OP2: 「TWISTED HEARTS」 by (Tasuku Hatanaka)
「大英帝国の醜聞 第一幕」 ()
“A Scandal in the British Empire Act 1”
Yuukoku no Moriarty is a true split cour, so this week’s return feels less like a premiere and more like the next episode after a peculiarly long break. And that’s perfectly fine, as I’ve never felt the need for extensive recaps and such after one-cour breaks. Let’s just jump right back into the story, which is exactly what Moriarty did. And in point of fact that story was getting pretty darn good by the time the first cour ended, so it’s very nice to jump back into.
We learned a fair bit over the course of the first season, not least that A.C. Doyle was correct about Moriarty – he works better as a foil than he does as a protagonist. That’s why the arrival of Holmes and Watson blew through this series like a refreshing breeze in a stuffy room. And while the dynamic is still not perfect (or I should say that for me, the characterizations aren’t quite right) the show has worked far better once the duo was in place. Add in Mycroft – albeit with a serious ikemen infusion from how Doyle drew him – and most of the major pieces are now on the board.
We begin the second cour with the series’ take on “A Scandal in Bohemia”, one of the earliest (the third overall and first short) Holmes stories, and considered by Doyle himself one of the best. It didn’t include Moriarty (though he was added to a stage version decades after Doyle’s passing) but there’s no rule saying this show can’t take as many liberties as it wants. And Moriarty is the one whose name is in the title, after all. The Moriarty connection here is that Mycroft orders Albert to retrieve the papers queen Victoria told him had been stolen, and to liquidate the person that stole them.
Interesting dynamic here. Doyle wrote Mycroft to be smarter even than Sherlock, and “the most important man in Britain” despite a lack of ambition and drive. Here, Sherly himself says Mycroft “is the government”, and there’s no reason to think Yuukoku paints him as any less brilliant. Yet he seems unaware that Albert is an insurgent, or at the very least he’s done nothing to indicate otherwise. Mycroft clearly knows the thief is going to contact Sherlock – he effectively warns him to beware of her – and so indeed does William, after Albert passes on Mycroft’s story.
As for the thief, she’s Irene Adler (Hikasa Youko, perpetually one of the busiest seiyuu around), who would go on to be one of the Holmes mythology’s most popular characters despite this being her only appearance. She’s a former diva from New Jersey who now lives as one of Europe’s top socialites, and she does indeed contact Holmes. She does so disguised as King Wilhelm of Bohemia (which technically did exist as a kingdom until 1918 despite effectively disappearing in the 18th Century). This is all a ruse – for reasons not yet clear – to get Holmes to contact Irene, who the “King” says is using a photo of the two of them to blackmail him on the eve of his impending marriage.
If we are to conclude the photo story is a lie and the stolen papers the truth, the question becomes just what Irene wants of Holmes here. The Moriarty brothers (I still don’t really understand why the egalitarian Moriarty forces his brother to be a butler) assume she’s trying to make as much noise as possible in London to prevent the government from openly moving against her, but she doesn’t obviously need Sherlock to do that. Their primary interest is in whatever crucial info is in the stolen papers – which Mycroft pointedly refuses to reveal to Albert, despite (as Albert notes) the fact that if he succeeds in his task he’ll likely find out anyway.
As for Sherlock, here as in Doyle he’s clearly quite fascinated with Irene. She doesn’t match the profile he formed in his mind, which is understandable under the circumstances as she herself planted it – and it does perhaps undercut Holmes’ character a bit (an intermittent problem for this series) that Sherlock would be fooled by her disguise. Her behavior in coming to the aid of a young woman pushed into a canal by this week’s token evil aristocrats clearly surprises him, and he struggles to reconcile what his mind is telling him with what his eyes are heart see.
All in all, this was quite a solid start. Coming as it does on the heels of quite a solid finish to the first cour, the narrative momentum here is plenty strong enough to drive the series forward. I still see pitfalls, most obviously Yuukoku’s tendency to diminish Holmes in order to make Moriarty look stronger (something Doyle never needed to do despite Moriarty being plenty strong in his version). But their relationship is still a fascinating one, as is William’s political agenda, and I’m curious to see if Yuukoku no Moriarty (which is an ongoing manga, for the record) can stitch all this together while still remaining somewhat faithful to Doyle’s vision of the characters.
ED2: 「OMEGA」 () by (STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION)