Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge – 02

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I really love the fact that series like this exist – it makes me appreciate what an amazing art form anime can be.

OP: “Unmei no Ori (運命の檻)” by Aimi

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My great fear is that Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge is going to be the next great anime that no one watches.  It’s definitely not going to suit everyone’s tastes – this is an unapologetically very strange series.  The storyline is bizarre, the narrative style is unconventional and the look is dark and gothic despite a modern setting.  It’s one of those series that’s hard to justify by singling out any one aspect of its presentation, but taken as a whole it totally works for me.  There’s absolutely nothing like it.

Remarkably enough, as strange as the premiere was this show looks even weirder now that we have a little bit of a handle on what’s actually going on.  Apparently the plot revolves around two curses, both of which in turn revolve around Iwai.  Her ancestor was the first “Hair Queen” – like Iwai her hair could not be cut, and it was she who empowered the “killing goods”, the items such as Kiri’s scissors.  They urge their owner to use them for murder, and their killing power is many times that of a normal item.  Add to that the fact that the only way for an “Author” – one in possession of one such item – to free themselves from their curse is to kill the Hair Queen, and you have quite an explosive situation.

The first half of this episode is largely taken up with Yamane, the younger of the two Byouinzaka sisters.  She’s completely unhinged at the sight of Iwai leaving her house to go to school (and she didn’t seem all that hinged to begin with) and that leads to her using her killing goods – a syringe her ancestor used to murder soldiers while working as a medic in WW II – in a seeming attempt on Iwai’s life.  This is a gruesome and disturbing but gorgeously composed scene, mostly in shadow, as she injects Iwai before Kiri can slash her arm with his scissors in a spray of blood.  After they duel he ends up in the infirmary, unconscious, and we see via flashback that Yamane has in fact already murdered both her parents.

Enter “Professor” Sumeragi Kanae (Yusa Kouji, a modern seiyuu legend) who introduces himself as Iwai’s guardian and proceeds to explain to Kiri why Yamane is injecting her sister with the syringe and licking the wounds.  Unless they play out the act of murder, he tells Kiri, Authors will eventually snap and go on a killing spree – thus the use of “Insteads” to act as mock-victims for the pretend-murders.  This is a pretty grisly premise, and the imagery is disturbing to match it, but the more we learn about Sumeragi the more disturbing he seems in his own right.  He’s a proud pedophile who has “Lolicon Justice” written on his office whiteboard and seems to take a good deal of glee at the notion of undressing Iwai and performing mouth-to-mouth on her.

So in this episode we met a double-patricide and a pedophile, and those are the good guys – not to mention that the chief protagonist himself is a boy who seems fated to become a serial killer himself.  Kiri’s role, Sumeragi tells him, is to look after Iwai and make sure none of the Authors looking to free themselves from the curse gets her – and it looks as if he’ll be getting some practice in the next episode.  In the act of cutting Iwai’s hair (which grows back overnight) she can act as his Instead and stave off his madness for a while, in theory anyway.  You don’t get plots much darker than that, yet in spite of all of it there remains something powerful and poignant about Kiri and Iwai’s relationship.  His commitment to her and her adoration of him seem so genuine and utterly different from the shallow and cliched relationships at the center of most anime that in spite of all the darkness surrounding them, their scenes together are somehow warm and hopeful.

On top of all that, what really stands out about Crime Edge is just how beautiful it is.  The music is spectacular start to finish, and in terms of the look this is one of the most stunning anime I’ve seen in years.  The character designs are the best this season, the creativity in the direction is off the charts, the backgrounds are detailed and the animation smooth and fluid.  Studio Gokumi has really outdone themselves here, and they’ve added a lovely OP and ED (I especially like the ED animation sequence) that feel totally suited to the material this week.   I don’t imagine that Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge is going to be an easy series to watch, and I certainly don’t think it’s going to find a wide audience.  But for those looking for something stylish, affecting and very different, this is one of the standouts of the year so far.

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ED: “Kimi to Futari (君と二人)” by Karin Takahashi × Yurika Endo

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8 comments

  1. E

    This is genuinely good. I was afraid that it's another stupid C3 for once. But no, this weird little story is heading for the darkside quickly. Will Kiri turn himself into a murderer, for the sake of protecting Iwai? Isn't that bad since it's going to the professor's wish? A bastard who gets enjoyment from watching the struggle of other humans? I can't wait to find out.

  2. C

    Why didn't Kiri die when stabbed with the needle?

  3. N

    Not really sure but either a few possibilities:
    a) Luck
    b) It was just saline solution and he pussied out and fainted.
    c) Same reason the other girl didn't die when he thoroughly slashed her neck. i.e. magic/ luck

  4. S

    The syringe amplifies whatever drug is in the syringe. It seems it was some form of sleeping drug, but not strong enough to kill. Remember that the original owner had used it extensively and only killed 2 people.

    The creepiest thing in this episode was the 'Instead' scene with both girls getting off on the injection. Very disturbing!

  5. A

    The scene when it changes to monochrome for me was beautifully executed. While it had the tension in the beginning with Yamane, the actual fight changes the atmosphere and hinted on something more ominous.

    This is going to be an enjoyable ride with each introduction of new Authors and Insteads. OP and ED are nice too.

  6. A

    Yeah, wasn't into the whole 'Instead' scene. Other than that, I quite enjoyed this episode!

  7. R

    It's absolutely beautifully executed — a totally atmospheric adventure. The injection scene was disturbing, but I could take it as in the creators were trying to show how creepy a cursed Author could be. I am unsure about the tossing of the idea of lolicon, but that's not a turn-off. What I am really hesitating is the premise — of which the creators did an excellent job showing us in this episode. With MGX, we have got a very metaphoric show with tons of hidden meanings packed with deep thoughts and emotions. I know that this show is different from MGX that it's taking a dark route — that it can be engrossing, and it's about the two curses — but why…and why those curses? Is it simply putting the pieces together to create a horrific and murderous story? I just don't know, and I kept asking questions when watching it. Also, the characters simply played the typical roles here — the hero who protects; the timid who is cute but needs protection…. I think I criticize too much for something that is so beautiful… What a tough nut to crack…I guess I will stay for a couple more episodes to see how I feel.

  8. h

    That was pretty. Pretty awesome. Lots of shock value in this one, for sure. The staggering amount of gore spattering about during the syringe-scissor fight is morbidly exhilarating, I'll admit with some guilt.

    The lighting in this series is quite nice. The shift from super-saturated to monochromatic during battle was also made for quite a sight. I am not sure what to make of the masochistic, trypophibic display of incestual arousal between the murder sisters. Fan disservice?

    Looking forward to the battles to come. The OP seems to indicate Victorique is also an Author. Plus, she was pissed this episode, so I reckon it's only a matter of time.

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