Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace First Impressions – An Excellently Eccentric Tribute to Rampo Edogawa

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace (乱歩奇譚 Game of Laplace) is a seinen, mystery, psychological anime series that simulcasted during in Summer 2015. It was produced by Studio Lerche as a commemoration to mark the 50th anniversary of esteemed author, Rampo Edogawa’s, death in 1965. The anime specifically focuses on Edogawa’s character, Akechi Kogorō, who created a bulk of Edogawa’s mystery repertoire. The author is someone whom I admire greatly, and his works are very inspiring to me as an aspiring writer. So, when Jon Spencer chose this title for the second round of #AniTwitWatches, joining the fun was essentially a no-brainer on my part. The first round centred on My Neighbour Seki.

Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace is an anime that follows a genius detective named Akechi Kogorō as he works to solve several murders that took place at a local middle school. When a student becomes fascinated with Kogorō’s work, he volunteers to help with the investigation. My first impressions shall cover the first two episodes.

The very first thing that stood out to me was the set-up of the crime and the introduction of the characters. We begin by seeing a person who is presumed to be the culprit and not too far away from them is a grotesquely macabre yet magnificent corpse. The first feeling that began to swirl in the pit of my gut was excitement. It was such a psychologically horrific display, and a brilliant representation of the obscure and oft-times disturbing things that Edogawa explores in his stories.

From here the story unfolds in a sort of cinematically mosaic pace. The presumed culprit is held at the scene of the crime as police officers investigate the area. Everyone is a silhouette until they’re properly introduced, which filters them into a normal and clear identity. If the characters are irrelevant, then they remain as silhouettes, white noise in the background. This is another slight toss-back to Edogawa.

Through these two episodes we learn about the victim’s discomforting extra-circular activities, which adds another layer of depth to what feels like a standard murder. Watching the victim’s history unfold intensified my giddiness. This entire episode is fucking grade-A Japanese psychological thriller material and I was fucking living for it. Japanese thrillers, especially ones laced with mindfuckery are my favourite things to read. My reviews (Confessions & Revenge) for a couple of them can exhibit this vehement love I have for them.

In addition to the dark and malevolent vibe going on, the episodes were jam-packed with other facets that were a brilliant homage to Rampo Edogawa’s time. For example, in the first episode when we get to see where Kogorō is hanging out, the décor is a meshing of styles from the 20s to the 60s. Even the building on the outside looks like a speakeasy from the 1920s, which I fucking appreciated so much. On top of that there are quirky eccentricities to Kogorō’s mannerisms and the mannerisms of the student who decides to join the investigating shenanigans, not to mention the super strange cases that come his way.

When the cases are shown and being explained on-screen, it’s done so in a cinematic, stage-play execution that I found wholeheartedly amusing, especially with its unique flourish of stylishness. It reminded me of a bit Persona 5, but far more toned down. Things to keep in mind with these parts of the series is that it can be a turn-off to some watchers. It can feel extremely bizarre or out-of-place, although I’d personally say that it contributes to the charm and aura of the anime as a whole. I respect that others may not feel the same. It’s quite unconventional regarding regular whodunnits, even by Japanese fiction standards. Nonetheless, it’s a marvellous tribute to the genius that was Edogawa.

All in all, I fucking loved the first two episodes of Rampo Kitan. Some people have said that it’s not really a mystery series but given everything that I have seen in the first couple episodes, I would kindly disagree. Because the anime is so fucking off-the-wall with how it’s crafted, with its artistic nature and the added comedic elements that are typical to the anime medium specifically (cutesy characters and expressions, etc.), I can see how it strays from what’s expected of a mystery series. However, I feel it’s still a mystery in the very essence of what that entails, particularly as it pertains to the characters rather than the crimes they solve.

Regardless, when I looked up the anime after JS announced it, my brain pondered as whether this would finally be the adaptation that the author deserves. After checking out the two-part pilot, I feel like I’ve been waiting eons for an anime to pay tribute to Edogawa in such a fashion, and I’m hoping with all my heart that Rampo Kitan won’t let me down as it goes onwards.

Before I let y’all go, I just want to mention that the anime has left me so greatly nostalgic that I picked up a couple of Edogawa’s books again for a spot of re-reading. I’m eager to read through Akechi’s stories while I watch the anime and see how that fares with my enjoyment/appreciation of this commemorative title.

You can watch Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace over on Funimation, where it’s offered with both subbed and dubbed options.

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12 thoughts on “Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace First Impressions – An Excellently Eccentric Tribute to Rampo Edogawa

  1. I’m really excited to see your enthusiasm here. I’d suggest you head on over to my original article that I did covering the series and a collection of Edogawa’s stories (though it’ll spoil a good bit, so that’s why you may want to hold off). The show inspired me the first go around to look into him more and I became somewhat of an expert on him in the process, though my knowledge is a bit rusty since it isn’t everyday folks are asking about him lol.

    If you enjoyed these opening episodes I am confident that you will appreciate all the nods given throughout the run. While there are a few hiccups in the overall plot, I can’t help but let them slide because it really is a fantastic homage to a very important literature author. While a lot of folks in the West haven’t heard of him, this show hopefully will inspire folks to seek out some of his work like it did for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll check out your article after I complete the series to avoid spoilers. I’m looking forward to checking it out. 🙂

      I loved the opening episodes. I’ve been learning more about mystery stories as it pertains to Japan’s national identity, and already it’s made me recognise more elements from episode 1 that are pretty amazing. That depth keeps surprising me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this anime is so fun and stylish, and often overlooked. It could’ve been better, don’t get me wrong, but I loved whatever the heck we got! Lerche is the bomb, too, so that helps. Hope you enjoy the rest of this series!

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. It’s been about 4 years since I watched this episode (I watched it during its simulcast run), so the fact people can dig out new things from it is definitely interesting. As much as I hate to say it because Edogawa is probably the first Japanese author I’d heard of (because of the homage in Detective Conan), I could probably summarise a few of Edogawa’s works and yet I haven’t read too much of his work if any (although I did save some files from Aozora Bunko – which has stories in the public domain in Japanese – to my computer during my Bungou Stray Dogs phase in 2016) – I’ve heard there was some Hawaiian company translating them all in English, though, which is why I haven’t really touched said files.

    Two of the things that made the biggest impressions on me when I watched this show were the OP and ED. What are your thoughts on them?

    Hmm…maybe I should get on to watching Persona someday.


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