Psychic Detective Yakumo Series Review – The Dead Might Speak


Pyschic Detective Yakumo Overview:

Yakumo is a university student who pretty much just wants to be left alone however it is rumoured that he is a psychic.

Haruka believes her friend has been possessed after they went into a supposedly haunted building and asks Yakumo for help. Even after that case is solved, Haruka continues to involve herself with the unsociable Yakumo and learns more about his particular gift and his tragic past.

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Psychic Detective Yakumo Review:

Pyschic Detective Yakumo is a show that should be a lot better than it actually is. I really enjoy watching this show but know that if asked I wouldn’t recommend it as a must watch. It’s the odd curiosity piece that you recommend to someone who claims they’ve seen it all and you know they have a thing for psychic detectives.

However much like Kiznaiver and several other anime that have had pretty cool premises and established plots I am curious about, Yakumo never really capitalises on its strengths and the lacklustre conclusion does little to really leave you feeling all that keen on jumping back into a rewatch.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - follow the little ghost girl.

So let’s start with the concept.

It’s fantastic. Yakumo sees the spirits of the dead and they aren’t monsters or overly chatty, sarcastic guys reeling off one-liners for comedic effect.  They aren’t, for the most part, particularly concerned with the living at all and a lot of their interactions are incidental or are acts of convenience (living people in wrong place at wrong time).

And Yakumo, while he can see these ghosts and talk with them, isn’t particularly keen to do so (due to a general apathy about life in general) and he isn’t a ghost buster or super-powered human. He can see ghosts but unless they choose to move on, there isn’t a whole lot he can do about them.

The way the show treats life, death, and the spirits of the dead is generally very respectful and it is all constructed in a very matter-of-fact manner. It isn’t trying to sensationalize the hauntings and it doesn’t try to tug your heart-strings for the sake of a cheap emotional rise.

While there is a clear message in the show about the value of life and living, death is not seen as the ultimate tragedy either. Characters confront death (both natural and unnatural) almost every episode and it seldom feels cheap.

As a character, Yakumo is interesting. Yeah, he has the typical tragic childhood and absent parents of anime protagonists everywhere and he has the lazy and disconnected attitude toward things that is becoming more and more common amongst anime protagonists (social disconnect is becoming a much bigger issue after all), but he feels like a real character in the way he slowly responds to Haruka and the Gotou and the other characters who try to draw him out of his shell.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - Yakumo's eye

Haruka, doesn’t fare so well, as she seems entirely in the story for plot convenience, which is a shame given so much of the story is filtered through Haruka’s perception and at times she shows some genuine spunk as a character.

However, all to often someone needs to act as a catalyst for Yakumo to change and to drag him out of his room. When she isn’t serving that role, she is the dumb assistant asking questions so the audience can have explanations, and she also plays the obligatory innocent bystander and victim at times.

That isn’t to say she doesn’t have some good moments, but her character is inconsistent and her motivation for continuing to interact with Yakumo is never all that clear.

Psychic Detective Yakumo saves Haruka

Gotou, as the police detective with marital problems, is interesting as is Yakumo’s uncle, Isshin. These two kind of substitute father figures play different roles and represent different ideals in Yaumo’s life. I found this a nice touch as at least it gave Yakumo a lot of ground in between to find his own path, and the glaring flaws of both of these characters meant they didn’t feel like they existed only to be that mentor figure.

The villains of the piece, Nanase and Yakumo’s father, are menacing and have interesting stories, though their actual plot and goal seems a little too doomed to failure to have ever been considered all that much of a threat. Still, they work well in the background for most of the series and certainly step up their activities at the necessary time to lead to a climax and resolution. Though someone needs to take that taser away from Nanase.


Also, the actual final confrontation was somewhat less than thrilling with the mystery behind these two figures being much more engaging than the actual answers. Oh well.

Psychic Detecive Yakumo - Nanase is going to zap the detective.

So, with an interesting concept and some quite solid characters, why isn’t the show as good as it sounds like it could be? Three main problems:

Firstly pacing: Individual episodes of this series tend to focus on their own story, until the midway point where it becomes a little more serialised, but some of these episodes drag, or rather inconsequential parts seem far too long whereas the resolution or conflict is rushed over.

Also, we don’t really get enough time with any of the characters. They are solid enough and we learn enough about them to know who they are but we don’t spend long enough with any of them to really connect the way we need to for the final few episodes to have the appropriate impact.

Secondly, the quality: This is not a pretty anime. And yes, with the subject matter, it was always going to be relatively dark with a subdued colour palette, but everything about this anime just seems unpolished. The backgrounds, character designs and the action. Even the opening of Psychic Detective Yakumo is just kind of dull.

And finally the Luke, I Am Your Father moment. Okay, they don’t go so far as to replicate the scene with Yakumo screaming ‘no’ but it’s one of those shows where the bad guy is actually the father and maybe the uncle knew that all along and just conveniently didn’t tell anyone until it was too late, etc, etc. And while this by itself isn’t a deal breaker and it actually makes a great deal of sense as to why any of the events in the show actually occur, it still feels like slack writing.

Psychic Detective Yakumo - Yakumo and potential father

Should you watch this show? Honestly, if you like murder and mystery with the occasional supernatural element and you don’t mind a slower moving plot, you will probably quite enjoy this show. I know I find it very relaxing to watch Yakumo and crew resolve the various problems and help the dead pass on. However, if you are new to anime or if you are looking for something really exciting, you are probably better off passing on Psychic Detective Yakumo.

Images from: Psychic Detective Yakumo. Dir. T Kurokawa. Bee Train. 2010.

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Karandi James

From One Person To Another – Must Be A Conspiracy

My Roommate is a Cat Post Title

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 4 Review

The problem with being impulsive is it comes with a whole bunch of ongoing impacts that could have been foreseen if the initial event had been planned. Anyone who owns a pet knows the raft of responsibilities it brings with it, and the joy and love. However Subaru, in My Roommate is a Cat did not go looking to pick up a pet cat. He picked up Haru on a whim and can barely look after himself let alone a pet.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 4 Subaru

Fortunately, the ripples have already begun to swirl about him and his editor is hanging around more often than not as is his self-proclaimed child-hood friend. They both invade his house (he really should change the locks) for breakfast and the end result is Subaru being dragged out to buy a collar which then leads to the discovery that he hasn’t had Haru taken to the vet which then leads to the discovery that he’s actually been over-feeding Haru and as a former stray Haru will eat whenever food is around.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 4 Subaru "Don't leave me"

It’s a simple situation but one made fairly entertaining by Subaru’s utter lack of preparedness. It’s a trait I’m sure many people can recognise when people who are super into routines do suddenly do something unexpectedly, they struggle to deal with the flow on disruptions. They aren’t used to taking things as they come or trying something new so every step becomes a hurdle that is utterly and completely exhausting.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 4 Haru

For once, the whole way through the episode I just kept wondering what Haru thought of all the antics that dragged her about to the vet and back. It is finally very clear to me why they’ve set up this formula of Haru’s perspective at the end. It may not always be golden, but there are now times when I’m anticipating hearing the cat’s view on issues and I’m wondering during the first telling how Haru sees things. It lifts the fairly mundane into something that is just that little bit more interesting.

This series continues to be a relaxing delight for cat lovers and while it isn’t anything super-special, I’m certainly having fun with it.

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