How can I begin to explain this wonderful, horribad, hot mess that is Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro to you--and why you really ought to give it a chance? I've no idea. Maybe it's personal taste. Maybe, after months of desperately searching for an anime series to fill the flap-gaping hole of quality my ancient soul desires, I've finally lowered my standards and let my hair down. Relax a little. Give something less than perfect a try. Chances are, that's not it though and I'll try my best to explain what appealed to me about Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. First, let's talk about the story.
To be frank, the story is muddled with and hidden by quickly hashed together episodic stories that come across as rushed deals just to pad the series up to its 25 episodes. Each episode generally dishes us some hilariously bad mystery which desperately needs to be solved by Neuro and his pretty-much-useless side kick, Yako. At one point, the series introduces a minor, reaccuring character in the first few episodes simply for plot reasoning, and later on completely drops the character for no apparent reason that I can see. Other than, "KK THNX U DID UR JOB BAI OUT U GO!!!!" type of laziness. I like to call it the Magical Disappearing character. There you see them explaining or pushing the main character toward the plot aaaaand, oops, 3-8 episodes in there you see them NEVER. AGAIN. EVER.
A young, and I mean much, much, much younger audience will no doubt actually enjoy the single episodes and their moral of the story sort of endings that wraps everything up in a pretty little bow with as much hurried lackluster--"guys this could have been a great story but we need to wrap this up in 20 minutes so can we cue the expected ending and all have lunch?" sort of deal.
There were moments in the story where I felt my eyebrows attempt to escape my head and fell into a heap of disbelieving oh my god, is that supposed to be scary? gigglesnorts. And yet--and yet, I found myself watching another episode. Another. And another. And yet another because there were flashes, brief, beautiful snippets of the main story which were like flakes of gold dust on an otherwise botched, half-burnt cake.
There is something exceptionally great in the very subtle approach to the story of how the characters came to be and how the main characters are learning about one another that makes all the gigglesnorting ridiculousness + "ha ha we r so funny," mediocre comedy of the episodes worth wading through. Almost. In short: Character relationships? Good. I wanted more.
Bad: Sadly, the ending was like a b***h slap by a giant tuna. It did not make sense, left a whole lot of head scratchin' behind, giant plot holes and a funny smell behind. The story sort of went on its own the last episode explaining abso-lutely-nothing. But hey! Shiny colors!
The animation is a cross between the usual water-colored backgrounds I have come to know and love with anime and horrific laziness with character design. Exceptional painting of buildings and settings that I envy artistically are strewn through-out the series. These are mingled with some terribly sloppy character designs. Even though some of the backgrounds may be recycled, I end up feeling like laziness or maybe even budget restraints come into play when we're looking at the way main and minor characters are drawn.
Too many noodly appendages without any spaghetti. Too many odd shots where characters are suddenly stretched unbelievably so and appear to be draped over some sort of warped fish eye. But. There is some effort to make the major characters seem unique. There are a few ticks to the main characters that make them amusing and far more unique than the paper cardboard cut-outs around them. In short: It's not drawn by a four year old in mid sugar induced space-time-warp. It's not drawn exceptionally well, either. It's okay. Okay enough not to want to stab your own eyes out with sporks. That's a plus for me.
Honestly, general sound effects are what I expected. The voice actors are a little on the cliche side but so is the story and the characters themselves. This anime seriously got this mark because of the opening song. It grew on me. Like a delightful little speck of algae on a pretty rock, I couldn't quite make myself dislike it. And the more I listened to it with each episode's beginning, the more I enjoyed it. Especially the change of tempo in midsong. Nifty.
This is where the anime snuck up behind me and buried a meat-hook of ooooo, shiny in my gnarled, twisted, must have epic story and art anime soul. To be blunt, all the other characters outside of the two main were wasted spaces: an annoyance I tolerated so that I could have more moments between Neuro and Yako.
On the surface you could easily think that Neuro absolutely despised Yakuo and was pretty much out to crush her spirit and soul into itty bitty weepy pie....Okay, I'll be honest again: I kinda wished he would. Because in the beginning and for the majority of the series, Yako appears to be the most useless speck of lint. She has her uses and her places (which I won't discuss so as to spoil it for you) but past that, for the first six or seven episodes I began to despair if she was just going to be the typical female lead--tripping over her own shoes and looking soooooo cute and helpless in her itty bitty school gurrrrl skirt, traipsing along behind the ooooh so big strong male lead!
And on the surface, it really looks like this might be the case.
But as I continued watching, I realized the relationship between Neuro and Yako was far more than that. Inspite of his obvious nature, through the series he pushes Yako toward developing herself, shoving her into situations that force her to think fast and deal with what comes. Most of the time, Yako seemed to be there to make up for what Neuro obviously lacks....But occasionally Yako's mental light bulb clicks on and we see an interesting dynamic between the two. That, right there--the last line you just read--is precisely what kept me watching the anime from beginning to end. I have this weakness I guess, for subtle, delightful character relationships. It is indeed, my kryptonite.
Without spoiling the series, however, I will say they entirely undermine all that they were trying to portray in the Yako/Neuro relationship by ending the series they way they chose to.
Its really up to you to come away with your own conclusion when it comes to this series. I liked it, but in the same reason why I can't really look away from a horrific car/train/airplane crash, or like how I can't explain to my husband why I still secretly enjoy watching General Hospital.
I really do have to recommend that you take the time to watch a few scenes of it on youtube or read up on Wiki first before deciding to purchase and watch. Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is, like a strange and unique exoticly lame and weird food-- an aquired taste. It's not red wine and caviar of the anime world but more like the 5 guys burger with spicey fries: a guilty but delicious pleasure.