Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Pretty Boy Detective Club

Original Run: April 11, 2021 - June 27, 2021
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Mystery
Based on the Series Created By: ISIN NISIO

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Pretty Boy Detective Club. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Mayumi Doujima (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto) is nearing the end of a ten-year promise. If she doesn’t find what she is looking for, she must give up on her dream. While on the verge of losing all hope, Mayumi has a chance encounter with a most eccentric individual, Manabu Soutouin (voiced by Ayumu Murase).

Manabu, smitten by Mayumi’s outer and inner beauty, takes up the challenge of locating the lost item. But he won’t be doing it alone. No, he will enlist the help of the members of his trusty Pretty Boy Detective Club:

The Pretty Boy Detective Club pride themselves on their grace and elegance, and no job is ever too much for them.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Series Positives

If the first thing to pop into your head when watching Pretty Boy Detective Club is, “Wow, this looks familiar,” you’re not far off the mark.

There are three returning elements to this series:

  1. Pretty Boy Detective Club is a Shaft anime.
  2. It is directed by Akiyuki Shinbou.
  3. It is an adaptation of an ISIN NISIO story.

What other franchise ticks those same boxes? The Monogatari series.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

If you are a fan of Monogatari, don’t get too excited. Pretty Boy Detective Club is not Monogatari. That is not a negative. This show was solid; there were many good things about it.

For starters, this series was visually fascinating. Then again, with Mr. Shinbou having been at its helm, this fact is hardly surprising.

In case you are unaware, Mr. Shinbou has a unique style; it is hard to mistake his work for anyone else’s. Along with Pretty Boy Detective Club and Monogatari, Mr. Shinbou has also directed:

  • The Hidamari Sketch franchise
  • Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
  • Pani Poni Dash!

And that is just to name a few.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Saying Mr. Shinbou is a visually-focused director might sound obvious given he works in the anime industry, but there you have it.

That notwithstanding, an advantage this type of animation has, and one Pretty Boy Detective Club took full usage of, is the atmosphere it creates. In this series, if a scene was comedic, it looked comedic. If a scene was dramatic, it looked dramatic. And if a scene was dark, creepy, and tense, holy hell, you better believe it was.

Pretty Boy Detective Club was – summed up in an extremely apt word – pretty. Episode one, in particular, was beautiful, and there was never a point in the show where its “Wow” factor turned off.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Of course, animation is secondary. Decent, even breathtaking visuals can make a show look good, but nothing more. For a series to BE good, it needs characters and a story worth following.

Pretty Boy Detective Club had enough of both.

For characters, the primary protagonist, Mayumi Doujima, was top-notch. She was the one person in this series that had some depth. That isn’t to say the rest of the titular club’s members were boring; they just weren’t as well-rounded.

Concerning her role in the show, Mayumi was an untested factor for the club. She had the brains, insight, and forethought to match her comrades’. The only difference was, she didn’t have the confidence to put forward a theory, especially if it was a tad out there. The other members were more comfortable employing a child-like imagination to problem solve and think outside the box. Seeing Mayumi get to that point worked in this show’s favor.

Incidentally, Mayumi was yet another connection between Pretty Boy Detective Club and Monogatari. Ms. Maaya Sakamoto, who voiced Mayumi and who gave a fantastic performance (she is one of my favorite voice actresses), also played Monogatari’s Shinobu Oshino.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Switching gears to Pretty Boy Detective Club‘s story, here was where everything was at its most compelling. This show was quite proficient at setting up an intriguing mystery narrative.

This series managed to incorporate supernatural elements into its mysteries and still had them come off plausible; or, at least, answers didn’t feel cheap. Any worthwhile who-done-it story allows the audience the chance to figure out the problem before the big reveal. If nothing else, Pretty Boy Detective Club always maintained the illusion of that being a possibility.

And for the record, I say it like that because I didn’t solve any of this series’ answers. Granted, I didn’t try that hard to figure them out, so I don’t want to blankly claim it’s possible or impossible to deduce this show’s riddles. If you’ve seen Pretty Boy Detective Club, let me know how you fared in the comments below.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Getting to the heart of the matter; would a season two be worth watching? Since this series also left us with a bold “To Be Continued” promise, we must ask, “Was Pretty Boy Detective Club jumping the gun?”

I don’t think so.

A part two could prove to be the key Pretty Boy Detective Club needs. Supposing a potential sequel cleans up its predecessor’s missteps, this series may turn into something outstanding.

Only time will tell.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Series Negatives

Given all the connections Pretty Boy Detective Club has with Monogatari, let me repeat, this is NOT Monogatari.

That is, ultimately, a good thing.

Speaking for myself, I am a fan of the Monogatari series – as well as other Shaft/Akiyuki Shinbou productions. Therefore, Pretty Boy Detective Club’s visuals, while impressive, were nothing new. To go poetic, sunsets are always stunning. Except, after a lifetime of them, it’s hard to differentiate one from another on raw beauty alone.

But if this is your first time seeing this style of animation, then you’re in for a treat.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

On a more damning note, you’ll recall I said Pretty Boy Detective Club was good at SETTING UP a mystery narrative. Delivering a satisfying ending, on the other hand, well, that’s a different matter entirely.

Pardon my vagueness (wouldn’t want to give anything away), but not once in this series did I believe a payoff was worth the lead up to it.

For example, in the first story arc, the club had a run-in with a mysterious crime syndicate known as the Twenties. This series went through the motions of establishing the Twenties as reoccurring villains poised to cause greater headaches down the road. Unfortunately, aside from multiple references to the group, they never appeared in the series again.

This is one area where a season two can outclass its predecessor.

But the most disappointing epilogue of Pretty Boy Detective Club came in the final story arc. Without giving too much away, the club faced a legitimate threat which then led to an epic reveal. Sadly, the resolution to this development didn’t match the level of intensity this series created for it.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

To finish up this review, as well as compare this series to Monogatari one last time, a hurdle that accompanied Monogatari was its heavy and often cryptic dialogue. Characters talked quickly and used big words to explain complex ideas.

Maybe it’s nostalgia, but this heavy-handedness made Monogatari what it was, and I consider it to be one of the series’ highlights. So then why can’t I say the same for Pretty Boy Detective Club?

In an attempt to guess, this series was less consequential.

That is a weak reason, I won’t deny it. Hence why I have no problem with the idea of a season two. I do not believe this show has had a chance to reach its potential.

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Final Thoughts

If I consider this to be chapter one of a much bigger series, there is a lot to look forward to.

This show knew how to tell a fun mystery, for the most part. With a little sprucing up, I don’t see why we can’t expect great things from this franchise-to-be.

But, if this series is a one-and-done affair, there is enough enjoyment here for it to be worth your time.

Pretty Boy Detective Club has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Pretty Boy Detective Club? 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 Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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