Top 5 Mystery Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

A lot of people love a good mystery. Okay, some people get frustrated and skip to the end when it is a book, but given the consistent production and sales of mysteries there’s clearly an audience. I’ll admit, I get frustrated when a mystery takes too long to get going, doesn’t give enough indication of where it is going, or the payoff ultimately wasn’t worth the wait, but when a mystery gets things right I tend to fall in love with the story.

Anime and mystery is a bit of a mixed bag and I will admit my choices of favourite mysteries are based entirely on my own enjoyment of the story as a whole. Which is why Hyouka isn’t on the list. I loved the first arc and first mystery but found everything after that a little less satisfying. The Promised Neverland I really enjoyed but not for the mystery elements, same for something like Erased.

However, as always, I’d love to know what some of your favourite mystery anime are and why so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Sagrada Reset

Also known as Sakurada Reset a lot of people dropped this anime fairly early on and I’ll accept the reasons they gave. The character dialogue is really clinical and detached and doesn’t resemble anything you would actually encounter between normal humans. The pace early on is incredibly slow and while there are bits and pieces indicating a bigger picture and mystery it takes a long time to get going.

Despite that, the conclusion of this two cour series is perhaps one of the best conclusions I’ve come across in anime. Every single arc and story comes together and every hint or idea actually serves a purpose. While it isn’t a realistic ending by any means from a narrative point of view it provides perfect closure to the story and just made me want to watch it through again to see all those clues I missed. For me that’s the mark of a good mystery and this one ended up paying off.

Number 4: ACCA

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you will know I really got into ACCA. The conspiracy focusing around Jean, the gifts of cigarettes, the plot to overthrow the ruler, all of it just really got me hooked and interested as I wanted to find out who was actually behind what was going on and how they would resolve it. This one ended up being a lot of fun and while it isn’t exactly driving toward a conclusion as we follow Jean about in his work and visit each district in turn, there’s enough going on and the characters are interesting enough to keep you engaged until the later episodes where the conspiracy takes a more central role.

Number 3: No. 6

Dystopian story where the government controls the news and people’s lives and those who question anything are arrested (or forced to flee) – that in itself is enough reason to be interested in No. 6. Throw in the mysterious plague with the insects that are killing people and you’ve got a whole lot of story to cover. I’ll admit, the conclusion to No. 6 isn’t as satisfying as I’d like. Everything comes together but that ending really just goes a bit off the rails as they try to wrap things up and go for the dramatic conclusion. Still, the journey to that ending is one that is well worth following with two characters that are just awesome to watch and a lot of social commentary packed into the mix.

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Number 2: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

It seems odd that there aren’t more horror mystery anime in this list but the bottom line is so many of them are either more psychological than mystery or the mystery they present isn’t overly satisfying. Something like Another does a great job setting up its mystery but ultimately we’re never given any answers for what has happened. Higurashi spends a lot of time setting up its various mysteries and through the various time loops we ultimately get answers for most of them. Whether it is the strange illness that sends people crazy, the murder of Rika, or even the motives of the characters, ultimately Higurashi explores and explains everything in a deeply satisfying manner.

Number 1: Shinsekai Yori

This one is another slow burn in the beginning as it sets up its world and characters but it is one that is incredibly worth the effort. In addition to just being beautiful to watch, finding out the secrets and lies that underpin this future society and seeing how the central characters react and respond to each reveal is truly a delightful viewing experience. While it isn’t the kind of mystery you can solve as a member of the audience it is one that presents puzzling inconsistencies and contradictions as well as strange rules and ideas that allow you to contemplate why they exist before the characters are forced to examine them closer and ultimately find out a series of truths that shake their understanding of their world. Truly delightful viewing even if a little horrifying at times.

And there they are, my favourite 5 mystery anime but as I said before, I’d love to know yours so leave a comment below.

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Karandi James
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Afterlost Review Episodes 3 + 4

The conspiracy grows.

Episode 3

This was a bit strange, which is a weird way to start a review about an anime that wiped out a whole city and has ghost like people and helicopters chasing motorbikes. And yet, Afterlost continues to be a bit of a perplexing story mostly because I’m still not entirely sure what story I’m getting. The supernatural search for the truth makes sense, the buddy/journey thing works, the mystery might eventuate into something that works and the action elements, while not awesome are fine enough.

But this episode we got something else again and I guess it adds to the overall mystery, I am just not sure what.

Geek, Takuya and Yuki are still heading toward Lost and Takuya is conveniently on the phone with the red-head from last week. Convenient because it means we can cut the phone off in a blast of static to show where they have crossed into the most recent phenomenon. And what is that? Well, we’re in a closed space with a time loop because an idol regrets breaking up with her group.

