Trickster – Mid Series Review
Original Air Dates: October 3rd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: The year is 2030. Kogoro Akechi, a famous independent detective, sets up a detective group that becomes responsible for solving cases left and right. Anything from the small time to the big time. However, junior member Hanazaki Kensuke meets a boy, Yoshio Kobayashi. Yoshio is tormented by his inability to die, suffering from the effects of an ‘unidentifiable mist’ that shrouds him from all harm and can even harm those around him if not careful. He yearns for death, but can’t have it. Taking an interest in him, Hanazaki befriends Yoshio and attempts to get him to join the group just as Akechi finds himself pitted against this Century’s greatest villain, the fiend with Twenty Faces.
Mid Series (12 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Trickster is best exemplified by its animation. It starts strong, not perfect, but decent enough to pull viewers in. But that’s just a facade as the entire thing falls away. It becomes sloppy in places, looking down right awful at times, with a myriad of issues that hamper your enjoyment at near every turn. From the off model characters, to the low-budget hamfisted depictions of what should be epic battles, Trickster’s animation is likely to disappoint again and again. And as I said, the animation only exemplifies everything else wrong with this anime.
Linny: Though Akechi is the undisputed lead in the original Edogawa Rampo works the show is based upon, in this case he takes more of a backseat starting off, with the focus on the young boys who are members of his detective club. However, as the show builds, the audience is reminded that Akechi is indeed the central character as all major plot lines end up leading back to him. For those of you who dislike sleazy and perverted characters, Akechi has a tendency to suggest improper things and proposition the female police officer he works with all the time. It’s a lot tamer than outright groping and such but every conversation he has with her always ends up tinged with something inappropriate.
Tom: To put it bluntly Trickster’s character are weak. Akechi for example isn’t just sexually harassing towards that female officer, he also never displays the characteristics he’s supposedly lauded for. Akechi never actually comes across as this brilliant unparalleled detective. Instead much of the time he has the Boys Detective Club solve things for him. There’s rarely any instances in the show where he displays the qualities he supposedly possesses, making him instead feel much more like a conman using these kids for his own gains. It doesn’t help that the rest of the cast borders on emotionally stunted, difficult to engage, and impossible to like, especially as the series approaches the middle of the season, where melodrama and angst ramp up to excessive levels.
Linny: The show quickly makes it evident that all the members of the Boys Detective Club have certain issues and hang ups. While some are mainly emotionally sombre and physically handicapped, others like Kensuke Hanasaki are a whole other barrel of issues. Hanasaki starts off as perpetually peppy but, as shows love this twist, it’s all part of a fake persona he has put on to hide the actual sadness and loneliness in his life. He becomes insufferably whiny and melodramatic, which some viewers might be able to enjoy and embrace as teenage angst but may turn away older viewers or anyone who cannot relate or understand the amount of melodrama on display. I had high hopes because Trickster had a rather perplexing and intriguing mystery surrounding Kobayashi but now that character has become nothing more than a tsundere that’s occasionally used as a literal battering ram when the plot needs it.
Tom: It doesn’t help that Trickster often mishandles the character development and backstory for its leads. Shoddy writing is constantly hampering decent ideas, churning out content that is neither satisfying, or engaging. What we learn of each character is often shoehorned into proceedings, or executed with such bludgeoning, un-nuanced writing that it feels lazy.
Linny: For those who think a huge focus of the first half of the show will be Hanasaki’s attempts to help Kobayashi, let me warn you now. While it is emphasized early on, it soon devolves into an afterthought with other storylines and drama taking precedence. The most frustrating part about these more recent reimagined Rampo Edogawa’s is that they always try to come off as cerebral and philosophical but in the end, due to poor execution, turn into hollow and disappointing experiences. These shows always attempts to have deep and provocative monologues accompanied by dramatic music and visual imagery but miss their mark more often than not. If you are wondering how cheesy this show gets, our main villain actually sings/serenades one of the main characters with the show’s own theme song.
Tom: Not only is Kobayashi’s mystery untouched by this point, so is much of Trickster’s futuristic world. Ideas introduced early on remain just that ideas, unexplored with little bearing on the plot. Outside of certain imagery from time to time and a few robots now and again, Trickster could really be set in the modern day, begging the question why they even bothered to set up all this futuristic stuff if they’re rarely ever going to take advantage of it. It feels lazy, as if the futuristic tech is just backing up the convenient uses of cyber hacking to explain away the Boys Detectives Club abilities to fight crime.
Linny: Trickster seems to have a bit in common with other shows before it that have tried to renovate and reinvent the works of Ranpo Edogawa. To put a positive spin on it, if you liked earlier attempts like it, you may enjoy this latest take. However, if you didn’t take to them, it’s better to stay away as Trickster tries too hard to be some sort of philosophical commentary on society and human nature but throws in too many over the top and unbelievable elements to be taken seriously. I’d also like to throw in a minor gripe that bothered me the entire time I was watching. Early on, well literally in the first episode, one of the characters is shown to have a fake leg which is accidentally destroyed. He then proceeds to spend the rest of the show in a wheelchair for unexplained reasons. I guess one could claim it is because he couldn’t afford a replacement or making a replacement takes time and I am just being nitpicky and getting hung up on a silly point. Lastly and my biggest gripe about the action in this show is pictured in the gif below. For some reason, bullets in this show miss our protagonist even when he is running right into them?
Tom: Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Trickster is how there are good ideas here. Beneath all the poor writing, bad animation, horrendous execution, there’s an appealing story here about a dangerous criminal, a boys detective club struggling to get along, and a mystery surrounding their newest member who wishes he could die, but just can’t. Maybe most of that’s from adapting the great works of Edogawa Rampo, but it’s frustrating all the same to see such intriguing concepts done so, so poorly.
Linny: Unfortunately I have not had the chance to read the original works so I cannot give a more knowledgeable comparison and review in regards to the actual interpretation. However, when viewed as its own thing, the show seems aimed for viewers who enjoy over the top crimes that defy logic with a ton of melodrama thrown in. You’ll have to be willing to sit through some bad animation though. Ultimately, I feel like the show is a hardsell and will most likely end up appealing only to those who enjoyed similar takes on Rampo’s work in the past.
Tom: Trickster is perhaps my biggest disappointment for this season. It’s opener wasn’t perfect, but offered plenty of solid and intriguing ideas that I had high hopes. While the series took awhile to show its true colors, bouncing between decent and awful week to week, it gradually sank into a steady stream of mediocrity that then plummeted as it entered an exceedingly melodramatic story line that’s successfully killed all interest I had going forward. There’s no denying that Trickster is an extremely flawed series, from its animation to its very core. Those who will enjoy it will need to look past every one of its flaws, of which there are many, to find something appreciable at the center.
Trickster is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com