Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna
Two years ago the brilliant detective Narumi Kiyotaka disappeared, leaving behind his wife and younger brother with only a vague message concerning solving the mystery of the so-called Blade Children. After being falsely being accused of an attempted murder, Kiyotaka's brilliant younger brother, Ayumu, finds himself drawn into investigating the cursed Blade Children and their connection with his missing brother.
This show primarily focuses around Ayumu's continuing investigations into the nature of the Blade Children with the assistance of the perky head of his school's newspaper club, Hiyono. While the first few episodes are fairly straight forward mystery stories of the Murder, She Wrote variety, once the plot kicks in, Ayumu faces a series of mental challenges. The Blade Children are rather intelligent themselves and have their motivations to test or potentially eliminate Ayumu.
One of the main aspects I particularly enjoyed about this show was that it has the central challenge always revolve around mental puzzles or the solving of mysteries along with the general intriguing mystery concerning the nature of the Blade Children. It is kind of a nice change of pace to have a central protagonist whose primary talent is their mental aptitude rather than their combat ability, mecha ability, magical ability, or so on and so forth. While on one level you might think that a show mainly concerning mental challenges might be bereft of tension, but the ruthless nature of the Blade Children makes sure that Ayumu and his friends realize that failure might mean a loss of something more than pride.
The show does a good job of developing all the major and minor reoccurring characters. They all have their own complex motivations and no one is initially what they seem on the surface. Toward the end of the series, it was interesting for me to look back on my changed opinions on several of the characters.
I was also pleased at the unexpected depth of some of the support characters. Hiyono, for instance, initially seems to just be another stereotypical perky airhead whose purpose is to be cute and occasionally offer encouragement to the main lead. However, Hiyono ends up defying the stereotype by being rather talented herself in a number of areas (hacking, informational gathering) and ends up being a partner to Ayumu rather than just some superfluous cute adornment.
While not as profound as some titles, many of the characters do spend a lot of time discussing the role of destiny and free will since both concepts play a central role in the motivations of many characters. While the philosophical concepts aren't anything particular interesting in and of themselves, it was rather intriguing to see how various different people in the series deal with these concepts and how it reflects in their actions.
It is a fairly new series, so the colors and art are fairly good, though the very nature of the series, somewhat cut down on the need for a lot of super fluid action animation or anything along those lines. Most of the action scenes they do have tend to be quick and abrupt. A secondary theme of this show involves the related concepts of hunters and their prey, and even most of the action tends to involve more stalking than straight battle.
The music tends to supplement the mood, but doesn't stand out too much. It is bit too synth intensive at times for my personal taste, but I'll admit I have a certain fondness for the musical theme associated with one of Ayumu's little mental victories. The opening theme is interesting and could only be properly described as "J-Ska". While it is extremely catchy, in some ways it doesn't seem to fit the tone of the series.
I only had one real problem with this series and unfortunately it was kind of a major one. It ends after only twenty-five episodes and although they do end it at a good point in terms of plot arcs, the primary background mysteries have yet to have been solved. I suspect that perhaps the manga that this was based on was not finished at the time the series was made. I rather thoroughly enjoyed the series enough to want to seek out the manga if it is translated, but I felt somewhat disappointed by the ending.
I really wanted to give this show four stars, but though Spiral is an excellent mystery show full of intriguing characters, the lack of strong resolution in a show where the central mystery is so critical to the plot keeps it from quite earning that fourth star. Add a star if you don't mind inconclusive endings, or subtract a star if you don't enjoy mystery shows. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: Well there are a lot of murders and death threats occurring in this show, but most of the violence tends to be brief and not particularly graphic. The apparent ruthlessness of some of the younger seeming characters might bother some people. There is very little in the way of fan service or anything else of that nature. Overall it is pretty safe for most audiences, though particularly young children probably just would find this a bit over their heads since so a lot of it focuses on abstract thought.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (25/25)
Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna © 2002 Mizuno Eita / Shirodaira Kyou / Square-Enix / Aniplex / Sotsu Agency / TV Tokyo
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