I’ve been wondering for a bit what the idol group have to do with anything given they’ve had a presence in the previous two episodes, but even after we spent most the episode on them, I still legitimately have no understanding of what they are contributing here. Two things did come out of this clearly. The first is that the group definitely disappeared during Lost and the second is that it seems like their producer knew they were going to disappear before it happened. How and why, who knows, but it is just another piece of information to process.

However, Takuya and Yuki then part ways with Geek who is mourning the fact that changing things inside the closed space didn’t actually change the past – good reason to bail on your friends – right before Takuya and Yuki are attacked by Yuki’s brother which results in her making things go boom.

It is difficult to say if I like this or not but at this point I’m intrigued. That said, it is intrigue that could easily tip into frustration if it is all disjointed without any gain so I guess we’ll see what episode 4 brings us.

Meanwhile, I’m going to ponder the tag for this anime: Where I End and You Begin.

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Episode 4

And now we’ve clearly moved into police procedural story as we follow a plucky lieutenant who had follower her father into the police force investigate the events surrounding Lost mostly due to personal interest with her father having been caught up in it. This is actually a pretty interesting episode as she gathers bits and pieces of information and ultimately links a chemical company to Yuki and Lost. However, we were warned members of the Agency were everywhere at the start of this episode, and that is proven true by the end.

On the bright side, okay it is a pretty dark kind of bright side, Takuya didn’t instantly bounce back from his injuries. He’s actually taken some fairly critical damage this time after being thrown off his bike, yet again, and then psychically beaten up. I’m amazed his arm is still functional but still he isn’t exactly brushing this one off without a scratch given he spends most the episode hospitalised.

Yuki also has some things to think about. You know, her thought to be dead brother being alive and psychotic, her existence leading to Takuya being injured, herself being used for medical experiments among other things. Honestly, Yuki is coping a lot better with all this than a lot of anime characters would and certainly significantly better than most people. However, once again we see that pretty much everyone who comes in contact with Yuki ends up in trouble given the police girl didn’t really have any leads left until Yuki opened up to her.

I don’t feel like this episode got us any closer to actual answers but it did do a lot to consolidate bits and pieces we’d heard before and dropped just enough new titbits to keep me wanting to know more. It is very effective at this whole bread crumb game. Though I’ll end up sorely disappointed if at some point I don’t end up with a loaf of bread.

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Afterlost Review Episodes 1 + 2

Explanations are for the weak.

Episode 1

I’m honestly surprised I’ve seen so little chatter regarding Afterlost (Shoumetsu Toshi). Admittedly, things might go downhill after episode one but that first episode was pretty entertaining in its own way. Of course, a lot will depend on whether they will actually ever get around to explanations that make any kind of plausible sense and anime has a very low hit rate for that in this kind of story.

But, when they get it right, I really enjoy stories that make you guess and wonder and then bring things together.

In this first episode we meet Yuki and Takuya. Yuki’s your standard blue-haired and kind of spacey girl. In this case she’s also the only survivor of a city some tragic event that apparently wiped out a whole city only no one seems to be really sure what happened. As a result, apparently lots of people are after her. Takuya seems to be your standard jaded older male protagonist who has been hired for a job but it seems inevitable he’ll end up personally invested in things.

There’s quite a few chase sequences in this opening episode and really they don’t stop to explain much which for episode one is okay but we’ll need a bit more in follow up or this will get old fast. Also, the chase sequences themselves aren’t as thrilling as they seem to want to be because helicopter pursuing motorbike seems like it should be pretty sensational but it ends up pretty repetitive and even random ghost guys showing up and throwing rocks and things around don’t really add much other than making me wonder who taught them how to aim.

This explanation makes as much sense as any other.

But for all the criticisms I might throw at this, I actually did enjoy it and of all the anime I’ve started this season (outside of Fruits Basket that has amazing nostalgia value) this first episode is probably the one that has made me the most genuinely curious about what they might do with a premise. It might fall flat but it is enough to make me volunteer for the ride.

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Episode 2

More running only this time more on foot which actually allows for the occasional pause and talk as well as actual exchanges between characters so while Afterlost is still trying to withhold massive amounts of information from the audience in the hope of suspense, a bit more of a picture of the characters is starting to form. But, it is taking its sweet time about it.

The gun shot at the end of episode one actually hit someone, which was a surprise, but not the person that they implied was being shot, which wasn’t a surprise. Turns out Takuya has history with two of the agents and they decide instead to save him and Yuki, double crossing their employers. Needless to say that puts them on the run and after what I guess is supposed to be a relationship building moment between Takuya and Yuki they try using the subway tunnels to get where they are going.

I actually had to agree with the ‘bad’ guy when they asked if that was seriously all they could come up with.

Doesn’t really matter though when Yuki and Takuya are apparently completely untouchable (though Takuya is apparently going to get injured every episode) and everyone who tries to help them is fodder. Not actually fodder that will get killed off proper, just dramatically taken down in a way that should leave them dead but we’ll later find out they are not.

