Kindaichi Hajime may look dumb, but he is one of the smartest you will ever see. He encounters mysteries after mysteries with his good friend, Miyuki, and he swears to solve them in the name of his grandfather, who was a great detective.
#1: "Confused Memories" by Yuko Tsuburaya (eps 1-23) #2: "meet again" by Laputa (eps 24-42) #3: "君がいるから‥ (Kimi ga iru kara..)" by Yui Nishiwaki (eps 43-69) #4: "Brave" by Grass Arcade (eps 70-83) #5: "Justice" by Miru Takayama with TWO-MIX (eps 84-105) #6: "Why? (Funky Version)" by Color (eps 106-138) #7: "Never Say Why, Never Say No" by 566 featuring Sayuri Nakano (eps 139-148)
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo. An anime adaptation of my favorite manga series of all time, and certainly a very underrated one. While the sequel, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns is being broadcast currently, allow me to convince you why you should watch this well-written mystery anime series.
The original manga series is known in Japan as one of the earliest manga series of the mystery genre. Its more kid-friendly, well-known counterpart Detective Conan (aka Case Closed) only began serialization 2 years after this one. In the early days, Kindaichi was better received in Japan than the latter, as shown by its sales numbers. Much of its fans loved it for its whodunit mysteries, which I would explain below. In the late 90s, due to Detective Conan pandering to a wider audience, Kindaichi's popularity slowly plummeted, and now even though it is still considered a classic mystery series, it could no longer regain its former glory.
Onto the anime adaptation, it is definitely a pity that this anime series did not receive any release in the western world by any distributors. Online fansubs are also rumored to be rather terrible, with the first 20 or so episodes being watchable only. I would say that the series deserves a larger audience, because of the reasons that I would explain now.
The anime series of Kindaichi does not have an actual continuous story unlike Detective Conan. Each individual murder case takes up about 3-4 or even 5 episodes to resolve, usually involving a murder of about 3 people, 4 if longer, but rarely does it elevate to 5 or more (though there do exist such cases). One could argue that with the introduction of the criminal mastermind Takato Youichi in the 3rd season of the anime, the story became continuous, but I would argue that one could still watch each case individually or in a non-linear fashion, and would still not be confused.
Dissecting into the structure of each case, a Kindaichi whodunit mystery follows the same formula: Kindaichi goes to a place, meets a few murders, solves them, end of story. However, each case does not simply become boring because of this. Kindaichi's cases are well-known for their unique tricks used by the murderers in each case. The tricks may appear simple, but still have their own elements of surprise.
Furthermore, I would also recommend the murder cases to people who enjoy tragic, sad backstories. The murderers in Kindaichi's cases all usually have a well-justified reason why they want to kill their victims. And while you would probably not agree with their way of resolving things by murder, you would probably feel a sense of sympathy for them after you listen to their backstories.
As a 90's production, the art definitely leaves room to be desired. The animation does not flow well occasionally, and some characters may appear deformed in certain episodes. Nevertheless, the art should not bother you if you watch Kindaichi for the story.
Kouji Wada does a great job at composing the soundtrack for Kindaichi. Each scene, whether be it conveying sadness, anxiety, happiness, has a well-composed piece to it. The two tracks that are particularly memorable are the one usually played when a body is found called "Jicchan no Nami Kakete!", and the one played during a heart-beating, nervous scene called "Nazo wa Subete Toketa!".
The main character, Kindaichi Hajime, is an IQ 180 genius who acts goofy all the time, but when needed can show a sense of justice. Along with him are his childhood friend Nanase Miyuki and the police officer Kenmochi Keibu. The series, being composed of standalone cases, do not show much character development for its main cast, but the characters interact well with excellent chemistry in each case.
Along with the main cast are a number of characters (the victims, suspects and the murderer) in each case. Like any other whodunit series, the characters need to be unique, well-fleshed out for an audience to truly enjoy the cases. Luckily, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo does that well, providing enough screentime for each character before his/her ultimate fate.
