Anime Corner: Moriarty the Patriot Review

The Crime Consultant will see you now.

What’s the Story?

It’s the late 19th century and the British Empire is at the height of its power, though that power is not spread equally among its people. The nobility of the Upper Class hold all the sway and often look down upon the poor Working Class that make up the rest of the population. They think they can get away with anything, but a man walks through the thick London fog to show them otherwise. If you’re frustrated, if you’re a victim of those who call themselves your betters, why not seek out the Crime Consultant? With a mind as sharp as Sherlock Holmes and a dozen fiendish schemes to put into motion, William James Moriarty is here to cleanse the British Empire and bring the Upper Class down to their knees.

The Review

Every villain is the hero of their story, but how do you make sure that your audience roots for even the most morally dubious protagonist? Well, in the case of Moriarty the Patriot, you give him an even bigger evil to fight and, in Victorian England, what greater evil is there than the Upper Class? I kid, of course, this series takes a very skewed view of the ‘social elite’ depicting the majority of them as murdering lunatics able to get away with whatever they want. This isn’t a new depiction of people in power, looking at anime alone I could list a hundred series off the top of my head that have similar portrayals of nobility. It makes for some fairly one-note villains and a very black and white depiction of the time period.

The evils of the Upper Class in this series is just an excuse, a mechanic to make us root for Moriarty and his band of murderous allies. We all love an underdog and, generally, hate people who abuse their power so why wouldn’t we side with the person fighting to avenge the little guy, even if he’s resorting to murder to do it. The crimes are so outrageous and over the top that there’s this sense of catharsis when Moriarty finally dishes out the just deserts, and he looks so damn cool doing it. Now, I’ll never condone murder as the solution to, well, anything, but Moriarty is just so charming and charismatic it’s hard not to get pulled into his orbit. Of course it helps that this series just oozes style and atmosphere, making every frame of it a joy to watch. From the heavy shadows and smog-filled streets of London to the bright and sunny English countryside, every location and venue in this story looks great, even if it’s completely idealised. Add on some fantastic music to accompany the series and we’ve got ticks in pretty much every box.

Of course this being a Sherlock Holmes spin off, I also have to judge this series as a mystery and I think there too it also gains itself another tick in the box. Most of the cases presented in this first season (or first half of the season depending on how you look at it) are fairly simple, the majority of them having only a single episode to state their cases in, but they all work. Each case, or murder, is engagingly told and its fun to catch glimpses of all the different pieces before Moriarty, or another character I’ll get to in a minute, sits back and puts them all together for us. You get a real sense of Moriarty’s intelligence and his observational skills, there wasn’t often that I thought he was pulling an answer out of thin air. It’s more like watching a master craftsman slowly work on a piece, before stepping back to reveal the finished article. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have a proper match for his intellect until we get to that other character.

Speaking of which, what good is Moriarty without the perpetual thorn in his side, Sherlock Holmes? Part of me thinks some people are going to be upset by the change that comes over this series about halfway through, but personally it just gave me more reasons to watch this show. If all you’re after from this series is to see Moriarty murdering people then it’s probably best to stop at episode 7, because that’s where we introduce the illustrious Mr. Holmes and after that this show is his (it’s also where the cases move to two-parters which I greatly enjoyed). Now it’s not as if Moriarty disappears from the series, but the dynamic shifts with the introduction of Holmes and to me that’s really interesting. This series’ interpretation of their dynamic is with Moriarty as the grand puppet master, using Holmes to help him expose the crimes of all the rotten nobles he’s targeting. Not that this version of Holmes would mind all that much if he knew, he might argue against the method but he really just wants a puzzle to solve.

I do really like this version of Holmes, Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Honestly I wouldn’t mind a series with just them solving cases. There’s a great deal of chemistry between them all and Holmes himself is even more fun than Moriarty, for me at least. I’m interested to see where this story is going to go next in it’s second season, especially considering that ending tease. Are we going to get adaptations of classic stories, is Holmes going to stay at the forefront or will Moriarty step back up to centre stage for more than an episode? Time will tell, but either way I’m really looking forward to it.