There’s definitely a lot that could be said to be wrong or at least substandard here, and yet I’m still kind of interested in it and will admit I’ve so far been interested enough in what is going on. The characters could really use some fleshing out and I’ll settle for even a partial explanation of what the agency is at this point even if they want to withhold all the rest of the information, but just something to help give a bit of context to what is going on would be nice. But I’m still pretty enthused for watching the next episode so I guess it is doing enough.

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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episodes 3 + 4

Ugly visuals but interesting premise.

This is a very trustworthy face.

Episode 3

Just going to point out that Midnight Occult Civil Servants is making a good run for ugliest visuals of the season. While I get night scenes need to be dark, the lack of contrast or distinction in the visuals makes this a murky and unpleasant viewing experience even if I’m inherently interested in the story.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 3
For example, this could have been an interesting scene but instead I’m stuck tilting my head and squinting at it trying to figure out just what I’m looking at.

With that said, the story isn’t exactly running along. This episode focused entirely on fighting off the corpses woken at the end of the last episode and while we learned that the Another that was responsible for waking them was a friend of Arata’s ancestor, little else was gained from the episode in terms of greater narrative. Then again, we are still establishing the world and the relationships between the different wards and the police involvement in cases involving the Another’s so maybe that is enough for a third episode.

Despite wanting to like this anime, and for the most part enjoying it, even I have to roll my eyes at the solution though. Drawing the Another’s name from a memory of a story his grandfather told him, Arata is fast becoming a protagonist that just has whatever information or skill is needed to solve the problem at any given time but doesn’t know until it is needed. That essentially means he can pull any fact from some childhood story at any time to solve any future problems and that sets a dangerous precedent and makes it difficult to take any dangers seriously when he overcomes them as easily as thinking really hard about a childhood memory.

Still, I am enjoying this supernatural story so far. The range of yokai involved seems quite extensive and it seems that some of them at least are going to pose actual threats. It also seems like there’s going to be a focus on the way different groups respond to the yokai. I guess we’ll wait and see what is ultimately delivered but for all the flaws this series has shown in its first couple of episodes, Midnight Occult Civil Servants works well enough and as someone who is a fan of the genre being delivered it is doing enough to keep me interested.

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Episode 4

I finally figured out what was bothering me about character designs in Midnight Occult Civil Servants. All of the characters look like they suffer from sleep deprivation due to the way their eyes are drawn. At first I thought it was just Arata and they were trying to show the fatigue of his situation but then I realised all the characters have the same basic feature and it is what has been throwing me off so far.

Arata Episode 2 - Midnight Occult Civil Servants

Anyway, this week is a more stand alone story with Arata learning to deal with his new yokai housemates and then work taking a tour of a district and checking in on the yokai in the area. A problem arises when a police officer is kidnapped by a yokai who turns out to be the god of a shrine and the group need to get him back.

I’m not entirely sure the characters meandering about and meeting weird yokai really counts as much of a plot and it eats up a lot of episode time. While the encounter with the monkey spirits turns out to be a necessary development for the resolution, the random naked guy and other spiritual encounters are really just filler for an episode, that while interesting in some ways, lacks substance in a lot of others.

Yeah, random naked guy is random. Does not appear again.

The drinking challenge solution to the kidnapped officer is also a little weird because it seems bizarre they’d accept that challenge or not try to think of an alternative. The other issue I am having is their continued statements that the Anothers are like natural disasters. So far each Another that we’ve encountered has had clear reasons for their actions even if they aren’t reasonable by human standards. It seems bizarre an organisation that is meant to monitor them hadn’t found more information or ways to deal with them over the years.

Outside of that, this is pretty easy viewing and while it isn’t amazing by any stretch it is still keeping me entertained. Hopefully it continues to do so until the end of the season.

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Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Review Episodes 1 + 2

Starting a new job always comes with problems – usually not supernatural ones.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 1 - Arata

Episode 1

Right, this one is appealing directly to my love of supernatural/paranormal stories and it has just enough real tension as well as its cheesy moments in this first episode to just nail exactly what I like from this kind of story. I get that it is kind of a niche market but there’s something really entertaining about a monster of the week style story with an ongoing mystery kind of developing in the background to be resolved by season’s end. When you throw in the one guy who can hear the yokai talking and helps two young yokai in love it is all just the right kind of silliness.

Visually, this one is very dark to look at. Which makes sense given they are working at night but is doesn’t make for an overly interesting anime as other than the characters who do stand out nicely, the backgrounds are all just kind of, well, dark. There’s nothing wrong with it but nor is it particularly interesting to look at and even the yokai designs so far have been pretty ordinary.

