Tomohiko Itou’s latest show has proven to me that the guy just has a talent for making imperfect stories entertaining. Be it through the composers involved in his projects or the way he paces his shows, the guy has made some hits that win big with audiences despite some drawbacks. I mean, there had to be a reason I watched SAO up to Ordinal Scale, right? The series is admittedly well directed and well animated. Same with Erased, another divisive hit from some years back.
Millionaire Detective, for how fleeting it felt in its eleven episodes, left quite the impression, if only because it could be so stupidly cool. In my first impressions back in July, I mentioned how the first episode put a lot of effort into conveying just how cool Kanbe Daisuke is. By the end, the show felt like a sleek spy cartoon from my childhood, with Kanbe’s arsenal of gadgets getting more preposterous, yet infinitely cooler.
Previously, I drew comparisons to Lord El Melloi II’s Case Files, another show that kept me coming back each week to see what new stuff they would introduce. Said “stuff” being new superpowers, new characters, or new world-building. Thankfully, Millionaire Detective also realized that alone wasn’t enough if the story couldn’t present an interesting plot to necessitate the introduction of newer, cooler stuff.
The first pair of episodes after the show’s return kept things episodic, each focusing on the two leads respectively. Episode three did exactly what I predicted: explained the circumstances of Katou getting demoted to his current status. It just so happened that the threat in the present had him retreading familiar ground to defuse a hostage situation.
Episode four then explored Kanbe in just about the smartest situation that could facilitate character growth – having him robbed of his super sweet tech for an episode. This forces him to pal around with Katou while they also try to find a missing cat. Certainly a demotion from apprehending criminals, but it helps build onto the partnership between Katou and Kanbe before the main plot truly begins.
Episode five is a somewhat underwhelming episode that is then treated as the origin point for the mystery at the heart of the show’s second half. There are hints at secrets that not even Kanbe’s AI, HEUSC, can uncover, and Katou is in hot water despite doing his job far more effectively than everyone else he works with.
Speaking of which, I hated most of Katou’s department. The director was charming enough, but everyone else was lazy, ineffective, and annoying. They even screwed over Katou, leading to him being taken off of the case. The only thing that was appealing about them was their character designs, to which Blue Exorcist designer Keigo Sasaki did a great job.
To be fair, there is one other member of Katou’s division that I loved, but only because – just like Katou – he felt like an actual detective. Chousuke Nakamoto, or Cho-san, plays a major role in the latter half of the show. He is revealed to have been working a case for decades that aligns with Kanbe and Katou’s interests.
A flashback story shows a younger Cho-san investigating a murder that was never solved. He ends up becoming one of the more likable, charismatic members of the show. To Katou, he was almost the ideal lawman, but as he reveals more of his old self, who sometimes bent to rules to find the guilty culprit, there is friction between them.
Katou’s biggest flaw is self-doubt, despite instinctively acting in a way that shows selflessness and drive, even when he is often ineffectual. To be frank, I find Katou somewhat bland. Mamoru Miyano’s performance is fine, but the character, despite being this presumably once-great detective, rarely left an impression on me as if he was that competent at his job. He inspires growth in Kanbe to some extent, but he himself doesn’t do much that is impressive.
Kanbe, a far less emotive and sincere character, ends up being far more entertaining. I will admit that most of that has to do with his “presence.” The music, the gadgets, the sly smirk, and the sick suit. His growth as a person comes slowly, but it eventually comes. It’s all very… fine.
“Fine” is about the word to describe the character writing. It’s nothing incredible. It’s just enough to make people ship the two leads and, hey, they make quite a pair on a purely surface level. As for the story, it ended on a much larger scale than I initially anticipated and actually might have made the whole viewing worth it.
Most notably, the action gets both cooler and dumber. It’s cool because Daisuke putting on a sleek nanomachine stealth suit and kicking 31 flavors of ass is really awesome. It gets a bit dumb when the final foes have a bunch of futuristic laser guns primed to kill him and one of the bad guys has a rail gun on his own arm.
It’s not that one is more implausible than the other, and it certainly isn’t as if both aren’t silly to some degree. However, the scale of the action compared to what was the norm for 80 percent of the show before then is a bit jarring. Plus – and this is just my nitpick – Kanbe’s gadgets are just cooler.
The Millionaire Detective offers an amusing ride based entirely around a single joke. The joke being, “what if Bruce Wayne just became a boujee police detective?” And it commits to that joke wholeheartedly, even telling the audience how much money was spent in each episode. And at 11 episodes, the time commitment required more than makes up for the lack of anything deeper than that.
A strong aesthetic, a stronger soundtrack, a good sense of humor, and a downright iconic protagonist. If those elements alone get you excited, The Millionaire Detective is well worth a weekend binge.
The Millionaire Detective: Balance Unlimited is available for legal streaming through FunimationNow.