Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Holmes of Kyoto

Original Run: July 9, 2018 - September 24, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Mai Mochizuki

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Holmes of Kyoto. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Aoi Mashiro (voiced by Miyu Tomita) has recently moved to Kyoto, but her time in her new city hasn’t been a happy one. Hurtful memories of her old life continue to linger in her heart. She feels there is no one she can rely on. That sentiment changes the day Aoi wanders into a quaint little antique shop.

Standing behind the counter is a handsome young man named Kiyotaka Yagashira (voiced by Kaito Ishikawa). Like magic, Kiyotaka instantly recognizes that Aoi is not doing well, and the two form a bond. To help, Kiyotaka offers Aoi a job at his store; a proposition Aoi gladly accepts.

After a few weeks, Aoi learns of Kiyotaka’s reputation as a highly skilled appraiser. In this line of work, an antique seller’s reputation can be ruined by fake items. However, no counterfeit can fool Kiyotaka’s trained eyes. In fact, Kiyotaka’s observation and deduction skills even rival a certain world-famous nineteenth-century British detective.

The similarities are so profound, Kiyotaka has gained the title as the Holmes of Kyoto.

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Series Positives

Holmes of Kyoto put a lot of emphasis on recognition. Much of this series’ identity based itself on the significance of the name Holmes (that’s the Sherlock Holmes for the one person who lives under a rock) and the beauty of Kyoto. This show made it clear that these two aspects were crucial.

As a result, if I ever come across Holmes of Kyoto again, I will always remember it had some self-imposed connection with the famous fictitious British detective, it took place in the modern-day ancient Japanese capital, and that it was pretty damn bad.

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This is going to be a very lopsided review since there wasn’t much about this series that is worth praising. I don’t know what the story was behind the production of this show, but based on what I saw, I’m willing to bet it was a total cluster f@$#.

Due to that, I got curious about the studio behind Holmes of Kyoto, Seven, and after a little research, I found some interesting information.

For starters, Seven has many hentai projects in its filmography. That by itself is a non-factor to me; I doubt I could care less about this studio’s adult roots. That notwithstanding (and how you read into this is on you) there were similar elements between Holmes of Kyoto – which didn’t even have fanservice, let alone NSFW playtime – and your run-of-the-mill, low budget anime porno.

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Secondly, Seven’s actual television productions have mostly been short-form series; quite a few of them being good ones. This is the studio that gave us Ai Mai MiDanna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken, and My Wife is the Student Council President (season one). Seven’s first and only other full-length series before Holmes of Kyoto released back in 2017.

Unfortunately, that one other example was the atrocious Osama Game. I will give Holmes of Kyoto this: Even though it was bad, at least it wasn’t that piece of trash.

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Additionally, there is another connection between Holmes of Kyoto and Osama Game. Both series, as well as the inferior second season of My Wife is the Student Council President, were directed by Noriyoshi Sasaki.

I need to make it a point to remember that name. When aware of a track record like Mr. Sasaki’s, one can never be too careful.

With all that in mind, Holmes of Kyoto appears to be a significant break from Seven’s usual type of anime (assuming the studio’s other works I have seen adequately represent the company as a whole). This series was more “dramatic” and “grounded.” I suppose if anyone wants to break away from their comfort zone they have to start somewhere. It’s just a shame that this show’s “somewhere” ended up being here.

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This was twelve episodes of boring, and for a story whose main character is meant to be an homage to Sherlock Holmes, that was massively disappointing.

I don’t consider myself to be a devoted fan of the legendary detective. Nevertheless, the Sherlockian character archetype is one I enjoy. The idea of a hyper-observant super sleuth is fun. The allure of logical, almost superhuman-like methods of deduction when solving mysteries can be utterly fascinating when done well.

Perhaps that was why the best aspect of this series had to be Kiyotaka Yagashira. Now before I say anything else, Kiyotaka wasn’t a great character. He was just the least problematic thing about this series. There were plenty of details about our lead that were irritating.

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For one, I refuse to refer to Kiyotaka as Holmes. It sounded dumb and pretentious whenever people called him that. I was also under the impression he didn’t much care for the title, but then again, you could have fooled me since he never put up much resistance to it. And another thing, “Holmes” being a play on Kiyotaka’s surname instead of being an on-the-nose reference to the great detective was a joke that got old fast.

Clarification: Yagashira (家頭)

  1. 家(ya) is the kanji for “home.”
  2. 頭(gashira) along with being read as “gashira” can also be read as “zu.”
  3. Therefore: home + zu = homezu = Holmes
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Getting back on track: Although Kiyotaka did have strong observational abilities, many of his deductions were derived from people’s auras, as well as his own subjective interpretations of pieces of art. There was often little, if any, logical reasoning based on physical evidence. Plus, he was basically a mind reader; so, that was a thing.

