The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED – Anime Review
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Synopsis: Detective Daisuke Kanbe has no problems using his own fortune to solve crimes even if he assesses human lives based on their financial worth. Compassionate Haru Kato sees all life as sacred and is sickened by Daisuke’s materialistic ways. Can they stop butting heads and overcome their opposing world views for the sake of solving the toughest crimes in the precinct? (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: The Millionaire Detective starts off almost comically, with each episode taking an over the top and often hilarious approach to taking down criminals, and near always ending with a nice and neat happy wrap up for everyone involved, even if sometimes it didn’t always feel rational or appropriate. Stories would sometimes suffer plot holes but thanks to the zany, goofy nature of everything else, it was easy to brush off or ignore because you’re clearly not meant to be taking any of it seriously. The criminals themselves would occasionally even be revealed to be somewhat likeable; such as committing the crime in desperation to earn funds for a beloved family member’s medical expenses. It was amusing to watch the show playing around with the absurdity of Daisuke’s wealth and his novel crime solving methods like paying a famous boy band to cancel their concert and instead hold an impromptu performance for a carriage full of hostages, which in turn distracts the perpetrator and allows the police to take him down. Had The Millionaire Detective stuck to this episodic ‘formula’, it might have easily ended up as a decently recommendable show. I could have praised it as something you watch for its outrageous story lines, something to chuckle at occasionally and never have to think too hard over, likely something you put on when you just want to have a carefree watch at the end of a busy day.
Tom: Unfortunately, once Episode 6 hits The Millionaire Detective changes tune entirely. Gone is the silly, whimsical nature that enamored us, instead replaced with Daisuke’s fervent quest to learn the truth to his parent’s murders. It’s a fine enough switch, but one that requires a baseline level of quality in order for it to work. And that’s where Millionaire Detective finds itself in a tough spot; it doesn’t have the strong, tight writing required to pull something like this off. Prior to Episode 6 the series is riddled with plot holes, contrivances, and more that keep The Millionaire Detective from ever feeling like a well told story. Because of the series’ more jovial nature it’s easy to overlook these flaws at first. Millionaire Detective’s bickering, awkward lead duo were fun enough to paper over those issues, allowing the show to coast on, even with such uneven writing. But once Millionaire Detective shifts gears into something altogether more serious it really needed a stronger foundation than what the first five episodes provide. Once Kanbe and Haru aren’t allowed to be quite so silly together a lot of the fun disappears, and it’s not like the writing suddenly gets tighter alongside this shift.
Linny: It truly becomes that much harder to ignore plot holes and contrivances that might’ve been overlooked when the show was originally so much more goofy. Early on you could laugh it off as something needed to make the silly situation work, it’s a lot more challenging when the show is playing everything as straight laced and serious. The show also truly starts to push the boundaries of what Daisuke’s immense wealth is capable of. It goes from hiring boy bands on the spot or bribing the city to urgently raise a draw bridge to having VR so advanced, that it’s able to fool someone so thoroughly as to extract a damning confession. Given that up until now, the show seemed to be somewhat loosely set in close to current time and levels of tech, it starts to really push the boundaries of what tech can do. It goes from Daisuke can buy his way into anything to Daisuke can literally do anything. The wealth is no longer the star but rather all this sudden new fangled, extremely fantastical, loosely sci-fi tech that the show jams in as and when needed, with zero precedence. Daisuke goes from being a smug rich guy to James Bond from the very advanced future. The Millionaire Detective begins demanding that the viewer dive head first into this suddenly very serious show all while throwing the most absurd and unbelievable tech at you, and it all becomes a bit too much, too soon.
Tom: Switching gears from Daisuke’s sci-fi tech a minute, let’s talk about our other lead, Haru. Haru Kato is the kind of washed out detective who really gives the story a traditional ‘buddy cop’ feel. Early on we learn that a previous incident pushed Haru from the heights of his career to the bottom of the barrel he finds himself in now. When he meets Daisuke it’s reasonable to assume that Haru is going to learn something from Daisuke, and vice versa, completing the two as competent officers of the law. But, by show’s end, that’s not really true. For one, Haru’s problem, once revealed in full, feels difficult to identify with. Haru ended up killing a woman in the line of duty, but the circumstances revolving around it make the situation completely justified. This isn’t the struggle of an officer who took an innocent live by mistake, but one who was forced to when they pulled a gun on him. The show never makes a direct address to him overcoming the problem, or re-contextualizing his failing into making him then a better cop. Rather the end result is he just, kind of, works around it? At the same time, Haru never seems to teach Daisuke anything, who uses his unlimited bank account at every turn, not once mastering any kind of lesson about what it means to be a police officer, outside of arresting criminals. This makes both character feels utterly stagnant, and the journey from Episode 1 to end bordering on pointless.
Linny: On the topic of woefully under-serviced elements, part of the show’s 180 transformation into a serious crime/conspiracy show involves a random supporting cast member suddenly taking center stage with absolutely zero set up. He goes from barely featuring or standing out in prior episodes to having two entire episodes almost completely devoted to him and his past, while our starting, starring leads, Haru and Daisuke are both suddenly completely out of the picture. It all happens so suddenly and randomly that it feels less like a shocking reveal and more of a poorly implemented twist that blindsided the audience. And because we have had so little interaction with this particular character previously, it feels hard to care about his backstory and whatever he was involved in out of the blue now that we’re halfway into the series.
Tom: Production Value wise, The Millionaire Detective actually holds up pretty well all season long. There’s never really a ‘budget’ episode where every one is off model or the show turns into a parade of talking heads with minimal movement. That said, the direction often compounds some of the show’s greater troubles with internal logic and contrivances. There’s quite a few sequences, particularly towards the end of the season, where logic goes out the window for the way events play out. Action sequences don’t hold up even under immediate scrutiny, which only makes it that much harder to take Millionaire Detective’s serious nature that, well, seriously.
Linny: It feels like a true shame that The Millionaire Detective is such a split personality show, especially when its sombre latter half feels harder to take seriously than its wacky first half. Maybe if it had continued with its one off stories about handling crime and doling out justice in the most inventive and decadent ways, this show could have ended up as a recommendable fun, light hearted watch. But because its two halves clash so heavily with each other and its story development is so poorly executed, The Millionaire Detective ends up basically impossible to recommend. For anyone who loves the early playful nature, they are highly likely to despise the complete switch to serious conspiracy while anyone who might have enjoyed the more sombre segments is less likely to be okay with sitting through 5-6 goofy episodes to get to it. And given how badly the show executes crucial plot points, it might not even seem worth it if they do sit through them. There’s a chance you might end up enamoured by Daisuke himself and that could greatly help your enjoyment and investment in his story and the show itself but otherwise, it’s likely to leave you cold. If you are extremely starved for a light hearted crime show, you could possibly check out the first 5 episodes of The Millionaire Detective but as a whole sadly, the show is probably going to be limited to a smaller fan following, which is a true shame given how much fun the early episodes were.
Tom: I want to finish by noting that despite how harsh I’ve been, I do agree it’s a shame that The Millionaire Detective ends with a whimper. Both Kanbe, Haru, and the rest of the 2nd Division Detective cast, what little of them we see, are all fun characters. Despite Haru and Kanbe lacking any kind of through-line character arc, they share a passable buddy dynamic that works wonders comedically. I think it’s a shame that the buddy dynamic is lost for a good five episodes, and only really returns in the final episode, as the entire story is wrapping up. Even though The Millionaire Detective was never a great show, even early on, it was at least a fun romp at first, and I truly wish it had stayed that, because what it’s replaced with simply does not hold up.
The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED is available for streaming via Funimation.com