The Detective Is Already Dead
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 5 of
The Detective Is Already Dead ?
Forget any of the cases the intrepid heroes of The Detective Is Already Dead are trying to solve in-show; the biggest mystery here is what genre this series is actually supposed to be. As previously discussed, it hardly functions as an actual detective show. So what then? is it simply supposed to be a dramatic thriller mostly powered by watching the characters putter around until the improbable solutions to their queries manifest? It could also be argued that the procession of girls Kimihiko finds himself collecting post-Siesta marks the show as somewhat of an entry in the harem genre, though any actual romantic elements have been pointedly subdued so far. It also has all the hallmarks of being a superhero show, what with all the cyborg powers and villainous secret societies behind everything. And finally, aside from all those elements, this week's episode stacks on some additional supernatural aspects, truly turning Dead Detective into an everything bagel of genre storytelling.
At some point, I should probably stop being surprised by the various different things Dead-tective finds to throw at the wall. But those supernatural twists really are the parts that leave the most impact in an episode that's otherwise the same brand of nonsense we should expect from the show by now. This week's entry is entirely a flashback, taking place while The Detective Is Still Alive, and Siesta's enjoyable enough that I appreciate getting to see her among the living; none of Kimihiko's current-day paramours can burn him to the ground quite like she can. So with that, I was perfectly ready to settle in for a story of Siesta and her assistant tracking down another SPES cyborg, this one apparently with an enhanced nose, only for that to give way to that guy turning out to be a whole, shapeshifting werewolf, which definitely feels like a leap. Perhaps this is a case where a better ordering of events would have enhanced the story more, since if I knew werewolves were a pre-established lore element to Kimihiko, I might have been able to more easily buy his ready belief that transplanted hearts could impart leftover memories.
The craziest part is honestly that the whole werewolf thing barely registers as a distraction from all the other goings-on this episode. It's not just a sudden surge in local lycanthropy cases; this week's entry also lets us meet some of the leadership behind SPES and reveal that they're keeping an entire kaiju in their basement, a poisonous monster that Kimihiko responds to with the same sort of detached discomfort he expresses when Siesta embarasses him while they're out on a boat. With all the new elements of SPES we finally become privy to in this episode (Their predilection towards monstrous modified humans, their being led by a figure with a title like 'Supreme Leader' and a name like 'Hel', their odd laser-focus of plans honing in on just two kids who are out to thwart them...) I start to taste that specific flavor of old-school tokusatsu villain organizations from these guys. Given the clearly indulgent otaku leanings of the authorship composing this story, that fits, and lends continued credence to the theory that Dead Detective is meant to be viewed as more of a superhero show than anything else – at least until Siesta busts in driving a robot at the last minute to, apparently, make this a mecha show as well.
That kind of extra eclecticism occuring around the characters is where you'll get the most enjoyment out of all this, since expecting the plot to be decently engaging continues to be a fool's errand. As usual, a big problem is in the information they do and don't provide the audience with to let the alleged 'mysteries' unfold, and it's compounded this time by some pretty slapdash choices in story placement. For instance, a swerve partway through Kimihiko's attempts to lure out SPES's cyborg serial killer involves the shapeshifter impersonating Char, the third-wheel of the detective gang with her own affection for Siesta we glimpsed post-credits last week. This story doesn't seem to be continuing on from that separate flashback, and indeed, the real Char has yet to appear in this adventure and isn't even mentioned by Kimihiko or Siesta until the fake one pops up and is sussed out. So rather than any notable foreshadowing, it comes off like that bit last week was only there because they knew we'd need to have some context for Char for this story beat to even work. I'm not familiar with how these story sections were ordered in the source novels of this series, but just going off what we're presented with in this format, it comes off as clumsy.
Even if they are effective at making sure you're paying attention, the addition of the outlandish supernatural story supplements also feel, at least partially, like instances of Dead Detective's single-draft approach to mystery resolution. At least the first half of the episode teases at the reasoning for serial killer Cerberus' heart-hunting rampage, and I don't even necessarily mind that there was no way I could predict the whole werewolf thing. But the solution turning out to be that SPES needed hearts to feed their bioterrorism kaiju, with Cerberus' own heart being carved out to use as the final boost, and Kimihiko simply being told all that before the detectives attempted to actually deduce anything, almost comes off like the series parodizing its own ongoingly flippant attitude towards its nominal foundational genre. At least, I hope that kind of amateur-hour plotting is on purpose to some degree. I can let myself enjoy this series significantly more if I'm able to believe it's simply flippantly allowing itself to have fun, as opposed to genuinely thinking it's writing some credibly-clever criminal concoctions here. When it's just running wild with free-form genre tropes, letting me see stuff like Siesta jump-kicking a werewolf in the face, I can almost believe Dead Detective is working. But every time it stops for what it thinks is a clever explanation or notable world-building detail, it feels like it's getting unnecessarily bogged down by its own lacking efforts.
The Detective Is Already Dead is currently streaming on Funimation.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.
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