Holmes of Kyoto: First Impressions – Japanese History via the Lens of Ancient Antiques (Summer Anime 2018)

Holmes 00Holmes of Kyoto (京都寺町三条のホームズ) is an anime adaptation of the original seinen, fantasy light novel series written by Mai Mochizuki with illustrations from Yamōchishizu. It is being produced by studio Seven and directed by Noriyoshi Sasaki. This is one of the serials that I had been anticipating for the season due to its unique premise and how much I tend to love Sherlockian characters. After seeing the pilot, I can safely say that while it is quite average in many ways, I am looking forward to watching it this Summer!

Holmes of Kyoto revolves around a young girl, Mashiro Aoi, who recently moved to the cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto. One day while she’s out exploring the city, she comes across a particularly inviting antique store. Intrigued by it, she enters and meets a young man named Yagashira Kiyotaka, who is working at the store. She watches him appraise an item that is seemingly from the Muromachi Era of Japan’s history. Mashiro is impressed by his knowledge and understands why he is known as “Holmes.” Yagashira sees this awkward looking young girl, strikes up a conversation, and after some plot aspects, invites her to work part-time at the antique store—owned by his grandfather and ran by his father—along with him.

As someone who is completely enamoured with Japanese history, I fricking loved the antiques mentioned in the first episode and learning about all of the history regarding them. It held my interest like a kitty cat chasing laser lights (it can be the funniest thing to watch sometimes, trust me). It also made me super giddy when I was able to understand the significance of either the time periods mentioned, or the artist/inventor of the antiques being shown. I’m not going to lie, I may have patted myself on the back after one specific scene. So, the antiques and the focus on Japanese history is an element of the series that has me completely hooked and eagerly awaiting the next episode.

Holmes Eps. 01 a

Another aspect that I found interesting, and pleasant (to my utter surprise) was the simplicity behind the girl’s ultimate reason for ending up in an antique store. I think a lot of people may find it to be immature, stupid or idiotic, but I think it gave her a distinctly human quality, and also showed that she is a young, high-schooler. On occasion, when we are young and naïve, we tend to do things that are based entirely on rash, emotional impulses rather than logic, and due to that belief, I wasn’t bothered by her motives. I embraced them, even. Aside from this specific part, however, everything else about Mashiro Aoi is pretty damn generic.

She has brown hair and hazel-ish eyes, blushes easily, tends to get a bit flustered depending on the interaction she is having, is immediately intrigued by the strangeness of the antique dude—all of the traits of a typical shōjo adolescent. I found it to be mildly disappointing, nevertheless, I wasn’t bothered by it too much because I felt it worked to balance out her counterpart, Yagashira. Yagashira is a bit stiff, which has a lot to do with his straightforward manner, especially when working with antiques. His intelligence and attitude towards people who bring in fake stuff, knowingly, is arrogant and intimidating. However, when it’s with regular customers or helping people who are going through some shit, like Mashiro, he has a kind smile and words of wisdom to offer. Mashiro’s otherwise bland personality in comparison kind of helps alleviate the intensity of Yagashira’s character, while offering a bit of a feel-good fluffiness.

Holmes Eps. 01 d

The animation quality is average. Once in a while during a natural landscape scene, which only lasted for a handful of seconds, the art-style would portray a lovely combination of oil and watercolour painting aesthetics, but aside from that everything is rather unimpressive. The antiques themselves do have a bit more enhancement and attention to detail to them, yet this is something I naturally expected as it is the focal point for the series. In one specific scene, for example, Yagashira is examining an extremely rare painting, and the way its captured in the anime was quite stunning. So, aside from the antiques, I wouldn’t expect too much from Holmes of Kyoko in terms of animation quality.

The last thing I pleasantly noticed is the music. There is a soft combination of piano and koto instruments, as well as some delicate wind notes. It really fits the aesthetic of the traditional vibe that you get from all of the antiques and Japanese culture, and is just so relaxing, adding more charm to the series as a whole.

All of these technical things make Holmes of Kyoto a very enjoyable and simple series for the Summer line-up. While I plan on keeping up with the simulcasts because of all of things I have mentioned, I do have one more reason that I plan on tuning in. The city of Kyoto. It is one of the most culturally and historically richest cities in all of Japan. The depth of the evolution of Japan as a nation, as well as their unique and individualistic identity, was vastly moulded in this city. In that sense, it’s mind-blowing and positively delightful to have a series that focuses so much on the historical context of this country in an important city like this one. My hope is that this will eventually play to the plot in one way or another, assuming Holmes of Kyoto will be more than a mere episodic simulcast, and if it does, I know that I will fall utterly in love with it, assuming it’s developed decently.

All in all, if you are undecided about checking out Holmes of Kyoto, I recommend that you watch the first episode. It will give you a nice idea of what it essentially incorporates, and what you can expect as it continues.

You can watch Holmes of Kyoko on Monday mornings over on CrunchyRoll.

Thank you so much for visiting me this morning. Until next time, happy reading and happy otakuing. 🧡

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9 thoughts on “Holmes of Kyoto: First Impressions – Japanese History via the Lens of Ancient Antiques (Summer Anime 2018)

  1. Well I do love things inspired by Holmes, and your review piques enough interest to at least want to see if this is something worth watching, I await your further impressions to see if it improves or falls over a waterfall

  2. I’m still waiting for a follow up episode to see if it is sticking with the tone established here or if it is actually going to get more into mysteries.

  3. This show reminds me of another show from a while ago, “Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation”. Just swap Holmes for an incredible Bishojo, Aoi for a boy and antiques for skeletons.

      • Very sad the dropped the series after one season. The villain was just beginning to impact our protagonists and I was left dangling. They then did a two season live action version where the young boy was upgraded to a 26 year old museum tech. Totally blew it.

        I felt the “young boy infatuated with a beautiful older woman while a lovely young girl gets the friend treatment” subplot was a huge part of the appeal of the show.

        • Whoa had no idea about the live action. It actually sounds completely horrid. 😧 I liked the show because I’m a big fan of characters who have Sherlockian type seductive abilities. That was the main draw for me. And the animation. It was quite lovely.

  4. Okay..I’ll be honest, after having seen most of the reviews over on other blogs this week, I was pretty much ready to skip this. After reading this though: I totally changed my mind. As you know I love Asian culture as well, especially it’s rich history, so for me that has now become my main reason to at least give this one a try. (Still don’t know if I am going to like it, but you convinced me enough anyway. Great post! 😊

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