'Suteki Tantei Labyrinth'
Underestimated? Unnoticed? Or Just Bad?
How often do you see series listed on MyAnimeList have close to no reviews? The society of anime lovers barely ever leaves a show unattended and this particular oddity tickled my fancy.
I've started watching Suteki Tantei Labyrinth out of curiosity. The trailer and art suggested it must have been a great show of its time and now it was my job to reveal the mystery behind the absence of reviews. After all, it also meant a great opportunity to be noticed—if I wrote one, it wouldn't be lost in the sea of others. Was I any intrigued for the plot? Barely.
As the series begun, the first thing I've noticed was art. In my opinion, 2007 was generally the year of visually appealing series and the point when animation and digital art had completely taken over the industry and introduced the audience to the style most of the mainstream animes rely on today. Although a lover of old school, I'm a huge fan of the stereotypical millennium anime art style. Suteki Tantei Labyrinth, aired in the fall of 2007, had also adopted the back then novelty style, which made the series particularly pleasant to my eye. It was especially delightful after Gakkou no Kaidan I've reviewed a while ago.
The beginning gave anime a positive vibe of secrecy and a mystery filled story ahead, although I was a little disappointed to see no opening at the first episode. I'm that oddball who genuinely listens to the opening and ending songs, and often judges series by the soundtrack. As stupid as it sounds. Truth be told, the beginning made me tense with paranoia: will everything go wrong in the beginning or will the creators mess up by the end?
It did not take long 'til I found myself genuinely enjoying the show. Surprisingly, two episodes into the anime I found myself fully captivated and even gasping as events unfolded. As a person who's seen a handful of series, I must admit it's rare to have me on the edge and truly interested at the very beginning.
What had truly impressed me were the plot twists and unexpected turns. On multiple occasions I would roll my eyes thinking I've already solved the mystery before the characters did, meaning the next two episodes were to drag, and every single time I'd be proven wrong. It was a pleasant surprise and something you'd expect from a detective anime.
Another highlight should be placed on the characters. Suteki Tantei Labyrinth has loads of them and yet we never know who (apart from Mayuki) are actually the main cast or who are side characters. In fact, it changed so much through the series it is simply impossible to tell now. My biggest compliments are dedicated to the villain, though.
A common thing to see in anime shows is that the villain is a bad guy no one wants to deal with as he seeks to destroy everything and everyone on his way. And so this leads to the fact the "good" characters only interact with the "baddie" when it's a fight time. In Suteki Tantei Labyrinth, however, the villain is actually pretty chill to talk even to representatives of the enemy. I was very pleased to see the antagonist being presented as a human being, capable to hold a civilized conversation instead of just yelling and destroying everything in his sight.
However, once the villain eventually stepped into the game, the anime went downhill. Although creators clearly tried to make it a transition in a new arc, even changing the ending song, I seriously wish they simply carried on with the primary mood of the series.
Now, where do I even begin with the cons? Probably the unnecessary episodes AKA fillers. Although Suteki Tantei Labyrinth is only 25 episodes long, holy molly, it's full of fillers. While I could understand the first episodes not contributing much towards the main story and are just there to hook the audience in, throwing absolutely unrelated episodes midway the series is just wrong, especially when the anime is so short.
Next step would be the characters. Although it's understandable the new arc will require new characters appearing, there was absolutely no need to throw so many of them in, especially with no intention of developing them anyhow. It felt as if the author just didn't know how to cope with another half of anime he produced—either it was too much for him, or not enough room he tried to squeeze everything in. In the end, the result stays the same: it sucked and lost its primary vibe. Worst of all, it became predictable.
Previously logical and consistent anime in the blink of an eye turned into an incoherent chaos with a bunch of new characters, new powers, new concepts, new backstories. Although I've somewhat enjoyed learning more about Seiran, whose story was probably the best of the lot, it was still pretty bad. The beautiful series that kept me tense and curious were long gone and replaced by what seemed like a sloppy fan continuation. It had so very little to do with the first episodes it was awful.
In the end, nothing really made sense and so many plot holes were left it made me sad.
When I've first started the series I did not think I would like it. I did not expect to dislike it either. All I wanted was to review it and to find out why others haven't done so. I can't tell if I came across the reasons, but I've come up with an assumption.
The series started great and from episode 2 I was mentally planning how I will praise this unnoticed masterpiece and recommended it to my boyfriend at once. However, midway the series it changed so drastically the previous joy of mine had vanished, leaving me nothing but a bitter taste of ash.
Such unexpected let down hit me harder than I thought and in fact, I felt like giving up on the review altogether. It was just painful how an anime with such great potential was ruined by what seemed to be a careless flick of a wrist.
Truth be told, I myself postponed this review for two weeks, now nearing the end of another series I watch, but eventually decided to share my insights.
In conclusion, I'm sure the anime was noticed and seen by many. The lack of feedback is likely caused by feeling cheated and general confusion of how a 10 went down to a weak 5. It is difficult to rate an anime half of which was brilliant, but the other half a disaster.
Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Am I disappointed? Also a yes.