The Verdict

In the end, Moriarty the Patriot is a fantastic series that I wholeheartedly recommend. From the expertly crafted tone to the atmospheric visuals and great music there’s a lot to love with this series, not least of which being it’s two leads, Moriarty and Holmes. If you’re after seeing the Sherlock story from a slightly different perspective, or maybe you just want to see a good story with a villain as the protagonist, then check this out. It’s elementary! (Oh come on, I had to say it at some point!)

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

13 comments

  1. ospreyshire · 24 Days Ago

    I heard some very fascinating things about this show by having Moriarty being the real hero of sorts. The classism aspect does sound a bit one note, but let’s be honest that the elite at the time did get away with a lot of stuff (don’t even get me started on the colonial aspect during that time period and even after). That’s sounds like a great divergence from all the other adaptations of that particular story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • neverarguewithafish · 24 Days Ago

      Oh, I’m sure if we went through the history books we could find at least a few examples of the Upper Class doing even worse things than are depicted in this show. As they are in the show, they’re effective, if flat, villains to justify Moriarty’s view of the world.

      There are actually a fair few series that tackle the Sherlock mythos from a different perspective, which I really like. I remember when I started watching this series, I’d just watched the Enola Holmes film and I was reading one of the Mrs. Hudson mysteries. Both of which I’d recommend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · 24 Days Ago

        Oh, easily. Even recently I’ve been learning about different things like stolen gold from Ghana (they even called he country the Gold Coast centuries ago) among other worse things. Would you think a show like this resonate with the UK anime fan scene much less the UK itself with these characters or how it has classism in part of the story which I hear is still a talking point? I was just curious about how that would resonate in your home country.

        Gotcha. There are so many adaptations, that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Haha! I’m sure there’s even more after Sherlock became public domain, so anyone can legally adapt a story with that character. Thanks for the recommendations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · 24 Days Ago

        I’m honestly not sure how this would resonate with other UK anime watchers, I’ve not heard anyone talk about it and none of my friends have seen it, yet (I’m working on that).

        Then again class is a weird thing in the UK, from my experience at least. It’s not as big as a deciding factor in a person’s status, but it still feels likes its a part of us. I suppose the lines started blurring ever since the Middle Class became a thing. I consider myself Working Class and as such I have an inbuilt mistrust of the Upper Class and a firm stereotype in my head. I do my best to ignore that though because stereotypes are just bad assumptions about people you don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · 24 Days Ago

        I was just wondering. You could certainly spread the word about this anime with your friends and anyone else who you think would be interested. Then again, you don’t see England in anime all that much. The other examples I can think of are Hellsing and parts of Read or Die (the main character Yomiko Readman is Japanese/British mixed).

        Gotcha. I do hear people talk about it from time to time like with some of my friends in different parts of the UK or other bloggers from that part of the world. It’s discussed sometimes in America and it really came into prominence with Ethan “Affluenza Teen” Couch a few years ago with how soft the police treated him for drunk driving for example. That’s understandable with having some mistrust of the upper class since I’m also from a middle class background. There was one time where I lived in a wealthier suburb during my teens when my family lived in a parsonage (my dad is a pastor) during that point of my life. We were one of the poorest people in that town when we lived there even though we were middle class in literally any other environment in America. I also tie class with ethnicity and it felt awkward moving from a multi-ethnic area to a not-so-diverse area where I was one of the few melanated people in that town back then at that point of my life. In your case, is there also a North/South aspect that can affect class? I know you’ve briefly mentioned some of that in a previous conversation, but I don’t know how it plays into UK classism or sociopolitical strata there. Very good for doing your best to fight against stereotypes. I wish more people were like that with so many different factors and aspects of humanity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · 23 Days Ago

        There is very much a North/South Divide. The stereotype is that the South is all Upper Class, that’s where the Capital of England is, it’s also where a lot of the money in the country is. The stereotype is that everyone there is posh and snooty and lives on a big luxurious estate mansion. The North on the other hand is seen as Working Class, it’s where a lot of the industry is, or used to be in some cases, there’s often the feeling that we’re being neglected or ignored by those down South. The Northern stereotype is that we’re all a bit thick, we all live in terraced houses and don’t have very much money. Then you’ve got all the regional stereotypes and divisions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · 23 Days Ago