Nevertheless, when there was a mystery to solve or an opportunity for him to use his intellect, Kiyotaka was serviceable enough. At the very least, it was clear why he was considered the Holmes of Kyoto.

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Series Negatives

There were so many things this series didn’t get right. From beginning to end, Holmes of Kyoto felt off.

Going back to what I said about this show having some of the same characteristics of a cheaply made hentai, I suspect most people who watch something more adult don’t care too much about aspects like animation, voice acting, and characterization.

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For the former, the animation in this series was lifeless. There wasn’t a lot of movement, but instead plenty of shots of characters standing still. Not only that, I’m fairly confident I saw this show use and then reuse the same exact clips of people’s reactions and facial expressions.

If Holmes of Kyoto had been allotted a large production budget, then someone must have pocketed the money because I couldn’t see it on the screen.

That same level of cheapness could be heard in the voice acting. I’m not fantastically familiar with Kyoto’s Kansai dialect, but after all the lousy anime English I’ve come across, my ears tend to perk up when they suspect someone may be trying – and failing – to force an accent. If that sounds harsh, I assure you, I consider such a possibility to be the best case scenario.

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If everyone was being accurate, then that means they simply gave poor performances.

Either way, it was a pity to listen to since this show had solid actors behind it. For instance, Mr. Kaito Ishikawa, the voice of Kiyotaka, did great as Genos from One Punch Man, but I didn’t hear any of that same charm in this series. What’s worse, the bigger disappointment came from Ms. Miyu Tomita, the voice of Aoi Mashiro.

As a rising young talent, Ms. Tomita gave outstanding performances as both Gabriel from Gabriel DropOut and Riko from Made in AbyssHolmes of Kyoto, on the other hand, sure as hell didn’t do her any favors.

To give Ms. Tomita some slack, it wasn’t as if she had a lot to work with.

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Aoi Mashiro’s entire character consisted of mostly surprised gasps and brooding over her recent breakup with her prick of an ex-boyfriend. It was hard to care about her storyline, and few actors could have done much to salvage this role.

To put it another way, although Kiyotaka wasn’t a deep character, he at least had the Holmes distinction to fall back on. As for Aoi, I don’t know how she could have been anymore cookie-cutter. She existed only to add a needless romantic subplot.

Then there was the more obvious connection. If Kiyotaka was this show’s Sherlock equivalent, I could understand how someone would think Aoi was this story’s Watson. While a simple link to make, it wouldn’t be accurate. At least, I hope as much since the good doctor deserves much better.

To give credit where it’s due, Aoi started to grow a tad more interesting when she proved to have a talent as an appraiser. Too bad this only came into any real effect in the final episode, so you might as well consider that plotline unfinished. I can’t imagine this series will be getting a second season.

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Finally, if we ignore everything else, Holmes of Kyoto had one fatal flaw. It didn’t know how to tell a good mystery. This series didn’t know how to hold anything back. It always played its cards way too early.

There was an episode where someone broke a priceless vase. In the lead up to the crime, the order of events wasn’t particularly expansive, so it was easy to keep track of everything. In addition, the episode made sure to point out every side character in specific details. There weren’t many new faces to be confused by. Kiyotaka then began his deduction, and it was a goddamn joke.

As Kiyotaka was explaining how the crime took place and long before the actual reveal, the show gave away the identity of the perpetrator, and it was as subtle as letting loose a loud fart in the middle of a quiet library.

This show was stupid.

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Final Thoughts

Take a stab at figuring out which direction I might go in with this series. You’re going to need to look at all the clues to figure out whether I will recommend this show or if I will absolutely, one-hundred percent, without a shadow of a doubt say skip it.

Here’s a hint: It’s not the former.

This was simply bad. The animation was cheap. The voice acting was lackluster. The story wasn’t interesting. The characters were dull. I can’t even pretend as if this was a wasted idea. There are plenty of other Sherlock-esq stories out there.

This wasn’t special. This wasn’t new. This wasn’t anything.

Holmes of Kyoto is a series you don’t need to waste your time with.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Holmes of Kyoto? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

1 comment

  1. I pushed a fair way into this series before I finally gave in and dropped it. Even though I’d passed the half-way mark and normally I would finish just so I was able to write a final review and get something back for my time. It was just really boring. I just couldn’t think of a single reason to keep watching.
    Amazingly though, I didn’t actually find it overly defective, other than its inability to write a mystery. Everything kind of worked and yet it just never managed to do it in an interesting way. Still, I’d rather go back and watch King’s Game because it was at least amusing even though it was decidedly terrible compared to sitting through this which just couldn’t get any kind of reaction from me.

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