Chiko is the daughter of the wealthy Mikamo family who has to live with her aunt and uncle after her parents passed away. Because her aunt wants to inherit the Mikamo family's wealth, she gives Chiko poisoned food. One day, however, she's kidnapped by the Nijuu Mensou (20 Faces) and decides to join his clan.
I admit that I love a good mystery, especially when they're reminiscent of creations by Conan-Doyle and Christie. The suspense, dama and tension in those stories is sometimes breathtaking, however their on-screen adaptations are often a little more lacklustre.
Enter then, Nijuu Mensou no Musume or, to give it a snappier title, "The Daughter of Twenty Faces" (I should point out that the show also has the unfortunate title "Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief" for some odd reason - I prefer the middle title as it has a certain grandstanding, operatic quality about it which is more in keeping with the series).
The story is loosely
based on the detective novels by Edogawa Rampo (the author's pen-name), in which the lead characters were often an eccentric but skilled detective named Kogoro Akechi, and his arch nemesis Kajin Nijuu Mensou (the Fiend with Twenty Faces). The anime version is an adaptation of the manga that was released in 2002.
Where the anime version deviates from the works of Edogawa is in making the main character a girl who gets caught up in the exploits of the famous thief known as Twenty Faces. She views her "kidnapping" by Twenty Faces and his gang as a gift, and rapidly warms up to her new "family" - the reasons for this being made obvious in the first few episodes.
The plot is very well paced throughout the series and, whilst the main story is split into two very clearly defined arcs, the method in which the story is handled is very subtly different in the second arc. The first arc is dramatic and mysterious, especially when Chizuko (Chiko for short), considers the mysterious man known as Twenty Faces. The second arc has an added sense of adventure which is brought about by the introduction of Shunka Koito. Although the second arc tries to maintain some of the same suspense as the first, it never quite matches up to it as the audience by then is well aware of Chiko's capabilities, and knows that she will find a way to come out on top.
The animation is, for want of a better word, excellent. The characters move with a natural surety and sense of rythm that's wonderful to see, and this is not only prominent in action sequences, but in the quieter moments as well. Each of the characters is also very well designed, with a sense of individuality to them. One thing that I liked was the sometimes subtle changes made to each of the characters to show the passage of years.
The backgrounds and backdrops are very well made, with an exceptional amount of detail in them. These make a very atmospheric and realistic setting upon which the action can take place. CG has been used to great effect in the series, and is sometimes almost indistinguishable from the normal animation.
As far as the music goes, the show has a very atmospheric soundtrack that is reflective of it's post-war setting (i.e. 1950's). The OP is a very nice track called "Kasumi" that has a certain tragic yet hopeful quality to it, whilst the ED, called "Unnamed World", is a very upbeat ditty sung by Hirano Aya (who also plays the role of Chiko). One nice thing about the two theme songs is how reflective they are of the two story arcs without actually giving anything away.
The effects are extremely well used in the show, and actually have a greater impact on the viewer than one would expect. The sounds are very atmospheric, and when added to the music, gives a scene a certain "completeness".
As I've already mentioned, Hirano Aya plays the role of Chiko, but this is no Suzumiya Haruhi typecast, oh no. Chiko is calm, capable, and very, very clever, and it's nice to see Hirano displaying a wider range of talents here than she is normally able to. The other characters are equally as well portrayed, however the main focus of the show is Chiko, which is one of the downsides to the series (not a big one though).
It should go without saying by now that Chiko is an extremely well realised character in the series, and her growth and development is well handled in both the scipt and Hirano's acting abilities. Unfortunately, the series has a wealth of characters who I would have liked to have known more about. The original members of Twenty Face's gang for example, and the reasons why they joined him were things that could have been included. That said, I found it both surprising and pleasing to find that the mysterious Twenty Faces is actually rounded out very well come the end of the series, mainly through the use of flashbacks.
I found that I enjoyed this series a lot. Whilst it does suffer from a certain transparency at times, it does have a lot of action and mysteryto keep you interested. The sub-plot in the second arc was actually more interesting for me as it went into more detail about the "Great War" that Twenty Faces alludes to in the first arc, and not even the antics of the "Detective Girls" could stop me from wondering what would happen next.
What I found nice about the series as a whole was that it is clearly an homage to Japan's first mystery series featuring a recurring detective and nemesis, and the flavour one gets from the story is very Conan-Doyle, a fitting tribute since Edogawa was heavily influenced by him. The fact that Kogoro Akechi appears in the series, and is on the trail of Twenty Faces is great to see, however there are more homages to Edogawa's novels than just the obvious, one in particular appearing in the final episode (see if you can spot it, and if not, then just ask).
