Holmes of Kyoto
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Holmes of Kyoto ?

Holmes of Kyoto has been taking its time getting to the main plot of the series, but I'm hopeful that we may have just hit it. Episode five finally brings Kiyotaka face-to-face with the counterfeiter whose work he exposed in episode one – a man named Ensho who has been half-hiding in a temple as a monk. I say “half” hiding because at first he really was committed to a religious life; it was the realization that someone saw through one of his counterfeits that recalled him to the secular world.

Of course this is Kiyotaka himself; we saw him do it. What's more important here is not that Kiyotaka exposed Ensho's work, but that in doing so he basically created his own villain for the rest of the series. Like Kogoro Akechi has The Fiend with Twenty Faces, Kiyotaka now has Ensho, a criminal whose work he is sworn to pursue to defend the integrity of art and antiques. (For those wondering, Akechi's a bit of a better fit for this than the original Holmes and Moriarty in terms of original materials.) This introduces an element of blame into the story, which could serve as a point of character development for Kiyotaka as well. Up to now, we've primarily seen him through Aoi's somewhat worshipful eyes – not quite a man without fault, but certainly one she finds attractive on several levels and a generally capable individual. But this episode begins to allow cracks to show in his veneer – for the first time we see him truly angry when he confronts Ensho and the pseudo-monk's pride in his counterfeits, and his motivation to stop Ensho is born out of that anger and some wounded pride rather than strict appreciation for antiquities and the works of artistic masters.

Also important is the revelation he makes to Akihito. We've known that Kiyotaka had a bad break up with his one and only girlfriend and that he was able to bond with Aoi over it, but he's been fairly close-mouthed on the subject of getting involved romantically again. Since we've been seeing things from Aoi's point of view, there's been a certain expectation that eventually the two of them would get together, something upheld by their general chemistry as characters. But Kiyotaka tells Akihito that he's not in the market for a girlfriend or any kind of serious relationship; he's just looking for what he calls “short term liaisons.” Maybe I'm misinterpreting that, but it sounds like he's looking for hook-ups more than anything, and that's not something Aoi is going to be comfortable with. On the other hand, I couldn't see him asking that of Aoi, but he must be aware that he's building up her expectations in the romance department. Of course, he has been busy reminding her that Kyoto guys are nasty, so maybe that's a code that she's just not picking up on.

In terms of long-ranging plot, this could also be setting the story up for more Akihito, who could begin to pursue Aoi after Kiyotaka's words. This could be the impetus for Kiyotaka realizing feelings he's unaware of, but more likely it will result in Aoi being emotionally hurt again, given that she's still fairly bruised. (Although the stolen fan may be more an indication of the former possibility.) What's more at issue, however, is which plot is going to prove to be the overarching one, the mysteries/counterfeiting or the romance. There hasn't really been a good balance of the two up to now, so it feels like a pertinent question. I'd almost prefer the relationships to take over simply because the mysteries are feeling less and less like something we can solve along with the detective. There was almost no way we could find out Ensho's identity this week (although past glimpses of him do help), and the question of which piece was the fake was similarly without many clues. Kiyotaka's answer to Akihito's question is a decent clue, but for the most part this is simply about the reveal of who the counterfeiter is without a lot of attendant mystery.

Despite all of this, there is still something pleasant about this show. It's basically harmless, as a cozy should be, and the way it takes its time to unfold isn't necessarily a bad thing. (I'm still waiting for the guy who looks like Wayne from Phantom in the Twilight to come in.) At this point I feel very safe saying that if you're a fan of Christie-style mystery, this is not going to be your show, but if setting-and-gimmick based cozies are more your style, I think this is working.

Rating: B-

Holmes of Kyoto is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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