Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace ?
Hey, remember how good last week's episode was, the way it tied things together and gave us a glimpse at the larger story at stake in Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace?
Yeah, don't get your hopes up for this week.
Presumably intended as something of a break after the tension of the previous story, this week's episode feels like it draws its inspiration more from Scooby Doo than anything Edogawa Ranpo wrote. First Kobayashi finds an abandoned kitten outside Akechi's office, and he wants the ailuraphobic detective to take her in. While they're (fruitlessly) arguing about that, Kobayashi and Hashiba open the office door to find the Shadow-Man trussed up on the doorstep, a bomb attached to his chest. He wants Akechi to disarm the bomb before it explodes in 59 minutes, and while that is going on, everyone hears a baby crying. It turns out that an infant in a bassinet has been left outside the office for Akechi to take care of, which he may even be less thrilled about than the cat. And then because this episode has a compulsion to take things too far, terrorists attack the money lending place upstairs.
It's clear that this supposed to be funny, and parts of it are, particularly the various plans the gang hatches to escape from their predicament. These are done with paper puppets (images on sticks) and a couple of video game references, and all of them show a callous disregard for everyone else's lives, with the exception of the baby and the cat. (Kobayashi's plan is my favorite.) Other parts just feel like a kid's first attempt at writing a script, with everything that could possibly go wrong being thrown in, and then one more thing for good measure. Naturally the solution is mostly a let-down, although Kobayashi does get one shining moment of using his brains where no one else could.
As someone with seven cats, it's pretty darn hard to have a cat episode that I don't like, but somehow this show pulled it off. Largely this is because this episode simply throws away the work done by the previous ones, most especially last week's. Akechi is reduced to a tough guy afraid of a little kitty, Kobayashi's innocence hides nothing sinister, and the Shadow-Man is basically a joke. (Hashiba's got little to no purpose here.) The fact that there's very little movement or interesting animation effects doesn't help either, although there is one moment of note: when a woman shows up at the end to claim the baby, she's a pink shadow until she introduces herself...and then fades back into one, baby included, once she is no longer interesting to the characters. I would hope that we haven't seen the last of her and that this is a little hidden misdirection; regardless of whether or not that's the case, this is the first time we've seen someone turn back into a colorful shadow.
The saving grace here is the post-credits scene. In this short interlude, Nakamura visits Kagami in prison. He mentions that there are still people calling themselves Twenty Faces on the streets, carrying on Kagami's work, just as he foretold. Kagami begs Nakamura not to change, but there's something in the way Nakamura leaves that makes us wonder. The police force in this show's world have proven to be inefficient, while Twenty Faces is quite the opposite. Might they have a shadowy ringleader egging them on? What is Nakamura hiding in his hunched, creeping walk? This is where we see more going on, where the intrigue of the previous episode and the potential of the show survives. I hope it is this that we see carried through to next week, because when it wants to be, Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace can be fascinating.
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace is currently streaming on Funimation.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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