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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