Last week I was already comparing this story to about as exciting as watching paint dry and episode 9 was, if anything, more dull. So what analogy can I use for this one? Maybe like following lint flowing on air currents with your eyes? Potentially like waiting for a monument to erode from old age? I’ve got it!
Like being asked to read a compendium of political speeches from the last hundred years on tax reform.
And in case you are wondering why I haven’t gotten to the review yet, that is it. In a nutshell. I was so incredibly bored while watching this. The off-model characters and the fact that the background characters are faceless and almost motionless doesn’t even come into my decision to drop at this point (though – really?). Because nothing about this episode made me care in the slightest.
Holmes and Aoi go to some market and along the way Holmes tells her about some shrines in Kyoto that they could see on the walk (and really this is just one more moment that makes me believe that somewhere some tourism board were behind the funding of this anime). But instead of that being any kind of focal point we just kind of get a mashed up montage of Holmes and Aoi doing shrine like things with the random guy who tags along because he was in one episodes once and maybe we care about him.
Then we meander to part two where Aoi wants to see Holmes’ room because he saw hers and they are at his house, and oh no he is not a neat freak. Shocker. Then we go to the party where a staged game gets interrupted by Ensho because why not? Ensho challenges Holmes to a game and for some ridiculous reason he agrees but there’s just no reason to care.
I was done with this series about five minutes into this episode and by the end of the episode I can clearly state that I have zero desire to watch any more. It isn’t broken, but it also isn’t good.
I’m not sure that there was any real focus this week. We have Aoi asking Holmes about what he meant to tell her, some random hiring at a cafe, some I’ll help you study moments, before we finally get a case, and even then it is all just all over the place. Despite all that, I’d argue this was a long, slow twenty minutes watching the tedium unfold.
You know when someone tells you something is about as interesting as watching paint dry, they are probably referring to something that is about as exciting as episode 8 of Holmes of Kyoto. Once again we have a contrived set up where Holmes is working at a cafe for four days leading up to Christmas Eve, even though he already has a job and doesn’t really get anything out of it. I’m not even really sure that working in the cafe added anything to the plot given they did discuss the ‘case’, such as it was, in the cafe but they could have as easily done that in the antique shop.
We also get some stuff about Aoi and her parents with Aoi’s still unseen mother inviting Holmes over after he tutors her and Holmes goes through Aoi’s grandfather’s collection to determine everything is pretty much a reproduction. See that story alone could have actually been a story. Instead it was just kind of another thing that happened, nothing came of it, and then it got swept up in the debris of everything else that happened that nothing actually came of.
Throw in some weird facial issues for both Holmes and Aoi and you have the makings of an episode that doesn’t even manage to scrape average. Even if I judged this anime purely as a slice of life rather than a mystery, romance, or any other genre, this episode is incredibly dull, poorly paced, and generally unfocused. All and all, not a highlight of the season and for a show that was barely managing to remain mediocre, episodes like this are not great.
Well, our resident counterfeiter who for whatever reason has decided his life’s goal is to humiliate Holmes as turned up again, this time playing a fairly obvious game before confronting the young appraiser. I’m just not sure this is as thrilling as it sounded in someone’s head before it became an anime.
In terms of heroes, Holmes leaves a lot to be desired given he isn’t exactly motivated to do anything beyond his job and he doesn’t have a great personality. It kind of makes sense that the rival character introduced to play Moriarty to his Holmes is equally uninspiring and that their clashes, while undeniably one of the more interesting elements in the series, are pretty underwhelming.
It’s a shame, because the idea of Holmes being an art appraiser and Moriarty a counterfeiter by trade actually works quite well on paper. If the series had exclusively stuck to actually building up this binary opposition and these characters it potentially could have been quite interesting. Instead though we’ve spent far too much time on Aoi who is as generic and forgettable a character as they come (though seems to have some kind of knack for appraisal) and now it feels like we’re supposed to accept an epic rivalry between two characters that don’t really have enough presence to carry it off.
It isn’t that this episode was bad. Except perhaps the visuals (because what was going on with some of these characters in this episode). It is more that there is so much unrealised potential with the concept and the show itself is strictly remaining pretty ordinary.
Last week I mentioned that Holmes of Kyoto suffers from very little happening in each episode, and episode 6 is a prime example of not much happening. Not sure that’s a good a thing.
