What’s the best way to start a mystery show other than using Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G-major as background music?

Subete ga F ni naru key visual
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider’s key visual with the tagline “What is F?”

Not counting long-running anime series like Meitantei Conan (also known as Case Closed in the US), Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider is one of the four detective mystery shows that aired in this fall season (along with Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru (Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation), Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R (Kindaichi Case Files R), and Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note). The show follows Sohei Saikawa, a university researcher, and Moe Nishinosono, his student, who are involved in a serial murder case when they visit an island where a genius programmer, Shiki Magata, isolated herself from outside world. The story is adapted from an award winning mystery novel by Hiroshi Mori, and the novel itself is a part of a mystery novel series called “S&M Series” (The “S&M” here stands for “Sohei & Moe”). It has also been adapted into several media like manga (2001), visual novel (2002), and live action drama series (2014).

Compared to the other series that aired this season, The Perfect Insider feels very different in the way it presents its story. This shows isn’t generous on exposition. It seems to put its faith in its viewers’ intellect to figure out what actually happened between the characters without making them uttering what they really think. This show uses rich and clever dialogues to show the viewers the nature of its characters, what they think and what actually happened. By listening to Nishinosono’s dialogues and observe how she acts, the viewers will realize her affection toward Saikawa without having her said it by herself. The viewers also will know about Saikawa’s character, especially the fact that he is a smart person but seems detached from life. This “show, don’t tell” approach works really effective in this kind of show, as it engage viewers to think even when the actual mystery has not started yet.

Subete F 1
Talking, talking, talking

The show is also supported by good art direction and cinematography. The background art looked very detailed, and the camera angle successfully captured this detail effectively. Every frame that this show delivers work wonderfully. It feels as though every frame has its own purpose, whether to show some little details like a crack at Saikawa’s coffee pot, to define the facial expressions of each character when doing some action, or to make some scenes feel scarier.

Subete F 2
One of the snapshot from first episode. A full shot use to show the condition of Saikawa’s office. The background art looks very detailed

But that does not mean The Perfect Insider lacks any weakness. In fact, the strengths of this show can be the reason why some people might not be able to enjoy this show. Since the show heavily used dialogues and detailed background to convey information to viewers, this show can be quite exhausting to watch. And because of the same reason, the show also tend to feel slow paced. While avid mystery fans would not mind the slower setup, the same can not be said for those who look for a show that swiftly take viewers right to the bat. Also, this show probably can not be enjoyed by mystery fans who prefer to simply observe the detective’s acts rather than trying to solve the mystery along with the detective.

Overall, the show’s dependence on dialogues, careful yet detailed shoots, and its nature as a slow burning anime might inhibit viewer’s interest on this show, especially if they are not interested in mystery before. This show is recommended to viewers who look for some intellectual challenge or if those who simply look for a show with smart dialogue and beautifully crafted cinematography.

Subete F 3
Oh, and she is MOE, literally

The Indonesian Anime Times| by Dany Muhammad

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