「 屋根裏の美少年 その１」 (Yaneura no Bishounen Sono Ichi)
“The Pretty Boy in the Attic (Part 1)”
For the sixth episode of Bishounen Tanteidan, the boys reach a mystery that is deeply rooted in aesthetics when they have to dissect why there’s a stash of famous paintings in their clubroom’s ceiling that were painted without people in the backgrounds. But while Sakiguchi once again had all of the answers on the artist’s identity, there was a nice effort on the behalf of the rest of the club to get a motive together.
You could tell with this episode that the animators were having a very good time with the material. While the closest the story initially got to Bakemonogatari was all of the wordplay, the sequence where Mayumi tried her damndest to avoid her responsibilities to clean up the clubroom reminded me a lot of something Araragi would do. Mayumi’s playful demeanor as she was trying to pump-fake Michiru without getting hit by Hyouta’s dropkick is the kind of hopeless, desperate move that Araragi would try if he was trying to avoid being caught doing something skeevy or having to handle supernatural nonsense.
But while many of the mysteries so far stretched the definition of “beauty”, this particular mystery is a little more on-the-nose about studying “beauty” as it pertains to artwork. With the main focus being on identifying who excluded people from the 33 famous paintings they replicated, we’re actually examining the reasons why someone would look at art in such a way that they would want to exclude people.
It’s at their brain-storming session where the animation has a little fun with it by having all of the characters drawn in an art style reminiscent of Panty & Stocking. That definitely reminded me of older Shaft anime where they’d just start drawing the characters to look like The Simpsons or Doraemon for kicks and giggles. It also made it hilarious to see how Mayumi was reacting to some of their more ludicrous theories like Hyouta claiming they didn’t draw people because the artist hates drawing people or Manabu assuming the paintings in the attic were all originals and the famous paintings we’re all familiar with were replicas this whole time.
It was a bummer that Sakiguchi let the cat out of the bag that he knew who drew it after everyone else went up and made a fool of themselves, but it was a nice way to introduce how the detectives would come together to address different ideas as to why these paintings exist. Michiru’s theory was quite impressive in that he figured the paintings were done as a subversive parody on the old pieces and of art itself by merely drawing the backgrounds without the people. I was a little let down though that Sosaku’s theory was basic with mere speculation that there are more paintings out there.
Mayumi’s would have been great if it didn’t get interpreted as “someone has abilities like mine,” because it could easily be an empathy issue that also aligns with Hyouta’s idea. If an artist is unable to understand people or finds it cumbersome to try to see through the point-of-view of the artworks’ original creators, it could easily be discouraging to try to capture the exact emotion the artists were going for. If they feel like they would be taking away a major factor of what gives meaning to such pieces by failing to replicate the human emotions captured in their artwork, then drawing merely the backgrounds would provide that much-needed distance.
And it would make sense given that the artist, Kowako Towai, is already an eccentric artist that never quite understood the standards she had to uphold as an educator. It would be easy to see that she couldn’t understand human emotions well if her gut reaction to the Fine Arts class being removed from the curriculum was to abduct all of the students on campus. I may be off my mark, but the one chest-high image we see of Towai does have hair that’s suspiciously close to Rei of the Twenties, so if they end up being the same person, that’d definitely explain the abduction plot. Either way, it should be interesting to see what comes of this investigation.