Posted by psgels on 26 November 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

Matantei Loki Ragnarok is the first installment of Hiroshi Watanabe’s “Mystical Detectives”-trilogy (along with Tactics and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth). Those who’ve read some of my earlier reviews about this guy’s work know what I think about him: he can be incredibly talented, but also incredibly stupid. Whenever I go into a series of his, I absolutely have no idea what to expect.

I actually watched an episode of Ragnarok before I started this blog, and I wasn’t that convinced. It seemed just like any other silly adventure series that had nothing but a group of characters, going on silly adventures. And here the danger of first impressions shows up again, because against all my expectations, this turned out to be a genuinely excellent series. It’s a bit silly at times and sometimes it leaves a few small questions unanswered, but oh boy. This series really delivers when it wants to.

Like I said, the ingredients are pretty formulaic. In fact, you can see a lot of parallels with Hiroshi Watanabe’s other shows: we have the mahou shounen, his butler. There’s the annoying female sidekick, the animal sidekick, the complete moron, the energetic guy who runs a lot of jobs. Yet, this series actually makes something out of it. The cliches are there, but really: the characterization is so damn good.

This again isn’t a show for everyone, because it’s another one of those series that has a lot of slice of life in it. You might think that this will devolve into a series where most of the time is spent on random mysteries, but those actually play a fairly small role. Much more important to this series is showing the characters interacting with each other, and just having fun on a daily basis. And it does so with creativity. Loki is actually a pretty likable male lead: he’s mature, despite his looks, and likes to tease others. The female side-kick does yell a lot, yet she’s not stereotypical enough to get annoying, and she has enough other sides to her than her constant “mystery!”-catchphrase.

Throughout the majority of its airtime this simply is an enjoyable, varied and sometimes silly slice-of-life/adventure series. There are a number of goofball characters, and therefore also a number of goofball episodes with a sense of humour that’s typical to Hiroshi Watanabe (no idea is stupid enough!). This series really sets itself apart in its final quarter, however. It’s astounding how much this series takes its time to fully develop its main characters AND villains. This series has a really heart-warming finale that made me rate this show much higher than I was originally planning to.

The animation is basic, but it’s being made up by the visuals themselves. The character-designs were done by one of the best character-designers in the business (she also did the character-designs for Ghost Hound, King of Bandits Jing and not to mention Jigoku Shoujo). The music, especially near the end, also manages to create a great atmosphere for this series.

I might be one of the very few in this, but I’ve really become a fan of Hiroshi Watanabe. It’s obviously not because he’s a consistently good director: Star Ocean Ex and Shining Tears X Wind were just terrible, and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth was a trainwreck (an incredibly fun trainwreck yes; but a trainwreck nonetheless). However, the thing with this guy is that he just keeps surprising me. No matter what kind of series he’s doing, every single one of his series have caught me off-guard and surprised me with a sense of creativity I truly did not expect. Whether it’s good or bad remains to be seen, though.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

5 Responses

  1. Gottis says:

    I loved Loki too, but I wouldn’t have rated it as high as you did. On the other hand, it’s been years since I watched it, so I guess a rewatch should be done eventually. Maybe I’ll like it more now. ^_^

  2. Reltair says:

    I saw this years ago and found it enjoyable. Loki was a pro main lead, plus Norse mythology is always cool.

  3. Etrangere says:

    I loved this one for the crackfulness, characters & errrr, creative take on Norse mythology.

  4. Ebod says:

    OH SHI – did not expect you at all to rate it this high. xD

    Watched it a few years ago, really liked it, but it always felt a bit flat to me in terms of plot and characters. Loki in particular… I don’t know, there’s just something about his charaterization that feels flat to me.

    Of course, it doesn’t help much that I read the manga to this and the characterlization for Loki in the manga is drastically different from the anime. xD

  5. Krakolio says:

    I thought Star Ocean EX was a great anime. I just wish it had another season to complete the story.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:56 AM)
    That said I don’t trust whitefox when it comes to pacing.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:51 AM)
    Not sure how I feel about the new Utawerumono, I have vague memories of the first season but enjoyed it alot. Though this second take on it does have some similar setup, it feels goofier than the first season (which I remember taking itself more seriously). Still I’d like for this season to make up for some of the faults of its predeccesor.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:48 AM)
    @Rats: From What I heard its going to be a movie although one with a new story.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:36 AM)
    lol wut? a third season for SAO? I thought they already covered all the material from the light novel. Like only the first half of the 2 seasons were okay. The 2nd half of it was pretty meh
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:13 AM)
    Oh what a (not) surprise, a third anime for sword art.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 10:03 AM)
    I’m taking a look at the onepunch man manga here, the one with the updated art and I feel that the artists drawing ability almost makes it seem animated even though its just on paper.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Oct 4. 2015 04:27 AM)
    God I hate it when subbers hardcode the subs into the video. Makes getting screenshots all the harder.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 3. 2015 09:00 AM)
    It did have some grit to it though.
    Aidan if you have not read akumetsu I would say to read it, however the main plot takes a bit to get going, the ending isn’t great. But I thought it was a pretty exciting/crazy read and I liked the whole stand against the government thing. Good art style as well.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 3. 2015 08:54 AM)
    Some might take issue with the goofy bit with the female lead and think this episode a bit overdramatic. From watching those other takes on the character I was intrigued by him and wanted to know more so based on that I’m looking forward to more of this origin story.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Oct 3. 2015 08:54 AM)
    . I don’t think this’ll top the 90s Dezaki blackjack movie its got a chance of being better than black jack 21. Theres something tense/dramatic about a medical themed show that I like. I don’t know if it’ll get as office political as Team medical dragon.

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