「シャーロック・ホームズの研究 第一幕」 (Shaarokku Houmuzu no Kenkyuu Daiichimaku)
“A Study in ‘S’ Act 1”
Or is that a hand?
It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been waiting with bated breath for this episode of Yuukoku no Moriarty. Because after a very solid start, the series has seemed to me very much stuck in a rut for the past several weeks. Instead of the subversive political drama I wanted, I was getting revenge porn executed by a smarmy and obnoxious sociopath. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get with Sherlock Holmes, but at the very least it was going to be something different. And from where we were, different was a chance worth taking.
We got a taste of Holmes’ character last week (briefly in Episode 6, even), but an entire episode featuring him as the protagonist this time. It’s no doubt a function about how salty I’m feeling about William and his circle that Holmes felt like a breath of fresh air, but is that all there was to it? Is this simply different, or was it better too? Honestly I’m not sure, because this certainly isn’t the Sherlock Holmes I know. Frankly he’s completely off-model character wise, as is everyone associated with him (apart from Watson possibly – too soon to tell there). But that’s not in itself a flaw, as dramatic license is certainly owed to the narrative. Sherlock being off-model may be a feature, not a bug. But it depends on how it plays out.
For those unfamiliar, these events are a rough retelling of Doyle’s first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet (thus the episode title, “A Study in S”). Holmes as portrayed here is basically a bum, which marks quite a change. He never pays his rent (“his payments were princely” is how Doyle’s Watson describes Holmes’ financial generosity with Mrs. Hudson) which gives his landlady no end of tsuris. Mrs. Hudson being turned into a young hottie who’s in love with Holmes is a big change too but hey – dramatic license. In this version Dr. John Watson (Ono Yuuki) is brought in as Sherlock’s roommate because that’s the only way Mrs. Hudson will get paid.
Holmes is a crime consultant for Scotland Yard of course – I don’t know how you could change that – and his first case with Watson is the same, the murder of a count named Enoch Debbers. Sherlock is transparently framed in a manner which would fool no one, except perhaps Assistant Inspector Gregson, who seizes on the opportunity to arrest Sherlock. This is ironic as Holmes (and Doyle) considered Gregson the smartest of the Scotland Yarders (though that’s not a high bar). More sympathetic is Inspector Lestrade, who clearly isn’t buying the fantasy that Sherlock (whose name was written in blood at the murder scene) killed Debbers.
Well, we know what’s happening here of course. Moriarty (who was not present in the original Study in Scarlet) is testing Holmes. He’s using someone who appears to be drawn on Jefferson Hope, which is an interesting amalgam of anachronistic Doyle story elements. Moriarty has good reasons to want to know what sort of man Holmes is, but the intriguing element is which ones are most important to him. Is he taking the measure of someone who might be his most dangerous foe, or testing the merits of a Bohemian he hopes might be sympathetic to his cause and a potential ally?
My take on all this is that it was a bit of a mess, but an entertaining one. William is so arrogant and drear that this rather buffoonish version of Holmes provided a welcome change, which I suppose may be exactly the point. This episode was, for me, way more fun than any of the recent stretch, both by dint of Sherlock’s personality and the deeper dive (albeit funhouse mirror style) into Doyle’s mythology. The danger of course is that Holmes isn’t the protagonist here, William is. So how Holmes is used going forward is going to be very telling as far as the ultimate success or failure of Moriarty the Patriot is concerned.
This episode was pretty boring and anticlimatic to me, but it is just a setup so I guess we’ll have to see where it goes.
“I was getting revenge porn executed by a smarmy and obnoxious sociopath.”
I suggest to check out the manga. They cut a LOT of William’s characterization to make him more “mysterious” and “cooler” which IMO wrecked his character a bit (I’ve seen people thinking William sees Sherlock as a “rival” and that’s off, both Sherlock and William, or “Liam” as he calls him, see each other as good friends – it’s a star-crossed friendship).
For example in the couple arc, William is especially disgusted and empathetic about the way the farmers are treated in those lands. He gets inwardly angry when he noticed they came to give the little they could gather as “rent” and asks Albert to change the tax system which he agrees. He pays attention on the cuts of their hands, the empty distrustful gazes. The little moments like this is what builds William as a too empathetic person who hides behind a mask and a role.
The Baron wasn’t friendly with them but SUPER pissed that they lowered the tax of their land making it cheaper and now the poor people he was exploiting wanted lower rent or they would leave, so he was high blood pressure all the arc and was pestering them to rise the taxes again. It’s not just about the couple, they were the last push, but a built up how the brothers set an example to make a harmonious village but the show crippled that arc.
Sure he gets smarmy and smirky when he kills irredeemable rich dudes but they are frankly the type anyone would get. He’s especially happy the young nobles he teaches are good people for all their flaws and wants to protect them and hope they’ll rebuild the world. He is a death seeker who will sell his soul and bloody his hands for the sake of the country.
They also cut out all Albert’s arc with Mycroft, but I bet is due to IP, and international location (Albert literally becomes “M” and founds the MI6 to serve Her Majesty, yes James Bond stuff crossovers with Sherlock Holmes).
By the way, another thing the show changed is that Watson is “Sir Conan Doyle” and he wrote a idealization of Holmes’ cases as a way for Holmes to get credit that always go to the Yard (the show changed that) including his famous clothes. He once dresses him up as that to greet the crowd who liked the book he published.
So in-universe the novels are a loose Watson’s retelling that’s meant to embellish Holmes.