Title: Yuukoku no Moriarty / Moriarty the Patriot
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Year of release: 2020
Suppose that I give you the choice of experiencing two hypothetical scenarios. Don’t fret over it too much for they’re tangential to this series we will eventually get to reviewing, but humour me for a while. Both scenarios are train journeys; on my right is a journey where you travel mostly through dark, dank tunnels, and you see little to no scenery, moreover, you do not sit with a friend or an interesting fellow to keep you company; on my left is a journey with a kindly fellow who recounts their journeys through the world, but before you can hear how they ultimately defeated the terrorist uprising in a foreign land to save the day, the train veers wildly off the tracks and comes to a halt. Nobody is harmed(!), but your journey is ruined. Now, I am not going to ask which journey you would rather because we are not discussing getting to the destination. Destination is, actually, irrelevant. In this scenario, I am going to ask which you would be more likely to remember (indeed, fondly or otherwise) the next week.
Routine train journeys, such as the ones I just described, are not things we are likely to keenly remember. My hypothesis, as drawn out as my abstract to lead us to this point may be, is thus: entertainment, be it good or bad, is not something we watch to see succeed, to get to its ultimate destination; entertainment is something we see to remember, discuss and hold dear. The large amount of critics fiercely defending their ‘lovable trash’ is anecdotal evidence that I’m sure you have perused once or twice before. Perfection is not a quality to disregard, not by any means, but even the most flawed of entertainment finds something even more desirable in the act of failure: that is, a soul.
We’ve come a long way for me to say that Yuukoku no Moriarty is, indeed, one such unimpressionable anime. There is only one way that I can describe it: elementary.
Yuukoku no Moriarty is a perspective shift on the classic detective novels. Instead of seeing how our intelligent detective sees through the mirages to solve the riddles and bring the criminal to justice, Moriarty is a criminal consultant. Effectively, William Moriarty, a privileged, pretty blonde boy with a pretty, blonde butler, folds his legs and sips tea as he deciphers heinous crimes in the weekly news spreads. His morals are something we should supposedly grapple with as, instead of alerting the police, he confronts the victim’s family and asks what they would like to do in retaliation.
With crimes such as a child abductor, who rapes and tortures his finds, I struggled to mount much of an argument at this perverted criminal’s off-screen slaughter. Am I supposed to mourn when you kill this undeveloped bastard? The game is over before it’s even afoot.
The moral dilemma is political, but not emotional, resonating or indeed, memorable. This is a similar setup to the rather excellent Jigoku Shoujo, but the moral development is in that show’s favour – it shows, albeit with supernatural phenomena, the price one pays for vengeance, as well as more intricate moral dilemmas. In this show, Moriarty lets our mostly-justified criminal go off the hook in his ‘perfect crime’. There is no repercussion, and nobody cares to address the missing nobleman. This perfect crime is awfully convenient by my standards.
It’s a shame that the writing is so mechanical since the production is strong, but, again, not noteworthy. The animation is consistently appeasing, but unlike other shows this season such as Sigrdrifa, there is not a noteworthy animation sequence to capture awe; unlike Adachi to Shimamura and its impressive cinematographic ideas, the few times that Moriarty no Yuukoku attempts to depict murders non-graphically, it plays it safe by showing uninspired gargoyles watching over, which is effective – but uninspired. Music is forgettable.
But, at the end of the day, I am still a detective, attempting to uncover the heart of this show. Unfamiliar as I am with the source material, I have learned that this opening episode is in fact anime original. I could point to Lord El Melloi II’s Case Files as a detective show with equally excellent anime original numbers to counteract this point, but perhaps there will be a quality shift when this simply-acceptable anime shifts tracks. And I hope that change moves up the schedule without delay, since I’d rather this adequate, acceptable show crash than just punch my ticket again. Dare for me, Moriarty. Dare for me.