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Ranpo Kitan: The Players in Game of Laplace

This anime adaptation of Edogawa Ranpo's famous mystery novels features a host of both new and familiar characters. Let's take a look at who they are!

by melodius
Sep 25, 2015 1:17 AM | 10,892 views

Kogoro Akechi

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Kogoro Akechi Profession: Private detective

His namesake is a recurring figure in Edogawa's mystery stories and he is a character who has been heavily modeled after Holmes. Like Holmes, Edogawa's Akechi is a master of disguise, practices a martial art (Akechi does judo while Holmes boxes), smokes Egyptian cigarettes while on a case (Holmes smokes a pipe), and also makes use of a group of young boys known as the 'Boy Detectives' ('Baker Street Irregulars' in Holmes's case). However, Ranpo Kitan's Akechi is slightly different.

In Ranpo Kitan, Akechi is a young, brilliant man specially employed by the government of Japan in order to solve difficult or unusual cases. He is technically enrolled at Kabuki-cho High School, but he receives special permission to avoid attendance. Since he chooses not to attend school, he uses his spare time to sit in his home-slash-office, working on either his latest case, personal project, or simply sleep on his couch. His living space is filled to the brim with stacks of reference materials that are all carefully arranged to an order only he is privy to.

When he does go out, it's never without his bottle of medication and a can of black coffee. Like his original, it seems that the teenage Akechi has vices of his own. He can often be seen swallowing or crushing tablets out of his bottle and chasing them down with coffee.

Chasing criminals is not without its dangers. Akechi thus has taken measures to learn how to defend himself, although probably not how one might expect...

Namikoshi (younger): "You're so strong, yet you dislocate your joints so easily."
Akechi (younger): "You can only learn so much from online karate lessons. You may become able to manoeuvre your body at will, but unfortunately, your physical and muscular strength can't match that."

-- episode 10

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Kogoro Akechi laid back

As a person, Akechi shows little interest in the outside world. His involvement in cases is dependent on whether he finds them interesting enough to be worth his time, or whether they have some relation to the long-time foe he has been pursuing, Twenty Faces. He keeps to himself as a result, meaning both his profession and identity are unknown to the general public. Possessing neither cell phone nor a publicised address, it is incredibly difficult to contact him.

Amongst his other eccentricities, Akechi appears to have an extreme dislike of cats. Human babies, however, seem to adore him.

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace Cases of significance:
'The Human Chair' - A case which introduced him to his future assistant, Yoshio Kobayashi. Kobayashi was framed as the culprit in his teacher's death and dismemberment, but would go on to solve the case on his own in order to prove his ability and intellect to Akechi.

'Shadow Man' - When a string of young girls are abducted, a mysterious disguise artist known as the Shadow Man is touted as the culprit. He's known as a 'gentleman thief', but would someone like him really steal those girls?

'Panorama Island' - Akechi is called to investigate what seems to be an open-shut case of accidental death. The crime happened on an island being developed as a large-scale theme park to showcase art and beauty, and it features some disturbingly realistic mechanical dolls...

'Twenty Faces' - Every now and then, a masked figure going by the name of 'Twenty Faces' appears in order to punish people who manage to escape the grips of the law. Even though the original died several years ago, Akechi appears to have made it his life's purpose to eliminate all copycats.

Yoshio Kobayashi

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Yoshio Kobayashi Profession: Student; Akechi's assistant

Kobayashi is a boy who was framed for the murder of his homeroom teacher. Though young, he possesses a rare intellect and instinct which had, prior to his meeting Akechi, gone untapped. He finds normal school work boring and usually skips his exams in favour of pursuing something he feels is more interesting, much to the chagrin of his friend, Hashiba.

Hashiba: "Kobayashi, this isn't something to be happy about!"
Kobayashi: "But it's fun! This is fun! I finally feel alive!"

-- episode 2

Once he becomes Akechi's assistant, Kobayashi feels as though he's found his purpose in life. Where daily life had, until his teacher's death, been mundane and colourless, it suddenly brightens when he has the chance to chase a murderer. The people around him are no longer mere silhouettes passing him by, but actual people that he begins to acknowledge. Now that Kobayashi is able to finally utilise his mind towards something challenging, he becomes more proactive and prone to taking the initiative.

