There’s actually three episodes of Babylon already out. They were released at the same time, like with Vinland Saga, and I assume they’re supposed to be all watched at once. I’ve only screencapped the first episode because I’m a busy Passerby, but you don’t really need more than those to get a general impression of the show. Babylon is an adaptation of a novel and is a talkie, in that most development is done by characters sharing information with other through dialogue. So, know what you’re getting into; unlike some other crime thrillers Babylon isn’t going to have much in the way of action, not even a firefight or a high-stakes chase scene. No, these are white collar prosecutors doing the police work so they’re going to politely tail their targets while obeying all relevant traffic laws, thank you very much. We live in a society!
Speaking of Babylon as a crime thriller, here’s how I recommend you dip your toes into Babylon. Watch the first episode right up until the first dead body. Are you curious yet? Thrillers like these rely on tension hooks to keep you watching, like the tried and true cliffhanger, which is a bit cheap but definitely effective. So, instead of watching to the end watch until the first whammy and see if that catches your attention. If it does, try to watch all of the first three episodes. Only then does Babylon really reveal its true form. I mentioned in the preview that the Babylon novel was written by the guy who wrote Seikai Suru Kado, and it’s easy to tell that the two are very similar stories in spirit. There’s a competent yet idealistic bureaucrat with a loyal but naive sidekick who is confronted with mind-bending creepiness that common sense cannot explain and is forced to re-evaluate the way he see the world. So while Babylon started as a thriller, with a mystery that gets more sinister and convoluted as the plot gets deeper, by the third episode it’s clear that it’s actually more interested in its philosophy. For example, while your average mystery-thriller would definitely have milked the political conspiracy sub-plot for all its worth and take it all the way to the climax, in Babylon it is resolved rather quickly in order to facilitate some sort of moral ethics dilemma within the protagonist (which is in turn resolved rather quickly so that we can, er, contemplate suicide, I guess). Sure, there’s still a mystery, and there’s still thrills, and perhaps even a dash of noir — we have a femme fatale, after all — but there’s no mistaking that Babylon has issues to ponder and its narrative is likely going to be a vehicle to do so.
Altogether, it’s interesting, noting that Seikai Suru Kado was also quite interesting even as it imploded. In a season rife with fantasy maybe a (somewhat sensational) debate on relevant modern issues like Babylonia is the ideal palate cleanser. Plus, it’s on the more mature side — or at least checks off the boxes for the classic triumvirate of mature themes (sex, drugs, and death) — which will make it stand further above the crowd. It’s not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, especially since suicide will never stop being a touchy subject in society, but it’s entertainment that will also give you something to think about, which is never a waste of time.
ED: 「Live and let die」by Q-MHz feat.uloco.