There have been a lot of award winning mini-novels that have been adapted to anime series in the past few years (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Baccano! among a few other titles), and it seems that Ryoko's Case File follows in the tradition. On the surface, it seems like a mature, sophisticated action sci-fi series with a lot of spunk. The French-themed, jazzy and sensual OP sequence might turn a few heads and make one go "I have to check this series out."
Yet, this isn't any "Bartender" or "Baccano" in terms of a structured story.
Well, a lot of the appeal is true from a surface perspective, but the sophistication really stretches only as far as the nice animation and character chemistry between the main leads. The rest of it plays out like an episodic spirit busting series until it hits a main progressive vein more than halfway through (and it actually had a good ending to wrap it all up). Blending a bit of tongue-in-cheek comedy with a police themed perspective, I felt like I was watching "You're Under Arrest" without the slapstick comedy and a spirit themed perspective. It also has a few moments of insinuated romantic interests, but doesn't fully develop them as much as it could have.
What made this series really stand out to me was the appeal of the two main characters: Ryoko Yakushuiji and Junichiro Izumida, whom are about as "hot and cold" in personality as you can possibly get. Where Ryoko is reckless and sassy, Junichiro is accomodating and unsure. The police staff and settings are nice in their own right, but I found the French nurses to be a bit...well...extraneous. The French phrases came across as a bit tacky and displaced and did nothing to really bring cultural relevance to the series.
As much as I'm critical about the story and characterization, I actually did find it to be an enjoyable watch, particularly in the latter arc when a more developed and sequential story came into focus, but unfortunately, it was a little late to make it fully reflect upon the series in a more encompassing perspective. Sure, some of the episodic adventures are fun, but there are others that one could have done without.
Very nice production values for the current year. Honestly, it was one of the more consistent and nicely adapted series with respect to the novel counterpart on this note. Fluid action sequences, consistent character designs and nice lighting were all nicely done.
As much as I liked the opening and ending sequences to the series, I have to say the music from Ryoko's Case File didn't exactly jump out to me otherwise. It radiates a classy, French instrumental feel with slight leanings towards jazz, but it's far from being anything on the stature of Cowboy Bebop, Baccano, or even as fun and appealing as the Welcome to the NHK soundtracks.
I'd also note the voice acting was rather standard in most points of the series. Granted, the Japanese VAs did a great job of bringing out their characters (I'd give personal kudos to Ryoko's VA, who manages to make her character, while in a rather stereotypical veil, funny and engaging), but you wouldn't come into this series thinking "this is the best VA work I've ever heard". It works in the moment, but doesn't quite translate into more.
To make an abbreviated note about the characters: the only two that I found worth note, and perhaps why I rank the series as well as I do, were within the vein of Ryoko and Junichirou, particularly in their dynamic. The series revolves around their work together in dealing with problems in the supernatural vein, and what makes it better than series of its peer notation (i.e. Venus Versus Virus, Rental Magica) is that there's a lot of potential personality to explore with these two - and on some levels they actually do a fine job of playing upon their contrasts .
I didn't feel that the series took it to a level where this could have been more substantial (as to give them depth as opposed to simply style), but in the measure of the series aim, it manages to work.
Worth watching at least once the whole way through if you're not opposed to episodic spirit busting series with a air of something different, but I wouldn't come into it expecting anything remotely groundbreaking. I found it entertaining and engaging, albeit points around the middle part of the series where it does get a bit sluggish in its storytelling (in part for the cases that were noted around that time), but in the overall perspective, especially with its final arc, I found it worth the watch.
Ryoko Yakushiji is the gifted and beautiful Superintendent of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police; no matter what the problem – science gone wrong or supernatural monsters – it seems there is nothing she cannot solve. With her new partner, the mild mannered Junichiro Izumida, she sets about tackling some of Tokyo's most terrible crimes. However, as Izumida quickly discovers, Ryoko's talent comes with a big ego and some strange personal baggage; cleaning up the streets of Tokyo becomes not just a matter of finding the bad guys, but trying to survive Ryoko's attitude problem as well!
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I tend to be a fan of slice of life, dramatic and romantic series, but my palette is open to different series of a plethora of genres. I love watching series that engage my senses and imagination, and as a writer, I always appreciate a good story with a great cast of characters. I love when people give feedback on my reviews, because it helps me see things in a different lens, so I encourage you to converse with me if you have any questions, commentary or just want to chat about a series. ^_^
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