Title: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural
Summary: In order to help a friend possessed by a spirit, Ozawa Haruka knocks on the door of her university’s movie research association. There she meets Saitou Yakumo, a rude, unkempt young man with a red left eye, who is said to have spiritual powers. At first Haruka is skeptical, but she comes to believe him when he conveys messages from her older sister, who died when she was a child. Together, they work to shed light on the terrifying events happening at their university.
Review: What did I think about this anime.. Hmm… I may need some time to think about that. You see the problem I had with this anime is the level of enjoyment throughout the series. The very first episode I found it very entertaining and couldn’t wait for more. But then the second, third, and fourth episode were a bit boring. Then suddenly again the series got entertaining, then back to boring, the ending with entertaining. I think the series’ entertaining ending played a large role in the rating because it is obviously the thing I remember the most. Thankfully the screenshots gave me a refresher so I think the rating is still fair.
Diving right into the story is probably the best because it was where most of the meat was. Shinrei Tantei Yakumo was quite a bit different than the rest of the Fall 2010 anime. Its genre was unique compared to the other series which basically freed it from immediate comparison. Being the only mystery anime was a definite added bonus for me because I love a good mystery. It also mixed in a little horror which lately has caught my attention (been watching Serial Experiments Lain, Boogiepop Phantom, etc.). In terms of mysteries it did have its fair share of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing. Unfortunately I got a little lost because I’m terrible at keeping up with names and I would need to create a diagram to remember how everyone was related. Almost all the twists were revealed in the form of dialogue and not action. I’m all for dialogue, but with so many characters I couldn’t catch the full story. I’m not sure if it was because the names didn’t stand out to me, if the series was boring at times, or if I’m just terrible at names. I’m going to guess my inability to remember names on this one. The story wasn’t quick paced, a little slow maybe, but overall progressed at a reasonable speed. The first couple episodes introduce you to the characters, and reveal a bit about their pasts. You can also start to see an underlying plot developing from the get-go. On the plus side, each episode had its significance. Although it isn’t till the end when you find out why exactly these supernatural events are being triggered and effecting humans, the mini-stories are still entertaining. That being said, I actually found the main story a little weak. Sure it gave rhyme and reason for the previous episodes, but all that build up ended with more of a fizzle than a bang. This is probably because most of the main story consisted of the characters running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It seemed like someone was always in a chase but had no idea where they were going. After completing the series I realized that I would have preferred short stories instead of leading up to one big story. That is probably the reason I was hooked into the series right when it started and began to lose interest along the way. Thankfully the series wasn’t very long (thirteen episodes), so it didn’t bore me to death, just a boredom that periodically drifted me in and out of reality.
The characters were pretty good in Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. The main character is a seemingly heartless male that couldn’t be bothered with trivial tasks. He was found by his opposite: a happy, caring girl that wanted to open that shell of his. I’m not sure how I felt about the main female lead, because I know I would get annoyed with a girl always trying to open me up, but she seemed to be alright. Overall I liked the two main characters and relationship. There was one thing that bothered me about Yakumo, however, and that was his contact lense. I don’t been the reasoning behind it, but the fact that it kept coming out. I swear it was like every episode some event would pop the lense out of his eye to reveal his crimson secret. I don’t personally wear contacts, but I’m pretty sure they don’t just fall out at the drop of a hat. And how does he keep managing to find it? There is no way he has that many because those are bloody expensive. Well other than this unlikely couple, the support characters weren’t all that great. Of course the series didn’t care much to make them likable, and did a decent job giving some background knowledge, so that is to be expected. However, there was one that I wanted to make note of, and that was Nao Saito. You would figure that a girl who has absolutely zero lines can’t be that great, but something about her just made smile. Her cute and strong attitude made the series all the better. Every time she showed up on the screen I was ready to be struck with emotion. A part of me feels that her silence was her strong point. She had to convey all her feelings through action instead of words, and her mystical ability to sense someone’s emotions or intentions made her a little more special.
The art style and soundtrack weren’t anything to take note of. The opening was good and I loved the animation, but I doubt I will continue to listen it. The art wasn’t bad, but nothing great either. I liked the lighting effects and the way spirits were drawn. You could sense the dark aura surrounding a possessed human and get chills from the distorted figures. The way the series sort of “took you behind” Yakumo’s crimson eye was a nice touch. But honestly it isn’t that impressive if the only real difference is making the rest of the world red around the spirits. Both forms of media were average at best. They aren’t something you would bring up at a dinner conversation at least. Then again, I’m not sure how many times families bring up anime during a dinner conversation.
Final statements: The series wasn’t terrible and I enjoyed parts of it. I was more interested in the individual stories than the big picture though. I would say a low priority watch for the couple horror scenes and not a bad mystery. In terms of mysteries and horrors overall, however, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo isn’t close to the top.