Anime Corner: The Perfect Insider Review

Blog Perfect Insider Review Title

You can’t smoke underwater

What’s the Story?

When Sohei Saikawa and Moe Nishinosono go on a trip to visit a research lab and its resident mad genius, they find themselves confronted by a bizarre murder. The intrepid duo of wannabe detectives put their grey matter to the test trying to solve a seemingly impossible crime. How did a murderer get into a room that hasn’t been opened in 15 years, let alone get out again? With the lab on lockdown and all communications down for the time being, can they catch the killer before they manage to escape?

The Review

This is an interesting one. It’s not perfect, it’s not mind blowing, but it’s definitely interesting. It managed to hold my attention all the way to the end and I never once got truly bored, which is always a plus for a mystery series. The problem comes down to whether I’d recommend this series or not, which is a tough. I certainly don’t think this will be everyone’s cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer), but by the same token it’s worth at least one watch. I suppose I’ll just ramble on for a bit and you can make up your own minds as to whether you want to watch it or not.

We’ll start with a positive. The animation, and just as importantly, the direction are top notch here. The visuals are simply gorgeous to look at. I could happily sit through the whole series again just to watch it. The characters all have this very grounded look to their designs, they look like actual people as opposed to the usual cartooniness (it’s a word) of anime, which while that isn’t something I want all the time, it is a nice change. There isn’t much action in the series, no explosions or car chases to soak up the budget, so the series has a very even spread of quality, though the animation does get to stretch its legs with a couple of fantastic shots and locations. I think the only real hiccup I ever noticed was that damn CGI robot that floats around like an astronaut when its meant to be wheeling across the floor (it’s weightless in other words).

Now I did mention that the series is fairly lacking in action. It’s a very sedate series all in all, it’s happy to move along at its own pace and deal with things as they come. I do imagine that this will be off-putting to some people, but like I said I never really got bored. The anime always managed to have a hold of my attention even when nothing much was happening. A lot of the screen time is taken up by the characters sitting around and talking, sometimes about their theories for the case, sometimes on their philosophical musings. This is another point that may be off putting to some people. Pretty much the entire first episode is just ramblings about life and death, with a few more debates spread throughout the series, which isn’t so bad. I’m interested in these character’s views on life I just wish that knew what they were saying half of the time. I know the words, and they appear to be in a coherent structure, but I have no clue as to what the meaning behind them is. If this show has a meaning or a point that it’s trying to get across I will hold up hands and admit that it’s gone straight over my head.

These philosophical discussions should come across as a pompous waste of air, but I’m just so enraptured by these characters that any insight into how they think that I can gleam is worth it for me. It’s definitely the characters that make this series for me. Our main characters are Saikawa and Moe and I just enjoy spending time in their company. A lot of the time when writing smart people they can come across as arrogant know-it-alls, but that isn’t the case here.

We’ll start with Moe, she’s definitely the most relatable character. Having a crush on your sensei is nothing new to anime, but the character’s emotions feel genuine and the chemistry between the two of them is great. Even if Moe and Saikawa never officially hook up they have a bond that won’t ever be broken. Moe is also really funny and though we can’t have her figure out the mystery ahead of our lead detective Saikawa, she’s not someone who is purely there for things to be explained to, even if that does happen a lot towards the end of the series.

Saikawa is a much odder character. Throughout a lot of the series he looks as if he’s bored, mostly with life in general, as he sits there smoking his 50th cigarette, yet he’s incredibly likeable. He just draws you in with his charm. He never comes across as arrogant or distant. He’s just a nice guy who’s on a different wavelength. He’s not really bored, he just sees the world in a different way and that is endlessly fascinating.

Speaking of interesting minds that brings me to the undisputed star of the show, who I really wish got more screen time, our resident crazy person, Dr. Magata Shiki. She is just fascinating, and although a lot of the show is focussed around her, her life and her work, we spend very little time actually with the character. I don’t really understand her character or her motives for what she’s done, the way she views the world is just so alien and strange and I just want to know what she’s thinking, even though I know I never can. I suppose that puts me in a similar position to Saikawa. She’s a genius yet has spent the past 15 years locked in her lab with no outside contact, and that’s just how she likes it. That did always confuse me, this woman murders her parents when she’s 15 and instead of being sent to prison (or the nearest insane asylum) she gets locked up in a research lab with everything she wants. I still can’t work that one out. Even with that bit of odd set up aside though, it is just great to sit and try and work out what is going on inside her head.

The Verdict

In the end The Perfect Insider is an effective mystery. It sets up an impossible crime and manages to solve it without either making the solution obvious or hide it so much that you’ll never work it out. The visuals are great, though the slow pace and tendency to sit around discussing philosophy probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes.  What sells this most of all though is the characters. They’re all interesting and its worth a bit of your time just to get to know them.

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