OP: 「talking」 by KANA-BOON
「白い面会」 (Shiroi Menkai)
Meh, exposition is overrated anyway.
This anime would be my first experience with Mori Hiroshi’s acclaimed mystery novel Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider; I picked up coverage for it based on its credentials, its staff, and an interest in its premise. So I stepped into this pilot knowing very little about it, and came out of it knowing only a bit more. I imagine that those who did even less background reading than I—those just casually browsing TV channels, for example, or those checking out new shows on a whim—would have emerged from the first episode of Subete ga F ni Naru positively baffled. There was no real attempt to explain the setting, the time(s), or even the characters, who pop in at random intervals with neither pomp nor circumstance. Who are they? What do they do? Subete ga F ni Naru very deliberate dodges those questions. Such would be the trend of the entire episode. It starts with a framing device (that never makes clear exactly what it’s framing) and ends with… well, it just ends. Both the OP and the ED are largely metaphors that we’re probably not expected to understand yet (and there’s really nothing like the dancing OP to disguise what your show is about). We are, essentially, starting in media res, in the middle of the action, though action in this case is mostly dialogue and the daily life of a nerd in a room. But hey, look, a gaudy red sports car! That thing sticks out in so many ways.
We are provided with plenty of information, though, just not much context to go with it. Nishinosono Moe (Tanezaki Atsumi) is the daughter of a wealthy family (butler!) who’s bad with hot drinks. Saikawa Souhei (Kase Yasuyuki) is part of some research lab at some university who both smokes and philosophises far too much. We are shown a fair deal, and it’s difficult to process it all at the moment. For example, why is it important to know that Souhei is bad with eyedrops? Why the conspicously cracked coffee pot? Why mushrooms? It could be not all, or even any, of these details will end up relevant (or are perhaps deliberate red herrings), but it is the way of mystery stories to invite speculation about miniscue. Actually, if Subete ga F ni Naru was not billed as a mystery to begin with, I would have been hard pressed to definitively say it was one at this point. This pilot spends much of its time establishing characters, and the thrust of the plot will have to be revealed later. We only know that this Dr Magata Shiki (Kido Ibuki), the subject of imagery and flashbacks, will likely be integral to it. Genius programmer, self-styled recluse, parricide—if there’s a mystery in Subete ga F ni Naru so far, it’s her.
Looking ahead i.e. I have no idea
That certainly was an interesting way to start. I don’t know how Mori Hiroshi wrote the original Subete ga F ni Naru, but would it have been like this? No narration, no inner monologue, only dialogue, though helped by the fact that Moe says plainly what she thinks, or is otherwise very easy to read. And there’s certainly a lot buried in the dialogue, heavy with philosophy (they don’t waste time getting to the big questions about self and identity), technical details (‘Dr Magata is really smart and here is exactly why’) and titbits about character (why the maths quiz for Moe during the video-conference? Probably 1. to be cryptic 2. to reinforce that she’s quite intelligent). Positively, even with the dialogue focus the visuals look pretty good (if but a bit drab, but that’s likely a deliberate palette choice), with sufficiently detailed art and crisp animation when needed. I’m guessing this would have been what Owarimonogatari would have been like if they had played it straight.
I’m reluctant to guess at how Subete ga F ni Naru will proceed with its plot for now, because it has put a fair amount of work in building an enigma around itself, which is the main draw so far. The issue of Dr Magata killing her parents will certainly crop up again; she was not guilty by reason of mental impairment or something, but there’s many ways to plead that (by the talk of a ‘doll’, I’d hazard a guess for automation). And since the title (Everything Becomes F) seems to be a reference to the F key on your beyboard’s home row, and since there are also to the references to programming in both the story and the ED, computing will probably be a major motif. Otherwise, without knowledge of the original text, I can only speculate.
I have high hopes; the key thing to note, above all I’ve said, is that this pilot has been overall interesting, enough to hook even with a rather obscured bait (more a breadcrumb trail thus far). That’s a worthy start. And Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 also reminded me of Hyouka, which is definitely a good vibe. There really aren’t enough good mysteries in anime, and a dedicated, long-game one like Subete ga F ni Naru is bound to be a treat. I think the staff know what they’re doing. I’m looking foward to seeing this mystery pan out then come together.
ED: 「ナナヒツジ」 (Nana Hatsuji) by シナリオアート (Scenarioart)