Kyokou Suiri, or In/Spectre tells a story about the story-telling of supernatural crimes involving youkai and a duo that stand up to defend the order. Their strongest weapons against other mystery anime are not their fists and action, but their words. Their lies. Their truths. Everything and anything they can use, they use them to create lies and to convey truths.
This method does sound familiar, but most of the time, other mystery and detective anime only stick to one truth per case. Everything else is just a fabrication to bury the truth, layer by layer. A clear line is drawn between what is real and what is not. But, what if, just what if – the line no longer exists?
Then, truth and lies are no longer differentiable.
Not everything can be explained thoroughly anymore. They are blended into each other, and being played around by whoever’s behind them to reach a desired conclusion. Just with a little twist, everything that you ever believe can be changed in just that instant. Kyokou Suiri knows this, and it plays around with this element.
Because in reality, one single truth cannot fit everything into an equation. There will always be doubts surrounding its authenticity, even when the methodology is laid out bare. So, the focus of it is not on the solution to the mysteries, but rather the long and tedious psychological portrayal of wit and knowledge applied in the progress. It sounds simple, but the hardest part is to make us, the audience believe in it. They need to convince us, otherwise the assumptions are just plain nonsense.
The self-centered and outgoing female protagonist, Kotoko represents the pen that solves these mysteries. Or more precisely, the “Goddess of Wisdom” who has connection to both the spectres and the police. She uses her wit and information to write her own conclusion and try to explain the little details of the cases. If it doesn’t work, she would try an alternative way to reshape the missing pieces. If it does work, she would bite right into its center and take a large chump of out it with her smirky smile.
This is almost the same with her pushy relationship with Kurou, where she would think of various ways to make it work. In a way, this polar attraction is the magnet that makes the cases more attracting and approachable. And despite how clingy she can be, I think that’s the adorable part of her when it comes to dealing with Kurou.
Kurou, on the other hand, is the calm and composed male protagonist that acts as the highly-regenerative sword in every mission. He has the power, she has the wisdom. Together, they are like a short demanding princess with a tall undying prince that protects her, as unwilling as he seems.
Other than that, I’m impressed with Brain’s Base’s (the studio) animation in shaping a continuity during the ‘all-talk-but-no-action’ scenes. The transition from one place to the other, and back to the start has been merged in nicely with the dialogues.
For the songs, the fun and jazzy ending ‘LAST DANCE’ by Kurou’s voice actor is what got my attention. It’s a perfect portrayal of their relationship that I can’t really describe in words. It’s somewhat of a partner-couple bond with a bit of toxicity in between.
Overall, Kyokou Suiri is far from what you expected at first glance. It takes an unorthodox route to reach the end, with the unfit duo exploring different perspective on the cases instead of settling you with one truth. It can be unbearable sometimes, but watch closer, and you might discover the fun of it – when a pen and a sword works together.
To write their own rules, and slash a new path of possibilities.
Thanks for reading.
Chihayafuru 3’s review coming right up next week, and I’m also doing episodic reviews on Kakushigoto, which, with its a bit cliché comedy might turn out to be a more impactful slice of life than I initially thought. Do check out Kakushigoto if you’re interested!