This. It’s beautiful.
The premise of it. The execution. The art team and the music director. The pacing. It does it all well. I would not call it revolutionary art in the way I would refer to say Violet Evergarden, but this reaches into all of those dark and psych-horror vibes that I love to revel in.
Hence, the pacing is ever so slightly slow to some viewers and may not fit many individuals’ tastes, as a disclaimer. There is blood, gore, violence, murder, and other dark topics considered.
The concept of presenting Professor Moriarty’s side of the story does not feel like it should be a novel concept. I have not gone out of my way prior to seeing this anime in finding other tales of Moriarty’s side though. I will admit that.
In a way, it is a telling similar in nature to Robin Hood. A person of charismatic persuasion capable of providing methods by which to upheave society. A great equalizer so to speak. To the nobles, Robin Hood was an outlaw, a boogey man, someone terrifying. To the common people, Robin Hood was a savior.
In that same vain, Sherlock Holmes is a savior to Scotland Yard and quite often rich clientel, though he was known to meddle with poverty crimes, while Moriarty was the villain to the nobility and a savior to the common people explicitly. Yet, both Sherlock and Moriarty flitted within the social circles of both noble and common, taking advantage of what suited them in the moment, while the common people did not have that advantage. Is it wrong to cast a hero in this instance then from the stock of people who have the ability to control the country so easily? Is it admitting that it would take someone from the high class to bring the high class to heel? Is it a dismissal?
Moriarty, in this instance, in the anime, is shown at the beginning of the story to have mysteriously appeared at an orphanage school while still a child. This creates the sense in the viewer that he does in fact come from the common class and there by fully represents the common class. While this is set up to show Moriarty’s common background, for most viewers and readers who are familiarity with Sherlock’s background, Sherlock does come from a well rounded noble-family background and is considered a black sheep within the family for his peculiarities and obsessions. Someone shunned.
Moriarty’s peculiarities and obsessions, however, benefit the common people. The difference between a hobbiest and a professional perhaps? One can afford to meddle, the other makes their lively hood dependent upon it. Both a hobbiest and a professional can have the same level of skills and be sought after by society, and yet there is a difference of place, in a sense. Maybe this is part of the dig into Sherlock being an assistant to the police while Moriarty is a professor.
Often, when we discuss MCs or Main Characters, they are cast as the hero of a story. Frequently, Sherlock is cast as the monotone or compassionless-and-yet-entirely-forgivable-for-his-useful-hyperfixation hero when it comes to this particular story line. A person has been murdered, or an object stolen, and he goes about finding out who did it by subtle, small clues that evade the average reader and watcher.
Here though, the MC is Moriarty, who is predominantly a villain in all the stories. Within this context, he could potentially be referred to as an anti-hero. Maybe in the same way as Deadpool is an anti-hero. When justice fails the system. When the law fails the system. When the system has been corrupted beyond a reasonable repairable means. Moriarty steps in.
In watching the transgressions across the screen, it is interesting how you wish to detach yourself from viewing and try to see the actions of the various characters as evil, because of the precedence that Sherlock is supposed to be a ‘good guy’ and in general, murder is bad. Yet, the stories elicit sympathy, empathy for the poor class’s strife and the small stories that amount to a larger view on the hierarchical structure of Industrial Revolution period Britain as a whole. A cataloguing of sins.
This is one of those twists. Something I cover in Subject15 and Subgalaxia, where the philosophy of justice and the execution of a moral justice comes into play. At what point are the actions of the victims ‘wrong’? This one takes it to the extreme, often ending with one noble or another being murdered in various untraceable ways at the hands of their victims. This provides that bit of ego stroke to both the sympathetic character and the viewer. The ability to go “this feels like proper justice.” Even, when in reality, for many stable people, we can hide behind our basic understandings of the law and how it is meant to be applied and our morals in regards to what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. Murder, thievery, hostility, these are all wrong. The ever loved phrase “two wrongs do not make a right”.
I have to wonder, through this presentation, if the show is not so much saying “two wrongs do not make a right” but instead is say “two wrongs may make the situation equal”. At what point is equal right and equal wrong? At what point is equity, not equality, a variance of an “-ism light” rather than a true benefit to all parties? As I said. The Great Equalizier. Seeking out the balancing of the scales. If Lady Justice is meant to be blind, why does a person’s class, race, sexuality, traditions, religion, allow a tipping of the balance? Why do some rise and some fall? Why do those who rise, often times profit from the backs of those who fall. Why do some who rise escape impunity, why the balance tips so heavily in favor of casting those who fall as worse for already being so low?
This anime, like quite a lot of psych-horror, picks and pulls at those darker philosophical questions that people become uncomfortable confronting and yet so desperately desire a conversation if not a confrontation on.
This is no otome harem style or shojo anime, for the characters looking “beautiful”. This fits neatly into it’s category. It has been well addressed for the characteristics of the time period it is portraying. The loop holes have been cleanly cinched up. The pacing unfolds evenly.
Would I suggest it? If you like dark philosophy and have the stomach to handle various methods of murder, I would advise placing this one on the list.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.