Cuticle Tantei Inaba – 01
「偽造通貨印刷事件／因幡洋誘拐事件」 (Gizou Tsuuka Insatsu Jiken/Inaba Hiroshi Yuukai Jiken)
“The Counterfeit Currency Incident/The Inaba Hiroshi Kidnapping Incident”
Can it be? Is Cuticle Tantei Inaba signalling the advent of something
(un)holy that will shake the very foundations of the anime world to finally, finally bring an end to the era of “cute girls doing cute things”? Probably not, but you can’t blame Zexcs for trying.
Cuticle is nothing if not fluffy, and its main attraction is the zany Inaba Hiroshi (Suwabe Junichi at his finest) running around to grace the screen with his presence while he and his associates solve “crimes” that contain all the substance of a helium balloon. It’s like watching a typical Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler movie – loud, exaggerated, crazy – except the main character’s constant screentime is wholly welcome, the side characters are actually kind of funny, and the runtime is twenty-three minutes instead of ninety-something minutes of the same thing over and over again.
The show is light and it knows it, opting to go for a straight comedic route instead of trying to mix in different elements. Even the subject of Hiroshi’s missing brother is treated with a light atmosphere that results in a couple of laughs. In this respect the premiere of Cuticle Tantei Inaba is reminiscent of the earlier episodes of Binbougami ga! (before it went sentimental and failed miserably), where every situation was milked for the maximum comedic effect. Characters were crazy enough to make the jokes work and the very essence that made the early episodes of Binbou work – pure, unbridled zaniness – are present in Cuticle in spades. Whether or not this series will attempt to “expand its horizons” by adding in clichéd parables and cringe-worthy “drama” is yet to be seen, but personally I’m hoping Cuticle will stay the light, fluffy piece it is since there’s nothing wrong with cute boys voiced by Suwabe Junichi running around doing cute things. It’s a formula that’s proven to work – why else would moe sell so well? And to point to a more relevant example, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou has proven that comedies don’t necessarily need a plot to work. The episodic nature worked quite well for the show and allowed it to explore its formula more successfully due to its “freestyle format” whilst Binbougami ga!’s attempts to expand its initial plot ended up with a sad case of identity crisis. Cuticle Tantei Inaba can swing either way, as the general plotline is more akin to Nichibros while the tone is closer to Binbou.
It’s somewhat unfortunate though, as I suspect the series will most likely fly under everyone’s radar. It caters to a highly niche audience that’s vastly different from the set of viewers most mainstream anime aim to please, and although lamenting about it is like beating a dead horse again and again, it still doesn’t change the fact Cuticle Tantei Inaba will get passed over since it doesn’t have lolis, big-breasted onee-sans, or jiggling boobs galore. The show certainly isn’t something amazing, nor is it avant-garde and out-of-the-box like Shin Sekai Yori. It’s very much a low-key, B-list affair, but at least the series is trying to build a show out of something other than cute little girls and hackneyed rom-coms in a season overflowing with cute little girls and hackneyed rom-coms.
ED: 「プリマ・ステラ」 (Purima Sutera) by 大川透 (Ookawa Tohru)