In episode 5 we were introduced to a potential villain/rival but much like the gap between episodes 1 and 5 where the story meandered about doing very little of consequence, episode 6 decides it is time for Holme’s grandfather to have a birthday party with a petty bit of mystery tossed in during the final five minutes just so the episode didn’t feel totally empty. While I guess you could argue that there are some character interactions and introductions that might be important, the bland nature of most of this episode with an excess of panning over still images means that all I could see this episode as was downtime for the animators. Maybe they used up all their energy with that minor action sequence last week where Holmes went to hit the guy with his fan.
That isn’t to say that learning a little more about the grandfather is bad as learning about his time on TV and the fallout when a professional maintains his integrity in the face of ratings and the pride of others is interesting enough. Yet the meandering pace of the story and the yawn inducing locked room mystery that is solved in an instant really kind of kill any kind of goodwill I may have felt towards the slightly more intriguing parts of the episode. All and all, not sure this one needs to stay on my watch list, and yet it isn’t horrendous enough to really be bothered dropping either.
Holmes of Kyoto has several problems, not the least of which is fairly little going on in most of its episodes. However, episode 5 feels like it would have been a perfectly good episode 2, with all the meandering and pointless dramas in between just nicely left out.
Perhaps I’m being unduly harsh when I say that there is more or less nothing in episodes 2 to 4 of note and realistically I could have happily watched episode 1 where we see Aoi take on her job at the shop and first learn about fake antiques and jumped straight to episode 5 where the maker of the fakes confronts Holmes. About the only point that would not make sense is why Holmes is dealing with the actor guy whose name I do not care to remember who keeps saying things that are translated as if he is some guy from a 90’s surfing movie (wondering if that is actually how he talks or if that is a translational choice but I can’t understand a word the guy says because of his delivery of his lines where everything sounds like it is coming out of a mouth that is half full of food – my Japanese is patchy at best and I can’t catch anything this guy is saying).
That essentially means we have three episodes that do nothing. While they might argue that they’ve established some sort of rapport between Holmes and Aoi, I’d argue that any relationship between them is superficially implied at best and just kind of forced on the audience rather than something we’ve seen develop. it might also be said that they wanted to establish Holmes’ supernaturally uncanny ability to solve a mystery in an instant but the ‘cases’ he’s solved so far have been pretty lame and realistically have done nothing more to establish his powers of observation than the first episode had already done. And really, if we’d gotten to this point sooner, I’d be more optimistic about this anime.
While the counterfeiter is clearly a little over the top in his ‘villainy’ at least it provides a simple and clear purpose for the story. Holmes is going to find his fakes and expose them, and he wants to outsmart Holmes. This is more direction than this show has had up to now and it is actually a basic enough formula that I’m kind of hoping they don’t stuff it up. Why Aoi is needed in this story, I am not sure and clearly this episode pointed out that she isn’t really needed as long as Holmes has some clueless individual along for his explanations of various art works.
Realistically, this anime is going to be swiftly forgotten once it is finished, but it isn’t hard to watch and this was probably the best episode we’ve gotten so far.
This anime can’t even really manage tragic backstory and part of me wonders if this is deliberate in order to keep the show grounded. And yet, is it interesting when the heroines biggest trauma is her friends are being mean?
Part of me is kind of happy that at Aoi’s friends came to Kyoto and that at least this confrontation has now happened. Maybe now the story can progress forward that guy they keep teasing at the ends of episodes may become relevant. The other part of me is annoyed that this ‘plot’ of Aoi wanting to confront her former boyfriend and best friend took four episodes to come to a fairly anti-climatic conversation before she shed tears. I feel they could have dealt with this in the first episode or at the very least by episode 2. Essentially she no longer has any reason to keep working with Holmes but she will anyway because otherwise this story is about to abruptly end.
Outside of wondering which part of her teen drama I was supposed to care about or relate to (don’t get me wrong, teen drama can be fun or at least vaguely interesting it is just that Holmes of Kyoto didn’t manage it) we also see Holmes’ ex, introduced last week when Holmes sort of tried to connect with Aoi through bonding over being ditched by their respective partners. Holmes version of this story is at least mercifully quick really only lasting for part of one episode and featuring in this one, and his overall response was more interesting than Aoi’s, however only seeing it after the fact distanced some of the potential enjoyment.
