「ぺてん師と空気男と美少年 その 2」 (Petenshi to Kuuki Otoko to Bishounen Sono Ni)
“The Swindler, the Vanishing Man, and the Pretty Boys (Part 2)”
Episode 05 of Bishounen Tanteidan brings an end to the Reasonable Doubt casino when Mayumi and her fellow detectives have a reason of their own to finally go after Fudatsuki for cheating. But with Kamikazari Middle School’s connection to the courier syndicate the Twenties being strong, with or without Fudatsuki’s casino, there’s reason to believe it wouldn’t be the last instance where they’re lead into yet another mystery that could potentially endanger people on a global scale.
The biggest kernel of information that should prove to be interesting is how Kamikazari Middle School now has a target on their back based on their deep connection to the Twenties. With the satellite fiasco still fresh in the detectives’ minds, the Twenties and their interest in getting involved with geopolitics is something they intend on treading lightly in. But with their ties to Kamikazari, they are bringing the fight even closer to the detectives by courting Fudatsuki both to test out invisible gear intended for military use and to attach themselves to someone interested in influencing Yubiwa Academy Middle School from the inside out.
But unfortunately, the detectives being more acutely aware of the Twenties and aiming to nip Fudatsuki’s deal with them in the bud has a trade-off since now both parties are even more aware that Mayumi could see through their invisible gear. The military complex needing to iron out their invisible gear might have been one thing, but now, they will have much more intent on trying to jam her vision so that they’ll be able to skirt past her as they continue to affect life at the academy. On top of all of this, the conclusion of this arc only makes it apparent that Fudatsuki and those associated with him still intend to continue to challenge them considering how her vision ended up not being able to pick up a reading on him once he fled from their meet-up.
Ultimately, the most fascinating aspect of the episode is how much the detectives’ battle with Fudatsuki ends up being a battle between the beauty of objectivity and the swindling that can redefine and jam what can and can’t be seen by the invisible eye. The quote “What is essential is invisible to the eye” from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is tossed around a number of times in the episode but interpreted in two different ways.
From Fudatsuki’s perspective, beauty is a fleeting feeling that comes and goes, much like a striking experience you can feel by embracing a moment rather than a sight. Since his expertise is swindling, the beauty you can see is superficial and can be easily replicated or manipulated into something with far less luster than you think. It’s a “glass half empty” definition of beauty that revels more in beauty as a sensation. A bite of cake that is decadent at first, but melts away once the flavor is lost from your tongue. The beauty you’re aware of would be a parlor trick with Fudatsuki’s mindset because it’s supposed to be. The art of the swindle is in hiding your intentions and creating satisfaction from details that were never supposed to exist to begin with.
On the other hand, Manabu’s interpretation of Saint-Exupéry’s quote is more along the lines of what the book was going for and what the Pretty Boy Detectives have been preaching about for the past few episodes. Although physical beauty is breath-taking, true beauty comes from within, and because of that, what makes something beautiful comes from what a person, place, or thing makes you feel. How they affect you can shape how you see them, and what changes our perception and strikes us is what compels us to want to cherish them. It’d be a “glass half full” definition that feeds into the detectives’ motives for unveiling the fraud. What they find fascinating is what is invisible to the naked eye, and exposing it would help others see what they find so unique about such hidden mysteries.
This especially ties into Mayumi’s struggle where she only finds the truth by looking within herself and examining why she wants to use her skill of seeing the unseeable. In this case, “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” plays into the importance placed on what Mayumi is trying to see. The thirst for knowledge and the desire for acknowledgment is recognized by the satisfaction she gets from joining the others in reveling in the beautiful mysteries they uncover. That companionship ends up being the kind of emotion that is discussed in The Little Prince and why peering into one’s true nature not only allows her to be on their same wavelength about beauty but also allows her to objectively see the true nature of how others interact with her, aiding her as she unveils who they really are and what their intentions would be.
Much of the fun might come from unpacking this episode’s prose, but there were also plenty of hilarious moments that gave you a gist of how the main characters interact. For instance, it was funny to hear that Mayumi kept calling Michiru “Mr. Delinquent” in her head so often she accidentally ended up calling him that directly to his face as she admonished him for not exposing him before they could get the crowd on their side. I also laughed at Hyouta’s irrational excitement when he heard that the Twenties were involved because he really wanted to see Rei again and admire how attractive she looked. They’re little small quirky things that reel you in as they lay out so much exposition, story, and a plethora of details that would allow them to solve this episode’s mystery.