        Gotcha. I did hear about some of those stereotypes from you and others I know. I’m aware London is in the South. Of course, not everything is luxurious in the South and not everything is working class in the North, but I’m aware of some of the history and sociopolitical aspects. I heard that Northern accents aren’t common in a lot of TV shows or can be shown in a less-than-desirable light. There’s also the dinner/tea debate which I didn’t know was a thing until about a couple of years ago. I saw one of Russell Kane’s YouTube videos where he talked about it and said something along the lines of (paraphrasing here) “If someone was to say ‘supper’ in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire brain sees that person as Prince Harry holding a swan.” It was something I heard as a joke from him (don’t worry, I don’t say supper in regards to an evening meal anyway). Maybe this is me being an American who also loves geography and talked to people all over the world, I do my best not to add into stereotypes and to learn about different places. Some people are pleasantly surprised about me knowing about certain cities or countries. For example, did you know Sheffield is sister cities with Pittsburgh, PA and a common thing is that both of them were involved in the steel industry and both have the nickname of being the Steel City in both respective countries.

        Liked by 1 person

      • neverarguewithafish · 23 Days Ago

        I knew Sheffield was the Steel City, did not know that about Pittsburgh. Also Russel Kane is 100% right with what he said. Our brains are just wired that way and it’s hard to fight sometimes. In the office I work at (currently working from home), the manager gets teased just for the simple fact that he lives in a ‘posh’ area.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ospreyshire · 23 Days Ago

        Yup! Those cities have that in common. One of Pittsburgh’s major sports teams is the Steelers which is their football team (as in American football, not soccer). However, I’ve never been to that city before, so I can’t tell you much else other than the fact that Wiz Khalifa and the metalcore band Once Nothing are from there or how someone from that city is nicknamed a Yinzer because in a hardcore Pittsburgh accent, they say “yinz” instead of the plural form of “you” or “y’all” (as Americans in the South would say). What are your favorite things about Sheffield out of curiosity?

        I was wondering what you thought about that joke. Hahaha! To be fair, most Americans don’t even say supper either and usually the people who say it can be quite snooty for my experience. Gotcha. Posh areas can be everywhere.

        Liked by 2 people

      • neverarguewithafish · 23 Days Ago

        Honestly I don’t know what my favourite things about Sheffield are. It’s home, it’s where I’ve lived for my entire life and I don’t know how I’d live anywhere else. It’s like an old comfort blanket, it’s a bit tatty in places, but I know it so well and I’m so used to it. The city’s quite spread out and there’s a lot of hills so you can get quite a variety in the different areas. Watch the last two seasons of Doctor Who and you’ll see a lot of establishing shots of Sheffield.

        Liked by 2 people

      • ospreyshire · 23 Days Ago

        I see. Not going to lie, but the concept of living in the same city or town one’s whole life is foreign to me since my family moved a lot and I’ve lived in 2 different states in my life. It sounds like a good analogy being comfortable and knowing where everything is. That’s cool how you have variety in Sheffield. They filmed Doctor Who there? Interesting. I also looked up your hometown and apparently they filmed parts of The Princess Bride there which is really cool. I also found out that there are multiple Sheffields in America in different states including my own home state which I legitimately didn’t know about. How does Sheffield compare or contrast with the rest of Yorkshire or possibly England at large?

        Liked by 2 people

      • neverarguewithafish · 22 Days Ago

        I’ll be honest I don’t travel that much. Out of the other cities that I have visited though, Sheffield feels like more of a hodgepodge. Some cities I’ve visited you can feel the age in them, either from the architecture or just walking round the shops. You can tell the place hasn’t changed in decades or more. Other cities are bright and shiny and new so you can tell they’ve been recently modernised. Sheffield is somewhere between the two, there are areas that have been recently developed and look like 21st century cities, whereas other areas you feel like they never left the 70s or 80s. Admittedly it could just be because I’ve explored more of Sheffield, so I know more different areas and maybe those other cities have stuff like that too.

        What about where you’re living? What’s that like?

        Liked by 2 people

      • ospreyshire · 22 Days Ago

        That’s fine. I haven’t traveled much and certainly even less when COVID happened. That sounds fascinating with how you described Sheffield. Since you’re in England, you certainly have that history with the cities being there for several centuries. That’s cool how you have a mix of different things going on in your hometown.

        Currently, I’m in a suburb at the moment which is nothing too crazy. Of course nothing is very hilly since I’m from the Midwest, but there are a few good things nearby.

        Liked by 2 people

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