Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge – 04

Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-8 Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-24 Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-29

Surprisingly enough, Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge got even weirder this week.  And nothing could please me more.

I often run across anime that prompt me to wonder just what the money people were thinking when they agreed to produce it.  Dansai Bunri certainly fits the bill there – this is a series that does nothing whatsoever to try and generate broad appeal.  It’s strange, difficult and offers next to nothing in the way of anime convention.  To say this series is likely to have mediocre sales is probably the understatement of the year – it might just make Shin Sekai Yori look like a Nisio Isin series by comparison.

This is such as odd series, though, that it even makes me wonder why anyone agreed to publish the manga when Hikagi Tatsuhiko pitched it.  That’s the wonderful thing about manga and anime, though – for all the repetitiveness and reliance on convention that can plague the latter, in the end both mediums – even anime – cover a remarkably broad spectrum of styles and content.  And Dansai Bunri is anime’s version of an eclectic indie film except somehow, miraculously, it has stupendous production values – by all evidence this show is seemingly working with a considerable budget.  Creativity and talent can go a long way and they’re certainly in evidence here, but this is not a low-rent production by any means.

As we progress, the nature of the story in Crime Edge is becoming much clearer.  Effectively it seems we’re looking at – even more literally than it appeared after the premiere – a chronicle of fetishes.  In fact it appears that all of the authors may in fact be fetishists, and the odd and more than a little disturbing relationship with the Insteads has a strong sadomasochistic element to it.  The main couple are certainly not immune from this – Kiri’s obsession with hair-cutting isn’t what you’d call normal for a 14 year-boy even if he’s not carrying the cursed blood linked to the Killing Goods with him, and we saw a hint of the dark side of his bond with Iwai in their highly sexualized embrace and hair-stroking as they hid from the sledgehammer killer.

In this vein we meet several more characters this week with deep connections to the twisted myth at the heart of the story.  There’s Nakajima Seigi (Ishida Akira), the “Conditional Murder” author whose Killing Goods is a book that carries out his sentence of death by hanging against those he considers guilty of a capital offense – unless they’re underserving, in which case the spirit rope breaks.  His Instead is police officer Zenigata Kozakura (Nagatsume Juri), who says she’s chasing after him to stop his vigilante justice but in fact seems to get off on being play-hanged by his power – the rope always breaks before she dies, but she still passes out.  Yes, that’s right, we have a character who’s addicted to auto-erotic asphyxiation, and even willingly admits it to a middle-school boy – and she’s a cop at that.  If that’s not a third rail for Crime Edge, it’s hard to imagine many places it won’t be willing to go.

Also in the mix are the couple that runs Bar Velvet, a place which has connections to Iwai’s father – a father who, by the way, Yamane has revealed (though she is demonstrably a liar) wasn’t in fact killed by she and her sister, but another (unknown) Author.  More on her in a minute, but Velvet proves an exceptionally interesting place – yet another opportunity for the series’ design team behind the series to show off.  They’ve created a lovely, atmospheric old bar with a white grand piano, a piano at which Eureka look-alike Karuko Hitomi (the reliably great Inoue Kikuo) plays jazz numbers she never finishes.  She’s blind, ever-smiling and very friendly towards the middle-schoolers who visit the place, especially Iwai herself, with whom she seems to form quite a bond.  Her husband is Koizumi Houichi (Koyasu Takahito), who tunes the piano – and also happens to be deaf, a fact that isn’t revealed until later in the story but certainly explains why he makes a perfect Instead for Hitomi.

So we have a blind jazz pianist married to a deaf piano tuner (how does that work, exactly?), just the latest Crime Edge odd couple.  You knew at once that there was more to their story than their smiles and lovely music, and of course Hitomi is an Author too – her power is “Pianissimo of Ecstatic Symphony”, which frames her earlier comment to Iwai that she doesn’t finish songs “because she wants people to come back and hear her play again” in an entirely more creepy light.  Though Houichi says they’re not interested in killing the Hair Queen (Hitomi has positively identified Iwai as such) they clearly have no qualms about killing, as we see that Hitomi has finished a song for an unfortunately man who “came snooping around”.  Meanwhile Kozakura tells of a group called “Gossip” that the higher-ups with the police are chummy with, that’s encouraging Authors to try and kill the Hair Queen.  As for Seigi, he also claims to have no interest in taking on Kiri or killing Iwai – his interest is in hanging around her to find opportunities to perform his trick on the Authors who come after her with murderous intent.  The web grows ever-more tangled.

Then there’s Byouinzaka Yamane, who remains a puzzle.  Why did she tell Kiri that the sledgehammer man wouldn’t be coming after Iwai?  Was she telling the truth when she told Iwai and Kiri that the sisters weren’t responsible for Iwai’s father’s death after all?  In this episode, in fact, we see Kiri show sympathy for the unsurprisingly socially outcast Yamane, urging her to stop thinking of herself as abnormal (good luck with that).  She seemed genuinely moved that he showed any interest in her, and that Iwai seemed willing to believe her about her father – yet she refused an invitation to join them at Velvet (which Iwai turned into a group outing when Kiri clearly thought it was a date) and she’s certainly unstable and unreliable at the very least.  It seems as if we’re going to be looking at a cast made up of shifting sands, where good and evil are flexibly defined and characters move freely from one camp to the other (possibly up to and including Kiri himself).