This is a good series that just misses the mark of being great, primarily because of it's focus on Chiko. The lack of attention to the other characters (in comparison to Chiko that is), gives the whole series a slightly unfinished feel come the end. Whilst it does have the feeling of a classic detective story, it lacks that certain polish that comes with a cast of characters you actually care about.
On the whole though, it's a very good homage to Japan's first great detective novelist, and it would be nice to see more mysteries of this kind.
Nijuu Mensou no Musume (The Daughter of 20 Faces) is an Action, Adventure, Mystery, Drama that feels just like many of the classic detective shows. It consists of 2 story arcs, so expect changes during the transition between the 1st & 2nd arcs.
The story follows a gang of thieves led by the infamous man known only as ‘Twenty Faces’, who one day decides to take a young girl with him (hence the name of this series). The beginning is nothing spectacular, it just sets the scene for this late 50s themed detective fiction, which focuses mostly on Chizuko. The series follows an episodic nature, with
each episode dealing with individual endeavours but unlike most episodic anime, the story actually progresses nicely from episode to episode. Though the endeavours the group undertake tend to be more geared towards anime theatrics than thought-provoking realism. This all changes once it reaches the major turning point, early on and the series goes downhill a bit, upon losing all direction it once had. Adjusting to the sudden change does take some getting used to and it doesn’t help that the once entertaining story of thievery becomes something too complex for its own good.
What makes up the story has to be the large cast of characters; which 20 Faces’ gang, the important recurring characters of the second arc and the unimportant episodic characters make up. Chizuko (Chiko) is quite the remarkable girl because not only is she really intelligent in the beginning, she is also the only one that develops very well throughout the series. 20 Faces does prove to be quite the enigmatic figure however the rest of the gang just don’t seem all that important but that doesn’t mean they are any less entertaining.
Just what you’d expect from Bones, the series features some great animation & sounds. This anime has some immensely detailed environments, aesthetic realism for the settings, appropriately used CGI & nicely animated characters that fit in well with it all. Overall it’s great but I did feel the animation could have been much better. The music on the other hand fit the theme it was going for perfectly, going for some suspenseful music to match the detective-fiction themed adventure.
Overall this anime series is a very entertaining experience, as it’s full of action, drama & suspense then develops into something very mystifying. Though there are still numerous flaws, most of which are prominent in the second arc, when the story diverges and the ‘great war’ subplot becomes more apparent. It really isn’t clear what to expect upon watching this series, so it’s best to just watch and experience it yourself.
There is a very specific reason why Daughter of 20 Faces doesn't work. However to properly explain this point, I have to spoil pretty much the entire plot. Bear with me though, because it's a damn good point.
Daughter of 20 Faces is a Bones anime from spring 2008. The story is about a girl called Chieko who was freed from her horrible life with her evil stepmother by a band of thieves led by the charismatic 20 Faces. The band became Chieko’s surrogate family, with 20 Faces become a father figure to her. He taught Chieko tricks of the trade along with many other lessons
about humanity and morals and so on. Chieko was a pretty talented thief in her own right even at a young age, many suggesting she would succeed 20 Faces to be the new leader. She became the ‘daughter of 20 faces’ so to say. That is, until shit got real in episode 6. I can’t quite remember the exact details, but basically 20 Faces rescued Chieko and disappeared off on a burning train, presumably to have died.
This is the Death of the Tutor, a pretty standard trope in any mode of story-telling. Everything from Star Wars to Madoka Magica does this. The reason it happens is to allow for further development of the main character. They learn the life lessons from the tutor but they can’t move on while they live in the shadow of said tutor. The Death of the Tutor shocks them out of that sense of security and forces them to develop themselves. This is exactly what happens in Daughter of 20 Faces. Chieko’s development went from talented child under her evil stepmother to finally having the freedom and guidance to train these talents of her. Getting 20 Faces out the picture forced Chieko to develop further. There was some moping but she then went on to form the ‘detective girls’ with some friends, starting down the road of a perhaps more law-abiding version of 20 Faces gang of thieves. They discover a bigger plot is going on, Chieko and co. start to uncover the mystery until about episode 12 where the fatal happens.
20 Faces comes back.
And with that, the story dies.
Chieko reverts back to how she was before episode 6. Her development is aborted. She’s back to relying on 20 Faces for guidance, unable to tackle these problems herself. The ‘plot’ continues, but the plot was never particularly good to begin with. It was a vague mystical science thing where water can blow up, scary scientists plot world domination and plot holes are as regular as a panty flash in Rosario to Vampire. The real appeal of the anime lay in the development of Chieko’s character, which until now had been done brilliantly. That ended with 20 Faces return. She wasn’t capable of developing further.The author didn’t have the balls to kill off 20 Faces, but in bringing him back, he succeeded in killing his very own story. The Death of the Tutor seems like a tired trope, but watching Daughter of 20 Faces brought to light how important it truly is.
