「人間椅子(後編)」 (Ningen Isu (Kouhen))

“The Human Chair (Part II)”

To borrow a thoroughly overused phrase: WTF did I just watch?

I have pretty much no idea how to take this episode of Game of Laplace, which was surely one of the oddest 22 minutes of anime I’ve seen in a very long time. There are a lot of puzzling aspects to this show that pop into mind after that ep – was it intended to be taken at least semi-seriously, or was it flat-out satire? Was it brilliant or a trainwreck? Frankly I don’t know what the hell to make of it, but that has me curious to stick around for at least a little while.

It’s no small merit that Ranpo Kitan is if nothing else thoroughly not generic, and absolutely not boring. But both the resolution of the “human chair” murder case and the means used to exposit it were way, way out there. I mean, you had stuff like the comic autopsy (which may be the first slapstick autopsy I’ve ever seen) which featured a hilariousKappei Yamaguchias Shitai-kun (“Corpsey”). Yamaguchi also featured as an “expert” talking about “game brain” in the equally hilarious TV news segment which preceded the autopsy, which ruthlessly skewered extremists on both sides of the juvenile violent crime before turning on the apathetic and ill-informed Japanese public with a brief stop on the upcoming VAT (Value Added Tax) increase.

That news spoof was top-notch satire, but sandwiching it on either side is bizarre and almost inexplicable stuff like that autopsy, and the details about the crime in question. The resolution to the murder case hinges on the teacher being a pedophile who’s switched his allegiance from girls (most recently his true killer, Hoshino) to boys (or one boy, anyway) and his victims being “glad” to have been turned into human chairs by him. I don’t know enough detail and Ranpo’s original version to know how much detail in terms of motive and circumstance has been preserved, but there’s a pretty big suspension of disbelief required here, especially for that second part. I’d also question why, even if the victims were supposedly willing, no one would have connected them to the teacher previously, but hey – suspension of disbelief, right?

Again, all this makes me wonder how seriously we were intended to take this case and this series. And it makes me suspect strongly that in the Kishi/Uezu version anyway, the mysteries themselves are less the point than the character study of Akechi and especially Kobayashi. Kobayashi is a very disturbed little boy – he takes his teacher’s prurient interest in him completely in-stride, seems not at all bothered either by being a suspect in a murder (which is at least explicable if you assume he knew he was more bait than suspect), or by the details of the murders themselves. This is all a game to him (maybe the inferred meaning of the title), and the only enemy he seems to fear is boredom.

All that makes Kobayashi interesting, but pretty hard to identify with as a protagonist. And the anime Akechi has revealed little of himself yet – he’s a bit of a troll and a lot of a genius, but does this young man have any moral compass, or is he as much in it for the thrills as Kobayashi? Hashiba certainly seems the most “normal” member of the trio in that his reactions to the bizarre and terrifying are at least recognizable, though it’s clear the main driving force for his character is that he’s in love with Kobayashi himself. And Kobayashi seems fully aware of it, coquettishly leading Hashiba on as he makes use of him in his own machinations.

There’s a lot of other strange stuff happening too, like pretty much everything about the new teacher Hanabashi – she of the suspicious scars on her wrists and the extraneous nekomimi. The moment when she sees the truth of what’s under the lining of sensei’s chair and proceeds to jump through a closed window is every bit as bizarrely placed as the autopsy bit, maybe more so, and again makes me question with just what intentions Kishi and Ueze are approaching the material. At this point I’m stumped – interested, certainly, but utterly at a loss. Let’s see if the next case begins to shed any light on Ranpo Kitan’s true identity – that’s the real mystery here..


  1. Man the way they rushed this episode I mean they solved the mystery like nothing, in fact it looks like I’m barely inform or given a chance to find clues or solve this mystery with the minimal background they gave about the culprit. I get the feeling this will all be Danganronpa all over again.

  2. KF
    1. I agree. Face of a girl, body of one (in terms of size at least), and to top it off, “his” uniform is almost an in-between of the male’s (neck tie) and a female’s (bow tie). Just change “his” pants for a skirt and you’re done. It’s a girl.

    2. considering artwise, kobayashi is technically a girl (shoulders, that eye lash, the *cough* over whelming butt, that petite frame and as some says, substitute his pants for a skirt and he passed as girl).

      he is not a trap either because he is not doing what the queen of traps, jun watarase does primarily, the cross dressing and acts as one. the only way you can identify him as a boy is the story told so.

      you can take that accuracy from me who have read most TG/GB manga. calling him a trap is like a disgrace to my queen, jun watarase (LOL :D)

  3. This was… Very random, indeed. And not very well handled as a mystery, with questionable leaps of logic and clues popping out of nowhere. At least they did hint at the culprit’s identity… Kind of, considering she didn’t have much of an identity to speak of until she was trapped.

    I’ll watch one more case before deciding if I’ll continue watching this.