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - grey scene Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - colour scene

Perhaps because of his intelligence and way of looking at the world, Kobayashi is somewhat odd. He doesn't recognise concepts such as friendship as applying to himself, although he is able to understand the motives behind criminals' actions. The scope of his thinking goes beyond his personal life; he seems to prefer to consider how other people function. What this means is that he's able to see people as they are rather than make assumptions about their character.

One of his most notable features is that he is easily mistaken for a young girl. According to his classmates, he has looked that way since elementary school. This proves beneficial when a case requires Kobayashi to pose as a girl, however his liking for women's clothing doesn't appear to be limited to casework. He puts on a dress several others times during unrelated cases or moments, citing personal preference.

Souji Hashiba

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Souji Hashiba Profession: Student

Hashiba is a student at the same school as Kobayashi. His family runs a business known as the Hashiba Foundation, to which he is the heir of. Despite this, he never attempts to flaunt his status. He is for all intents and purposes a normal student.

Due to his parentage, Hashiba was often excluded and bad-mouthed during elementary school. Kobayashi, either oblivious or deliberately ignoring who Hashiba was, chatted freely with him and established a friendly relationship where no-one else would. From that point, Hashiba considered the other boy a close friend and fretted over his grades and well-being constantly. Their friendship is mostly one-sided since Kobayashi treats everyone around him fairly equally, but Hashiba doesn't mind that.

"My best friend was about to die! I'll never let that happen! I won't let you die!"
-- Hashiba (episode 11)

As someone poised to take over a corporation, Hashiba has a very strict sense of responsibility and ethics instilled into him. He believes standard education is important and is, at first, disapproving of Kobayashi's apparent obsession with Akechi's work. Much of his worry is out of concern for his friend's future because he can't see private detective work being lucrative. Akechi, especially, doesn't do much to dissuade his opinion that detectives lounge about, shut away in dark, cluttered spaces like hermits.

But however much he disapproves, he continues to follow Kobayashi with the firm idea that he will protect his friend if his friend won't protect himself. In that sense he acts as the voice of reason for Kobayashi, the brake to his friend's accelerator. If he can't stop Kobayashi from following in Akechi's footsteps, then he believes he can at least be there to safeguard him. It's that thought which leads to him becoming Akechi's unofficial second assistant.

Keisuke Kagami

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Keisuke Kagami Profession: Police: Superintendent

Kagami acts as a liaison between Akechi and the police force. He rose quickly through the police force thanks to his diligence, achieving the rank of superintendent at the young age of twenty-six. He is a serious but well-meaning individual. His honesty and initiative are implied to be a rarity amongst policemen, since many eventually have their ideals dragged down by the crushing reality of their job.

He is one of the few who is able to get directly in contact with Akechi and it was him who first called the detective out to the murder of Kobayashi's homeroom teacher. It isn't that Kagami requires help in dealing with a case, but he appears to bring any unusual cases that he thinks may ping Akechi's interest whenever he can. For example, the Human Chair incident managed to grab the detective's attention, but the string of abductions supposedly perpetrated by the Shadow Man did not.

Kagami's reason for joining the force is not only out of a desire to see justice done but to also help support his sister, Tokiko. They've shared a close relationship ever since their parents passed away and live together in order to save on living expenses. While Kagami spends the majority of his day at work, Tokiko stays home while she works on improving her design work and gaining public recognition. Calls from her usually interrupt his workday, leading Akechi to comment that he has a sister complex - something he vehemently denies.

If there's any flaw to him, it's that he puts in more effort than he gets out. The danger of this is summed up in this observation which Akechi makes of him when they first begin working together:

"I checked the profiles of every detective in this office - you seem the most trustworthy. But, people like you tend to fall easily. Don't get swallowed in."
-- Akechi to Kagami (episode 5)

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Akechi and Kagami


Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Nakamura Profession: Police: Chief Inspector

A friendly officer who is usually not far from Kagami's side. Nakamura is younger than he looks on the outside but his experience in the police force perhaps speaks for his greying hairs. His easy-going and approachable manner forms a complement to Kagami's stiff outward demeanour.

