Woodpecker Detective’s Office – 1st Episode Review
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Synopsis: It is the end of the Meiji Era. The genius poet Ishikawa Takuboku, who’s struggling financially, starts a detective business out of his lodging in response to a certain murder case. He calls it the Woodpecker Detective’s Office. “The ghosts of the Twelve-Story Tower in Asakusa,” “the man-eating figure who wanders the streets on snowy nights”… Takuboku involves himself in one bizarre case after another with his hometown acquaintance, Kindaichi Kyosuke, as his assistant.(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Woodpecker Detective’s Office introduces us to the story of Ishikawa, financially challenged poet, and his friend, Kindaichi Kyosuke, who admires Ishikawa’s innate talent, that he believes he himself lacks. These two literally stumble into a murder mystery that changes the course of their lives. While a monetarily challenged newbie detective isn’t exactly brimming with originality, setting it at the tail end of the meiji period, and casting Ishikawa as a poet turned detective holds promise. Unfortunately an already ho-hum production, with passable visual direction and acceptable animation, is certainly not enough to breath much needed life into a narrative that’s already suffering from weak execution within its writing alone.
Linny: Woodpecker Detective’s Office leans hard on atmosphere, often focusing on scenery shots to come off as stylish and nuanced. It works to a degree and might engage those who enjoy a heavy dose of ambience. The poet protagonist, Ishikawa Takuboku is another factor that further helps to sell the show as he spouts poetic one-lines while the camera pans the surroundings, lending to whatever mood the scene requires.
Tom: For all the atmosphere here, there’s hardly anything meaty beneath it all. The character work offered early on feels thin at best, primarily made to set up the one heart-felt moment at the end of this premiere episode, where Kindaichi sells all his beloved books in order to save Ishikawa from eviction. There isn’t a lot else offered up, making our leads feel thin, or even plain. Other characters introduced are equally as forgettable, or straight out tropes; like the hardened police investigator that’s too stupid to notice even the most obvious of evidence. Right when the show should be sucking us in it chooses to offer up instead the most banal of developments.
Linny: Thin leads, tropey characters, and more might be forgiven if the mystery is particularly compelling. Sadly, the show isn’t all that strong with its mystery elements either. For one, it takes quite a bit of time to actually get to the crime part of the show. We spend a fair amount of the episode establishing the whimsical nature of the poet, how he clearly mooches off his more level headed friend, and of course the general vibe of the show. When we finally get to the mystery it is so thoroughly unimpressive. Woodpecker is pretty brazen about what a genius its poet turned detective is. Kyosuke repeatedly refers to him as such, fawning and gasping with marvel at Takuboku’s deductions. Yet in truth none of Takuboku’s deductions are impressive in the least. In fact, most are just common sense… like how a clearly envelope shaped pattern in a blood splatter means there’s an envelope the police should be looking for. Or how finding both the murder weapon and the incriminating letter providing indisputable evidence at the same spot pretty close to the murdered victim seems a little too convenient and is clearly a set up. Trying to act as if such observations are acts of genius makes the police force, as Tom touched on above, seem extremely idiotic. Also it implies viewers aren’t too observant either if we are supposed to be impressed by these ‘skillful’ deductions. Not to mention, Takuboku manages to shock and change the stubborn police officers’ opinions solely through completely faked set up scenarios and later admits he has no actual idea of who the true criminal is. It doesn’t make him come off as a genius, he’s just level headed at best.
Tom: Overall Woodpecker Detective’s Office could probably get away with a lot of its more ho-hum, outright dull elements if the mystery seemed at least half way intriguing. Unfortunately what we do learn of the details to the crime, and motives, is so sparse, so half-handedly offered as exposition that it fails to become even a tiny bit gripping. There’s already another detective series this very season, and while both Woodpecker and The Millionaire Detective aren’t exactly stepping on each other’s toes, offering different tones entirely, I’d still say unless you’re a madman for mysteries, The Millionaire Detective is the better show.
Linny: Woodpecker Detective’s Office is not something you should watch for the detective part of the title. Yes there’s crime, mystery even, but none of it feels particularly special and the deduction skills on display even less so. Also, it feels like the show is more concerned with drama and emotions rather than thrilling crime as Woodpecker literally begins with a flash forward that has Kindaichi ruminating about his long deceased friend, Tokuboku and there’s lots of moments in the first episode itself showing off how they have such a close bond. Tokuboku’s detective reveals also fall more on the dramatic than logical side. All these factors combined make Woodpecker Detective’s Office clearly a show for those who want an emotional tale about men bonding, with the mystery element playing an exclusively secondary role. Seeing how heavily all male the cast is, it is highly likely that the series is more geared at an audience interested in BL-teasing. If that happens to be you, congratulations! You have found the show for you this season. If you were intrigued by the mystery part though, you might have to either go in with apprehensions or just give this a skip altogether.
Woodpecker Detective’s Office is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com