Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
Mystery-obsessed high school girl Mayura, discovers that, in her neighborhood, there is apparently a detective agency run by a young but seemingly precocious young boy Loki. Little does Mayura know that the boy is actually the Norse God Loki, who has been exiled to Earth and forced into the body of a boy as punishment by Odin for unknown reasons. Odin, however, is not simply content to exile Loki. Soon various other Norse creatures and Gods will arrive on Earth to cause trouble for Loki and his friends.
Mythology can tell you a lot about a culture given that it so tightly bound to so many aspects of the culture from which it originated ranging from the religious to simply the practical. When another culture adopts mythology for story telling purposes, it can result in some interesting insights into the potential stories or something all together different. This anime's use of Norse mythology was a bit odd for me, since they used a lot of elements of the Norse myths from the well-known to the obscure, but they ran them to the most exceedingly extreme Japanese cultural filters possible. We have Norse gods showing up as kaitou (phantom thief) and speaking in dialectal speech. We have Thor's Mjolnir as a bokken. Loki himself, well, I can't really say he comes off particularly Japanese as much as oddly gothic. There are numerous examples, but my main point is that going into watching this show, you have to realize it uses its base mythology as a general basis for a story, and those expecting something a bit more, uh, Scandinavian might be a bit surprised. Though I found the way they represented Odin to be one of the more interesting and effective ways that I have ever seen in anything vaguely based on Norse mythology.
Actually that aspect of the show was somewhat interesting. As various gods, goddesses, creatures, and items show up, they all seem to have a varying degree of adjustment to fit in with the human world. Some like Loki, seem to be relatively untouched (except for the whole being a kid thing), where others have completely human identities and lives as well. Their interpretation of Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent - well it is at the same time hysterical on one level and exceedingly bizarre. I found it highly creative though.
Well, we have all those mythological references, what about the rest of the show? Actually, it isn't that bad, but I do think it kind suffers from a desire to be too many different types of shows at once. I also think that the chief reason for that was probably just simple marketing. Take the primary name of the show, Matantei Loki, and the plight of the main character, Loki. Loki was a man (well a god) with a keen mind, who is now forced into the body of the children and works at a detective agency to solve mysteries. Quite frankly, I think this was pretty much a blatant lift from Detective Conan. Given the latter show still has good popularity in Japan, I think that the initial plot design elements were designed to attempt to gain some of Conan's audience by convincing them that Loki would be similar.
One of the reasons I feel these elements were probably taken off the other show is that this show actually has very little mystery or sleuthing work once you get past the first few episodes. There is the mystery of why Loki was exiled to Earth and he has plenty of encounters with "evil auras" but it just seemed curious to me to present this show like it was going to be a detective show when that aspect is so underutilized. They generally do a good job at maintaining a somewhat mysterious atmosphere, though generally the dramatic tension from that aspect came from more anticipating what wacky Norse god/creature/item was involved rather than any genuine mystery about what was going on.
The main plot concerning Loki and his interactions with the various deities and creatures of Asgard, actually was fairly interesting particularly once it got going a bit stronger. It does end up with a kind of monster/scheme of the week, but they are all different enough in general encounter nature that it doesn't get too overly repetitive.
There are a number of characters here, though most of them do not really see a chance to grow much beyond their basic personality type. Perhaps the most disappointing character was Mayura. The mystery obsessed girl has got to be perhaps one of the stupidest and clueless people to ever investigate such matters. I kept hoping that she would get a chance at some point to shine with some evidence of intelligence, but she really doesn't. Well, her antics and actions are cute at least.
They also had the interesting plot hook of her father which they failed to really use well. He works as a spiritualist who apparently doesn't really believe in the supernatural but actually does have the ability to see spirits. Though Loki taunts him a few times, they don't really do much with the character. They seem to stress the various comedic aspects of the character's personalities more than anything though as the plot gets increasing serious toward the end, we do get several episodes which feature some good dramatic events that affect the characters.
On the technical side this is a very new show, so the character designs, color work, and animation were good for the most part. They do lean a bit heavily on the stock footage at times, especially with Loki summoning his mystical staff for battle purposes. I did find that kind of funny in that they had a few episodes where he was attacked and then they do the staff summoning sequence and it seemed like his opponent would have had plenty of time to kill him while he was going through the whole process.
Overall, the show had a lot of good basic elements and ideas, it just seemed like it was trying to be too many different things at once and that ended up hindering it. It still was interesting and amusing enough in general to have me watch the whole show but is not a top tier title.
Interesting basic Norse mythology premise with generally amusing characters, but it is too lacking in focus to truly be good. People who are Norse mythology purists will probably one to subtract a star because this show has a very Japanese take on the Norse myths. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: The characters battle a variety of gods, beasts, and other assorted magical creations, but most of it is quick and very bloodless (most defeated creatures just seem to disappear). There are a couple of deaths later in the series that, while sad, are not graphic. Overall, this show is pretty safe for most audiences, though particularly young kids might be frightened by some of the attacks upon Loki and his friends.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok © 2003 Sakura Kinoshita / Mag Garden / Matantei Loki Ragnarok Production Committee / TV Tokyo
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