The Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited – Episode 1

By: Dee April 9, 20200 Comments
A stylized image of Kambe and Kato trapped inside a checkerboard box. Both look annoyed, but also sultry.

What’s it about? When dedicated but low-ranking detective Kato Haru volunteers to help stop a bomber, he finds himself sharing a car with Kambe Daisuke, an inspector with unlimited funds, elite training, and no regard for others. Now Kambe is joining Kato on the Modern Crimes Task Force, and Kato is none too thrilled about it.

Millionaire Detective seems to be banking on its audience wanting to screw Kambe more than they want to strangle him. Well, joke’s on them: I’m ace as hell. 

Kambe, dressed in a sleek suit and sunglasses, drives a convertible
Eh, you seen one billionaire playboy genius philanthropist, you seen ’em all.

So, good things first. This is a fast-paced, well-directed, entertaining episode with style coming out of its ears. It’s rare to find an anime that I can call “sexy” (now “horny,” on the other hand…), but Millionaire Detective is all about smoldering glances and adults looking confident, whether they’re sporting three-piece suits or fishnets. It’s chomping a flavor somewhere between James Bond and Mad Men, and has a real good time doing it.

Also, the soundtrack is a mix of jazz and hip-hop and absolutely slaps.

Kato, Kambe, and a young woman stand in a room with sunset lighting come through a window. They are arranged around the room in a pose, not looking at each other.
This is also the cover of their emo band album.

Millionaire Detective opts for a somewhat self-contained plot for its introductory episode, focusing on the crime that causes Kato and Kambe’s lives to intersect. As such, it’s heavy on action (and a few bursts of well-timed comedy), but fairly low on in-depth character work. 

Nevertheless, they do lay plenty of groundwork for future storylines and conflict. Kato used to be part of First Division but was recently(?) demoted; Kambe speaks in the opening monologue about how bored he’s been since “that day” (presumably since his parents were murdered, because all billionaire crime-fighters have the same backstory, but who knows). It’s too early to say if Millionaire Detective will flesh out its cast, but there’s enough here that it seems likely.

Two young people wearing fox masks hold paintball guns. The women points hers forward and says "Hurry up and raise 'em!"
“Cute masks, I wonder if they sell those in Animal Crossing,” I thought, because that’s where my brain is these days.

Speaking of that cast, while this episode primarily focuses on Kambe and Kato’s meeting, there are also female characters in this one! The show’s handling of them is… interesting.

On the one hand, the opening theme is full of images of adult women in lingerie holding wrenches and/or chained to the hood of a car. It’s pretty standard “sexy detective movie” imagery, though I have no idea if it speaks to a femme fatale, a dame in need, or both.

A woman shown from behind, butt to ankles, wearing lingerie and carrying a wrench.
For the audience members who aren’t interested in boffing Billionaire Boy.

On the other hand, the episode itself is void of fanservice and even has a few good moments with its female characters. One of Kato’s coworkers seems to have a crush on “Sacchan,” who it turns out is a practical, middle-aged police officer instead of the busty young airhead I’d been fearing; and the pair of young, petty criminals who accidentally get involved in the bombing case are led by an assertive young woman who spends most of the episode trying to bail her dipshit boyfriend out of trouble.

All of which is to say I have no idea how the show is going to treat its primary female characters when they show up, but at least this episode wasn’t nonstop red flags. So, as it with the rest of the cast, we’ll need more episodes to know for sure.

The question, really, will be if you’re willing to stick around to watch it happen.

A blonde young man hugs a young woman who looks at him skeptically. Subtitles read "I can't do anything without you."
Pictured: A woman who can do better.

The thing about Millionaire Detective? Kambe sucks. I mean, sucks. This sexy ratbag blows cigar smoke into stranger’s faces, forcefully buys a car from a Middle Eastern prince (is it still car-jacking if you pay them a billion yen after you throw them out of the vehicle?), is perfectly fine with blowing up a car while someone is still inside of it, and essentially offers to pay Kato off after he calls him out for his unethical behavior.

Basically, the series asked “What if the richest man in the world was also a corrupt cop?” and the answer is exactly as distasteful as you’d expect. It’s hard enough to root for someone called the “millionaire detective” in the first place, what with all the real-world wealth inequality and police brutality and all, but they could’ve at least made the guy charming, for Pete’s sake.

Kambe sits in a convertible looking serious. Subtitles read "Deposit complete. Balance: Unlimited."

Kato is, at least, likable enough. He goes out of his way to help others (even petty criminals), calls Kambe out for being a piece of crap, and even takes a swing at him right before the end credits. The script seems to know that Kambe sucks, even if the camera is making love to him and his perfect hair at every possible opportunity.

The tension between the two may lean into a “buddy-cop” dynamic when all is said and done, but I sincerely hope that Kato influences Kambe for the better rather than the other way around. And, Kambe’s general shittiness aside, there is kind of a neat genre mash-up between spy flicks and cop shows going on here, with Kambe acting the role of the high-rolling international man of mystery and Kato the blue-collar officer sincerely trying to serve and protect.

Kato angrily says "That's not the way a cop handles things."
“I drive a 2008 Honda Civic, you think I can afford to buy an antique car off a prince on my salary?!”

In other words, Millionaire Detective has potential as an entertaining crime show, but it’s still too early to tell if it will capitalize on it or become one more story that glorifies sex, money, and police brutality. I may stick around for a few to find out, but unless you’re just really into buddy-cop movies, I might advise readers to wait ’til the three-episode review before committing to this one.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer was unaware at the time of publication, but the author of the novel that Millionaire Detective is adapted from has a history of regressive and outright harmful statements, such a recent sex “joke” about a Korean “comfort women” statue. We wanted to make sure potential viewers knew about this as well.

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