Its Murder on the Orient Express except instead of a transcontinental train ride were in ancient Mesoamerica with demon gods and magic and instead of a carriage of bourgeoisie tourists we have six heroes selected to defeat said demon god. The whodunit mystery is a genre sure to peak peoples interest. And when done correctly can be both an infinitely frustrating yet infinitely gratifying experience. Unfortunately Rokka no Yuusha was far more of the former than the latter. 420 A demon god has been resurrected and is threatening to destroy the world. As with each time this apocalyptic threat has occurred in the past youd think that theyd have thought of a more permanent solution by this stage six mighty heroes have been chosen to save the world. Among those selected is our protagonist: a charismatic artful and dare I say foxy young man specially trained to dispatch of fiends and other demonnasties the strongest man in the world Adlet Mayer. The only problem is when Adlet and the rest of the gang gather theres seven of them. We have an imposter on our hands And given the circumstances Adlet is the groups prime suspect. The key to any good story but perhaps more so for something which aims to be as immersive as a whodunit is to treat the audience with the respect. Greats of the genre such as Agatha Christie and Rex Stout did just this: the crime is set we are given the clues and maybe a couple of red herrings along the way but in the end whether we successfully solve the mystery or not we are satisfied with a well thoughtout reasonable and comprehensive ending. By Rokka no Yuushas conclusion however I did not feel as satisfied as I did insulted. The flaws of the series are diverse but the fatal failing lies in the construction of the mystery itself. The actual structuring of the series was the first problem. The actual mystery isnt introduced until the end of the fourth episode in a twelve episodes series. Up till that point we had some pretty average worldbuilding and exposition and were introduced to four of our potential impostors including Adlet. One of these characters wasnt given nearly as much screen time backstory or development as the other three were. To put it simply he was onedimensional. Like seriously his single defining character trait is his loyalty/loveborderlinepossessiveness of another character. And this is an issue with the three remaining characters introduced postepisode four: they simply arent as fleshed out as what is our primary trio mainly due to their relative lack of screen time. What were left with is a couple of semiinteresting characters and a bunch of bland archetypes. Consequently we as the audience are quickly able to eliminate majority of the cast from suspicion simply due to their lacklustre characterisations. In fact I found myself trying to decide between two of the suspects for most of the series. 420 The second problem was the actual reveal. It wasnt surprising at all especially given the aforementioned formatting of the series and the inequality of screen time allocation given to the various characters. In fact it was nearly too simple. But that wasnt my primary gripe. Nor was the ridiculous deus ex machinaesque clue that catalysed the resolution it was so farfetched that you literally need a degree in meteorology to even have a chance at identifying it. Rather it was the motivations of the perpetrator. A plot twist is a common device in whodunits. Except Rokka no Yuushas big twist was as ludicrous arbitrary and downright stupid as something from an M. Night Shyamalan movie. In fact thats exactly what it felt like. A character does a near 180degree reversal and we learn things about him/her that come straight outta left field. The resolution was as dumbfounding as it was ridiculous. You might even find it laughable. But all things considered it was insulting. Theres also an equally frustrating and ludicrous ending postthe big reveal that sets things up for a sequel but for all intents and purposes Im just going to ignore it. Its unfortunate because in spite of the easily dismissible characters and asspulls near the conclusion the mystery element was fun. The various clues redherrings and logical conundrums posed for the most part all lend themselves to continuously peak the curiosity and engagement of the viewer. The suspense was aptly maintained largely due to the cliffhangers that every episode would finish on. As mentioned the characters are a definite weakness of the series. Apart from Adlet whose charisma alone makes up for his rather clich tragic backstory I didnt really care much for any of the characters. Other than a couple of nuances here and there the vast majority of the cast were cardboard cutouts and some were just plain despicable. As such whilst the suspense in the series is superb theres no real tension in the action sequences as none of the characters make an emotional impact. That and plot armour. Which was another issue. The series had a difficult time choosing if it was a whodunit or a fantasy action series. Thats not to say the two have to be mutually exclusive. Only the action sequences didnt really add anything to the series and if anything detracted from time that could have been spent forging betterrounded developed characters thereby elevating the mystery aspect. The inconsistent animation quality didnt help either. The budget limitations were distractingly obvious at times as in it occasionally looked really awful. The CG fiends were plain ugly. The ancient Mesoamerican setting whilst intriguing at first quickly lost its appeal as the setting stagnated and we were treated to the same backgroundtypes over and over again. Namely jungle and the interior of a temple. Character designs were pretty cool though. Its a shame really. Rokka no Yuusha was for the most part a fun engaging suspenseful watch. The issue is it doesnt treat itself or the audience with intelligence. Poorly thoughtout episode formatting bland characters and a farcical conclusion make this an asinine series which is the last thing you want a whodunit to be. That said if you can ignore the pure doltishness the show eventually degrades itself to you might end up enjoying Rokka no Yuusha a lot more than I did.
30 /100
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