterns of thinking to fit them. At some point you have to step back and think "but this is supposed to be a work of realistic fiction, this is supposed to be about people, do people really think and act like this?" Here the answer is no, no people don't have deep debates about how children are fated to kill their parents etc. Maybe I should've seen this coming in the first episode but I was still unhappy to look at the last episode compared to the first and see just how much had changed tonally and in terms of ideas. The story had a hard time finding a reason to keep Moe as a main character (I liked her the best of the three leads) and ended up framing her thoughts, actions, and even life as just reactions or parallels to Souhei and Magata, a far cry from the flippant and confident girl in the first episode.

I'm sure this kind of philosophical tomfoolery does appeal to some people and by all means, go and enjoy the show. But if you want something with more grounded mystery then I recommend looking elsewhere, although do watch the opening sequence at least once since it's a rather catchy little song and dance. 

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