Anime Taste Testing: Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei

Not exactly exciting, but then, I don’t really get the impression it’s trying to be.

It’s a little odd that while Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei/The Case Files of Jeweler Richard is quite unique in terms of plot (at least, I don’t know any other anime about mystery-solving foreign jewelry appraisers, or about professional jewelry appraisers at all for that matter), the show plays out more like a quiet slice-of-life series, giving the impression that you’ve seen something like it plenty of times before. This doesn’t exactly do the show any favours, since it means it comes across as rather dull despite the noteworthy premise. In fact, based on the premiere, I’d hesitate to call it a mystery show at all, especially given the (relatively) harmless crime and low stakes involved; as I said, it’s really more of a slice-of-life affair dealing not primarily with crime but rather longstanding family issues, recent grief and a few puns about justice. These things in themselves are by no means bad, but the execution was mediocre enough that I found myself growing bored quite quickly.

This is a shame, especially since anime doesn’t have a strong track record when dealing with foreigners in a realistic Japanese setting – off the top of my head, most that come to mind for me are either extremely cutesy European children or dumb Americans with zero cultural awareness/Japanese language skills. Housekishou Richard-shi also doesn’t look half-bad – or at least, it’s putting its budget where it matters most, and I have to admit that I’m curious to see where it’s going to go from here. It’s earned another episode or so while I wait for it to reveal what more, if anything, it has up its sleeve.

Rating: 6/10

3 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei

  1. Well, I like slice-of-life, but this is far too moralistic a tale to qualify. It’s not slices of life laid out for us to enjoy, it’s a carefully constructed single dish – and that’s where for me the show’s major weakness comes in: it’s a tad over-constructed. All the elements are SIGNIFICANT. The ring, the character’s name, the old guy who isn’t as helpless as he looks, and the student who voices the show’s core conceit: how do you tell a real gem/good person from a fake? It’s a bit constriction, while slice-of-life lives from a sense of openness. As such, it’s more a mystery, but that doesn’t quite pan out on the plot level, because nobody’s motivated by curiosity, and it’s all only mysterious on the meta-level: as if it’s a mystery for the sake of audience to unravel the intricate structure of interconnected meanings. (Plotwise what the show is doing isn’t entirely unlike what the noir genre was doing; using the mystery as a gateway into a situation that’s more complicated than it initially appears, so one might argue there’s actually genre-precedence. The mood’s totally different from noir, though.)

    The question now is: Is this the entire show, or is the set-up of the frame for a sequence of episodic tales?

    Overall, I liked the show. It’s pretty and some of it interests me, too, but it’s not exactly grabbing me. I’ll see where this goes. But if it’s going to be a series of over-constructed morality tales it’s probably not going to be for me.

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    • Some really excellent points you’ve made here. In retrospect, the series did feel a) very on-the-nose and b) very moralistic. It’s not really a question of whether I agree with said morals or not, but about how obvious it is that this, rather than the story itself, is the point. I’m hoping there’s going to be more to the show than that, and I’m curious enough to keep watching (for now) to find out, but I’m also not holding my breath.

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  2. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week (January 10, 2020) | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

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