With this post, I am checking off yet another #AniTwitWatches review on here for other people’s imaginary counter that I think they have. This time, I’m a little later then last time in regards of when the other #AniTwitWatches happening. The Rolling Girls #AniTwitWatches has started since this post came out, but you can still join. We’ve only watched episodes one and two so far. Look here for the schedule and join us on twitter to have some fun. All fun things, but there was a reason for this delay this time. This show is a mystery show that has some interesting twists here and there. I’ve been thinking about the execution of all of those twists probably longer then I should have. So obviously, it’s time to discuss some of my thoughts on The Perfect Insider. I’m going to do my best to keep this spoiler free because I don’t want to spoil anything who haven’t watched this before. Not that hard to do, honestly.
The Perfect Insider is a locked in a room murder mystery case that takes a full cour of 11 episodes to solve. So, it’s a somewhat thoughtful sort of show where its characters explore the many cases and possibilities that may have happened during the murder in question to figure out the mysteries. It features an Architectural Engineering by the name of Shohei Saikawa as is the Sherlock of this series. In the Watson position is our 19-year-old Moe Nishinosono who is a rich girl whose father taught Saikawa before her parent’s untimely death. The murder in question involves the genius Shiki Magata who has been locked in a small apartment room in an advanced computer lab for 15 years due to her murdering her parents when she was fourteen. So, it’s an almost perfect locked in a room scenario in a clean lab with many suspects. There is no sarcasm when I say this is pretty fun.
This anime is cut into two different time frames. The present where Saikawa and Moe are working alongside the lab officials to solve the case before calling the police and the past. A past that features a younger Shiki Magata before she was locked away in a her very comfy “cell” for 15 years. The past slowly slips away while clues are being found to solve what exactly happened and what Everything becomes F means. That being said, the two have a lot to do with one another. The relationship between Moe and Saikawa in the present and Shiki with sir “name is not appearing in this review” in the back story are similar enough to add some weight into the case itself. In fact, you can say that whatever happens in the backstory may have some sway into what happens into the case. Maybe. Find that out for yourself.
I do have some issues with the case that I will be vague about. You know, from a logistical stand point? The Perfect Insider is situated inside a high-tech laboratory where the former murderer is locked into her own cell for 15 years. And when I say Cell, it’s like one of the nicest apartments that I’ve ever seen and would like to live in if possible. All I need are food, a computer and an internet connection to survive. We could talk about dust and ventilation, but the lab itself had a decent ventilation system because Sohei is a smoker and you can see the smoke headed towards the ceiling all the time and no one coughs around him or anything. Seems solid to me. The limitations and believability issues come from what she would ask for. Only a limited amount of supplies can fit in the doors slot and everything she orders is on record. I know its anime and everything, but there is something to be said about some questionable limitations. Or we could consider her a genius and just go with that. Sounds reasonable to me too.
Some interesting themes that go into this story are life, humanity, and the limitations of the human form. It’s not only a thing that our professor questions about in the first episode when complaining about his corporeal form in his office, but a concept that plays into the story and connects characters too. Certain characters have relationships based on how they think about in that sort of way. It’s almost cyberpunk in that way. The novel came out in 1996 so I feel like it was maybe, possibly influenced by ’95 Ghost in the Shell in some way maybe? It’s hard to tell. Though, the predictions of the internet and human consciousness transference are accurate in some ways, but off a little bit too. The hallucination chambers in the anime do this but not completely for instance. You can feel what the author was going for in the story, if this is accurate to the novel, because there is a certain online reality aspect to it. Just a little off in wrongness, but not bad.
Another positive thing before drifting into negatives, I think this show has a better look at intelligent people then I’ve seen in a lot of other media. Kind of taking what Aria said in this post in some way, because it’s true. That statement is a little suspect, but I will try to explain my reasoning in a way that makes sense. There is a certain way that intelligent people are written where they make references to something are cold and think about what they are doing or their project instead of everything else. Saikawa may be from the later, but he is grounded in reality more. He feels put upon, has some missed opportunities, is exhausted, and has feelings towards Moe that ground more. He feels more realized. Moe, on the other hand, is intelligent. However, she seems a little more emotionally intelligent then technically intelligent to me. Not that she lacks technical intelligence. Flawed and smart is great.
When it comes to reading the subtitles of this anime, I am thankful to The Tatami Galaxy for training me on how to read through dialogue at a fast pace. The Perfect Insider is a very dialogue heavy show. Like many of us said during the watch through, the show would heavily benefit from having a good dub because a lot of characterization comes through dialogue instead of actions. Saikawa looking through things in a more objective view point while Moe is more naïve and focuses on things from her point of view and tries to fit facts to that. It goes to show you their worldly experience between the two of them. Saikawa is an adult and has lived a life. Moe is a rich girl who is almost an adult and is heavily detached through most people and has an obvious crush on Saikawa. All of that shows through the dialogue of that show of which there is a lot of it.
Where the show hits and miss are through the side characters as well. There are some good ways the show makes them memorable by either giving them a hobby or affecting the characters in one way or another. The security guard with the xylophone is pretty memorable in my mind even if I don’t remember his name. Same with the unfortunate otaku scientist that forced some of her hobbies onto Moe. We could also talk about the head of the lab and other people. Gido, who remains a vague competitor of affection for Saikawa in her mind like Magata is. At the same time, the lab is on an island it’s supposed to be a vacation of some kind for Saikawa’s crew. Too bad they were only there to once again show you how disconnected Moe is from real life once again and nothing else. Same with other lab characters as well.
And there are plenty of time element issues along with budgetary issues that hold the anime back from being great as well. Like, let’s talk about how the college students all had a voice cast but one person who dies later on in the anime doesn’t have one. It’s a pretty clear indication that the guy is about to die or not affect the anime further at that point. He only gives a thumbs up. There is also the conversation that is in engrish and it’s understandable for the most part. Still kind of hard to listen to for us who have spoken English all our lives. Since one character was supposedly from the US, they could have at least gotten a natural speaker for one conversation or that could have been the point? I’m sure there were budgetary limitations there too. I also have my smaller nitpicks that include and considering the slower pacing of some episodes compared to others, this anime came out alright though.
Regarding limitations, the animation and art of The Perfect Insider are limited but inspired as well. The character designs themselves are pretty great and full of personality and differences. You can instantly tell who someone is or what they are about just by looking at them. In terms of animation and background art, characters barely move. A lot of things happen off screen or a lot of enthusiastic and creative ways for characters to talk about each other. Some shot, reverse shots, with some more playful methods of doing those to at least make some visual creativity. Also, there are a lot of boring and same backgrounds throughout the show. A lot of grey walled settings and limited creative use of creative spaces here and there to provide insight into what is going on in a character’s mind. With all those limitations in mind, the show did a good job conveying what it wanted to convey.
With all of those in mind, The Perfect Insider is a good mystery anime. Not a great one, a good one. For everything the show was given in terms of limited things that are involved in the series, the sort of clunky writing involved with a lot of conversations between characters that may be hard to decipher for some people and could bore them, and other things. Still, there are a lot of good positives too. This is a good mystery show with more than good characters, an interesting villain who is much more then you think they are, some exploration of the limitations of humanity in meat space vs a digital environment, and a lot more things. I think my Hannibal loving side took over when watching this series.There is a lot of passion and energy put into The Perfect Insider too, like most productions honestly but whatever, and you can tell that the production team behind this anime care about it a lot given the constraints they were given. A massive surprise of a series that gave us a lot of us in the #AniTwitWatches game something to talk about.