Since this is MAL, you're apparently meant to cover points like animation and sound even when they have nothing to do with the points you are making. So here we go:
Story: Plot is as dumb as fuck. The real story ends in episode 12
Art: Good. This is still Bones after all
Sound: Forgettable. Lots of Aya Hirano going 'Oji-san'
Character: See entire above review
Enjoyment: Ended when 20 Faces came back
The Daughter of Twenty Faces basically makes its own plot based on characters from the classic Japanese mystery novels written by famous Japanese author Edogawa Rampo, in particular the thief Twenty Faces and detective Kogoro Akechi to a lesser extent. The series centers on orphaned girl Chizuko becoming involved with the thievery of Twenty Faces and his gang with the first five episodes of the series focused on their world-traveling thievery. Some shocking events in the sixth episode, which I won't spoil here, completely change the focus of the anime in later episodes as it changes over to Chizuko trying to seek out Twenty Faces
and learn more of his past as two antagonists acquainted with him in the pasthave their own diabolical plans in store for the thief and anyone close to him.
Daughter of Twenty Faces offers up an engaging focus on the bond between Chizuko and Twenty Faces as the former regards him as a surrogate father and the latter sees her as potentially being his future successor while teaching Chizuko the tools of the trade as a thief. The first five episodes are somewhat setup like Rupan Sansei with Twenty Faces being gentleman thief and focus on his international exploits stealing loot overseas from those who are better off without it, only without the perversion and slapstick comedy from Monkey Punch's classic series. The episodes are used to setup the bond that Chizuko and Twenty Faces develop with one another and it did quite well in having me believe that their bond was genuine. The shocking events that develop in the sixth episode made for a surprising and effective twist in the title's plot to change its focus from the thievery of Twenty Faces' group to Chizuko now having to reunite with him and learning of his past when she is returned back to Japan.
The rest of the series goes into some retro-futuristic like developments in its focus on Twenty Faces confronting the elements of his past as the foes he confronts make used of advanced versions of technologies commonplace during the era in which the series is set. It does accurately depict the Showa era in Japan with the fashions and traditional norms of the era, as well as many folks still being on edge from the events of World War II during the time period. It also features Chizuko adapting to the sudden changes in her life as she settles into a somewhat mundane routine as a teen schoolgirl after being brought back to Japan, learn of Twenty Faces' exploits, avoid attempts on her life from both her greedy aunt and said antagonists of Twenty Faces and not being around Twenty Faces' gang.
Many of Daughter of Twenty Faces' prominent characters are reasonably fleshed out as many of them carry tragic pasts they are trying to move on from. This fleshing out works well in either learning more about what connections said characters had with the past of Twenty Faces, how their lives were effected from the war or being exploited for the personal gain of the later antagonists confronted in the series.
The animation to Daughter of Twenty Faces sports solid production values sporting vast and detailed scenery shots, nicely rendered CG animation used for some scenes such as the rendering of blimps and a good amount of fluid movement and solid choreography shown within the title's action scenes. The music does its part in adding suspense and drama to the title's revelations on the exploits of Twenty Faces and the actions of the various villains seen throughout the series, though there was nothing that stuck out too strongly for me.
Despite its solid setup though, Daughter of Twenty Faces is muddled with a fair number of flaws. Suspension of disbelief is a requirement to get enjoyment out of a nice number of the various acrobatic feats from Chizuko and the abilities of other characters seen throughout the show as they are certainly not possible to pull off in real life. In addition, beyond the nice amount of depth many characters get in this series, a number of them still follow standard character archetypes you would find from older or more conventional anime titles. The later antagonists introduced get their moments of depth yet they also are a bit over-the-top at times with their behavior to the point where it was more laughable than serious. The plotting to the series also has its rough elements as there are some plot developments with supporting characters left unresolved thanks to the larger focus on Twenty Faces' past and the resolution to the conflict with the second villain from Twenty Faces' past was so contrived in its developments that it got a bit mind-numbing for me.
Putting aside these flaws, Daughter of Twenty Faces still made for a somewhat solid and unique take to Edogawa Rampo's classic characters that believably depicted 1950s Japan alongside its addition of the retro-futuristic developments that come about from the title's later episodes. It's far from being the best anime I seen, but it still made for an entertaining watch nonetheless.