Daughter of Twenty Faces - Reviews

Alt title: Nijuu-Mensou no Musume

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VivisQueen's avatar
Jan 20, 2009

Story

With significant elements borrowed from classics such as Anne of Green Gables and A Little Princess Sara, albeit with a kick-arse twenty-first century edge, Nijuu Mensou no Musume promises wholesome, rip-roaring adventure for all ages. Initially, at least, there’s the oppressed orphan unhappy with her current existence, the cruel aunt who will stop at nothing to get her inheritance, and the dashing hero who swoops into their lives with danger and adventure nipping at his heels.

For the most part, Nijuu Mensou is a fun, but not necessarily believable, caper through an interesting steam-punk universe and the mystery of Twenty Faces is spun out in a very satisfying manner. Above all, Nijuu Mensou is punctuated by odd moments of sheer excitement which provide the necessary propulsion when the otherwise far-fetched narrative starts flagging.

I must say, one of the strongest attractions of the series is its uniquely classic tone compared to many of its contemporaries. Nijuu Mensou’s nostalgic portrayal of heavily Europeanised post-war Japan includes zeppelins, men in dapper suits, and villains who masquerade amongst the heroes using nothing more than (ta-daaa!) prosthetic faces. Add to that some dalliances in mysticism and intense action and Nijuu Mensou offers the majority of anime fans a familiar but diverse bag of goodies.

Perhaps this rich potential explains the overconfident and inevitably unsound change in focus later on. Clearly, given the various plot elements present in the beginning, the series could take any number of directions. Getting towards the final act, however, Nijuu Mensou decides to abandon the episodic ‘thieves of honour against the world’ format in favour of a moralistic pseudo-science tale somewhat reminiscent of Fullmetal Alchemist. The problem with this change in tack is twofold: firstly, it renders the former half of captivating adventuring and character development as irrelevant to later events. Secondly, with the usual combination of reprehensible human experiments, mad scientists, and tragic ex-physicists laden with sin, there’s actually very little in the latter half that hasn’t been done to death elsewhere.

Probably the biggest put-off is the poorly detailed ‘science’ at the heart of the mystery; it doesn’t make much sense, although most will grasp the general concept and find it perilous enough to be engaging. Needless to say, I went along with it due to other strengths (i.e. the characterisation and the world concept) and not because I was gripped by the science-lite moral dilemma.


Animation

As fascinating as the world concept is (the character designs, world building, and colour tones add up to a fairly attractive old school feel), the animation quality in itself is jarringly inconsistent. In the same scene, Chizuko will first engage in fluid, fast-paced combat with her enemies before proceeding to jog across the screen in a static stumble that’s badly in need of extra frames.


Sound

Sadly, Nijuu Mensou doesn’t offer much by way of soundtrack either – the score barely enhances the various moods of the series. The only point of interest may be the opening and ending themes, which are fairly fun, up-beat pop numbers.


Characters

Chizuko (also referred to as Chiko) is undoubtedly one of the best young female characters to grace the world of television since Sakura Kinomoto (Card Captor Sakura). Although she’s not infectiously cheerful like Sakura and plays less on her cuteness, her distinctive combination of calm intelligence, youthful sense of justice, and sharp combat skills make her thoroughly mesmerising. In a fight, she’s always the most useful individual, often coming up with plans on the spot and outwitting her adversaries through creativity. Despite being a very unique sort of protagonist, she remains at all times believable as a pubescent female; for example, her growing affection for Twenty Faces is at once predictable and touchingly natural. Chizuko is the rare kind of character that effortlessly evades every cliché without being outlandish, and that alone should be a strong attraction for viewers bored of the current standard.

Twenty Faces, on the other hand, is defined more by his absence than any actions he takes on screen and swings in and out of events seemingly on a whim. Of course, he remains engaging for most of the series precisely because of this elusiveness and generally plays his part as the dashing hero well when he is on screen. However, his mysteriousness makes relating to him and sympathising with him very difficult. For example, he often ends up leaving thirteen-year old Chizuko by herself to deal with the kinds of enemies (psychotic ex-girlfriends, zombies etc) that would overwhelm even his more experienced followers. Finally, the impact of his role is further diminished by the wider anime context; in a decade defined by deductive geniuses such as Yagami Light (Death Note) and Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass), Twenty Faces’ gimmicky approach to theft just comes across as corny and primitive.

