This is probably going to be the most difficult review of the past month for me. First of all, it’s always difficult to review your favourite series without delving into plain rambling, but this also isn’t a case where I just sum up the points I loved about it and get things over with. Himitsu is a series with a lot of weaknesses, and yet after Kaiba, it stood out for me as the best series of the past half year.
Let me first get these weaknesses out of the way. Himitsu is basically a crime series, where the main characters try to find the culprit of a crime by looking into the mind of the victims. Its biggest mistake is that can be a bit over-theatrical at times. Its got an excellent soundtrack that can however sound a bit too cheesy when put into practice, and it’s got those nasty tendencies of showing some strange instances of fanservice for the fangirls (why this is considered to be worse than blasphemy, while female fanservice is always praised, I don’t know).
Then there are the issues with the series’ messages. Because it involves policemen who look inside the brains, you’d expect a lot of ethical debates. A series that makes you think about whether or not it’s right to look into the privacy of a deceased. This however, doesn’t turn out to be the case: Himitsu merely just lists a large number of taboos that even Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei didn’t dare to touch, and presents its own views about them, but it doesn’t try to spark any discussion.
So, despite all this, why did I like this series so much? Well, first of all: it just is an excellent mystery-series. Every case keeps you guessing what’s going on. Because in the series, the memory-recovery system is a very advanced technology, people often need to wait a couple of hours before a new piece of the victim’s brains are loaded in the computer. This series is a master in timing its revelations, and keeping the viewer busy and wondering what’s going on.
This also is a very inconsistent series, for the good and the bad. If you liked one case, you can be sure that the next case is going to focus on something completely different. This isn’t exactly good for your expectations, but at the same time it makes the series extremely unpredictable: you’re never going to know what’s going to happen next. You’ll never know what the next episode will focus on. Every episode is different, and focuses on something else, and this makes for a very varied episodic series.
This series is also excellent in the few times it delves into horror. If you thought that Code Geass was shocking, just wait until you see a few particular episodes of this series. Madhouse has always been a production studio with very little censorship, and this series ranks along with Shigurui to their least censored series, making for a few gruesome cases that pop up once in a while and take you by surprise.
And then the characters. They really are a case on their own. For a long time, you’ll be wondering what the series is planning to do with them. Because this is a series that focus mostly on the people that are involved with the case, the actual main characters, the investigating policemen, at first sight seem to be neglected a bit. But as it turns out, the creators knew exactly what they were doing with their characters. Because they moved away from the manga this series is based on, they were able to plan this series exactly for the length of 26 episodes, and they’ve been fleshing out the main cast very subtly throughout the series.
The result is that the cast of this series comes together wonderfully in the final quarter of this series. All of them are developed very subtly, and each of them becomes memorable somehow, and overall they become a lot of fun to watch as they try to solve their cases. The finale of this series forms an excellent conclusion for this series, where this development is used to its full extent.
In terms of graphics, a lot of people may disagree with me, but I absolutely loved them. Madhouse has always had the reputation of straying away from the overly moe or GAR character-designs, and it’s the same here. The character-designs look excellent, and never seem to be trying to be overly cute. Overall, this is one series where the foreground characters and background art really mesh excellently with each other, making sure for some awesome shots.
Overall, it’s really a shame that the subs stopped right before the best episode of the entire series, and Himitsu has definitely been the most underrated series from the spring-season for me. It can be surprisingly intense at times, while surprisingly touching at others, fully tying in with the “fooling the viewer”-theme of the past half year that I’ve mentioned a few times already. It knows very much how to tell a story, got an awesome set of main characters and definitely turned into my favourite series after Kaiba ended.