Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser August 9, 20180 Comments
Muhyo and Rohji wearing sunglasses, berets, and trenchcoats

What’s it about? Pint-sized Muhyo is an executor of magical law, tasked with punishing the crimes of spirits. He and his teenage assistant Roji run a detective agency where those with supernatural woes can seek help.

The final also-ran of the summer season, Crunchyroll quietly released this middle-grade horror series a few days ago after the furor of premiere season had already passed. And while it’s a perfectly watchable experience, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it a hidden gem.

Part of the issue may be that I am very much not the target audience for this series. Muhyo feels like something of a wish fulfillment figure, a hyper-competent kid who’s mega-ultra-good at magic (they even pull out the “despite how he looks…” line) and commands the respect of his assistant and older clients. The slapstick of Muhyo and Roji’s office antics also left me cold.

Muhyo and Roji fighting over a manga magazine in their office

The show fares better as a spooky monster-of-the-week show. While this premiere already gets some good mileage out of stock footage, the monster designs are effectively PG-rated spooky, and the hints of the overarching antagonist that bookend the episode make striking use of color composition, particularly with reds.

I was slightly less thrilled by the client of the week. Rie and Taeko bonded as outcasts and became inseparable, but when Rie got taken in by the popular crowd, she rejected her fellow outcast—and Taeko died basically immediately after in an accident. The plot isn’t bad at conveying intense emotions in a short frame of time, even coming all the way up to relatable for anyone who’s had a friend throw them over in school. I came to like the two quite a lot in their short time on screen.

Rie and Takeo against a flowery background, holding hands. caption: Hey, Rie! Let's hold hands!

But there’s something of a bitter pall over the whole thing given that the two are very, very strongly lesbian-coded and ghostly Taeko is a literal possessive monster. The show also pulls kind of an unpleasant “gotcha” by implying Taeko gets sent to Hell despite Rie trying to help her, before reassuring us that she got to pass on… because…. she willingly let go of Rie herself? Maybe?

The actual pacing of the story itself was perfectly functional, so it might fare better with subjects where it’s not blundering into sensitive topics.  There is what looks like one recurring female character in the opening theme, but it also sets her up to be part of an extremely tired “lech gropes girl, she hits him, COMEDY” dynamic.

A monstrous, many-armed Taeko grasping onto a terrified Rie. caption: I won't let anyone get between me and Rie.

This premiere is something you could probably share with a 9-to-12-year-old viewer and have them enjoy it, although you might want to be on hand to talk through the clumsier elements. For older audiences, this is mostly fine but probably nothing you haven’t seen before. The amount of fanfare Crunchyroll gave it is about what it deserves.

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