Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist. There are a number of rather famous characters that fit this description from Bruce Wayne to Tony Stark. And it was only a matter of time before anime came back with one of its own in Daisuke Kambe of Fugou Keiji: Balance: UNLIMITED. Adapted by Studio Cloverworks from a novel series of the same name originally written by Yasutaka Tsutsui and directed by Tomohiko Itou of Silver Spoon and ERASED fame Fugou Keiji is a lot of things. It is both a comedy and a mystery. A tale of murder and revenge of heroics and villainy and perhaps most importantly: of family. And while there is no shortage of missteps along the way I can say one thing with certainty: Fugou Keiji is a fun show oozing in style and I cannot wait to talk about it with you. So lets jump right in Disclaimer: This review contains minor spoilers for Fugou Keijil. I am also working to make 50 the new average. 70 is not an average score people. 70 is above average. You can also find individual episode write ups and comment on this review on my Star Crossed blog Art/Animation Starting off as always lets talk art and animation. Fugou Keijis art is easily one of my favorite aspects about its production. Something about the sharp angular lines yet still realistic proportions lend it a sense of style. I cant quite figure out if its the linework the slight softness to the angles or the characters eyes. Yet something about these designs really pique my interest. Its similar in a way to Haikyuu though that one is much more brightly colored. Regardless the art and aesthetic of Fugou Keiji is one of the parts I enjoy the most and it lends itself well to the series. When it wants to be comedic its just lowdetail enough to get away with silly expressions. Meanwhile when it needs to be serious it can up the linework/eye detail to draw the viewer in. Add on some special effects and you have Fugou Keiji. That said Fugou Keiji is by no means a sakugafest. There are good moments no doubt and they mostly come in the second half as things ramp up. A few fights get special treatment as do some character moments. But its nothing thats ever particularly impressive. There is no Kimetsu no Yaiba episode 19 or or KyoAni confession scene here. Rather for a large portion of its runtime Fugou Keiji gets by with the bare minimum of animation. Instead relying on the Character Design work of Keigo Sasaki and his team along with the Director of Photography Toshiyuki Aoshimas work. The best way to put it is that Fugou Keiji has no shortage of good looking stills. The series is well presented and well shot which we will get into in a moment. But when the r/anime awards come no one will be thinking of Fugou Keiji for animation. Direction Next up we come to the Direction which I believe did most of the heavy lifting carrying Fugou Keiji. Well either that or the characters but we will get to those. Generally I think Fugou Keiji was shot pretty well. It made good use of its locations and wasnt afraid to go for some wackier or more Michael Bayesque shots. Some might view that as a negative but with how little we see it in anime and this basically being a James Bond show it felt nice. Additionally the Fugou Keiji was rather varied color wise never afraid to paint the screen in red and oranges blues and blacks or greens and beige. It changed the color palette of the scene to fit the mood. And while some of those were very anime moods that didnt quite fit at times I enjoyed it. There were really only 2 issues I actually had on this front with Fugou Keiji: The lighting and the tonal disparity. For lighting it was very up and down. Some scenes were fantastically lit playing off the fire or casting shadows well while others were so dark it was almost impossible to see. I understand wanting to set the mood with the darkness however there comes a point where audience experience takes precedence. As for tone this goes back to the previously mentioned wackier shots. We will get into it more later but its as if Fugou Keiji couldnt decide what it wanted to be. A lot of its gags worked because of how the scene was shot and directed. Only for that same style to be brought into more serious scenes or vice versa negatively impacting the shot. I cant say for certain if Fugou Keiji would be better if it had chosen one tone or the other. The comedy is just as much a part of the series as the mystery and neither can really live without the other. In this way it is clear that Fugou Keiji was trying to be something akin to Batman. Where the absurdity of a grown man in a spandex suit dressed as a bat somehow doesnt take away from the serious drama. Where a man can murder his way through a city dressed as a colorful clown yet still be one of the most complex and interesting villains in the medium. However unlike Batman Fugou Keiji doesnt quite nail this balancing act. It isnt enough to ruin the show and most of the time it isnt a problem at all. But when it does crop up you definitely notice. Setting/Story But what about the story that Fugou Keijis art and animation tells how is that? Had you asked me prior to the finale I would have answered thus: It is a fun James Bond/Batman romp that cant figure out what it wants to be. Flip flopping between comedy and crime drama Fugou Keiji is split between two very different shows. One is a riff on the Tony Starks and Bruce Waynes of media the super heroes whos only power is Money. In Daisuke Kambe it gives us a character with all the pride and snark and wealth but absolutely none of the sense of moral responsibility and plays the entire thing like the absurd joke it is. Spending billions of yen to bring in boy bands to placate hostage grannies on a train or buying a building just to blow it and the criminals inside up. Its absurd fun. The other is a James Bond spy drama with twists and turns murder and betrayal. Fugou Keiji introduces us to a core murder mystery early on and largely plays it straight. We have corrupt cops internal politics and an ideological conflict