「ノアティック号事件 第一幕」 (Noatikku Goujiken Daiichimaku)
“The ‘Noahtic’ Act 1”
To be honest, I don’t really know if Yuukoku no Moriarty has turned the corner or not. The series’ best work was the anime-original premiere (if nothing else because we hadn’t seen rehashes of it in Episodes 4 and 5), and the two-part childhood arc (because it was totally unlike the rest of the series so far). On some level this was yet another spin on the eat the rich theme, but it has the feeling of something bigger. Not least of course because it’s part of a multi-episode arc, but also because of who it introduces to the narrative.
The setting is the Noahtic, a sparkling new cruise ship about to depart for a pleasure cruise to Amsterdam, featuring the “first ever on-ship ballet”. William has chosen it as the staging ground for the next phase of his plan for social upheaval – well, really the first phase if you ask me, which is part of the problem. He’s apparently planning to turn London into a killing ground and get the populace so disgusted that they upend the social order. Or he just really likes killing rich people – either is good.
In case it wasn’t already obvious, William James Moriarty is a terrorist. He’s a sociopath, an extremist for a cause he believes just (and which isn’t without merit in my view, for the record – the Victorian class system is an albatross around England’s neck to this day). I don’t think we’re supposed to question that, though the matter of just where the narrative wants us to place our sympathies is always an interesting question in a series like this. But up until this point there really hasn’t been any subversion to his actions – he’s just been revenge killing for his own gratification.
A major problem with Yuukoku no Moriarty is that William has been running unopposed up to this point. He’s leagues ahead of everyone else so no one poses any real threat to him. He’s ripe for a foil, then – narratively speaking in desperate need of one – and fortunately history gives us an obvious candidate. Sherlock Holmes (Furukawa Makoto) finally makes his entrance (he’s never named but it’s obvious who he is), impressing the ladies with a parlor trick of guessing strangers’ occupations just by looking at them. He counts Moriarty among that number, but the latter proves he can give as good as he gets.
Will Sherlock prove to be the rival this series so desperately needs him to be? Based on his first appearance I’m not ready to say yes, because the way his interaction with William played out it struck me that pains were taken to show the latter getting the upper hand. This series has thus far shown an annoying tendency to make anyone in opposition to William as either cartoonishly evil (this ep’s sacrificial pig, Lord Enders, certainly qualifies) or a fool (IBID). This will only work if Sherlock is Moriarty’s equal – just as the Doyle novels worked because Moriarty was Holmes’. But I don’t know if this series has the confidence in itself to allow that to happen. Time will tell.
As for Enders, he’s yet another in a line of ludicrous caricatures set up to give William a target and to make him look good. Enders’ game is the most dangerous kind – he likes to hunt humans. Presumably Moriarty knew this and that’s why he chose him for this charade he’s putting on, but as tiresome as this – and he – is, at least it seems to be in the service of the main plot lumbering into motion. It’s already well-established that William is a serial murderer – at the very least we need to see him in the act of political subversion for there to be any chance that he’s a compelling and even marginally sympathetic protagonist.
「ノアティック号事件 第二幕」 (Noatikku Goujiken Dainimaku)
“The ‘Noahtic’ Act 2”
Onward we go. And all through Episode 8, Monty Python was all I could think of. First Graham Chapman encapsulating what this show has become in a nutshell:
And then this, which is the only other depiction of the British aristocracy I can recall which matches this show for gritty realism.
The whole thing with Count Enders, my God, how silly can silly be. I mean, Fred’s perfect impersonation of the victim, the complete lack of concern over the pools of blood which surely must have been left in Enders’ suite, the exquisite perfection with which all these unlikely events came together exactly as William intended… I’m all for suspension of disbelief but no, this is beyond the pale at this point. When you go that far out into the boonies, it’s hard to take any of this seriously enough to be vested in the outcome.
Still, a bigger problem is Enders himself. He’s symptomatic of the biggest problem Yuukoku no Moriarty seems to suffer from, at least in anime form – that lack of trust in the audience. All of Moriarty’s foes are so comically evil or insane (or both) that it’s impossible for any serious social commentary to take place. There’s a great premise here, if only the writing would let it play itself out. But so far, it’s only done so in the childhood arc – which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the series that was clearly an outlier narratively speaking.
Can Holmes save this budding trainwreck? He’s about the only thing I see which possibly could at this point. But again, that can only happen if the series trusts the audience and makes Sherlock a worthy foil for William. Doyle trusted his audience and made Moriarty Holmes’ equal – which was why that literary rivalry worked. If Yuukoku doesn’t do the same in reverse, and instead makes Holmes just another straw man for William to set alight, his arrival in the narrative will change nothing.
One other significant issue for me is that William’s brothers have completely faded into the background. Albert in theory should be the deuteragonist here, and in many ways his position is inherently even more interesting than William’s – but so far, he just pops up occasionally to let William know he’s greased the gears in whatever way instructed. And as for Louis, what does it say about William’s commitment to social egalitarianism that Louis is literally acting as his butler? Because all we’ve seen him do so far is make tea, open carriage doors, and generally be a gentleman’s gentleman.