"I spy you. You're under arrest for espionage." ~An actual real line of dialogue from this show about spies.
This show is an adaptation of a series of novels by Koji Yanagi. It's a show about a spy agency in the 1930's. There's no "main plot", although there's occasionally a couple of episodes that are actually linked together. More or less it's episodic, an episode about a spy on a train here, an episode about a spy on a boat there. Choosing to go for a more episodic feel is fine depending on how you do it.
If it was just a bunch of interesting or entertaining spy missions, it would have been fine. But that's not really what it is. It really just feels like... "Okay, let's do a show about spies. There will be spies and they will be doing spy things." Invisible ink? That's a spy thing. Anti-amnesia training? That's a spy thing. Truth serum? Yeah man, throw it in. We gotta scrape the entirety of the bottom of the barrel. Actually, you know what? Let's be a little different, let's raise the stakes.
TRUTH SERUM WASN'T ENOUGH, THERE'S ALSO AN ANTI-TRUTH SERUM AS A COUNTER. BOOYEAH, THOSE AMERICAN SPIES JUST GOT OUT SPIED. Wait, no. This is all wrong. We need interesting characters and interesting writing, not more generic spy thi--
"Also, this is a real human being."
A Lack of Interesting Characters
Not pictured: two other spies, and the old spy who is of course the spymaster as he is the best spy because he is old.
Throughout most of the anime, these guys are only rarely ever shown together. Also, we get their names like once in the first episode and like right after it's made clear that their names are spy names and therefore fake. Basically, none of their names matter, because there's no possible way you're going to actually remember or be able to tell any of these spies apart.
There's... there's nothing there. They're all just spies and that's basically it. There were only two characters that I actually even still remember.
First was the guy from the first two episodes who I initially believed was going to be the main character (he would become a spy and that would be the show) that in fact wasn't an actual spy but instead a military guy who had a tendency of saying how much he wanted to kill himself because that was more honorable than being a spy. But after the second episode, it goes mostly completely episodic and the guy I believed was going to be a main character shows up I think... once or twice after that.
Japanese man almost goaded into commiting seppeku by American spy (anime 2016 spy pranks).
Second of course, is the old spymaster character, Yuuki. He's only memorable because he shows up in most of the episodes because he's... well, the spymaster. Also, there's a whole episode dedicated to showing what you're supposed to believe is Yuuki's past, only for them to immediately go "Well no, that was this other guy. Maybe some details of all of that also fits Yuuki's actual past though." Wow, thanks. At least you tried to have ONE character.
I couldn't honestly look at that picture up there and say. "Well, the guy who's in the brown suit was the spy who was the one who was in the train episode. The guy in the black suit was the one in the boat episode, and so forth." I honestly have no idea which one was which.
All you had to do was do a show about spies.
The only point where this show even manages to be anywhere near okay was towards the end when it was about Yuuki's past and the rivalry between "D Agency" (Yuuki's spy agency) and the spy agency that actually kills people. Oh yeah, by the way, "D Agency" never kills people. Pacifist spies sure are interesting and neat. Don't get me wrong, they didn't have to be like assassins... but have you ever heard of a little term called loose ends?
Yet, everyone is utterly incapable of identifying or besting a single one of these pacifist spies.
There is an episode where one of the spies goes to infiltrate a rebel group of literally like three people and one of those people is a German mole. The nonsensery of that aside, the episode literally starts with a firing squad about to open fire on an old woman tied to the tree SOLELY because she was being annoying. The spy character for that episode saves the old woman, has his head bonked which gives him amnesia, but he still remembers how to be a spy because of specialized spy training in case of amnesia, then has his head bonked again and that cures him of amnesia. You can't make this up.
"Stack up enough head injuries and I'm sure it'll work out in the end. Or you'll die."
There was another episode where a house is bombed, and the guy who ordered it in the first place has someone investigate it. His own crime that he himself committed. "You better not kill me, fellow. You know the thing where I make a bluff about some letter that I can't prove actually exists? If you kill me, that'll get sent to the authorities with due haste! Also, I hope this chap with this gun to my back doesn't end up shooting you instead for you are the bad guy of this situation! Oh ho! He did exactly what I predicted! Called it, you foolish buffoon!"
Also, there's a dead child in the mix with the explosion because dead children = tragedy. Also, the dead child dressed like a girl and was a waitress/sex worker (???), and the guy who killed the bad guy did so because he loved him/her. That's... what even was that episode about again???
There's nothing much to say about the boat episode (the guy would have survived if he had just ignored the crossword puzzle) or the train episode (spy dude kept a pigeon in his shirt for an entire seven hour train ride). The episode with the truth serum as well as the anti-truth serum was probably the closest to doing spies. Spy guy is captured by American spies and being interrogated and has to escape from this building all spylike. Oh yeah, this show's about spies!
Also, this is just a general thing but don't end your show on a line from the first episode. Please. "Oh hey, that was from the first episode. They didn't have anything else better to end on?"
Did you know that this show was about spies? Completely uninteresting spies lacking any sort of personality or depth doing spy things, but spies nonetheless! Invisible ink! Truth serum! These are spy things!
Most episodes are either generic or boring, others are downright baffling (the amnesia episode, the a building got bombed episode), but the episodes that are more about Yuuki (the old one) are almost pretty okay in comparison.
But to be honest, did there really need to be 8-10 different spy characters anyways? There could have just been a couple and maybe they could have actually given them personalities but instead, every episode has to be a new (yet completely interchangeable with the others) spy. To be fair though, this is an adaptation of a novel series and blah blah blah.
A score of 3 out of 10. Not the worst thing I've watched, but wouldn't recommend actually watching it. It's more towards the boring end of the spectrum. Although, I had a laugh in keeping track of all of the spy clichés as I watched it.
BONUS: I give the Joker Game specials about a cat that foils a bunch of guys' attempt to bring down the "D Agency" a 4 out of 10. Because even though it was very brief, it had all of the different spy guys actually together and interacting with each other. It actually almost fooled me into thinking "Oh yeah, these guys are actual characters." Also, I'm fine with the thought that without this stray cat, this spy agency would have literally been taken down, being my final thought on this series.