First Impressions – Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge

Dansi Bunri - 01-8 Dansi Bunri - 01-18 Dansi Bunri - 01-29

Based on what I’ve been reading today, this may be another series where my take and the mass opinion are two ships passing in the night.

Let’s get two things established straight away:
  1. I really, really liked this premiere a lot.
  2. I can easily see where the show could go into the ditch, and fast.

The first thing I want to say about Dansi Bunri no Crime Edge is that I think it looks great – visually, this is one of the most interesting premieres I’ve seen in ages.  It’s full of interesting cinematography and shot composition, and the character designs are superb.  Interestingly, I had a very strong Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann vibe almost from the opening bell, and, following a hunch, found out that every one of the key visual staff on Crime Edge worked on TTGL (including Character Designer Hirata Katsuzo and all the Animation Directors).  Even if I can’t put my finger on exactly why, this similarity is inescapable for me, to the point where I’m amazed I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else.

There are plenty of other things I liked about the premiere as well.  It’s great to hear two voices in lead roles that aren’t completely overexposed, and the fact is that these are two seiyuu I quite like – Haimura Kiri is is played by Hanae Natsuki, whose only major role was his winning performance as Wien in Tari TariMushanokoji Iwai is played by Koiwai Kotori, whose only major role was Kigurumi in Joshiraku.  They’re both excellent, portraying a charming innocence that would be impossible for recycled veterans who we’ve heard a thousand times, and I like the relationship as well – it’s quite unusual, completely free of any of the usual anime tsundere nonsense (or any other tropes, for that matter).  You might see a bit of Gosick in the chemistry – and there’s a gothic vibe to Crime Edge despite the modern setting – but Iwai seems much more innocent and gentle than Victorique.

I’m also a big fan of the music, a mix of traditional orchestral pieces and some Celtic tunes from anime veteran Takanashi Yasuharu, all of which suit the dreamy vibe of the material perfectly.  It’s not conventional anime material, the music or anything else about this strange concoction.  The premise sees Kiri as an odd young man who’s fascinated by cutting girls’ hair, and Iwai as the shut-in with the endless tresses which fascinate him at first sight.  It’s not exactly easy to discern what’s really going on here, partly by design and partly because the exposition is often clumsy.  Iwai is apparently cursed (one of the side-effects of which is that her hair cannot be cut) and lives alone, receiving occasional visits and supplies from the Byouinzaka Sisters (Fukuhara Kaori and the super Uchiyama Yumi).  They belong to an “organization” of some sort (their name means “hospital hill”, though I’ve no idea if that’s significant) and warn Kiri in no uncertain terms that he should stay away from Iwai for his own good – though whether it’s the curse he needs be aware of or their organization is a little unclear.

It’s an interesting premise, but despite all the good things about the episode the awkward storytelling is a concern long-term.  There’s one especially clunky moment when Kiri’s grandfather decides out of the blue to tell him about his family history, and connection to a serial murderer with a jagged-edged pair of scissors – once of the least convincing pieces of exposition you’ll ever see.  It’s pretty damn important, too, as it’s those scissors that finally allow Kiri to cut Iwai’s hair, and form the bond between them that looks as if it’s going to be the main driving force of the series.  We may get into a Gosick-style flow from here, with weekly mysteries to solve and a larger underlying conspiracy which finds Iwai at the center.

So, in summation, this could very much go either way.  The premiere was able to get by on atmosphere and casting, but the narrative will have to be at least competent for the series to be sustainably good.  There’s no way of telling if that will happen, but I do know this – it’s got the atmosphere part down pat.  I just wanted to dive into this premiere and immerse myself completely – the music, the visuals, the tone – it was something different and beautiful and quite special.  It would be a shame to see all that brought crashing down by clumsy storytelling, but it wouldn’t be the first time.

