Saturday, August 11, 2018

REVIEW: The Perfect Insider: Complete Collection (anime TV series)

I'm going to start this with a content warning (which could be considered a spoiler, except it's revealed in the second or third episode, so maybe not): this series includes things that would be considered incest, statutory rape, and pedophilia in the US. I'm not 100% sure of the timeline, but the character was between 13 and 15 when the "relationship" started, and she was consistently portrayed as the seductress who started it all. Okay, now on to the review.

The Perfect Insider is an 11-episode mystery series. Specifically, it's based on a locked room mystery novel by Hiroshi Mori. From what I can tell, the novel hasn't been published in English.

I bought this completely on a whim. Right Stuf was having a really great sale, so I concentrated on the Sentai Filmworks stuff since their boxed sets are usually more expensive than I'd like. I ended up with several titles I might not have gotten under other circumstances, like this one.

The Perfect Insider stars Saikawa, a professor (of architecture, I think), and Nishinosono (who from here on out I'll call Moe, her given name, because I'm less likely to mistype it), one of his students. One of the reasons why I'm unsure of Saikawa's area of expertise is that he often had a tendency to come across as either a philosophy professor or possibly a computer science professor. I'd never have guessed his true area of study if he hadn't handed someone a business card.

At any rate, Moe has an enormous crush on Saikawa and uses his interest in the infamous Dr. Magata to entice him to a vacation on a secluded island (along with several of her fellow students and one other professor, although they're all relegated to the background for most of the series). Shiki Magata is a genius who killed her parents 15 years ago. She was declared "not guilty" by reason of insanity and has lived in seclusion ever since, continuing her research in a completely locked down apartment at the lab. Saikawa wants to meet her, even if only by video chat. However, when they arrive, he and Moe discover that Dr. Magata has been killed, her body dressed in a wedding dress and her arms and legs severed.

The mystery intrigued me, but I suspect I'd have liked the book this was based on more - the characters' odd reactions to having a murderer among them might have been easier to overlook in written form.

Something about the pacing and the way the mystery progressed reminded me of Soji Shimada's The Tokyo Zodiac Murders. In that mystery, however, the characters were emotionally detached from the murders because they happened decades ago. Here, it didn't really make sense. Dr. Magata was murdered in her locked apartment. A short while later, her uncle was also murdered. For some reason, no one worried that her aunt or younger sister might be next. Everyone just accepted that those two murders were it, and everything was now just a puzzle waiting to be solved. I suppose I could believe that the programmers would deal with their emotions by burying themselves in work, but it surprised me that there wasn't more paranoia. No one locked themselves in their rooms or worried about being alone with anyone else in the group.

During most of the series, Moe and her childish crush on Saikawa annoyed me. Although I never really came to like either character, I eventually grew to tolerate and understand them more. The flashbacks to Moe's parents' deaths and the time shortly after did a good job of showing why Moe and Saikawa's relationship was the way it was, although I wish the flashback had happened a little sooner. Near the end of the series, it started to look like Saikawa might have been returning her interest, although I've seen people in discussion boards for this series argue the exact opposite, so who knows? I do know that I didn't root for them as a couple and wished Moe would just back off and find someone new to glom onto. Saikawa worked better as Moe's mentor and rock than as her potential boyfriend, even if Moe hadn't been a student and Saikawa her professor.

Although I wanted to know how and why Dr. Magata and her uncle had been murdered, the story had a tendency to be a little dry - lots of people sitting around, talking to each other, and usually not acting particularly pressed for time, even though there was a deadline. I loathed Saikawa's philosophizing, and Moe drove me crazy with her repeated refusal to ask Saikawa for the solution to the murder after he'd figured things out. And his epiphany was...weird. He had a dream with ostriches and other things. No, the solution to the murder did not involve ostriches. I suspect it was a metaphor for something that I was too dumb to figure out.

The solution was very much the sort of thing that would only happen in a murder mystery - shocking, but extremely contrived. I guessed parts of it but never figured out the most important piece, the one that also explained the series' title. I wish the "this is what happened and why" explanations had been a little more clearly laid out. There were parts, such as the reason why Magata's legs were severed, that took me a while to wrap my brain around, even after the solution to the murder had been given.

All in all, I don't regret watching this, but I don't know that it will stick with me well. It's the kind of series that doesn't make me want to rewatch it but does make me wish the book were available in English. Still, I'd recommend it to anyone who's tired of anime based on shonen or shojo manga and wants something a little different.


As with most Sentai Filmworks releases, they're bare-bones. All you get is a textless opening and closing. On the plus side, I love the animation in the opening credits and the song in the closing credits.


  1. I watched both the anime and live action version of The Perfect Insider. I generally don't like live action anime, since they tend to verge on parody, but the live action version of The Perfect Insider was actually superior. Nishinosono Moe is portrayed more realistically, less edgy. Magata Shiki was portrayed in an emotionless manner that made her more frightening to me than Hannibal Lecter.

    The events of the anime start in episode five of the live action series, though the initial interview with Magata Shiki takes place in the opening of episode one.

    Crunchyroll carries both series. I know you’re not a fan of Crunchyroll, but you can watch it in SD without subscribing.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! The live action series is also on Dramafever, which I'm subscribed to - I added it to my queue but didn't want to watch it until after I'd finally written and posted this review. Your comment about it being better than the anime makes me look forward to it even more.