I can certainly understand that this series isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s the most interesting show of the season – a perfect counterpoint to the equally superb Suisei no Gargantia, which is finding brilliance by taking an utterly conventional road but doing so with subtlety and impressive intelligence.  Crime Edge does nothing whatsoever conventionally, but I love that about it.  I love it that it trusts the audience to figure out the details, like the sledgehammer man using the thunder to mask the sound of his blows or the implied meaning of Hitomi finishing her song, without needing to explain them.  The visuals continue to impress and the music is stellar – probably the best OP of the season, and consistently lovely and interesting BGM (this week a mix of previously heard Celtic-styled pieces with the jazz and even a French Musette piece on accordion).  The fact that this show is able to wallow in depravity and darkness as unapologetically as it does and still create an atmosphere of warmth and trust between the leads is testament to the quality of the writing.  I’m honestly not sure who the target audience for Crime Edge is, but I’m very glad Studio Gokumi thought one existed, because we don’t see shows like this come around very often.

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Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-33 Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-34 Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge - 04-35
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17 comments

  1. C

    Those two reminds me of the couple, Hakko and Santana from Canaan.

    Other than that another great episode as usual.

  2. B

    My hypothesis is that this show is rad.

    Only thing I don't like so far is the deaf piano tuner. That makes NO SENSE.

    I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to cursed items used to murder people but asking me to believe that a deaf man can tune a piano is too much!

  3. C

    Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf too so…

  4. H

    Piano tuning can be done completely electronically now, and it's possible that he can hear by bone conduction, which would allow him to still hear if he had his head against the piano. And who knows what kind of deaf he is, or how long he's been that way.

  5. B

    You say that as if Beethoven was always deaf. He didn't start losing his hearing until his mid 20's, by which time he had already composed a lot of music, and his hearing loss was gradual so it didn't actually stop him from playing entirely until his late 30's or early 40's. Eventually he DID have to stop playing, although he continued composing, since if you know what the notes are supposed to sound like one can conceivably keep composing even if one can no longer hear the results. It's harder but it can be done.

    Tuning an instrument though is a whole different ball game, you actually have to be able to hear the notes otherwise you have no way of knowing if it's in tune or not. Electric instruments have electric tuners and I've used that plenty of times for guitars but tuning an acoustic instrument that way sucks, you pretty much have to do it by ear. Which requires working ears.

  6. B

    I've never actually witnessed anyone tuning a piano by bone conduction. I guess it's possible? Seems like a real stretch though haha, it would definitely be hella impressive.

  7. H

    I really beg to differ about tuning acoustic instruments with electronic tuners. I've been doing it for 30 years (the Korg AT-12 auto-chromatic tuner is still my favorite). And my piano tuner uses a laptop to tune the piano.

  8. I agree that Beethoven is a bad comp, as his deafness was indeed gradual and composing is very different from tuning. I considered some sort of electronic tuner or such, but they showed his instruments and he didn't seem to have anything but tuning forks. How does a deaf man use a tuning fork? I never considered the idea of bone conduction but I guess it's theoretically possible.

    I guess in a series built around the premise of the Hair Queen, it's kind of silly to worry too much about this one point…

  9. N

    Tuning a piano with tuning forks is very easy while being deaf.
    When you play a note on the piano and have the tuning fork touching the frame/near the string. If it's the correct frequency the tuning fork will resonate (you can feel this). You don't need to hear anything at all. It is entirely equivalent to having an electronic tuner by more archaic and skill based. Instead of a light popping up, the tuning fork vibrates strongly.

  10. s

    I wouldn't be surprised if it were possible for one to tune a piano without actually hearing the notes. A tuning fork will be able to transmit a vibration into your body or make the piano resonate with it (which is also what you're doing when you're playing a note). So theoretically possible, if the person is dedicated enough. Still far-fetched, though.

  11. E

    This anime is slowly turning itself into one of the most interesting this season. The main reason is definitely because it dared to be shameless in displaying various 'things.' The masochist policewoman being the highlight of this episode, lol.
    While it's not really something bad, I have a complain that we are introduced to 'magical' killing tools without a warning. Please look at previous killing tools : syringe, scissors and hammer. They are quite normal weapons. The syringe can even be filled with saline solution, making it unharmful. But what do we have this episode? A grimoire which can summon spirit rope and judgement room? Wooow….

  12. n

    anyone… that piece resembles me a variation of All the things you are (really some jazz standards of 30's are similar in melodic construction)

  13. 4

    I think Yamane didn't lie in the previous episode. It's quite possible that this false information came from the professor or she was wrong, but not intentionally.

  14. Could be, absolutely. At this point we just don't know.

  15. K

    The whole time I was watching this episode, I kept wondering to myself, "why does Karuko look so creepily familiar…?"

    Duh.

    In any case, I'm really surprised how great this is turning out, and also at the places it's willing to go. It's not everyday you see such an oddly beautiful portrayal of fetishes, but here you have it, and it's damn enjoyable to watch every week too.

  16. Oh, Kairi! 😛

    Seriously, thanks for commenting – great to have you here.

  17. K

    Ello senpai!

    Not at all, I've been around here for some time. ^^ I read your stuff every day once I'm caught up haha. :)

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