May 1, 2022
“Satsujin Kippu wa Heart-iro” is a 1-episode romance murder mystery OVA, and although there are some good things about it and it’s largely watchable, the story is left incomplete and most aspects of this OVA do not hold up to scrutiny.
“Satsujin” is based off of the first of a series of 52 (!) novels by Hiroyasu Yamaura about the main character, Seiko Nagare. She’s a high school student who enjoys going on solo trips, with the goal of looking for love along the way. What she mostly finds, however, is murder.
This first installment of the story is no different. While on a train to Nagasaki,
she reads a newspaper article about someone who had been murdered the day before, but the problem is that she had just seen him in person on that very train earlier. (Contrary to the current synopsis written on this site, no murders actually take place on the train.) After arriving in Nagasaki, she finds more murdered people, whose untimely demises seem to have something to do with people she met on the train, so she gets involved in trying to solve the murders. Helping her out is a young man named Chuuta, who shows persistent interest in Seiko throughout the entire OVA, despite her refusals of his advances. His doggedness is endearing at first, but later becomes straight-up disturbing and stalker-ish. Chuuta also has a mysterious air around him and seems to be more than what he lets on.
Since this just adapts the content of the first novel, the story feels incomplete. We don’t get to find out about Chuuta’s background, for example, and there’s little to no character development. Also, there’s this whole issue with playing cards that does not get explained (the “heart” in the OVA’s title refers to the card suit). In addition, the murder mystery featured here is convoluted. The culprit is pretty obvious from early on, but their motivations are just dumped on the viewer at the end in a confusing monologue. I’m still not exactly sure what the reasoning behind the murders was.
The characters are paper-thin at best and annoying at worst. They continuously make dumb decisions and react unrealistically to the events occurring around them. The cat, which is mostly there for comic relief, does not act very feline at all; he obediently stays put in Seiko’s backpack most of the time, and follows her and the others around like a dog for the rest. The dialogue is simple and somewhat condescending at times. How many times do characters have to tell Seiko that it’s dangerous to travel alone as a girl, and that she needs a man with her?
All of that being said, I did like the premise and setting of the OVA. A young woman traveling the country by herself on a train is not something you see in anime much, if at all. And it’s refreshing to see some of the famous landmarks and historical sites of Nagasaki.
As far as technical aspects go, the animation and direction are quite bad. The animation is noticeably cheap, and the scene transitions are confusingly choppy. The characters look bland. The music is okay, but forgettable. The voice acting is average; the one stand out is Toshihiko Seki as Chuuta, but even there, Chuuta just sounds like every other male character lead that Seki voiced in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
There is significant objectionable content in this OVA, despite its PG-13 rating here. There’s a scene with nudity as Seiko takes a bath, dead bodies being hung and crucified, attempted murder, groping and sexist dialogue. Also, the stalker-like behavior of Chuuta may make some uncomfortable.
Overall, I did find “Satsujin” to be watchable, but just barely. The subpar technical aspects are distracting, the objectionable content is disturbing, and the murder mystery itself is rather weak. However, it has an interesting premise and is set in Nagasaki, which is a rather unique setting for an anime. If you can stomach the negative aspects, you may find this worth watching.
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