Dansi Bunri - 01-6 Dansi Bunri - 01-7 Dansi Bunri - 01-9
Dansi Bunri - 01-10 Dansi Bunri - 01-11 Dansi Bunri - 01-12
Dansi Bunri - 01-13 Dansi Bunri - 01-14 Dansi Bunri - 01-15
Dansi Bunri - 01-16 Dansi Bunri - 01-17 Dansi Bunri - 01-19
Dansi Bunri - 01-20 Dansi Bunri - 01-21 Dansi Bunri - 01-22
Dansi Bunri - 01-23 Dansi Bunri - 01-24 Dansi Bunri - 01-25
Dansi Bunri - 01-26 Dansi Bunri - 01-27 Dansi Bunri - 01-28
Dansi Bunri - 01-30 Dansi Bunri - 01-31 Dansi Bunri - 01-32


  1. R

    The premier is well executed — it is visually impressive and unique, especially with the use of unique angles. I also got what it introduced — the cursed hair and the cursed pair of scissors. However, I have a little trouble with the premise…hair fetish? I guess I need to see beyond this, and I know I can if this show turns out to be something like Mysterious Girlfriend X…that would be a gem. The other thing — which is minor — is that why do people like to make the female characters look like lolitas if it's not needed for the story? Having said that, I am still interested and will continue to see if this show turns out to be a good one.

  2. S

    Heh, it was a good start, I'm more than mildly interested, but the show could go south real fast. I'm not really interested in watching school life with the now socially-reborn girl. I'm hoping for something perverted but sincere (like kanojo X) or dark and unpleasant.

  3. i

    I hope I won't disagree too much with you on RDG but with Dansai Bunri I'm completely on your side.

    There's something so warm, sincere and honest about the meeting and budding relationship between Kiri and Iwai. Something pure that just isn't there these days in anime with all its tropes and routes and what not. It's refreshing I guess to see two people just come together without any fuss or 'I'm not doing this for you' and seemingly click.

    It's like the main romance in the show that first brought me to LiA, Mashiro iro no symphony, and I like that about it. I also agree that having two good but unused seiyuu take centre stage sounds a lot more interesting as I learn more about them rather and Kiri and Iwai, rather than just hearing Kaiji Yuki and Kana Hanazawa (in which case I really wouldn't be able to connect with our leads as well).

    And I see only one flaw too. The grandpa bit was just too too left field. But other than Kiri's reaction to Iwai's punishment and the pacing of the episode seemed nice. Victorique annoyed me out of Gosick but I doubt Iwai will do the same.

    Fingers crossed for a sleeper hit.

  4. J

    Basing on the premier of the next episode, it seems more a fighting kind of show. Cutting the hair off the cursed hair goddess leads to the start of the game. Probably people will start dying.

  5. l

    Didn't get any TTGL vibes at all here. What are you smoking, Enzo?

    To be frank, it was a chore to sit through. The first 10 minutes just put a bad taste in my mouth. The protagonist has one of the most annoying voices ever. Plus, it seems like one of those shounen types where they treat the main character (and the viewer) like kids and don't tell them jack-squat about anything, and then set you up for some gerrymandering "character-growth, weak-to-strong, blah-blah" ride to mask the simple lack of substance. I HATE those types of shows.

    Add to that some seriously gross perversion. All that pedobear-approved heavy breathing just for hair? WTF!!

    … oh, did I mention the protagonist having an annoying voice?

  6. Hey, opinions are opinions. I took this completely differently than you did, and I like Hanae-san's voice (in Tari Tari also). No need to get so snippy about it…

  7. F

    Calm down dude, if you don't like just drop, no need to be so negative about a mere cartoon.

  8. H

    I got that interesting atmosphere from the show as well, but did tend to find Kiri's personality a little over-creepy and obsessive. But I thought they then matched it fairly well with both Iwai's look and attitude. I liked the decision to make her hair not cute, not pretty. It was obviously an imposition, a chore, the curse they made it out to be. Well done.