    I don’t know enough detail and Ranpo’s original version to know how much detail in terms of motive and circumstance has been preserved

    Actually, the case is completely different from the original novel, except for the name. In the original:
    (spoilers for Edogawa Ranpo’s original novel)
    Show Spoiler ▼

    In short, this whole two-episode case was one big creative liberty ^^”

  4. @Guardian Enzo: I’m surprised to see you so baffled with this episode after being pretty thrilled about the opening one. For me they were very similar in their arbitrary writer fiat type plot development and cardboard characterization. The unusual psychology of the two leads doesn’t bother me at all, they (and the rest) simply fail to engage me as characters because they’re not written as characters, not really.

    I don’t know enough about Edogawa Ranpo, but I suspect he might not be entirely happy about having to posthumously lend his name to hack writing. Unless the third episode is dramatically different, I don’t expect to keep watching.

      1. One can guess that if a mystery is set up in a haphazard manner, it will also be solved in a haphazard manner? Like I said, I didn’t perceive a huge difference in narrative quality between these episodes and I’m surprised that you did, or should I say by the extent to which you did.

    1. For me, it’s what Enzo said. Is this suppose to be a mystery story or a story that showcases brilliant 14 year olds that transcend typical cognitive abilities?

      To us typical humans, the conjectures seemed baseless and trivial, yet it just happened to be the truth of the matter for this story. Felt contrived, unnatural. It felt like I was watching a problem laid out, and then suddenly the answer to the problem. There were barely any steps involved in solving it, which is the interesting part.

  5. Dunno why, but I kinda like this. Sure, it’s downright retarded in places and I’m sure the mystery buffs would tear the plot to bits (I wasn’t paying that much attention to the actual case), but I like the presentation. Not a fan of magane-kun though. Was hoping he’d become a chair himself after the first ep, but he wasn’t as annoying this week, possibly because they gave him less lines.

  6. Now that’s what you call laughably campy. I decided to not take this show seriously within the first minute and it worked. I learned that loving a trap is a very deadly thing to do.

    Now, to a more serious comment. I abhor this episode since it shows what not to do in a mystery series. The way it explains things feels like a hybrid of Hyouka and Danganronpa for all the wrong reasons. Gah, why reveal the killer in a fashion like it’s pulled from a magical hat? That left me a very sour taste in my mouth.

    On the other hand, Kobayashi is a very creepy sociopath.

    1. You took the words right out of my mouth, this is the episode I´m to watch, this not for me for all the reasons all of you said but mainly because of Kobayashi, he´s without a doubt a sociooath, lacks moral compass and empathy completely, I feel sick of just hearing him explin all that insanity with a smile on his disturbed face. I think the only way this going to end with Kobayashi himself commiting a murder or worse, as the girl this little sick bastard and th pedophile teacher are one of the same abomination.

  7. >] “Kobayashi is a very disturbed little boy.

    That’s putting it politely. Kobayashi is straight-up broken, through and through, and I don’t say that lightly.

    That aside, and after sitting back and just letting everything sink in for a while, the more it seems that these first two episodes weren’t about a f***** up mystery or anything else. This was all purely introduction, to give us a glimpse into the broken minds of these characters and the merciless world in which they exist and nothing more. Was this so-called mystery used as something of a martyr to achieve that end? Yeah, I’d say so.

    Say what you will, but no one with eyes to see would walk away from these two episodes disillusioned about Kobayashi, Hashiba or Akechi, not anymore. Sure, there are still plenty of things to learn about our trio, but would anything really throw you for a loop at this point? Kinda doubt it.

    Ryan Ashfyre
    1. I hope you’re right, because that would imply more care might go into the execution of future mysteries in the series.

      My only quibble, really, is that I don’t see any sign that Hashiba is especially broken or psychopathic. He seems relatively normal, more or less.

      1. Hashiba, to me at least, would seem more the proverbial curveball rather than the straight that Kobayashi and Akechi are.

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his behavior’s yandere-esque, at least not yet, but he’s obviously obsessed with Kobayashi; the kind that will show his true colors the more strained his relationship with his ‘friend’ becomes, like a string that inevitably snaps once it hits its breaking point.

        What’s good about his character is that I can see a whole proverbial smorgasbord of ways he could end. I can see Kobayashi killing him and Hasiba dying with a serene smile on his face. I can see him outright committing suicide because Kobayashi just came out and told him how he was being an impediment to his having ‘fun’ with Akechi, and on and on it goes.

        That one thing I hope doesn’t happen is that he gets stuck in place, like a Watson-esque character, only worse in that he doesn’t contribute anything more.

        Ryan Ashfyre
  8. The tone of the characters is throwing me off. I keep hearing how the anime is taking very big liberties in adaptation, so this could possibly be the case of terrible anime adaptation especially how the mystery themselves are explained. I’ll give it one more episode to change my mind but it’s really hard with kobayashi tone in character not to mention the bait of those hips. Plus it’s not a very good build or resolution to the mystery.

  9. Ugh. I kind of wanted to like this for the sake of Noitamina, but nope! It’s not well-written. It’s just a mess. The leads are fine as characters, the animation is good, and the direction is kind of interesting, but the murder mystery they set up for us isn’t even mediocre, it’s bad. It’s not believable in the least bit, and when you’re writing a mystery show, the MYSTERY part has to NOT SUCK.

