I’d be lying if I said the first few days of the Fall season have been especially impressive. But to be fair, most of what we’ve had so far has been pretty second-tier stuff on my expectations list – straight-up kids shows and flyers that barely crept into the season preview on a wing and a prayer. So even if it’s been an underwhelming start I wouldn’t say anything has really disappointed me – more that nothing has surprised me for the better.
That changes with Trickster: Edogawa Ranpo “Shounen Tanteidan” yori (henceforth known simply as “Trickster”, for pity’s sake) though – this is the first show of the season that I actually had decent-sized expectations for. Lord knows Edogawa Ranpo and us have been down this road before, gentle readers – the legendary Japanese writer has had many turns in anime, not all of them successful by any means. The most recent, Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace was… Well, it was a shame, let’s just leave it at that. I expected Trickster to be better, and thus far at least, it most certainly is.
Brought to the screen by Shin-Ei and TMS and directed by relative newcomer Mukai Masahiro, Trickster takes Ranpo and his Shounen Tanteiden (“Boys Detective Club”) into the future – about four decades to be exact. Master detective Akechi Kogorou (Ono Daisuke) is here, this time ably assisted by young danger junkie Hanasaki Kensuke (Ohsaka Ryouta). Along for the ride is hikikomori hacker Nori Makoto (Kido Ibuki) – an anime-original as far as I know – who uses an owl as her eyes and ears (and mouth). Akechi handles the tough gigs (like rogue robots terrorizing the town) while trying to herd the reckless Hansaki-kun towards safe stuff like finding lost dogs.
As any fan of Rano knows, his usual sidekick is Kobayashi Yoshio, but he enters the story in rather novel fashion here. This time around he’s a blonde street kid who for some reason is unable to die, though he really wants to – a pillow of air catches him when he jumps off buildings, shards of glass shatter before they reach his chest. He’s played by Yamashita Daiki, which is interesting as Yamsahita played Kobayashi’s best friend in Ranpo Kitan. His path and Hanasaki’s cross on the aforementioned dog search job, which ends rather tragically for the dog, and Hanasaki clearly isn’t the sort to just let things go.
Just why Kobayasahi-kun wants to die so badly isn’t made clear yet, though it’s strongly hinted that his presence brings misfortune to others (or at least that he believes it does). Obviously he’s going to end up joining forces with Hanasaki and the Tanteiden, however reluctantly. It’s tempting to see Trickster‘s setup as a cross between Ranpo Kitan and Bungou Stray Dogs, but while there is a superficial similarity (and an overall Bones-ian feel and look) I believe it’s only skin-deep. Trickster is quite different in tone from both those series, and the premiere is an interesting one. It’s a bit of a jumble without much explanation, but it’s also rather compelling in its odd way. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on, and doing so with quite a bit of style. It’s certainly too early to say that Trickster is going to be the adaptation Edogawa Ranpo deserves, but the potential certainly seems to be there and I’m eager to see if it’s realized.