    The penultimate scene was pretty odd as well, again bringing the creepy and obsessive in, this time over the scissors. I do think if the show stays that way over mostly mundane things, it would be problematic, but maybe they'll get past that a little.

  9. G

    I'm getting a Marai Nikki kind of vibe from this show. It seems to be some dangerous people hanging around this Rapunzal lolita. Those 2 girls that showed up seem dangerous as hell and maybe they will be friends with the 2 main characters or something (and they made the girls seem evil in this 1st episode just to throw us off). Guess time will tell.

  10. You're not the first I've heard say that, though that isn't the feeling I'm getting from it.

  11. E

    If it's going into Gosick's direction –> good
    If it's going into Cubed x Cursed x Curious direction –> me facepalm

    Let's hope it's not the latter case, shall we?

  12. A

    This is a bit late, but I wanted to comment here before doing so at AS

    Short version: I liked it. A lot. There is a lot of things to like here individually, and together I can't find something I dislike at all. This was so poetically romantic I sort of wanted to see the two get married and have babies by the end.

    Longer version is that I agree with you on all accounts (including the TTGL vibe, and I think it's appropriate that you'd mention Gosick here going by how much that one had in similarity to TTGL :P) and there is much to like (love!) here, but while I can see where you found that ''clunk'', I disagree with you.

    I'm going to be honest here Enzo. The scene with the grandfather didn't come out as awkward to me as you've found it. It actually came across, to me, as a continuation of the first scene between him and Kiri, where the first scene when Kiri came back home with a bandaged forehead that caused his grandfather inquired (with a surprised, almost worried voice I might add). So when only a few days later Kiri comes back home clearly upset, his grandfather's mind goes to the worst possible (or in this case, the most plausible to a parent seeing their offspring in distress) which is bullying. Going from there, the grandfather will of course think about their family infamous and shameful heritage (again, I'd point out how he first brings up the topic of their surname.) It is, after all, the most logical thing to him for his grandson to be bullied about, right? And once he got the cat out of the bag and Kiri asked the question, well he couldn't do anything but tell him at that point.

    I know this might sound like justification, but as far as I see it this is a very clear case of somewhat subtle foreshadowing that made the latter scene come across looking like it came out of the blue when it shouldn't have been.

    And speaking of foreshadowing, can I just say that as a writer I pray that I might one day be good enough to write stories with this degree of consistency and masterful usage of symbolic language and analogies? I swear, I could go on and on about how beautiful and smart the connections and threads drawn here, and how engrossing it was seeing it all seamlessly intertwine in that first successful haircut.

    From how Kiri hearing his classmate (who has a butt that makes the strangest sounds) how a girls life is her hair, and how Iwai throughout out the episode equates how she wants someone to kill her (both figuratively and literally), to Kiri's fetish and uncovered heritage, and how both these threads end up playing off each other. I especially liked the two scenes where Iwai, after suffering a humiliating and painful act of abuse, resigns to herself to give up living, and misinterprets Kiri being poetic at first. The other was how after her hair had been cut, she still compares it to her being killed, but rather than the negative connotation she had whenever she spoke about it, this time she took it as Kiri killing the cursed life she had and allowed her to be reborn – effectively giving her another shoot (a better one) at life.

    Like I said, there's a lot of draws here, great visuals, fantastic music score and sound design as well as great vocal performances, absurdly wonderful premise, some sensational scenes that beat the most erotic of harem and fan service anime out of the park, and the list goes on. But the level of metaphorical consistency and writing is the biggest one for me. I really have high hopes for this one now.

  13. I'm quite surprised -there's someone who loved this show even more than I did!

    I remain concerned that this one has the potential to go off the rails in a big way, but it also has tremendous upside. This is visual poetry, unapologetically weird but poetry nonetheless, and we rarely see that in anime. I'm more intrigued by Dansai than by any other premiere so far.

  14. h

    Interesting that Victorique herself makes a cameo. Sort of.

    There are better shots of her, but I'll point to the one you grabbed:

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