Much of the supporting cast exists to serve the main plot as opposed to having any interesting stories of their own to tell. Generally, the majority are entertaining and a handful of them even attain some interesting depth, but none of them are half as complex as Chizuko. In particular, I find Chizuko’s maid, Tome, and her best friend, Koito, to be endearing but superfluous additions. Some of the more interesting characters, in fact, turn out to be the antagonists, such as the creepy White Haired Demon whose body can withstand any damage.


Overall

For fans of the masterpiece theatre classics looking for an edgier twist on their favourite old school themes, or those simply searching for a refreshing female protagonist, Nijuu Mensou no Musume will not disappoint. It’s highly entertaining for the most part despite being distractingly fantastical in places, and offers several moments of brilliance.

7/10 story
6.5/10 animation
6/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
RedCrossRobbery's avatar
Aug 7, 2011

Daughter of Twenty Faces... what a peculiar combination of highs and lows. The first arc of "gentle men thieves" was so crazy interesting, why would you end on the low "mad scientist scheme" note? Why would you make a character as brilliant and dynamic as Chico, and then make every other character innoteworthy or experience little to no growth. Whatever their reason, Chico as a character has completely made this series great in my eyes.

ATTENTION!: This review will be presented with the phrase "Arc 1 and Arc 2", this is to distinguish the wonderful first half of the series, from the second mediocre half.

Story: 8 out of 10
If I wanted to be fair, I would give Arc 1 a 9, and Arc 2 a 5. Daughter of Twenty Faces starts of really interesting, and truly pulls you in and makes you legitimately want to see Chiko find happiness with her new "family". The first arc is a globe spanning tale of adventure, culture, suspense, comedy, and action. You feel proud when Muta opens up and teaches Chiko to fight, Ken to throw knives, Goro to climb walls, so on and so forth. Then calamity sets in, and I don't mean the calamity that appears in the actual storyline, but rather the disengage from this fantastic band of thieves story into a sci-fi series of haunted memories, weapons of mass destruction, and mysterious shadows lurking around every corner.
The second arc consists largely of different people from Twenty Faces' past showing up, and trying to kill Chiko to receive secrets of Twenty Faces from back when he was a young brilliant scientist known as a genius. This is overplayed, and while not necessarily bad, a mediocre shift from the wonderful feeling that grow within you from the first arc.

Animation: 8 out of 10
Animation isn't too poor of a department for DoTF, but the character designs are rather boring. Movement is fluid, with very little budget shots, and the world itself is very well done. Post-WWII Japan, done in a pseudo-steampunk type alternate reality. The real charm is seeing the design of old cars, buildings, and especially fashion. Spot on art director.

Sound: 6 out of 10
Sound plays out mediocre in the grand scheme of things. Very little background music during the series, and plain OP and ED songs. 

Characters: 9 out of 10
This is by far the hardest category to score. On one hand, Chiko is easily a 10 to me. She is the perfect character for her role. Strong, smart, quick, brave, yet very human. Being quick in the mind and on the feet, she always finds a way to get one step ahead, and for this, we love her. The fact that she's such a frail little girl only makes us stand behind her even more as she finds way to work around her body frame.
The part that brings it down a bit is that almost every other character shows little growth, or is flat out single minded. This is upsetting for me, being that I wanted to get to know the back story of every one of Twenty Faces gang, and was given absolutely nothing besides a 2 minute hint of Ken's childhood. Twenty Faces himself only opens up by discoveries of Chiko throughout the series, and shows very little of himself besides saving the day.
This isn't too bad however, because it reinforces the verdict of Chiko that he cannot change because the war isn't over in his head. No matter how good he's trying to be, he cannot sleep at night without being haunted by the ghosts of his past unless he ends things once and for all. This makes you almost pity him, and his lack of growth seems more of a personal problem then a lazy writer.

Overall: 8 out of 10
Overall, the series started very strong, and ended on a more mediocre note, but cherry wise, I could only be thinking it mediocre because of how fantastic the beginning was. Regardless, it was still an excellent series, and I couldn't get enough of it, and walked away from it with a smile on my face.

 

 

8/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
8/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
May 19, 2012

Daughter of Twenty Faces is a light mystery/adventure concerning a team of thieves traveling around the world and stealing precious heirlooms. The story plays out in a most romanticized manner, as the thieves have their life’s goal to “liberate” beautiful items from those who don’t deserve them, as well as having a sense of adventure and freedom to do anything they like, liberated themselves from the constrains of their society. This makes the feeling of the show to be bent too much on emotion and ideals and less on pragmatism or reality in general. So in order for someone to enjoy the anime, he or she must not try to rationalize too much whatever is going on in the story but rather take it easy and just enjoy the ride. Which is something I can say about all BONES anime; they always have great production values and premises and always mess up on the story development.

