Holmes of Kyoto – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Holmes, a young man whose family runs an antique shop in Kyoto, has the unique ability to read people and instantly distinguish genuine and high value antiques. When a local high school student, Aoi Maki, starts working alongside Holmes, together they begin to unravel the many mysteries surrounding the antiques brought to the shop. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: While the summary given for Holmes of Kyoto bills it as a mystery based show, its premiere episode is a lot more emotion driven and character-centric. Any deductions made by the titular character, Holmes is mainly regarding our heroine’s past heartbreak and current life situation or identifying the authenticity of an antique rather than in pursuit of a dangerous, heart pounding mystery. This may change over the course of the show, and seems likely due to the episode’s final minutes, but for the here and now, all you’re getting is character exploration.
Tom: Despite that more emotional, character driven focus, and a generally ho-hum Otome art style, Holmes of Kyoto’s first episode provides a very down to earth atmosphere, one focused on the relationship between Holmes and Aoi as they get to know one another and she gradually gets pulled into this world of antiques and counterfeits, which forms the backbone of this episode and I suspect the larger story going forward. Overall the series currently feels more laid back, content to keep its proceedings low-key and low energy. It’s not my cup of tea, but I can see how someone looking for an easier going show might appreciate this lukewarm atmosphere. That said, the show damages its own appeal twice in the episode, one that’s so at odds with the rest of the presentation I find it hard to recommend the series.
Linny: The first episode goes from fast forward to flashback, all over a period of ONLY TWO WEEKS, to set up its premise, which seems superfluous given how little time has passed in between these two time periods flashes and this only adds to the peculiar vibe. To expand upon Tom’s comment about the show being at odds with itself, the issue is that while most of the episode is somewhat laid back and gentle with drama centered on the reveal of Aoi’s heartbreak, the episode then introduces comically evil, cursing villain-like characters. These ‘villains’ go from being clueless counterfeiters to vendetta bearing criminals who have it in, specifically, for our titular Holmes character.
Tom: First there’s a moment with a man trying to sell Holmes a counterfeit, which ends with him doing a frantic run, like some villain out of an old superhero comic “You haven’t seen the last of me!” It’s weird, but hardly immersion breaking in and of itself. But as the sweet tone ends, with Aoi and Holmes forming a kind of Watson and Sherlock dynamic (which is entirely expected), the show takes a dramatic turn. The introduction of this comically evil baddie sets the tone so much darker and overblown, entirely against the grain of the earlier low-key, soft dramatic character work. It’s so at odds with everything else that it feels intensely out of place and far more hammy than anything to come before it.
Linny: Holmes of Kyoto is dripping with Shoujo vibes as can be seen in the image below with the usage of colorful lighting and framing often used in Shoujo to highlight attractive male characters. Holmes himself seems designed to be a draw for female viewers in general, with his pretty boy features and dress sense, which further adds to my beliefs that this show has a very particular audience in mind, one that’s here for the emotions rather than the mysteries.
Tom: I don’t think Holmes of Kyoto has the makings of a bad show. It’s likely more niche, aimed at a female viewer that views Holmes in the bubbly romantic nature the show casts him in. But not only does a viewer need to actively seek the undercurrent of romance between Aoi and Holmes, they need to desire a story where Antique counterfeits are treated as a seedy underworld den of evil, with individuals and shadowy groups seeking to undermine the noble establishment of appraisal. It’s decidedly silly and I think you need to be prepared for that should Holmes’ first episode’s final minutes be any indication of what the series will ultimately become.
Linny: Holmes of Kyoto isn’t my cup of tea, not because of any inherent flaws but more because of the type of content it has. It should still make for a lovely watch for those seeking a dreamy, emotional tale interspersed with (almost comically) villainous characters. If you enjoy a hint of flirtatious chemistry between your leads who also happen to be coworkers, and the thought of discovering all kinds of stories through the medium of antique inspection, maybe Holmes of Kyoto will turn out to be worthy of your time.
Holmes of Kyoto is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.