They also give in to the trope of not telling the new guy anything because of course it’s easier to learn by being thrown in the deep end. I really hate this trope if for no other reason than I cannot imagine any business or government being able to survive the law suits of not providing adequate employee training before throwing them into the field particularly when the results could be catastrophic if a mistake is made. I get anime isn’t real life but if you want me to suspend disbelief and accept a special group in Japan that are working to keep supernatural creatures safe as well as protect citizens, then they need to go all the way and actually make that believable.

However, there’s a pleasant and easy charm to this one, a set-up I really like, potentially interesting characters should they grow beyond their first impressions and lots of room for the story to grow or even just become a yokai of the week type of affair and either way I’ll probably enjoy it. I’m pretty hopeful of enjoying this one so fingers crossed it doesn’t fall apart.

As for larger appeal, as I said, this one is definitely the kind of story that will appeal to those who like this kind of story but for everyone else it will probably be the anime they pass over this season because there’s nothing here to grab you unless you particularly like this kind of niche story.

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Episode 2

Midnight Occult Civil Servants isn’t exactly going out of its way to grab its audience seemingly content to go through the motions of a story we’ve seen before with the rookie who is more than he seems learning about the secret world that he’s directly tied to even though he didn’t know it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining for those who like such stories but it also isn’t exactly making it something that can’t be missed.

There’s a few pots boiling away in this episode with his co-workers investigating Arata’s ability to understand the Anothers (Ears of Sand which seems like a silly name), as well as mysterious thefts going on involving occult items. However, little other than walking and talking, and the introduction of a cute two tailed cat, actually happens until the final moments where they leave us on a cliff-hanger probably because there’s literally no other way to ensure the audience coming back for a third episode.

It isn’t just that this is a story we’ve seen before with characters who are barely sketched in at this point in time. The execution is, at absolute best, average. Visuals are quite dark for the majority of the time and movement is fairly limited in general. The most animation seemed to come from morning greeting on entering the office and that is perhaps the least interesting part of the story and yet we return to it again and again.

I am going to make it clear that I am enjoying this. It isn’t great, it isn’t even really good, but there’s potential and even if this story remains just average it is exactly the kind of thing that appeals to me even as I’ll pick it apart so I’m in for the long haul. Still, I’m not exactly going to jump up and down and recommend it unless it noticeably picks up in the next few episodes.

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Pop Goes The Fear Ghoul?

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 12 Review

I’m going to keep this super brief. This episode we meet the murderer guy and it turns out he killed Nagi’s dad because he was digging into the death of a middle-schooler who may have evolved or whatever. Jump ahead and the murderer guy is now investigating the fear ghoul because the victims are mounting and he runs into Nagi who is also investigating.

It’s all a little bit contrived and at the same time kind of gratifying given it brings things together in a way they really haven’t come together before. Still, there’s not much else to say about the episode.

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 13 Review

Then we get episode 13 which is the end of this arc. I’d like to say we learned something profound, but mostly things come to a natural conclusion. Natural in only a way that Boogiepop can do natural meaning there’s some mental gymnastics involved in making sense of anything but at least we get to watch Nagi fighting again. So far that has been the highlight of the series.

Actually, watching the initial connection between Boogiepop and Nagi forming was kind of fun in general. It kind of puts stuff that has happened in the other stories into a little more context, even if the whole ‘Echoes planet being destroyed’ part was still very weird and didn’t really fit with anything else that was going on in the story.

I’m actually still not sure in general why we needed aliens in this story. Though it would probably help if I paid a little more attention but I can’t help but find my focus drifting during each episode. The slow pace and monotone nature of the dialogue certainly doesn’t help.

But, that arc is done and there’s still episodes out so I’ll probably review another two next week to try to catch up with this one.

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An Enemy Of The World

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Boogiepop Wa Warawanai Episode 11 Review

Continuing on with the arc started in episode 10 we see that Nagi has made a recovery from her mysterious illness courtesy of the wonder drug she was given. Too bad one of the doctors got a hold of some of it because she’s using it for some interesting experiments.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 11 Nagi

If torturing rats and removing brains isn’t your thing than this story might be getting gruesome. Then again, very little is shown in action and usually only the aftermath revealed. They wouldn’t want to interrupt the sitting around talking.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 11

One thing though, this new lady who feeds seemingly on fear, kind of reminds me of how we were introduced to the Imaginator and he seemed like he would be an interesting character, before the story failed to do anything with him directly and just had him moving around until it finally ended him. I’m kind of hoping for more this time around.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 11 Touko/Boogiepop

The one really interesting conversation was when Touka’s mother took her to the doctor because she apparently had another personality inside of her. Boogiepop emerges during the conversation with the doctor and more or less declares that she is an enemy of the world. The conversation kind of goes in circles from there, much like a lot of the dialogue in this anime, but it definitely seemed like Boogiepop was giving her a chance to back down. I wonder what will happen to her.

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