Wit and subtlety in Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

One problem with labeling a title as part of a certain genre is that occasionally, the draw of such a title lies not in exemplary execution of said genre, but rather in supposedly peripheral ideas such as character development. Such is the curse – or blessing – that befalls Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. The general consensus of viewers who tried it for the mystery is one of disappointment. For those who look below the cover though, Yakumo offers much in the vein of, dare I say it, one of my favourite Western authors.

Said author has a place in my heart for the subtlety that characterises all her works. I’ll never forget the moment, on my third or fourth reread of my favourite novel, that I realised what “Are all of your sisters still at Longbourne?” actually meant. That was Pride and Prejudice. The author? Jane Austen.

It's all in the dialogue…

But why in the world am I comparing an anime about a psychic detective with Jane Austen? Simply put, the dialogue in Yakumo sparkles with dry humour and innuendo just like the conversations that Jane Austen wrote. I’ve heard that much has been left out of the novels – Haruka, for instance, holds her own against Yakumo far better there – but the anime still throws out some little gems. I especially loved the final episode, where Yakumo dryly notes that

“If you adopt Nao, then you and I will unfortunately become family too.” 

and Haruka that Yakumo is always sleeping through the dawn.

…and the subtle but sure character development.

However, it was episode nine that threw up my favourite moment of subtlety, which I’m not sure too many others caught:

八雲:幼い僕にとって、武田さんは優しいおじさんという印象しかなかった。母と武田さんが愛し合っていたと気づいたのは、つい最近のことだ。
春香:どうして今になって?
八雲:……
Yakumo: When I was a child, I only knew Takeda-san as a kind uncle. That my mother and Takeda-san loved each other, that’s something I only realised quite recently.
Haruka: Why only recently?
Yakumo: …

Add to this his “Haruka” from the last episode, and I’m personally hard-pressed to find a better developed character during the last season.

Yakumo isn’t a perfect adaptation, but it offers plenty for viewers who are looking for something different. The first few episodes were obviously rushed in order to provide leeway for the last two arcs, and the sacrifice was well worth it. Unlike a certain other adaptation last season, the emotional buildup to the climax was incredibly fulfilling.

p.s. Googling “Jane Austen” and “innuendo” throws up some interesting results…hm…*adds to reading list*
p.p.s. I watched this series raw, so any translations are mine (from memory too).

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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