The series is not perfect, but I would still recommend it if you are a hardcore detective fan who loves long, well-planned murder cases with intriguing tricks and sad (sometimes tragic) endings. I would say it certainly deserves a lot more popularity and I wish that a distributor would meet up with this piece of gem and release it.
*Side-note: A list of my personal recommendations if you are too lazy to watch through all of the 148 episodes:
The Murders of the Fudou High School Seven Mysteries (Episode 1-3)
The Murders of the Gentleman Thief (Episode 10-12)
The Murders of the Trickery House (Episode 18-20)
Kindaichi the Murderer (Episode 24-27)
The Murders of the Magical Express (Episode 33-36)
The Murders of the Snow Demon (Episode 37-39)
The Murders of Reika's Kidnapping (Episode 47-50)
The Murders of the Computer Lodge (Episode 74-77)
The Murders at Snow Village (Episode 111-114)
The Murders of the Russian Dolls (Episode 139-143)read more
I am horrified to find out that no one have tried to write a review for this anime. As far as mystery type of genre animes goes, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo is definitely at the top. Even though this series have been frequently compared with Detective Conan, it was never as popular as Detective Conan because of its slightly milder themes. However, I am not here to debate on which is better, Conan or Kindaichi since Conan is longer running and will have a larger fanbase and better art. If you are an avid fan of the mystery genre, then read on.
Kindaichi Hajime is a genius with an IQ of 180, despite his sloppy attitude. Just like many other detective animes, he is apparently cursed to end up at the exact places at the exact time when horrifying murder cases occurs. Each case usually lasts 3-4 episodes, usually ending with the murderer repenting and reminiscing about the painful past that leads to the motive. Although the pattern becomes clear to the viewers very soon, it never gets old. Just when you thought that it is another same old case where they get trapped in a confined area, the show throws in an unexpected case such as the Kidnapping Case of Hayami Reika. It follows very closely to the manga, even though not all cases are present in the anime.
What is splendid about this anime is that it invites the viewers to try and solve the mystery before the last episode that will reveal all. The show makes sure that the viewer gets all the clues possible before revealing the culprit in question.This makes for a pleasant experience for the viewers and they won't feel left out of the anime. This also allows the viewers to root for Kindaichi because he will always reveal the answer to the mystery. It is always awesome to hear Kindaichi announce: "All the mysteries have been solved!" Commence anime swooning.
As far as the art goes, it is not incredible in anyway, and for a anime made in 1997, there shouldn't be much expectation to match animes of nowadays. I have no complains either way as it does not affect the experience and the creepy cases still gets to me all the same. The terrible scenes of the bodies being found never cease to instill fear in me. It does not matter if they were hanged, drowned or stabbed. It is always horrifying, despite the art being behind times.
The sound can get quite repetive, with the same music playing in the background when: someone screams, chase scene, rushing to another area, corpse found and when they realise something horrible. This cannot really be avoided since Kindaichi is made up of several cases. The incredible openings of each season easily make up for these few flaws. I cannot imagine anyone skipping past the first opening Confused Memories or Kimi Ga Iru Kara... simply because the music just suits the theme of Kindaichi so well. It is a perfect start to a new mystery or case as things gets more and more intense or bloody.
As far as characters goes, I absolutely love the main characters. There's Kindaichi with his humorous 'FAILS' with Miyuki to fix and reprimand him for. The police inspector Kenmochi proves to be slightly useful by providing information and using his authority to Kindaichi's whims. Then there's the rivalry between Akechi and Kindaichi, as well as some famous villians that never gets caught. It is always a fascinating experience to be first spooked by the murders, then to laugh at some of Kindaichi's aloof jokes later on. Thankfully, there's 148 episodes worth of enjoyment.
If you can't tell by now, I really enjoyed Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo. I still continue to read the new stand-alone manga releases and will always be hungry for more. Hence, if you enjoyed Conan, please try out Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo for a similiar experience that is slightly different. Personally, I think that both animes stand out in their own ways but Kindaichi is a little less annoying. It's true, having little kids solve mystery gets to me. Personally I find Kindaichi more realistic. But enough of that. If you enjoy a good mystery with complex and ingenious methods involved, you must definitely check this one out. There have got to be more Kindaichi fans.