The setting of the show is an alternative world, pretty close to our own but with its own history and countries. Although the thieves are traveling all over the globe, based on clothes and building architecture to the most part it will feel like it takes place somewhere between late 19th and middle 20th century central Europe. This rather exotic and uncommon setting helps the audience to emerge better in the feeling of adventure it emits. I personally found it to be something between Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist in the way it tries to depict its imagery. The overall production values are also very good, with consistency throughout the show, usually lively motions, basic choreographies in battle, and far more than a change of clothes to depict when the characters are growing older. Even the CGI feels like it fits perfectly with the 2D animation. As for the soundtrack, it is full of fitting easy going tunes and not extremely emotional J-pop or rock. They also fit with the overall feeling of the series, which is not aiming to make your heart go wild but to subtly portrait the characters and the setting.

Although the band or romantic thieves is big, only the main two members of them are focused a lot and matter in the longrun. One is their leader, the Man of Twenty Faces, and the other is the girl he took under his wings in one of his missions, Chiko or the Daughter of Twenty faces. Their nicknames are based on the fact nobody outside the team knows how they look like in reality and they keep disguising themselves in each mission to make it even harder to have a helpful photo on their wanted poster. Truth is, Chiko is the only one who becomes memorable for her radical change from a weak girl to a dynamic woman (plus because she is voiced by Hirano, the voice actress of Haruhi). Other than that, they are both depicted as highly intelligent, extremely cunning, amazing at disguises and acrobatics. They give off an aura of security and superiority for acting and feeling completely above anyone else.

The truth is though that they are just a bit smarter than the rest, plus the entire world of the series appears to be run by idiots. Although we can excuse it somehow by thinking this is happening in a previous century where most people were ignorant and gullible, you are still made to think that everybody can be fooled with tricks which are child’s play or completely see-through with modern standards. You just have to accept the fact the heroes can put on a wig and a mask and become completely identical to the friends and allies of their opponents. And no, they don’t even do it in a fancy hi-tech way like in the Mission Impossible series. They also have access to super powerful technology, super awesome spy gadgets, super cool disguise kits, and can move around the world in fancy cars or cool zeppelins completely unnoticed. Hell, they can easily destroy everything and buy new ones if they are ever discovered, so it’s like they have endless money and can easily replace anything they waste. So in a way they win most of the time because their opponents are idiots or don’t have equipment from the future. Makes it kinda cheap and anti-climactic to see them constantly winning with childish tricks, full of immature bravado and impractical uses of technology. It is even dumber when the villains constantly make the ridiculous James Bond mistake of trying to imprison the heroes just to explain their plan to them before killing them instead of just killing them. Or they leave the room and assume they will be killed by someone else, something which of course never happens. But as I said you are supposed to like the atmosphere and the characters and not the story and its plausibility. It’s just that in the longrun it makes most of the cast to feel neglected or stupid and thus they are thrown aside for being completely uninteresting to bother remembering.

Speaking of the story, it never manages to be too exciting or memorable in terms of plot. The first part is episodic missions where Chiko slowly learns various tricks to use in their adventures. The second part is about an opposing team of also skilled villains trying to accomplish some devious scheme regarding the war that ended some years ago. Progressively the series becomes less mysterious (because Chiko is learning fast the basics of thievery) and far more action (because she now knows lots of tricks and so do the new enemies). In this regard, the initial feeling of excitement and adventure gives its place to something close to a dull fighting shounen. Although the story becomes more on-going, at the same time it feels like it moves way too fast without much payback in terms of action or character coloring. Especially the finale which is pretty much a snorefest.

Although this anime is in overall very uncommon in the way it tells its story and not following the usual anime clichés too much, down to it lacks the most vital element of any series: Excitement! It doesn’t have much of it and when it attempts to do so all you get is dumb villains, shallow ideology, and dull fighting shounen. Chiko and Man are cool but they are simply not enough to keep you interested in watching for more than a few episodes without something great to look forward to. So nice try but not great in overall.

