「「きみだけに光かがやく暗黒星」その１」 (Kimi Dake ni Hikari Kagayaku Ankokusei” Sono Ichi)
“The Dark Star that Shines for You Alone – Part 1”
Back when Bakemonogatari’s anime adaptation came out, it was a proof-of-concept that Studio Shaft’s vibrant, esoteric visuals meshed very well with the lengthy monologues and witty wordplay of author NisiOisin. With Bishounen Tanteidan, it’s a reunion that is more than welcome as the dashing, expressive artwork works well with one of the author’s more experimental stories that accurately embraces the ideals of the detectives’ love for beauty.
The plot of the first episode might only be the first part of the introduction to its main characters, but the wordy script gives you a pretty decent gist on who each of the detectives is. You’ve got Manabu the Aesthete, the leader and glue that holds everything together, Nagahiro the Orator, an eloquent former student council president, Michiru the Epicure, an intimidating chef who has funny insults in his utility belt, Sosaku the Artiste, an artist who captures the immaculate beauty that the guys hold their standards to, and Hyota the Adonis, a track prodigy who enjoys flashing his legs as much as he loves capoeira.
It helps that the story’s main character, Mayumi Dojima, acts as the straight person in this situation, looking at the Pretty Boy Detectives as overindulgent and pompous. It’s amusing to see how satisfied she gets when she tries to come up with new ways to tell them off. But even though she’s initially hard on them, she also sees that they are still empathetic of where she’s coming from, especially since they find her mystery to be the right kind of beauty that attracted their attention.
With a cast of eccentric guys obsessed with beauty, it could easily come off like a big goofy parody of Otome series’. But what makes this anime fun is how it leans into its premise by making its definition of beauty no joke. The approach Shaft took with the animation for Bishounen Tanteidan combines the flashy decadence of the guys’ lifestyles with the dream-like picture book aesthetic of Mayumi’s flashbacks. It helps give us a glimpse of how far they’ve come from the olden days of red, white, and black placeholder messages in between sequences and calls attention to both the high definition polish of their newer shows and their willingness to experiment with their animation as they did in older Shaft series.
Similarly, the obsession that the Pretty Boy Detectives have with beauty isn’t merely a celebration of pure vanity, nor does it show that there is no personality or depth to any of them beyond their looks. In fact, the first episode goes out of its way to get us to learn more about Michiru. His standoffish nature helps him make use of humorous metaphors and insults, but at the same time, he is the most down-to-earth member of the quintet.
He gives Mayumi a well-put rundown of the value that each guy brings to the team, emphasizing that their expertise is in discovering and appreciating both inner and outer beauty in their own specialized way. Even though Mayumi is quick to assume that the group is out of touch due to their current wealth, Michiru points out that because he didn’t use to be well-off, he places a high value on food, making him want to seek out a way of cooking to bring out a sense of inner beauty that would be enough for anyone from his friends to Mayumi to be overwhelmed by the beauty brought out from his food.
Overall, Bishounen Tanteidan’s first episode was a fun experience that embraces its goofy premise from a wholly earnest point of view. Additionally, it does justice to the Pretty Boy Detectives’ taste in decadence by combining polished, elaborate animation with the script’s verbose overindulgence. It might not be for everyone considering how both Shaft’s obnoxiously abstract visuals and NisiOisn wordy prose are notorious for having divisive reception. But they both strike a chord with me giving how ambitious the two are, and Bishounen Tanteidan itself has plenty of potential to be an interesting, compelling, comedic, and, dare I say, beautiful mystery anime.
ED:「Beautiful Reasoning」by Bishounen Tanteidan