The Case Files of Jeweler Richard – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: One night, a college student with a strong sense of justice, Seigi Nakata, saved a gorgeous foreigner, Richard, who was being harassed by some drunks. When Seigi found out that Richard was a jeweler, he asked for an appraisal on a ring with a shady history; one which his grandmother had kept secret until she died. The appraisal had revealed her past, truth, and desire. It led Seigi to work as a part-time employee for Richard’s jewelry store, the “Jewelry Etranger” in Ginza. While solving various “mysteries”, the relationship between Richard and Seigi gradually changes. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The Case Files of Jeweler Richard opened with a somewhat impressive and engaging first episode, one that brought attention to the mistreatment of women in society and told a touching tale of forgiveness and fate. That left me eager to see where Jeweler Richard was heading, but unfortunately, six episodes in and that premiere now feels like a misleading fluke. While the show continues telling one off tales revolving around a different gem stone each episode, every narrative feels weaker than the last. Often each outing suffers either from far too much emotion or significance put upon these gemstones, likely in an attempt to be topical and deep, or the emotional human aspect or topic broached is treated in a very dismissive manner that fails to leave much, if any, impact.
Tom: Jeweler Richard just does not hold up. It doesn’t help that these stories lean towards contrived, with customers putting a disturbing level of importance into the jewelry within their possession. Often these stories do have positive messages, believing in one’s self, preaching against judgement, etc. They’re even heartwarming messages, but there’s this constant tint of contrivance that simply taints the whole thing and prevents Jeweler Richard from feeling near as poignant as it believes itself to be. The trouble is that Jeweler Richard, as a concept, doesn’t lend itself favorably to one off tales like this. Either we have this level of contrivance or Richard and Seigi end up being busy bodies always poking their noses into their clients business. A balance between the two might’ve been the best bet, and by going so forcefully into the contrivance of everyone’s issues being so intrinsically tied to their gemstones you come up with an end product that borders on laughable, rather than something dramatic and deep.
Linny: From a young boy attempting to get his hands on a matching stone due to a missing pet, to a young closeted woman trying to decide if she should submit to a life of strict social conformity based on whether the gem her fiance gifted her has been heat treated or not, the contrivance is palpable. The attempt to always tie these stories with the gem stone in question often ends up hampering the tone and weight of the emotions and dilemmas being presented. For example, the latter story above is a very serious tale following a young woman’s predicament about hiding her true sexual orientation in order to fit into society is something likely to connect with some viewers. Yet by making her decision weigh so heavily on how a stone was treated makes it feel fickle and it doesn’t help that the show spends more time exploring the stone than the woman. Instead of fleshing out the characters, we will often spend several minutes describing the origin, nature, type and value of the gem then throw in some hamfisted emotional scenes in what often feels like a half baked attempt to wrap the narrative up as fast as possible. But that seems just the tip of the iceberg. Episode 6 sees the show jump wildly in tone, starting as an unfortunate tale about a women’s lover turning out to be a scam artist, into focusing solely on Richard and Seigi pulling off a scam of their own to try and curb a fake jewel scam ring.
Tom: I think the underlying issue is how ingrained jewels are into the narrative. There’s a level of importance inscribed to gemstones that I don’t think most people agree with or can even realistically entertain. It would be okay if some of the episodes involved characters who see gemstones as deeply and metaphorical as Richard does himself, but for every character they bump into to end up so passionate and trapped by the gemstone’s ‘truth?’ Perhaps this show’s absurd romanticization of gem stones is best exemplified with the fake jewel scam ring plot. Richard, after confronting the scammers in his own con, gives a long-winded, passionate speech concerning gemstones, their deeper meaning, and how it reflects poorly on our villains of the week. It’s absolutely absurd, yet somehow shames our scammers into shutting down their operation entirely. In reality such a ploy would never work, but because the series paints gemstones as the end all be all it makes sense within the show’s framework, but still remains a large pill to swallow if one is supposed to take Jeweler Richard at all seriously.
Linny: It shouldn’t surprise viewers that as The Case Files of Jeweler Richard progresses we start to reveal Richard’s true past. In a show that relies so heavily on human drama to push gems, it’s to be expected that its main character will be given some tragic or twisted backstory. However, amongst all the one off dramatic tales about customers that range from touching to absurd, this dive into Richard’s past feels abrupt and wholly out of place. The chaotic storytelling and mishmash of various vibes and tones from episode to episode makes for a rather uneven experience, one that is hard to recommend to the general anime viewer. Unless you are drawn in by the character designs and are willing to overlook or enjoy the insane devotion to gem stone appreciation throughout the show, it might be best to leave this one off your watch list.
Tom: Perhaps the most damning failing of the series though is the relationship between Seigi and Richard. By episode 6 both characters largely remain the men we met in Episode 1, and despite the synopsis above indicating the two growing closer, and their relationship changing, nothing feels dramatically different. There’s some character work every episode, but it rarely feels deep, or meaningful, instead becoming a weak way to tie Richard and Seigi to whatever the weak’s drama entails. Episode 6’s dive into Richard’s past is clearly the real start of the character’s journey, but it feels late, pushing much needed, deep character work back until the ‘last minute.’ The series would rather spend time treating you to facts about gemstones and jewelry than it would growing its main characters, and that’s where I think Jeweler Richard is going to lose a lot of people.
The Case Files of Jeweler Richard is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.