And while all this relationship drama is going on the show has abandoned all mysteries and intrigue. This was a straight up relationship drama this week and the only antique in sight was delivered by the ex. Part of me wonders what this means for the rest of the show given episodes 1 and 4 have had nothing even vaguely mysterious in them and have been entirely focused on relationships, and episodes 2 and 3 were both stand-alone fairly bland mysteries (there’s that buzz word again). Whether this show goes for mystery or drama I think at the end of the day mediocre is probably the best this show is going to achieve and I’m still on the fence about whether I’m making it through an entire season of this. Holmes is interesting enough, though not as interesting as the writers seem to think he is, but he cannot carry the show solo without a decent plot or support from Aoi and at the moment he isn’t getting any.
It would be hard to describe this show as anything but bland and pretty sedate so far as characters talk their way through fairly ordinary problems that are thinly disguised as mystery. That doesn’t make this bad, just really forgettable and fairly easy to pass over for people with better things to do. You know, like wash their hair or maybe stack a dishwasher.
I’m not going to lie; the only reason this hasn’t ended up on the dropped list is it is so innocuous dropping it actually seems cruel. We have a truly nondescript cast engaging in mysteries that at the very best might cause you to raise an eye-brow, assuming you managed to remain awake long enough to get the set up with solutions that are completely obvious from the set up forward. There are no red-herrings or confusing convolutions. No twists or unexpected events. Mostly there isn’t even a real delay between this is the mystery and here’s the solution.
What is more problematic is this series seemed to just skip right over the part where Aoi and Holmes bonded and now we are just expected to accept that they happily go on field trips together and Holmes opens up to her about his past. We’ve never seen these two actually build a relationship, it just suddenly exists. The fact that we’ve seen nothing to authenticate this relationship doesn’t actually matter because the characters are simply interacting now as if they’ve always been this close. It’s kind of off-putting seeing two characters with no shared history bantering back and forth like old friends but they still have to explain very basic things about their personality because they don’t actually know each other.
The mysteries might be luke-warm (and that’s being generous) but it is the relationship between the two main characters where this series really dropped the ball. They either needed to build this in a more gradual manner, or start us off with the characters already in an established relationship. What they’ve done is wholly unsatisfying and makes for some fairly forgettable viewing.
What this episode had to do with anything I will probably never know, but as a follow up to a fairly ordinary first episode it really didn’t do much to generate any more interest in this anime.
There’s a very good chance that I’ll drop this at episode 3. Episode one gave us all antiques and no mystery. Episode two changes that around and other than meeting the family in the shop there are no antiques. It makes for a fairly unexplained situation where you have to wonder why they are asking Kiyotaka to look into threatening letters in the first place. This seems like something that could have been explained and wasn’t, and why Aoi is dragged around makes no sense given it has nothing to do with the shop or her job.
And even if we ignore that contextually it makes no sense, it isn’t very interesting. They go look at some flowers, talk to some angry girls, and then conclude with what was probably obvious from the get go, though the motives explained might have been overlooked given neither was all that interesting.
Visually this show remains good enough, though the sequence under the trees made for some distracted viewing as the sun spots on clothes and faces didn’t seem to move even when the characters did. It seemed like they were overly ambitious adding all those sun streaks into the scene but then didn’t really do anything with them leaving me wondering just what was going on at times.
But yeah, there’s not a lot here to be excited about. It’s working, kind of, but it hasn’t done a lot to ensure the audience knows who these characters are nor has it tried to actually make us care about them. So all that is left this episode is a bit of a puzzle that it would really be an over-embellishment to claim was a mystery.
I’m not sure if this is actually supposed to be a mystery of not (MAL claims it is), but this first episode is more chilling in an antique shop and sipping cups of tea with the minor disturbance of a counterfeit teacup thrown in.
Aoi is our protagonist who has just started working part time at an antique shop alongside Kiyotaka (Holmes) who is also the grandson of the shop owner. He’s teaching her about antiques in their spare time so lets have lots of discussions about various Japanese art works. And that’s more or less all we’ve got so far other than the fact that Holmes seems to know everything about everyone and Aoi seems like a complete space cadet who just happens to like old things.
Despite the absence of anything really happening in this episode other than the backstory of how Aoi first went to the shop (and why we needed a flashback to the previous two weeks and they couldn’t have just told us the story in order I will never figure out) this was still fairly pleasant viewing. Certainly not overly exciting but not without some points of interest.
That said, I’m not sure about reviewing this one week to week unless the second episode does do more with the mystery aspect given if this is the standard for the show the reviews are going to end up pretty repetitive. For now, I’ll give this one another episode and see how it goes.
Did you like the first episode of Holmes of Kyoto?