SUGGESTION LIST
Big O
Pumpkin Scissors
Kino’s Journey
Lupin the 3rd
Alison and Lilia

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (interesting setting)
Character Figures 1/2 (nothing amazing but consistent)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed and with good CGI)
Animation 1/2 (good but dull)
Visual Effects 1/2 (good but dull)

SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (good but rather cheesy on ideology)
Music Themes 3/4 (fitting but not memorable)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (cheesy)
Pacing 1/2 (slow)
Complexity 1/2 (too much focus on Chiko)
Plausibility 1/2 (mentally challenged but there)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)

CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (bold)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (mostly for Chiko but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (small since most episodes are dull)
Memorability 3/4 (generally memorable but could have been much better)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Interesting for awhile but the lack of excitement and capable idiots kills it in the longrun.

VERDICT: 5.5/10

5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
cikinimey's avatar
Apr 22, 2012

Daughter of Twenty Faces

Daughter of Twenty Faces, also known as Nijū Mensō no Musume (二十面相の娘), is originally a Japanese manga series which got adapted as an anime series. My first impression was really something, and it made me continue watching all the 22 episodes in just 9 hours!


Story

The story is split in to two. The first is from episode 1-6, and the second is from there and out the rest. The first part is probably the best part (score 10.5/10), but the second is also just as good for me as things turns around because of the tragedies (score 9.5/10.

The first thing you will watch is a 11 years old girl named Chizuko Mikamo (Chiko) who only makes troubles for her parents, behaves coldly toward them, despite their efforts to make her happy. What you will see later in the first episode is that these relatives are in fact not her parents, but her aunt and uncle. Her real parents are dead. And the reason she has for making trouble is because she knows that her aunt and uncle are trying to slowly poison her so that they can take her inheritance for themselves. Thanks to her intelligence and knowledge, gained by reading detective novels, she tries to avoid eating the food her aunt prepares. Which then again results in to her starve herself. She still doesn’t give up though, as she still hopes for some miracle to happen.

Her butler is revealed to actually be the world-famous thief Twenty Faces. His mission at that time was to steal a family heirloom gem known as the Anastasia Ruby. By infiltrating the mansion, he realizes what Chiko’s been going through, and feels that she needs an opportunity in her life. He asks her if she wants to come with him and his band on their travels around the world. She doesn’t only agree. She runs to him at all her might as her life finally gained a hope. Twenty Faces and the members of his band becomes her new family and she learns from then every day. They were the ones that shortened her name to Chiko. After living with the band for two years, Chiko becomes a skilled thief and thinks of Twenty Faces as her father. All this however, ends in a sudden train accident caused by Tiger, which kills most of her new family. The only survivor is her, 20 faces, and Ken.

As this tragedy turns out, she is finally “found” after getting “kidnapped” by 20 faces. She is in shock after seeing her new family die in front of her, including 20 faces and ken, which did survive without her knowing. She becomes depressed and refuses to talk because of the shock. But when a mysterious detective appears and she learns that there is a possibility that he may still be alive somewhere, Chiko becomes more lively and works, with the help of a few new friends, to find him by following the clues that he seems to have left behind, which begins with the finding of the Anastasia Ruby! Now, Chiko must dodge her aunt's attempts to murder her and unravel the mysteries Twenty Faces left for her to solve.


Characters

Chizuko Mikamo 美甘千津子 (Chiko) score 10/10

First introduced as the 11-year-old heiress to the Anastasia Ruby. The story focuses on her and how her life changes after she is saved from her greedy relatives. She is smart, and good at looking for options in any situation she is going through. Chiko learns many tricks from everyone on the team and she becomes a talented thief. At the age of thirteen, Chiko appears to be the last survivor of the Phantom Thief.

Twenty Faces 二十面相 score 10/10

A former scientist that has become a infamous thief. Not much is known about his past, but it can be inferred that he was somehow deeply affected by the Great War. He teaches Chiko and the rest of his team that the most important abilities one must have in life are to be able to listen, observe one's surroundings, and to be able to think for one's self.Most of the team calls him Boss, but Chiko prefers to refer to him as Oji-san (Uncle). Before the train incident, he seemed to be indirectly training Chiko to be his heir, since she is one of the most clever, eager, and willing members of the team. This way, she would be able to continue where he left off in the case of his death. He appeared to have disappeared the night of the train incident when the car he was on exploded, but returned later when Chiko was in terrible danger, disguised at first as Akechi. He disappears again soon after, saying that he had recently discovered that the Great War was still ongoing beneath the surface. It is revealed that during the Great War, he had been a researcher whose work could revolutionize warfare with his discovery of how to induce the fourth state of water. However, when he realized how dangerous his discovery would be, he destroyed the laboratory before abandoning his colleagues, who would pursue him to learn the information that he never disclosed, and made it his life's mission to try to stop another great war from happening.

