Who would've thought Studio Pierrot would ever do something correctly?
Tantei Gakuen Q-- or Detective Academy Q, is a show about a boy with a talent for logic and reasoning. Wanting to become a detective after being saved by one during a kidnapping; our main character Kyuu finds out about the existence of the DDS, Dan Detective School, a school formed by the legendary detective Dan Morihiko. After meeting Megumi, a girl with photographic memory, the martial arts master Kinta, the geeky programmer Kazuma and the mysterious Ryuu, Kyuu and his friends join "Class Q" at DDS, and tackles many difficult crimes, always seeking the truth.
The story is very simple and not very thought out : a boy and his friends are always involved in some kind of crime they have to solve, and pretty much always find the culprit at the end. Even though the premise is fairly simple and not very original, the cases are actually very well thought-out, rarely obvious, and the show always give enough information for the watchers to actually solve the mystery and find the culprit, which is a good thing, because following a mystery you can't solve yourself is pretty boring. The show is mainly episodic, with some arcs spanning two to four episodes, though later on there's a subplot going on. However, it is never fully explored since the anime ends with an open ending without any kind of continuation. Unfortunately, it seems the author ran out of ideas near the end, as the latter cases seem to be very similar to the first ones; and the culprit's motives are also pretty much the same. In the end, I was still highly satisfied, but the flaws are quite apparent.
I would say the characters of the show are far from original and follow the typical shounen jump archetype. The best example would be the main character himself, Kyuu, who's just a normal boy that aspires to be a detective because the person he looks up to is also a detective. And like every other shounen jump story, the main character has a motto he always follow-- In Gakuen Q, that would be "A detective must never give up, or the case will remain unsolved." It is very cheesy and unoriginal, but let's not forget Gakuen Q is a show for (apparently) children to begin with.
Another problem is Megumi. The character is fine, but her ability, photographic memory, can be way too convenient at times, and the main character usually relies on her memory to solve crimes (although he uses his reasoning to solve the mystery, most would be impossible if she didn't recall certain details or changes in a crime scene, before and after the crime.)
And finally, Ryuu is a badly written character. He is pretty much a Gary Stu. He has no real flaws, he's always smarter than anyone else, he's never wrong either. He is also mysterious but his past is pretty lame and not thought out at all.
The animation type is very cartoony, which is fitting because it's a show for children. The art style reminds me of Kindaichi, but that's simply because both are by the samr artist (and author.) The character design isn't bad either, except for Megumi who has very funky hair and a badly proportioned body most of the time.
Gakuen Q is kinda old, so the animation isn't the best there is. Not only that, but Studio Pierrot is known to mass product long running anime, so the animation quality is even worse than it would usually be. Surprisingly enough, there aren't many repeated frames, which is a good thing. Don't worry though, the animation gets better as the shows goes on. Pierrot probably noticed it was getting a bit more popular and decided to put more effort into animating this.
This anime doesn't really need ultra high quality animatio anyway, as characters are usually not moving that much, contrary to action shows like... I dunno... just think of one yourself.
The voice acting isn't too shabby, but Kyuu's voice was very annoying at the beginning. The voice actor always made him speak on a high pitch, and it didn't really fit the character. The rest of the cast is very well acted, I have no complaints.
I won't comment on the OP and EDs, they are just... generic. Background music was spot on-- it always played at the right time and most of the songs are also pretty good. I was surprised because I expected the BGMs to be forgettable, but a few emotional scenes made some BGMs hard to forget for me. The best song is probably the one that usually plays when a culprit confesses of his crimes.
Unfortunately, I don't think this anime has a high rewatchability. Mystery anime are often like this, the main thrill in watching a mystery is to solve it. Once it's solved, nothing's really thrilling anymore, right? I would probably just rewatch the Ichinose arc, definitely my favourite!
In the end, I think anyone of any age can enjoy this show. While some characters are pretty bland, the mysteries are very interesting, and as I said earlier, there is always enough information to solve the case by yourself, making this show a very enjoyable watch with lots of interactivity. I recommend this to people who like reasoning and logic.