between Kato and Daisuke. One seeking justice through the system and moral means the other only seeking results regardless of the methods. Its a very competent if straight forward setup. The issue though is that these two shows are taking place in the same timeslot with the same characters but largely feel independent of each other. The comedy gets in the way of the serious drama. Meanwhile the drama waters down the comedy. Early this is fine comedy is the focus and only becomes a problem as we dive deeper and deeper into the core conflict. At least that is what I would have said until the finale. Let me be clear the finale is by no means perfect. Fugou Keiji is at the end of the day a fun mystery romp that doesnt take itself very seriously. But the finale without spoiling it brought these two disparate shows together. It managed to throw in one last twice give us one last serious character conflict for our leads and resolve both in such a way that I couldnt help but laugh along with Daisuke. Fugou Keijis story isnt going to wow you by any means. It might take you by surprise in a few places and it will most definitely disappoint you in a few more though we will talk about that later. What it will do though is deliver on its initial promise: Entertainment. I was never not entertained by Fugou Keiji and its story. And at the end of the day whats more important than that? Characters And now we come to the characters the core of the show Ill just come right out and say that I really enjoyed Fugou Keijis characters. Kato and Daisuke bounced off of each other well and though their arcs werent perfect the finale did a lot for them as well. Early on they are portrayed as your usual double act Kato as the straight man and Daisuke as the funny man. Fugou Keiji has a slight twist on this in that Daisuke is stoic while Kato is the one who overreacts. But Daisuke is also the source of the absurdity 90 of the time. In a way it adds another layer to the dynamic making it seem even more absurd and comedic when Daisuke takes his own absurdity with complete sincerity. More than once what made the comedy work was Daisukes complete and utter nonreaction and it was great. As the series progresses and we start to see the narrative issue mentioned before the characters shift as well. The comedy is still there but Fugou Keiji starts to show us deeper aspects of who they are. Starts to establish them as actual people rather than comedic stereotypes. We come to see what Daisukes home life is like how pampered and nave he is when it comes to the real world. Similarly we see Katos rigid moral compass and his frugal way of living. The two start to bounce off of and effect each other in meaningful ways with the comedy just facilitating this exchange. The only real negative I have about the characters is that their arcs seem underutilized? The next paragraph is going to contain spoilers for their arcs so please read at your own risk. Otherwise just know that I enjoy them but wish they were more. OST/Sound Design Finally we come to the OST which I love. Sadly as of writing this the OST is not officially released. At least not in a way I can get my hands on it. This makes linking to specific songs difficult but I will try my best. The only way I can really describe Fugou Keijis OST is fire. My two favorite and best examples of this have to be the OP and the ED the ED being one of my favorites of the year. Between the lyrics the beat and the slow almost refined sound of the bass I love it. I cant quite think of the word to describe it as it isnt Jazz in the slightest. Yet I get a very similar vibe from Fugou Keijis OST as I do Jazz music. This style this distinct and prominent rhythm etc. And it goes beyond just the bookend songs. Granted most of the time Fugou Keijis OST felt rather average. Some strings a basic orchestra in the back the kind of mood setting music you would expect. It neither really enhanced or took away from whatever scene it was in. Every now and then though you would get something like this: Warning this contains spoilers for episode 3 You would get some kind of stylish or absurd piece that fit the moment perfectly. It could come in for something silly like this or it could be the perfect song to tie together a dramatic moment. I wish I had an actual OST to link you to with specific songs to prove my points. I am not nearly musically educated or eloquent enough to make this point. So instead all I can say is this: I have 0 complaints about this OST and I doubt you will either. What could have been vs what was Now you might be wondering what the hell is this section of the review and why should I read it? This is basically where I am going to talk about what I wish Fugou Keiji had done differently. Why criticize something without at least trying to be constructive about it right? This has no bearing on the final score and is entirely my lobbing ideas. My hope is that it will give some perspective to you read above why I liked some things and not others etc. And fair warning there will be some serious spoilers in here. Dont read it if you havent already watched Fugou Keiji. Now lets roll Conclusion So all in all at the end of the day how was Fugou Keiji: Balance: Unlimited? Well for all of its faults despite the fact that I think it could have been a 10/10 that doesnt undo what it did accomplish. I was never not entertained by Fugou Keiji I was always looking forward to the next episode. And while I might end those episodes thinking they could have been more at the end of the day I think its the entertainment that matters. Not every show has to reach for the stars and make some grand philosophical argument. Its nice when it happens but there is nothing wrong with some popcorn crime drama. And Fugou Keiji delivers on that popcorn crime drama and then some. Thanks for reading. If you want to leave a comment you can do it at here or on my site linked above. I always love feedback and I will see you next season
72 /100
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