Content Warning: Corpses, violence (shown offscreen), suicide
What’s it about? Isshiki Totomaru is an utter failure of a detective on the verge of being fired. His team is currently working on a serial murder case, and he is convinced that he needs to help solve it or he is going to lose his job. His colleague on the force Kiku, seeing him struggle, recommends he meet with one Ron Kamonohashi, who he says will be able to help him. But when he gets to Kamonohashi’s office, he is not what Isshiki expected…
When I first heard about this show, I had heard about it under the manga title Ron Kamonohashi: Deranged Detective. This sounded exciting to me. I wanted shlock–unhinged murderers with convoluted psychological reasons, a man deducing bizarre realizations that are a bit too intimate about somebody’s personal life based on a smudged napkin, and general camp. Instead, I felt like the episode was on rails, a relatively tame show to fit the relatively tame literal translation of the title they went with.
Part of my disappointment may be due to the recent conclusion of Undead Murder Farce, which has spoiled me for tightly written and campy mystery comedies. So much of what made that show sing was the charmingly bizarre writing of its characters–with Tsugaru, Aya, and Shizuku all having their own quirks that were so strange as to feel almost more human for it, whether it be Tsugaru’s constant Rakugo references, Aya’s constant punning about her own noggin, or Shizuku’s general enjoyment of punishing Tsugaru.
In contrast to Undead Murder Farce, the characters in Forbidden Deductions feel somewhat mundane in their quirks. With the title character, I kept waiting for the “Deranged” part of Deranged Detective to kick in, but all I ended up getting was a trajectory from “comedic depression” to “gleeful sleuthing.” The strangest part of his bits felt almost more like non-sequiturs that were not fully committed to: at one point, he talks to a corpse, at another, he dresses Isshiki up in clothes that looked like a pimp for “undercover work.” Yet, no seance was had, no pimping was rehearsed. Perhaps these will go somewhere as recurring gags, but for now they just seemed ways to emphasize that “whoa, this guy is wild and crazy!” that didn’t go far enough.
The biggest pleasure of watching a good mystery show is making guesses as to the whodunnit, the whydunnit, and the howdunnit. Structuring the episode around a reveal of a killer who’s a brand new character in a new location we’ve never been to takes the fun out of all three of those things. This is not helped by the holes in the explanation: how did they pump the CO2 from the dry ice into the room? If their hair is allegedly a mess when they were killed, why doesn’t the art style foreground that? And finally, the explanation for why they did it is such generic “eat the rich” nonsense as to be utterly boring—I wanted to watch as the detective picked apart every little piece of the killer’s psychology and motivation and method. Instead, I felt like I was being told facts from the bottom of a snapple cap, and then I got this:
In terms of feminist-related topics, the show has very little to speak on because there are almost no women whatsoever that we’ve seen other than the captain. The representation of policing is so unreal as to be not interesting from any abolitionist lens—in what world would a random guy be allowed to saunter into a crime scene and practically shake the corpse’s hand? And, sadly for me, there is absolutely no chance that this would-be Sherlock will shack up with his Holmes—I detect not a whiff of sexual tension. So there goes that motivation to watch.
In general, this show is fine. It is a bit fun, in fact. I just wish that it has been a bit more deranged, and let the audience do a bit more detective work–then maybe I would keep watching.