    I was all excited that I was going to get some sort of creative murder mystery, but the presentation and denouement were so poorly executed (along with the premise) that is was laughably bad.

    When the “culprit” was captured, I was thoroughly disappointed. “Who was this again?” was all I was thinking, and then I was shown a flashback to something I was supposed to have remembered/cared about from last week.


    Next week’s show should be a mystery about some vanishing writers, if you ask me. >_>

  10. Well, I for one am still watching this. I like out of the ordinary anime.
    I am a bit disappointed at the anime not taking the mystery part seriously.

    I guess the MC will be among the nominees for the best trap 2015 award?

  11. In Ranpo’s novels, Kobayashi was an expert cross-dresser and master of disguise, who used his skills to help his master and mentor, Det. Akechi. This probably explains anime Kobayashi’s androgyny and connection to Akechi here, although the sociopathy is anime-original.

  12. cruiser2710
  13. I don’t really understand what the problem people are having with this series. It feels perfect to me so far, as if it were tailor-made for me!

    The conclusions made perfect sense and the way the Kobayashi came to them made sense as well. Of course they were just theories based on his observations and assumptions about the psychological states of involved parties, but he was brilliantly able to provide the evidence he needed by setting the cell-phone trap beforehand. This is classic mystery, really good Sherlock Holmes-type stuff.

  14. I, too, found the tone of this episode to be very different to the first episode. And perhaps the resolution of the mystery was a bit too rushed and needed a bit more padding, so to speak. But overall?? I liked this episode, just like I enjoyed the last one.
    And I think, even if the rest of mysteries themselves don’t turn out to be all that great, seeing how the characters develop and unfold will be very much worth it. Particularly Kobayashi. ‘Disturbed’ is definitely an understatement when it comes to him, and even his cute demeanour can’t soften that. Although I like that, because it makes things different.
    And I feel like the more bizarre parts of the show (looking at you, Corpsey) will offset the darkness it generally gives off. Plus, the ending song is just perfection- what’s not to love about the ending song?? Will definitely be sticking with Game of Laplace.

    But with all that being said, I can’t help but wonder why nobody reported the people who made the previous ‘chairs’ as missing, or why this teacher wasn’t red-flagged before he died. Because to me that clearly is a case of him abusing his trust to groom students. Somehow, I doubt a middle school child would want to become a ‘chair’ unless manipulated extensively. I just wish that had been addressed just a little bit, as opposed to only going crazy about 13-year-old killers.

    1. If I had to guess, I’d say the reason nobody discovered the teacher’s involvements with the disappearances was that the teacher’s victims were ‘invisible’ people, people who no one would care if they disappeared and who were likely to make themselves disappear and wouldn’t mind dying. Thinking to themselves that living is pointless, his attention gave them something to grasp on to and when offered the chance to become ‘special’, they didn’t mind dying to become a chair he would love. Some of them may have never been reported as missing, but the ones that were probably assumed to have run away from home, eloped with their newfound love, or killed themselves somewhere.

      It seems that the teacher didn’t so much as ‘groom’ these people but rather he had the innate ability to discover them, since he was able to single out both Hoshino and Kobayashi as those kinds of people just from watching them in class. In fact, it might have been likely that had the teacher shown Kobayashi the human chairs before he was framed for murder, Kobayashi would have joined him in his killing spree, having discovered the ‘fun’ of the game of killing before the fun of solving outrageous murder mysteries.

      Of course, these are just guesses, but it’s how I rationalize it for myself and I think it fits in line with what we learned from the mystery.

      1. All those are logical points. I hadn’t thought of the situation that way at all. I still think that at least something should have come up, particularly if any of the other ‘chairs’ happened to be minors as well. But I can definitely see where you are coming from and how that fits with the episode events.

  15. Though this may be one of the few true mystery themed anime in quite a while, the actual mystery itself and its resolution is quite shabbily done. The MC’s reasoning may be true for all that matters but the sources for any of the assumptions are horrendous.

    From memory, many crucial points including the teacher’s emotional predisposition (which of course is no evidence for the crime itself but merely a potential motive), the link between the presence of a phone and the female killer (just because you pick up a phone/concerned about the phone does not mean that said person is the culprit), the assumption that the MC is the subject of the teacher’s interest (no evidence is provided), would ultimately mean that the MC’s reasoning is baseless.

    Overall, the mystery was resolved as it just so happened that the real culprit confessed to her own crime. For the purposes of any subsequent prosecution however, the only concrete evidence is the sworn facts by the MC (which cannot be proved of course – especially as love has no bearing on the specific criminal intent in question) and the culprit’s confession, and is thus likely to fail.

  16. @Guardian Enzo Did you drop this or will there be a review/impression of episode 3?
    TBH, I don’t have too much hope in the series and I am avoiding watching episode 3, but if there happens to be a review written I plan to read it.


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