The Case Files of Young Kindaichi Returns Season Two
Hajime Kindaichi, again aided by not-quite-girlfriend Miyuki Nanase, continues assisting the police in cracking nearly impenetrable murder (mostly) mysteries and penetrating perplexingly complex plots.
The bloom definitely seemed off the rose this season, at least for me. Maybe the repetition of the show's familiar formulas have begun to take their toll on me, though I'd argue that the Second Season is also intrinsically weaker as well: there are fewer emotionally engaging story arcs like the "Inspector Kenmochi, Murderer" one from the first season, and there is also noticeably less of the Hajime/Miyuki relationship here (except in the closing credits); while I was noticing quite a few more plot holes this time.
Season Two begins, as Season One also did, with a story set in Hong Kong. "The Death March of Young Kindaichi" runs from Ep. 26 to 29 (continuing the episode numeration from the First Season.) And just like the opener for Season One, this one also has a rather absurdly sentimental ending; but this time the problems are exacerbated by a killer who just strains credulity too much; nurture just can't overwhelm nature to this degree. I can't say more about that, though I will say that Takato Yoichi, AKA "Hell's Puppeteer", shows up again here, and he'll actually be given a starring performance in an arc coming up shortly after.
Next (30-31) is "The Blood Pool Hall Murders." Like several of the other arcs this season, it's rather forgettable. I DID spot the clue that implicated the real killer, but wasn't able to really grasp the complete logistics of the murder without Kindaichi's explanation. (This is typical; the mysteries here almost always involve the most labyrinthine plots.) This one also indulges in another recurring theme of the show, which this season seems particularly fond of, tragic irony; killings in Kindaichi are often done for revenge, yet time and time again the offending party was on the verge of apologizing and (to the extent they could) making amends to the aggrieved party, but these efforts at contrition were of course cut short by the rather final solutions adopted by those aggrieved parties.
Eps. 32 to 36, "The Rosenkreuz Mansion Murders", features "Hell's Puppeteer" in that starring role mentioned previously. He actually engages Kindaichi's assistance in identifying a long-lost sister among guests invited to see a blue rose. This is the first Kindaichi arc that's actually felt the need (or maybe just the urge) to drop hints, and indeed if you follow the show's suggestion you'll know who the killer is, too. Hell's Puppeteer, by the way, turns out to have pretty sharp deductive powers of his own; he and Kindaichi together form a strangely effective team (to the amazement, and horror, of Miyuki.) By the way, who BUILDS houses like Rosenkreuz Mansion, anyway? (Except manga writers, that is....)
#37, "Gunshot at 4:40 A.M.", is a one-shot story (I HAD to do that) involves a murder which was mainly committed to make a point to another party. Some people, I guess, will do ANYTHING to make a point...
This is followed by the 45-minute OVA, "The File of Inspector Akechi". Akechi is a recurring cop character in the show who Kindaichi seems resentful and jealous toward for unclear reasons, though it might be because Akechi is handsome, tough, and debonair, as well as possessing acute analytical powers that also rival Kindaichi's. The story is told by a young policeman who Akechi served as senpai to, and involves a juvenile delinquent (and petty criminal) who's been able to escape punishment thanks to the interventions of his wealthy and powerful dad. The ending is more than a bit maudlin.
We resume the regular episode count with #38-41, "The Legendary Snow Demon", which has, alas, some memorably inane plotting. Note to the show: if you are just intending to kill a person with no witnesses present (in other words, if you AREN'T trying to mislead living witnesses), there's no need to put on a demon costume to do it. Putting on masks and chasing kids around is really only appropriate behavior where said kids, and their talking (if heavily accented) dog, eventually catch you and remove your mask, at which point you MUST say something like, "And I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids!" NO, let us NOT go there, or even REMIND people of such horrors! In a decent universe, such things SHOULD NOT BE! That's all bad enough, but that's not the only problem here, though. The killer seems to have decided to avenge the death of someone without bothering to determine the circumstances of their death, which seems to be a tremendous oversight; and speaking of overlooking details, nobody seems to have noticed a rather obvious absence, though to be fair the murder connected with it was certainly a novel way of killing AND concealing the corpse at the same time. Still, it requires an EXTRAORDINARY amount of inattention to make something like this work.
Episode 42 bears the archaically sexist title "The Strange Plan of the Female Doctor." There was an episode in Season One where Kindaichi inferred the nature, and crimes, of an individual from how they were dressed; here he does the same from the way their victim's dressed. Well, maybe the term "victim" isn't precisely applicable here, but again I can't say more.
Episode 43 is called "The Mystery of the Missing Gold Medal." It's memorably unmemorable, except for another appearance of the somewhat inappropriately-named Gentleman Thief.
The season ends with an arc called "The Foxfire-Floating Murders"(44-47.) The story reunites Kindaichi with some of his childhood friends, and features a village festival that vaguely recalls Cotton Drifting Night from Higurashi. It seems to have about the mortality rate of Cotton Drifting Night, too. The show's pretty obvious about its main clue, but engages in a little misdirection to try to make it harder to interpret, and after the solution is revealed I still didn't think the clue would have uniquely identified the actual perpetrator by itself anyway. The backstory behind the murders is the most interesting one this season, though to tell the truth it was hardly necessary for the killer to commit murder to take revenge; here, if he/she had simply TOLD the parties he/she had a grievance with what they'd done, the offenders would have been punished enough just having to live with it. Of all the examples of revenge murder in the series, this was probably the most pointless one, which I guess makes the irony here fairly powerful.
So I was a bit disappointed this time, not just because it doesn't do anything new with the formula, but more so because it mostly doesn't do as much WITHIN the formula as it sometimes did in the first season. On the other hand, I'm watching another series with murders (and lawyers), which I WON'T name, and despite its flaws Kindaichi still seemed to me to have somewhat more interesting characters, less inane humor, and better art than that show-which-is-not-to-be-named, so I guess I have to go at least three stars here by comparison. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No fanservice that I noticed. (An aside: I actually came across some of the Kindaichi manga at a convention a year or two ago, and noticed that the manga has a bit more fanservice than the anime- usually due to Kindaichi walking in on Miyuki in various states of undress.) On the other hand, there are some murders onscreen, and that poor victim in the "Snow Demon" episode was found in a memorably horrifying state.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (23/23)
The Case Files of Young Kindaichi Returns Season Two © 2015 Toei Animation.
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