Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Mar 10th 2012
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Dai-Ni-Maku
Episodes 1-6 Streaming
Having failed to recover their “toys” last season, the four girls of Milky Holmes are still on the outs with student body president Henriette, who also happens to be the mysterious thief Lady Arsene. Henriette wants Milky Holmes to get it together so that she can match wits with them again, but the girls are more preoccupied with their next meal. Will threatening to close down the Detective Academy motivate them to get their toys in working order again?
The brightly-colored girls of Milky Holmes are back for another season of hyperactive anime antics, and while familiarity with the franchise is recommended before diving into this show, it isn't strictly necessary. Partially this is due to the fact that each episode still begins with a basic explanation of the franchise's world – it is the Great Age of Detectives, something brought about by the appearance of superhuman gifts known as “toys.” Those who have them fall into one of two categories – law enforcement or law breakers. In Yokohama there is a specific school to train the good guys where our four protagonists are students, and once they were the brightest stars the school had to offer. Sadly a shock caused them to lose their toys, and now they are the school's dimmest. Henriette, who moonlights as the mysterious thief Lady Arsene, is the student body president and is determined to regain her favorite foes. Unfortunately none of her efforts have really come to fruition, and her devoted gang of thieves has just about had it. This season focuses on the sort-of efforts of the girls of Milky Holmes to regain their detective prowess, but more often devolves into crazy hijinks that may or may not provide results.
While there is clearly meant to be an overarching plot – getting their toys back – Milky Holmes 2 is less concerned with that than in getting a laugh out of the audience. Each episode does, if you think about it, build on the last, with episode six's take on Agatha Christie's well-known Murder on the Orient Express being the most plot-heavy at the end. However, it is easy to simply lie back and let the goofier aspects of the show carry you along. Each girl's personality was set in the first season, and the second does little to go beyond it in most cases. Sherlock remains the cute but clumsy girl with a fondness for fish paste, Nero, like her namesake Nero Wolfe, like to eat and get money, Hercule (ELLY) is the quiet, awkward one, and Cordelia is a “lady,” possibly a nod to her namesake Cordelia Grey's British heritage. ELLY gets an increased personality as a bit of a closet pervert, or at least someone who is aware of the existence of sex, and some good visual gags come with that, most notably in the third episode. In fact, the racy factor has been upped for most of these episodes, giving the lie to the show's visuals, which could easily proclaim it to be for children, at least until Lady Arsene and her gang show up.
Last season nearly all of the fanservice was provided in the ending theme, with shots of the Milky Holmes girls in their bathing suits before a series of provocative images of Lady Arsene. While the ending does still have increasingly undressed images of the curvaceous thief, episode four, which takes place on a prison island, and the aforementioned episode six also provide a fair amount of sexual innuendo. Much of the fourth episode centers on the harvesting of sea cucumbers, which many anime fans know are often used as penis metaphors, although the show deserves credit for not explicitly pointing this out, as in, for example, Demon King Daimao. The chief antagonist of the episode, however, looks like an S & M Captain Ahab, riding around on a many-tentacled octopus and wearing a little more than a skull-bedecked thong. This is, make no mistake, rather humorous, but it is certainly not, as they say, “good clean fun.” Another episode focuses on the girls and rival detectives G4 trying to catch a flasher, which does lead to an amusing misunderstanding by Stoneriver, one of Lady Arsene's henchmen. Episode six's sex factor is largely due to a very funny guest appearance by an unnamed Golgo 13 and his floozie. Some of the best scenes are of Sherlock or ELLY bumbling around one of Golgo's sex scenes looking for clues.
Golgo is not the only cameo appearance, or indeed reference, to be found within these episodes, and astute viewers should be on the lookout for other unexpected guests and costumes, one of the most recognizable being Sherlock Squid Girl. This is unsurprising in a show that constantly references some of the greatest fictional detectives and thieves, but it is a nice bonus for viewers who aren't necessarily mystery buffs. It is the little details like this that help to stop the show from descending into moe-fueled drivel, although it does have its moments, such as much of episode two.
Perhaps the most annoying, or disturbing, depending on your point of view, aspect of the entire Milky Holmes franchise is the mysterious thief Twenty. Nominally based on the Man of Twenty Faces, Twenty is the show's narcissistic oddball who has a definite sexual attraction to himself. Twenty's main trait is that his nipples, when erect, become essentially projectile weapons, and he uses them to harass a variety of people. Whether you find this funny or not will depend on how irritating you find the man himself or whether or not you are bothered by his undercover role as a nipple-exposing teacher. His presentation makes it clear that he is meant to be amusing, so it is not perhaps fair to read too much into him. He will, however, trigger a gut-churn reaction in some viewers.
While none of the vocal performances stand out as exceptional, everyone is competent and there are no real false notes. (Sora Tokui's Nero is one of the better voices, although Izumi Kitta gets a fair amount of range out of Cordelia.) This season does feature two very catchy jpop themes in the best bubblegum tradition, but background music is so incidental as to be forgettable. The animation here is better than in season one with a bit more fluidity to it, and more attention has been paid to characters' dress and hair, with all of the Milky Holmes girls getting several distinct outfits and hairstyles, although Sherlock mostly retains her trademark pink loops. G4 member Tsugiko Zenigata also does a fun magical girl parody with several recognizable costume elements.
Detective Opera Milky Holmes is a fun little romp filled with references to both the detective fiction genre and other anime titles. It lacks overt cohesion in its plot, but it is very nearly always at least cute, if not actually entertaining. While it would be nice for at least Henriette to figure out what is going on with Milky Holmes' toys – and dedicated viewers should be able to guess what that is fairly easily – when watched as a pleasant diversion, it proves to be just that.
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : D
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : C+
+ Silly fun with bright, pleasantly animated art. Catchy theme songs and lots of amusing references. Episode six is particularly good.
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