With the return of Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited, everything I was following (or considering) from the spring has either finished or resumed – with one exception. That’s a big one, Kingdom, but as we have no word whatsoever on its status we need to take what we can get. And in the arid desert of this summer season, ever a brackish puddle can seem like a verdant oasis. Or is that just a mirage brought on my thirst and desperation?
The truth is, after three episodes I’m rather enjoying The Millionaire Detective. In spite of its absurdity – or perhaps because of it? Truthfully I think it’s a little of both. There’s certainly no question that this show is absurd, patently and gloriously so. It piles unrealistic plot on top of unrealistic tech on top of unrealistic behavior, but does it so unapologetically that it’s sort of charming. As with any anime adapted from a novel I always wonder how closely this one tracks with the novel, but if the source material was this flip and irreverent it’s certainly an oddball among cop novels.
The two leads are both relatively interesting, which undeniably helps a lot. We get a bit of background into both of them here, first as Katou pays a visit to Daisuke’s family home and we meet his grandmother. She seems to be the only one who can put him off balance (no pun intended), and Katou exacerbates the situation by being a little too truthful about Daisuke’s spending habits at work (it’s not the money that bothers the old lady, but the ostentatiousness). As for Katou, we get a closer look at what it was that drive him out of the First Division. To wit, a bank robbery which ended badly when he shot (and seemingly killed) an employee working as an accomplice who pointed a weapon at him. Not Katou’s fault, but you could see where that would seriously mess with his head.
This week’s drama takes place on the Shinkansen to Nagoya, where Katou is seated next to a young man (played by Murase Ayumu) who’s just failed his college entrance exam. Katou being the empathetic sort he is befriends the lad, and is thus hugely surprised to hear after disembarking that he’s pulled a gun and taken hostages on the train. Somehow the First Division guys are there in like three minutes – I’m not quite sure how that works – and after humiliating Katou as usual he leaves the scene. That is until Daisuke shows up (again, how did he get there so quickly?) and provides Katou with the chance to do what he loves more than anything – meddle.
None of this is remotely believable. Not the premise of the kid staging a video so he could collect a prize for 10 million hits, not the old ladies on the train ganging up on him so they could get to their geriatric idol concert, not the methodology Daisuke uses to intervene. But viewed strictly as a farce, it’s pretty entertaining. Clearly gritty realism is not the intended tone here (and a good thing, too) but there’s enough recognizably human in the way Katou responds to what life throws at him to at least keep you somewhat engaged. No desert paradise, Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited is at least not a mud puddle either – something in-between those extremes. For now, that’s good enough.