Vatican Miracle Examiner
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Vatican Miracle Examiner ?
Despite getting the opportunity to review some truly terrible shows during my time writing for ANN, I have to admit that I'm not really the type that enjoys hatewatching anime. A single bad movie, or even a couple of episodes, I can get through with some yuks now and again, but only because I know I can get through it all in one sitting. The prospect of ironically watching an entire series is something else entirely. As someone who's very averse to the idea of wasting time, the prospect of dedicating half a dozen hours to sitting through schlock is dubious at best.
Maybe that's why Vatican Miracle Examiner has transformed into such a dreadful slog over these past few episodes. On the surface, this episode should be ripe for hilarious ribbing, since it's just as ridiculous and poorly constructed as anything the show has delivered so far. This episode's central twist, wherein we learn that the deceased John Jordan was secretly Roberto's long-lost (and quite insane) father is just about the stupidest plot development I've seen all year, anime or otherwise. The Flaming Hitler Jr. bit may be sillier, but at least it had some tenuous relationship to what was going on in the rest of the show. Roberto's surprise relationship with John Jordan is the kind of desperate grasp for narrative excitement that you might expect from a soap opera that's been running for two decades, not a twelve episode show that's only passed its halfway mark. I won't say it comes entirely out of nowhere, since Roberto's silly flashbacks from the last couple of episodes technically hinted at the importance of his parentage, but the execution of this reveal is sorely lacking. It feels like an attempt to suddenly start developing Roberto as a character, but it's all so rushed and ham-fisted. Not for the first time, the story feels like it's supposed to be a parody of introspective dramas, except for that lack of any perceivable comedic intent.
The bigger problem is that all of this sounds much more ironically entertaining than it is. In perhaps the most frustrating narrative choice this show has made all season, Vatican Miracle Examiner chooses to wrap up this three-episode John Jordan Arc by having Roberto interrupt a television broadcast to monologue at Kid Goldman for about twenty minutes. It's truly the least exciting path this arc could have taken, and VME commits to this misguided choice one-hundred percent. Take all of the lame science and poor attempts at creating linguistic puzzles that Vatican Miracle Examiner has indulged over the past two months and cram them all together in an episode-long infodump, and you have a close approximation of what the show delivers this week.
By spending so much time indulging its love for over-explaining its leads' detective work, VME actually ends up exposing the depths of badness its writing has reached. After about two minutes of Roberto debunking John Jordan's increasingly idiotic “psalms”, it becomes obvious that he and Hiraga should have been able to solve the mystery of John's divinity with about five minutes of Googling, never mind the fact that they have a legendary super-hacker on their payroll. At the end of the day, John Jordan's guilt can be deduced with a simple DNA test and some cursory research into local customs. I won't dwell on how Roberto's psychoanalysis of Jordan's paintings would make a high-school psych student groan, though I'm still not convinced that his explanation of how Jordan physically strangled the canvas of the painting makes any sense. All of this is to say that by devoting an entire episode to trying to impress its audience with its Sherlockian ambitions, Vatican Miracle Examiner has revealed that this entire three-episode arc was completely pointless. All of the hallucinations and technobabble, as well as Roberto's temporary descent into madness, was just VME twiddling its thumbs and wasting the audience's time.
That's this show's biggest sin right now. The Hitler Junior Arc was messy, convoluted, and at times downright lunatic, but it did offer some ironic entertainment value. Ever since then, the show has just been circling the drain, perpetually retreading the same ground. Watching ninety minutes of a terrible TV show like this can be a fun time, but after this episode, watching Vatican Miracle Examiner is quickly becoming an exercise in self-defeat.
Vatican Miracle Examiner is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.
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