This first episode of the noitaminA series for this season is mostly from the point of view of Nishinosono Moe, a wealthy young lady who seems to act as a self-appointed assistant and admirer of the eccentric academic Saikawa. Both of them are highly interested in the genius – but criminal – Magata Shiki, who was said to have murdered her parents 15 years ago. Because Shiki insists that ‘a doll did it’, she isn’t able to be properly tried for the crime on the grounds of mental unrest and thus to this day lives secluded in her lab on an island. However, recently Moe received the oppourtnity to converse with her through video chat, a fact that she seems delighted to be able to tell Saikawa.
Eventually the two decide that they should both visit the island for their academic trip as an excuse to be able to see Shiki (although for Moe, perhaps as an excuse to spend time with Saikawa).+
Ranpo Kitan, as infuriating as it was, did raise one point that kind of stuck with me: if a criminal is judged too insane, they do not suffer any punishment for the crime, which lead to a lot of anguish for the victims of one otaku serial killer. I remember wondering why people judged legally insane weren’t instead put in a mental care facility rather than prison, instead being free to roam and re-commit, but I would have forgotten about this if not for the fact that The Perfect Insider does the exact same thing. At first, I assumed Moe had been talking to Shiki via a prison or mental hospital but then they clarify that she is living secluded on an island and was never tried for the crime of killing her parents at all. Maybe I just need to do more study into the Japanese criminal justice system and its relationship to mental hospitals, because I’m really struck by how fantastically unrealistic this seems. (And yet, off the top of my head, The Perfect Insider and Ranpo Kitan are the only instances I can recall where this actually happens.) It’s actually more jarring than it was in Ranpo Kitan for me, which was so over the top anime in the first place. If anyone has any insight about this – by all means, please share it. I’m really curious.
Anyway, The Perfect Insider is setting itself up to the be the Big Cerebral Show of the season and like most Big Cerebral Shows the first episode is far too early of an indicator to be able to tell if it works at all. Like Terror in Resonance, I imagine this is going to be one of those shows that needs to be viewed as a whole. There’s not a lot to go by in this first outing – but so far it’s unique and atmospheric and has some of the more inteteresting opening and ending sequences from this season. The character designs are distinctive enough without being over the top and realistic enough without being too boring, and there’s a really great attention to detail in the backgrounds. It’s very handsomely produced all around. Shiki’s cryptic words ‘A doll did it’ have me intrigued so I’m pretty interested in where it might be headed…and also why its main title is ‘Subeta ga F ni naru‘ (‘Everything Becomes F’).
The main flaw is that it moves incredibly slowly. Almost nothing happens besides Moe and Saikawa conversing in an episode (and then later at a diner) and Moe remembering her conversation with Shiki. The lack of music in a lot of these scenes for the most part creates a vaguely surreal experience that almost made me feel like I was actually there with them, rather than just watching a show. It’s an interesting way of doing things, but I kind of hope the rest of the show isn’t as slow as this.
The other flaw isn’t really a huge issue but I feel like I need to bring it up – whatever CG company they outsourced this to do the cars got almost humorously gung-ho about it. The cars not only look too cg (they don’t blend with the 2D characters all that well), but there’s a ridiculous emphasis on Moe’s car at the start that just made me think that whoever did it was just really, really damn proud of that car. The way it’s framed in the shot where she gets into the car, and then when she gets out of the car again, is done so that the car is the focal point of both scenes…despite it having nothing to do with the actual show (None of the shots with the cars were actually necessary whatsoever to be honest). It just made me laugh. It’s also an indication of how slowly this show moves when we need separate scenes of Moe getting into her car, driving to Saikawa’s and then getting out of her car again. I know that showing these kind of actions really enhance the ‘every-day normality’ the show is trying to enhance and play-up but at the same time it’s pretty ridiculous.
I’m still quite optimistic about this show all the same – it may just be the return to form the noitaminA slot needed after the utter garbage of Ranpo Kitan sullying its name. Here’s hoping.