Shunka Koito 小糸春華Score 9/10

Tome トメ score 9.5/10

Ken ケン score 10/10

Detective Akine 空根太作 score 8/10

Akechi 明智 score 10/10 [a detective from traditional Japanese detective stories, which results getting 10 from me]

Nozomi Kayama 香山望 score 9.5/10

Skipper 船長 score 10/10


Sounds and animation

I don't want to rank any anime based on sounds or animations, unless it's no sounds, black and white only or a 240p video. BUT it still have some effects on my opinion on rank. The sounds were great. I liked the background music and the sound effects. The animation tells me that this is a japanese prodused animation (anime :P). If I had to rank them, it would be something around 7 and 8 of 10. 


Overall

I really liked the story. It catches your eyes and has the best start of any story I've seen. Even though some of u might find it bad that people you want to watch more of is dying, but I think the first arc would become boring if they stretch it more out. and the second arc is not bad, and I didn't get the usuall "filler" feeling I get at some series. The characters are great. They really have thought this through. Ofcoure my favorite character is Chiko. I love how the story focuses her and her adventures. I also have this feeling of joy when I see how her dear thief friends keep watching over her from distant. The personality of all the different characters are great. And the series had a nice happy ending.

Everyone who loves action, drama, thief, adventures, twists, and young girls fighting should check this one out! 

There are some small pieces of comedy.

There is no ecchi thinks here (exept for one time) nor is it any reversed harem (even if it's one girl among a gang of male thiefs. 


10/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Omurqi's avatar
Jan 10, 2010

I love ISSUPians, they come up with the best recommendations, yes, even for non-tit, loli or trapshows. This time it was NimirRa’s rec for Daughter of Twenty Faces, which had possibly my new all-time favorite female character in the lead role.

Story

When Chizuko, a bright girl and fan of detective novels, finds out her foster parents have been slowly poisoning her, there is nothing she can do but starve herself. Nearly at the end of her line, she gets “stolen” away from her family by her idol, notorious masterthief Twenty Faces. Happy to find a new family in the Twenty Faces gang, Chizuko does her best to adapt to the life as an outlaw. But Twenty Faces is a man shrouded in mysteries, and there might be more to his image than what first meets the eye.

The story manages to keep a good and steady pace the entire time. It has a nice balance of intriguing plot, where new layers unfold themselves along the way, and some very satisfying and fluent action scenes. And of course, it has Chizuko, but more of that later.

Animation

No complaints here, although no glaring praise either. The character designs look a little different from the norm, but very basic nonetheless. Bad guys are drawn as such (a villain looking like he came straight from a Western and an evil genius come to mind), and Twenty Faces has a James-Bondish flair over him. The combination of these stereotypical looks with a somewhat dark and multi-layered storyline give the anime a good and somewhat unique feel, but crisp animation isn’t the selling point of this show.

Sound

Daughter of Twenty Faces has a great soundtrack with some excellent music to accompany a wide scale of different scenes. While the music works fine, it’s not much stand-alone material and thus most of the soundtrack isn’t particularly memorable. The opening track manages to get you in the right mood for the show with a slow, slightly sad song with a hint of hope.  The ending track is more of a happy, reassuring song with catchy guitar riffs playing along.

Character

While the story is definitely the focus of this anime, the character section is also covered plenty. With a wide range of lovable, extravagant characters and the noticeable lack of comic relief or braindead-useless characters, the entire cast is a joy to follow. With the exception of a few overly-stereotypical villain characters, nearly every person in this show has or develops more depth to them than what first meets the eye.

The main character of the show, young teenage girl Chizuko, is the one who drove this anime up from being “just a good show” to something even more. She’s a bright, clear minded and agile girl with a great ability to learn and adapt to situations. Despite all her strong points, she is still unmistakably a child with a young perspective on the world. At first, I made the link between her and Kino from Kino’s Journey. While they are both “cool and collected” characters that are very bright for their age, there are noticeable differences, such as Chizuko showing a lot more of emotional depth and her being a crucial part in the plot, rather than being more of a neutral device to tell the stories.

Overall

For a show that seems to be about a band of thieves going on adventures and fighting generic baddies at first, Daughter of Twenty Faces ended up having a lot more to it than first met the eye. If you want to be the elitist about it, the story is largely predictable, but that’s not how I experienced it in the least. Having a combination of good action, intriguing story and great character-development, it’s something I’m recommending to anyone who can handle something that isn’t completely art-house or indie material.

7.5/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8/10 overall