Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

case files of Jeweler Richard

1 - 12 Streaming

Synopsis:
case files of Jeweler Richard 1 - 12 Streaming
Seigi Nakata meets Richard Ranasingha de Vulpian just after the European arrives in Japan to open up a jewelry shop, and he immediately asks if he will valuate a ring he inherited from his grandmother. Richard agrees, and the moment becomes the catalyst for Seigi to begin working for him at Étranger. As he learns about gemstones and interacts with a variety of people, Seigi begins to understand that the world is larger and more varied than he had supposed, while Richard begins to see that maybe closing himself off from other people may bring peace, but it isn't likely to lead to happiness as the two men forge a friendship.
Review:

Based on the light novels of the same name (sadly unavailable in English as of this writing), The Case Files of Jeweler Richard exists under a moderately misleading title. While there certainly are “cases” in the sense that each episode features a different client and their particular problems, they aren't necessarily cases in the most commonly accepted sense of the word, i.e. as mysteries in a detective story. Instead the people Richard and Seigi interact with are almost more like a psychiatrist's cases in that the issues are primarily personal in nature and have much more to do with personal happiness and the ways we interact in and with society, with almost all of them leading Seigi and the viewer (and in a very few instances Richard) learning a Lesson.

I capitalize that because there is a moderate air of the after-school special to several of the messages imparted over the series' twelve episodes. This does smooth out by around the half-way point of the show, and none of them are particularly heavy-handed, but it is hard not to notice the pattern of each of the early episodes having a distinct theme. The idea of not judging by appearances is perhaps the most prevalent, forming the backbone of episodes four through seven, which certainly seems well-suited to a story set around a jewelry store. But more striking is the idea of marriage as a social construct that will lead to a set notion of a “normal” life, something that first appears in episode one and becomes more pronounced as the series progresses.

Episode two is where we really begin to see the idea take shape. While the first episode's storyline – Seigi has inherited a stolen ring from his grandmother, who supported herself as a single mother in post-war Japan by picking pockets, a situation she was forced into by her lack of husband – the next one is a bit more interesting in terms of what we usually see in anime. It follows Mami, a young woman trying to decide if she ought to go through with her engagement to a perfectly lovely man. Her conflict is that she's a lesbian, but her family (and, it is implied, society through them) expects her to marry a man and lead a so-called “normal” life. Mami comes to Richard using a brooch that she was given by her fiancé as a test for herself – depending on how the valuation comes back, she'll either marry him or break off the engagement. Seigi immediately notices that Mami isn't well, and ultimately she collapses from the stress and emotional anguish of trying to be something she's not. While this is Seigi's first real encounter with the LGBTQ+ community (or at least the first time he's been forced to think about it), the real meat of the episode is Mami's dilemma of having to marry to fulfill someone else's expectations. This was introduced in the previous episode, with the woman whose ring was stolen by Seigi's grandmother feeling able to decline her arranged marriage based on the loss of the ring, and Mami's story more fully points out that for some people, marriage is a burden. The theme goes on to be developed in the story of Seigi's crush Tanimoto, who feels no sexual or romantic attraction to anyone but thinks she should marry to be “normal,” as well as in Richard's own past, which is caught up in ideas of racism and snobbery tied to marriage amongst the British nobility. It's not a theme we often see in anime, and each of the characters who come into conflict with it end up walking away, the one major exception being Seigi's mother, who leaves an abusive relationship for a healthy second marriage. (Richard's equally dysfunctional parents are a bit more up in the air.)

While the thematic elements of the show are well-executed, other bits and pieces don't quite come across as well. Richard's characterization of Seigi as a slightly rude busybody seems overly harsh, particularly when Seigi is simply asking a question about something he's never encountered before, and this makes the change in their relationship around episode nine feel a little rushed. Likewise there's a major disconnect between the post-credits scene of episode ten (which in on honesty would have been a very good ending point for the series) and the start of episode eleven, interrupting the otherwise smooth progression of the plot. That episode nine is also basically a crash course in British inheritance law doesn't help, although the way that ties into the Blitz during WWII and racism in Richard's family is interesting. It's also mildly amusing (presumably unintentionally) that Richard only changes outfits four times, with one of them being a disguise – he has a summer suit, a winter suit, and a not-suit; while this is normal within anime itself, Seigi has a larger variety of outfits, making it stand out awkwardly.

With its slower pace and pointed lessons, The Case Files of Jeweler Richard won't work for everyone. It's nice to look at (more in the art than the animation) and a joy to listen to in terms of voices, but it doesn't always seem to know how best to use its plot points to make the most of its themes. But it deserves a lot of credit for going places the majority of anime stories don't, and as a title for an audience willing to put in the work of analysis, it's one of the more interesting shows of early 2020.

Grade:
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : B-

+ Interesting themes, Seigi and Richard's relationship kept nicely ambiguous, allowing for multiple interpretations. Lovely character designs.
Pace can drag or be disjointed, feels like it overshot its natural ending point. Richard's characterization of Seigi feels harsh at times.

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Production Info:
Director: Tarou Iwasaki
Series Composition: Mariko Kunisawa
Script: Mariko Kunisawa
Storyboard:
Tetsuo Ichimura
Hideki Ito
Tarou Iwasaki
Masahiko Murata
Norihiro Naganuma
Keiko Okuda
Toshiya Shinohara
Kaoru Suzuki
Yōichi Ueda
Hiroyuki Yano
Episode Director:
Katsuki Aizawa
Tetsuo Ichimura
Hideki Ito
Tarou Iwasaki
Kaoru Suzuki
Hisaya Takabayashi
Atsuko Tonomizu
Unit Director:
Tetsuo Ichimura
Masahiko Murata
Music: Nobuko Toda
Original creator: Nanako Tsujimura
Original Character Design: Utako Yukihiro
Character Design: Natsuko Kondou
Art Director: Mio Isshiki
Art:
Mio Isshiki
Yuki Kasahara
Takao Makino
Tomoyuki Shimizu
Chief Animation Director:
Tomoyo Kamoi
Natsuko Kondou
Mika Saitou
Animation Director:
Atsushi Aono
Manami Fukuyo
Hideki Ito
Toshie Kawamura
Masakazu Kawazoe
Miyuki Kobayashi
Ritsuko Kondo
Natsuko Kondou
Ena Nishikawa
Miyuki Oshiro
Miki Takemoto
Azuma Tozawa
Yuji Ushijima
Asami Watanabe
Izumi Yamanaka
Eri Yamazaki
Sound Director: Satoshi Motoyama
Director of Photography: Tomoyuki Shiokawa

Full encyclopedia details about
Hōsekisho Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei (TV)

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