I’m still on the fence after two episodes of Trickster, maybe more so than I was after the premiere. The show is a bit of an interesting mess to begin with, but on top of that episodic mystery series are always a dicey proposition. On paper they always sound like a great idea, but if you look at the collective body of work, ones that succeed are a lot rarer than those that fail (at least to an extent).
After two eps of Trickster I think the recurring plot has generally outperformed the mystery of the week. Kanasaki can be a bit much to take, but his relationship with Kobayashi is interesting. And Kobayashi’s story has some curb appeal, more so the more we learn about him. He’s got no clue how he got this way, seemingly, and no one in the world to give a damn one way or the other (and that bit with what happens when he doesn’t eat – ugh). It’s no wonder he wants to die, and the best element of Kanasaki’s character is his empathy for Kobayashi.
Trickster does a pretty good job with the world building too – stuff like the singing vending machines and the rather stylishly depicted haikyo. That stuff is the best part of this week’s mystery, which is otherwise a pretty predictable affair featuring a woman who conspicuously drinks mineral water (CLUE!) and hires the Shounen Tantaiden (half the cost of getting Akechi himself) to “investigate” her boyfriend for supposedly writing threat letters and keeping them in a drawer. It’s not a terrible subplot by any means, but pretty predictable – and it’s rather striking how little remorse Kanasaki shows over the way its endgame plays out.
After the premiere this series reminded me a bit of a cross between Ranpo Kitan and Bungou Stray Dogs (which are somewhat disturbingly two shows I soured on rather quickly), but this one made me think of a third – Kamisama no Memochou. There’s something in the way the mystery was structured and the dialogue that recalls that show, and since that’s yet another series I started out liking but which rather quickly lost me, it’s hard to feel terribly optimistic about Trickster. Still, every series is different and there’s no guarantee this one will follow that course – all one can do is hope for the best.