Ranpo Kitan: Game Of Laplace – 06/07 Review
Well, technically there’s a lot of surprising stuff to unravel in this “surprise-party” but how serious of a series is this anyway, if situations like this one can be part of its plot-line…?
Ranpo Kitan 06/07; First, the bunch of sociopaths have to deal with a cat, a bomb and a baby and then terrorists are present, too, for some reason. But it all resolves itself luckily without any incident and we’ve all learned about why the devil is in the details. The seventh episode returns to another murder of other despicable people and this time around it’s a locked-room-mystery.
It’s incredible how this series can still treat this like a joke.
What is the point of getting somewhere within a narrative if nobody follows you? That’s the question I would ask the script-writers of this series. Despite my score, episode 05 was one of the best episodes of this series. It was focused thematically and story-wise it hit all the right beats to work as a narrative. So why did I hate it…? Well, it was intolerably unrealistic. This is a series that honed in on a very specific problem and then twisted it into some sort of twisted popcorn-fantasy. And it isn’t just any sort of popcorn-fantasy this series has chosen it’s the most nihilistic one: That there’s no point to being good. This series is cynical beyond belief and it presents itself so without a hint of self-awareness.
Of course, it’s hard to tell what the plan is supposed to be here, then. Coincidence is one of the themes of this episode but a bigger theme for this series is certainly chaos and insofar the series as a whole has succeeded. The reason is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what can possibly happen in this series’ universe and what the cast considers to be normalcy. It’s like the series is constantly aiming for bizarreness without ever bringing up normalcy for the sake of comparison. It’s irony without any hint of self-awareness.
The characters in this series may say in the sixth episode that the sudden arrival of a baby, a cat, a bomb and a robbery on their doorstep is too unlikely to be imaginable and those story-beats are all played for laughs but you can’t shake the feeling that someone wrote the entire series with that mindset. Whatever seems VERY unlikely will just happen in connection with other VERY unlikely stuff. And then this other VERY unlikely thing will happen, after which the characters will do crazy shit to resolve this whole debacle. You get the sense that the writers of this series are trying way too hard to produce crazy, off-kilter scripts for this series and they do so without a uniting sense of style or aesthetics. It’s all just a shit-flinging-contest aiming to make as much shit stick as possible.
The sixth episode is all about the laughs and how absurd things can get in Ranpo Kitan’s world. The episode mostly relies on running-gags like Sherlock-boy being afraid of cats, being able to calm the baby on command (attached to other characters suggesting he’s the father which he denies fervently) and the best moment of the episode is the scene about where everyone proposes their plan to deal with the robbers downstairs (it isn’t a great bit because the actual joke isn’t that imaginative but it at least got the pacing right). Other than that the episode also tries to turn Shadow-Man’s pedophile voyeurism into a joke as well as girly boy’s psychopathic nature. Yeah, the series that went WAY too far with topics like crazy criminals and serial killers has decided to turn it all into a sitcom. At one point rich-boy tells girly boy something like “But you couldn’t even take care of a cactus! What makes you think you could take care of a kitten?!”. And it’s supposed to be a humorous beat – which does work. After all, the script of this show is really shitty and there’s no way anyone can take this series serious (you can feel insulted by its ideas or you can laugh about how bad it is). This episode wisely is aware of it and has turned into a comedy.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good comedy even if the shitty script provides good material for one. In the end, you’re still stuck with a script that makes the audience laugh at it instead of with it. On some level even in this episode the audience is still laughing at the series’ script-writers because who the hell would consider this a great idea for a comedy-episode. Sure, it’s absurd that a bomb, a baby, a kitten and robbers all get to play a role in this tight (not quite) bottle-episode. But it really is just about stacking absurd incident on absurd incident without making fun of anything with all that absurdity – it’s just absurdity for the sake of absurdity. At the end of the day you might as well have added an elephant and a porcelain-shop to the proceedings to sell the joke. The joke doesn’t go anywhere except that it just ends at some point. And like usual what solves the mystery is characters just jumping to conclusions and being right for some mysterious reason (well, actually it isn’t that mysterious since it’s obviously plot-convenience).
The series’ feeble attempt to make its sociopathic cast look more human.
The seventh episode is where the series once again remembers that its aim is to produce a good mystery-series – or that’s what you’d expect its aim to be after the first arc. After seven episodes the series has thoroughly demonstrated that it has no interest in adapting anyone’s work (despite the disclaimer at the beginning). All this series wants to do is to produce a glamorous mystery mixed with gory grotesquery with reality as a light plothook. And in this regard the seventh episode truly gets back on track as we get a mystery with a death in a locked room (and I have to say that even Rokka no Yuusha knows better how to sell a locked-mystery-situation) with loaded connotations (treatment of workers) and an entire absurd murder-mystery our “favorite group of sociopaths” has to solve.
