Ayatsuri Sakon is another one of these unknown series that nearly nobody has heard of, and which still is quite good. It’s an arc-based series, tackling murder mysteries. The main character is a pretty interesting one: he’s a puppeteer (Sakon). On his own, he’s really shy, but when he wields his favourite and most cherished puppet (Ukon), he becomes quiet, serious and quite cool. To make matters even better, he’s so good at ventriloquism that his puppet looks just too much like a person. Ukon is loud-mouthed, rude and nearly the opposite of Sakon’s personality, but together they form a solid base for this series to work with.
Basically, the arcs in this series consist out of three or four episodes, and in each of them, a person is killed and Sakon, who happens to be in the neighbourhood, has to solve them. These mysteries go far beyond the “Scooby-Doo”-murders, they’re committed quite carefully, and it’s very often that only the smallest details will give them away. The murderers themselves also often have quite some interesting reasons for their actions. As an added extra, because Sakon is a ventriloquist, the entire series is deeply rooted in the ancient Japanese puppetry, giving this series a unique look.
There is, however, one problem with the set-up. I’m personally a huge fan of arc-based series, but they’ve got one major drawback: the quality between the different arcs can fluctuate heavily. With Ayatsuri Sakon, it’s the arcs in the middle of the series that are a bit lacklustre, and not that interesting when compared to the other ones. It’s often obvious who did it, and they do a bit too little to really stand out.
Still, to make up for this, there are a number of astonishing arcs around the beginning and end. Especially the second and the final arc are true masterpieces in storytelling, and just about everything went right for them. These two arcs managed to become very emotionally charged, with great results.
There are a number of recurring characters here and there, and I’m glad to see that all of them get sufficient development to be more than just a two-dimensional one, and nearly all of them have an entire arc dedicated to them. Sakon is also an excellent main characters, who can, together with Ukon, perfectly carry the weight of the series. He may seem like a static character in the beginning, but don’t worry: as the show goes on, he’ll get enough development.
Overall, if you’re a fan of murder mysteries, you just have to give this series a chance. Don’t be scared away by the lesser middle part, both the beginning and the end contain some remarkable stories. It’s a shame nobody talks about this, because Sakon is definitely getting less attention than it deserves, and it’s a real underrated series.