Holmes of Kyoto
Episodes 10-11

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Holmes of Kyoto ?

How would you rate episode 11 of
Holmes of Kyoto ?

Aoi and Kiyotaka came this close to having the worst Valentine's Day ever in episode eleven. I suppose that's the risk when you're the protagonists of a mystery/romance hybrid series, although given episode ten's assertion that the bisque dolls looked “happy” at the end juxtaposed with the actual dolls' expressions, I do at times question Holmes of Kyoto's understanding of what constitutes “romantic.”

The romance really is coming to the forefront in both of these episodes, and while there are mysteries in both as well, more in episode eleven than ten, it's clear that things are coming to a head with Aoi and Kiyotaka's relationship. If we set our potential sensibilities about their ages and positions of power aside, that's very nice, as well as something of a relief, because Kiyotaka has been fighting his feelings pretty darn hard for a good chunk of episodes now. Whether you read his actions in episode ten as finally coming to grips with his emotions or the machinations of the older people around him, it's hard to deny that he's building up to something concerning Aoi. Most telling is the way that he doesn't deny the assertion that he wants to walk around Kyoto with Aoi in their kimono; given who he is, if that wasn't entirely true, he'd have said something. That he then tries to prolong the outing is also very telling – it's Aoi who cuts things short (because she wants to keep her job), and Kiyotaka only really agrees because she says she'll go to a café with him another time. Even more important, he quickly takes advantage of that offer, whisking her away to a hidden café a short amount of time later. Add to this all of the comments about how he needs to actually vocalize what he wants and the Valentine's Day gift he has prepared for her in episode eleven and things are looking promising.

The burden of Kiyotaka's feelings also informs episode ten's symbolism, which revolves around a doll his grandfather gave to his grandmother before their divorce. His step-grandfather is concerned when his wife brings the doll out, fearing that it indicates that she's never truly loved him, and Grandma has to explain that it's the doll she loves, and while she has fond memories of her first marriage, he really doesn't need to worry. This ties in with Kiyotaka's and Aoi's previous relationships, reminding both of them that despite bad endings, each will always carry good memories, and perhaps physical mementos, of their former partners. We've already seen Aoi struggle with this in earlier episodes, and in this week's Kiyotaka gets to indulge in similar concerns when Aoi doesn't let her hand linger on his during an accidental touch. That he's able to tell her that he's worried she doesn't like him back (and waxes eloquent about the cookies she gave him before) says more about the depth of his feelings than all of his sidelong glances and subtle statements; he's basically stopped fighting the idea that he likes her and is just struggling to get the point across.

Even though we only get a little of their relationship at the beginning and end of each of these episodes, that really feels like the highlight of both weeks. Episode ten's mystery plot is negligible, solved before it even begins when we see Step-Grandpa's reaction to Kiyotaka showing up at his house; he's clearly uncomfortable with his wife's first marriage and that translates into a less-than-warm welcome for her grandson. More of an effort is made in episode eleven, with a sort of mock-Christie plot involving an author whose pen name is “Aigasa Kurisu,” which is to “Agatha Christie” what “Edogawa Ranpo” is to “Edgar Allen Poe.” Kurisu's attempted murder, made to look like a suicide, has overtones of two of Christie's best-known novels, And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express, particularly in the “they all dun it” answer to the famous “whodunit” question. The episode isn't nearly long enough to truly make it work, unfortunately, and it feels like a very shallow attempt to bring in a non-Sherlockian mystery. Kiyotaka does have some similarities to M. Poirot, but since by this point it's become clear that the mystery is just a device to get the romance plot bubbling, it feels like too little, too late.

Rating: B-

Holmes of Kyoto is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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