There’s a lot of jibber-jabber in this episode but only a tiny amount of it is relevant. Most of it is just trivial shit that doesn’t add to the whole mystery. Because what is the mystery here really? Who had killed the two marshmallow-people who were rich…? And the genius-boy-detective barely does anything other than listening. While this may be a sound procedure for solving a mystery, it becomes apparent to just how little plot-development it leads in the end. Therefore the genius-detective constantly gets visits from “ghosts” of his little masochistic girlfriend in prison and girly-boy as well as glasses-guy. They aren’t there to demonstrate the workings of genius-detective’s “mind-palace” (to borrow from Sherlock’s, the TV-Series, lingo), it’s just there to entertain the audience while the genius-detective is listening. Where the script-writing becomes dull is once you realize that those hallucinatory visitations do little to advance the plot as the genius-detective barely reacts to those if at all and all his inaction eventually leads to girly-boy and glasses-guy joining him without him having discovered anything of importance.
What is even more disturbing is that until now the main-characters don’t seem like heroes at all. Of course they don’t need to be heroes for this narrative to work but it does raise some questions regarding their roles if they aren’t heroes. And so far the series has done next to nothing to address that. The characters remain to be their sociopathic selves (even glasses-guy) who somehow live a pariah-existence and are fine with it. They are certainly not heroes as their doings aren’t for the benefit of society or meting out justice. Instead the mystery of a gruesome murder is nothing more than entertainment to them (or in the case of glasses-guy, it’s an excuse to get overly protective regarding girly-boy). You never get the sense that the main-characters are people you should cheer for. And the plot does nothing to convince you of the opposite even! While their deductions may save lives, the series is poignantly not interested in those moments. What it cares about is the grotesque thrill of hunting down a Hannibal-Lecter-like super-villain. And that focus has produced a very grotesque series so far.
Especially with the sixth episode it’s hard to say just how much of this series’ script is doing what the original writers wanted to do. Constantly this series is tackling very interesting issues with its murder-mysteries but for some reason the series flinches once confronted by the truth of the matter. And this series seems to be doing even more than just flinch. It hides and fantasizes about what it wants to talk about rather than to deal with the actual reality. Some force, be it the director, the producers or whatever, is guiding this series down the wrong path. This series is gory and it deals with some rather complex topics but its stories so far have anything but thrilling. There’s a sense of forcefulness to just how dull this series is so far.
Clearly this is a series that wants to shock its audience with its murder-mysteries and their background but so far the series’ stories are trying to tackle real topics while offering fantastic interpretations of those at the same time. This is horror inspired by reality and observed by a flinching gaze; this is a series that would rather indulge in flights of fancy instead of producing great stories.
I don’t know who forced the ideas of this series to be presented in such a ludicrous manner but the whole thing certainly starts to seem like a waste of time if neither what’s going on the surface and what’s beneath it seem fulfilling in terms of entertainment. Constantly you get assaulted with a sense of pretentiousness in this series as if the series is more concerned with what it wants to be than what it actually is. There’s a big disconnect happening between what the audience is observing and what the creators want to represent. All of it smells of artifice while at the same time having all the hallmarks of heavy-handed storytelling. Actually there’s nothing about this series that isn’t heavy-handed. It always goes for loud when it can be loud, it always goes for gruesome when it can be gruesome and it always goes for eccentric when it can go for eccentric. It’s a series without any connections to normal life and yet it offers the audience the sort of preachiness associated with real, important issues. And a lot about this faulty approach may be forgiven if stylistically the series would actually produce compelling stories. But so far nothing about this series is compelling (if anything it’s infuriating how little this series has done in terms of producing a good story so far).
Episodes-Rating: 6th Episode: 5.0/10 7th Episode: 5.5/10
- In terms of procedural crime-mystery-storytelling this series is rather gimmicky and unconvincing. Whenever the series tries to proclaim how smart the main-cast is they hide it behind a lot of foolery and ultimately you’ll never get this moment of humanity while the main-cast is already busy chasing some mystery without really giving a shit about the “big picture” in the whole thing.
- Good to know that both girly boy and the genius-detective don’t really take common people serious.
- And of course, it’s casually revealed that there isn’t just one “Twenty Faces” out there but that it’s more like a group actually.