Despite being lower in rank to Kagami, Nakamura maintains an almost casual relationship with his superior. In both speech and body language, it's clear that the pair have worked closely together for a while in order to develop that level of rapport. It's not often that Nakamura remembers to speak respectfully to Kagami, but Kagami is quick to insist on his former informal manner.

Part of the reason for their casualness is because their positions were once reversed. Nakamura was Kagami's overseer when the latter began as a fresh recruit. He affectionately called the other man 'little Kagami' for a time until Kagami made his first arrest, and also teased him mercilessly:

"So the woman I sensed in your life was your younger sister. Then I guess I'll tell the female staff that you're not dating anyone and that you're a good catch!"
-- Nakamura to Kagami (episode 5)

For all his light-hearted humour, Nakamura performs his duties seriously. He makes sure to keep Kagami from being too overburdened by the difficult reality of their job, and also stops him from going too far in anger.

Black Lizard

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Black Lizard Profession: Jewel Thief

The Black Lizard is a professional jewel thief currently kept in a secure prison cell. For some unknown reason, she seems to benefit from some special privileges because her cell is wide and furnished with a throne, food, drink, and other odds and ends. She also has a group of henchmen in the cell with her - masked thugs in bondage gear - who happily serve her every whim. Numerous thin wires bound to her body serve as her shackles, allowing her to move freely within the cell without being able to reach the bars.

Akechi appears to have history with her, if the familiar way she addresses him is any indication. It's unclear whether he despises her or if he is acting that way in order to satisfy her masochistic needs, but going by the way he looks exhausted by having to deal with her it's most likely the latter. Whenever he needs information or strings pulled, he comes to the Black Lizard. Her underworld connections means she is kept in the loop about criminal happenings, and it's implied she also has the power to influence police process.

Masochistic streak aside, the Black Lizard is a woman with a lot of power at her fingertips. She commands utmost loyalty from her followers by being ruthless and crafty. Were it not for her obsession with Akechi, she would be a worrying opponent for him. As it is, her love for his complete lack of reciprocation of it means she willingly helps him on his cases after appropriate 'compensation'.

Shadow Man

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Shadow Man Profession: Gentleman Thief

The Shadow Man is a man of unknown age and appearance. He always wears a paper bag over his head when not in one of his many excellent disguises, but his default clothing appears to be a simple button-up shirt and generic trousers. True to his reputation as a 'gentleman thief', he treats others kindly and looks out for them. Especially young girls - a demographic he particularly adores.

"Girls are almost like God to me. Hence, I would never harm girls let alone kidnap them."
-- Shadow Man (episode 3)

Despite his title of thief, he hasn't yet stolen anything in the anime series. He also has little relationship with Akechi beyond using the detective once in order to arrest a man. Not much else is known about him, other than that his unfortunate habit of watching over young girls on their way to school is mistaken for stalking.


Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Minami Profession: Medical Examiner

She is the autopsy surgeon who runs the 'Three-Minute Shocking' segments during the show, where she shows the audience how the victims of each murder mystery died. She's incredibly enthusiastic and over-reactive about her job, flitting from one emotion to the other on the flip of a coin. Stuffed dolls are used in order to represent each victim, which she burns, crushes, stabs, or otherwise mutilates accordingly.

Twenty Faces

Ranpo Kitan Game of Laplace - Twenty Faces A masked and shrouded figure who claims to be on the side of justice. They seek out people who have committed crimes, or otherwise acted improperly, and punish them. Horrific means are often used when displaying their corpses in order to make a statement.

The original Twenty Faces first surfaced three years ago but vanished. Since then, copycats have appeared from time to time - increasingly so in recent times. Akechi appears to have some sort of personal involvement with the figure and makes the rare effort of catching each and every one which appears, regardless of the circumstances.

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Anime: Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
People: Edogawa, Ranpo

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