Psychic Detective Yakumo

Alt title: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

TV (13 eps)
Fall 2010
3.779 out of 5 from 7,109 votes
Rank #2,303

Saitou Yakumo is a young man with a very special gift: he can see the souls of the dead and communicate with them. When the aloof student isn’t duping his fellow classmates out of their money with fake card tricks, he takes on paranormal cases that pique his interest. Making use of his unique abilities, logical mind and his contacts within the police, Yakumo strives to solve each supernatural case he takes on and bring those responsible to justice. But when the youthful detective becomes the target of a sinister duo can he get to the bottom of their scheme before he is dragged into a world of darkness and hatred?

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Story Throughout the course of the year, I often pick up series that I wouldn’t normally for the sole purpose of filling out the entry information here on Anime Planet. It’s an interesting experiment as I never know what I’m going to find. Occasionally I stumble across a real gem, sometimes I fall face first into a pile of donkey dung, but most series, like Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, leave me with a distinct feeling of “meh”. Yakumo is a young man with a mysterious red eye that allows him to see and communicate with the dead. Despite being aloof and disinterested, he takes on various paranormal cases and uses his talents to solve mysteries, bringing wrongdoers to justice. However, the supernatural detective soon finds himself the target of a sinister duo that plan to fill his heart with hatred and despair. Along with his new acquaintance, Haruka, and police inspector Gotou, Yakumo attempts to discover the pair’s nefarious scheme and put a stop to their evildoings. The opening episodes do little more that set the scene and appease the monster-of-the-week gods. At this point the series awkwardly tacks on hints of an ongoing conspiracy. While they raise hopes for the direction of the plot, these ham-fisted attempts feel more like a desperate bid for the viewer’s attention. Thankfully, this subsides quickly; the central narrative becomes more prevalent over time and is in full swing by the mid-section. Unfortunately, the promised “plotline” turns out to be more like hyping up the new roller coaster at a local theme park, only to arrive and find that it’s closed for maintenance; it’s there but isn’t worth the anticipation. Split into smaller arcs, each depicting the next stage in the investigation, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo uses each twist and turn to keep the pace up. However, as with any segmented show, certain plotlines are bound to be more engaging than others. Without a doubt, the piece focusing on Yakumo’s past is the strongest of the anime. With plenty of intrigue, supernatural mystery and a definite sense of danger, this section comes to a satisfying climax. Regrettably, the main and final arc fails to live up to its predecessor and the series finale goes out with more of a mumble that a resounding bang. Animation When it comes to creating any animation, the size of the budget is vital to the overall quality. Therefore, I can only deduce (and hope) that Shinrei Tantei Yakumo didn’t have much to work with. With awkward posturing and a lack of consistently fluid movement the series disappoints – especially considering this is a 2010 anime, and many of the classic shorts from the 1930s demonstrate smoother and more impressive motion for the time. That being said, the series does utilise some well-drawn props and backgrounds. Small details such as the markings and lock mechanism on an SD memory card and added textures to natural surroundings make the Shinrei Tantei Yakumo universe more realistic and greatly enhance its visuals. Sound Shinrei Tantei Yakumo’s soundtrack is unforgivably cheesy. Electronic beats during investigative sequences and the occasional electric guitar riff for “maximum impactz!11” meld with corny piano or orchestral tunes for the quieter moments between Yakumo and Haruka. Not only do the songs fail to impress on a basic level, but at times they feel misplaced within the scene. Often tracks accompanying mundane actions are too dramatic for what’s occurring onscreen – and that someone decided that ninety percent of the anime should have some supplementary melody, makes the incidental music all the more intrusive. All together, the anime’s score sounds like a low-budget straight-to-video crime thriller from the nineties, as if someone went to the store cupboard of stock background music and grabbed anything with the word “suspense” scribbled on it. The show’s voice cast is average. From Isshin’s soft and kind inflections to Gotou’s gruff mannerisms, each seiyuu does a reasonable job of injecting emotion into their character – or completely avoiding it in the case of Yakumo. Characters The combination of a gifted yet sultry and antisocial protagonist with the irritatingly “nice” and interfering do-gooder female attempting to melt his icy exterior has been done to death. As much as I’d like to say that Shinrei Tantei Yakumo revitalises this tired convention by putting a fresh spin on it, it doesn’t. Instead it’s taken this stereotype, dusted off the cobwebs and flogged it for thirteen episodes in the hopes that we’ll find this worthwhile viewing. Even Bleach’s attempt at getting big-bosomed bint Orihime to pierce through Ulquiorra’s cold and stoic shell is more engaging – and when Tite Kubo outperforms you, your plot device must be woefully dull. Luckily, it’s not all bad: while Gotou doesn’t stray far from the laid-back yet determined cop with distaste for authority, he proves much more interesting to watch than his co-stars. His rough and ready nature, argumentative streak and varied interactions with those around him make the determined detective inherently likeable and ultimately all the more endearing. Overall Riddled with an inconsistent plot, lacklustre animation and a corny soundtrack, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo never quite manages to engage the audience. With an intriguing premise I wanted to be glued to the screen, yet somehow flicking to the next episode became a chore.


This show is about a high school student named Yakumo who has the ability to see spirits with his left red eye and sometimes communicate with them(not a super original premise, but highly entertaining nontheless). He spends his spare time tricking kids out of their money with fake card tricks, or just sleeping about. But, once in a while, he'll take a spirit associated police case that has piqued his interest. But with his troubled family past and issues with humanity, will Yakumo ever be able to live a normal life? Story: (9/10) While not an entirely original premise, they definitely utilized it to it's full potential, much more effectively than many other similar shows. The story basically has everything a good anime needs: A complex main character with a troubled background, a helpful and insightful love interest, a devoted detective, and ghosts. Really, that's all they needed here, but they added even more into the mix to give it an added level of depth and enjoyability. Yakumo's disturbed background piqued my interest in him, and also apparently the interest of those around him. But the best part isn't when they discuss Yakumo, but when Yakumo discusses with the accused how he knows that they are guilty. With pounds of accurate speculation, Yakumo presents his inner monologue better than even Yagami Light of Death Note. He solves murders, abductions, and even poltergheist possesion, making for an interesting watch. Animation: (9/10) What can I say, it suits the series. It's dark and forboding when it's supposed to be, and bright and happy when it's supposed to be. Also, although not littered with fight scenes, when they pop up in Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, it looks damn realistic. The character designs aren't the most original I've ever seen, but I suppose that look best suits their personalities. When it comes to animation, this show did it right. Sound: (9/10) To be honest, the opening theme represents the show so well I was actually considering making this review simply a link to it on YouTube or something. The opening theme is truly fitting, and the ending just as much so. The voice acting was just as it should be to match the theme of the show, and the background noise/music was never out of place. Once again, a 2010 show did animation and sound well. Characters: (9.5/10) Although sometimes the main love interest (Haruka) can be absent minded occasionally, every other character plays their role perfectly. Both of Yakumo's parents are dead, and he has always been shunned or even beaten up due to his red left eye(seriously, what's with the heavy discrimination against physical features in Japan?!). Later you find out that Yakumo and Haruka's past goes back further then either of them thought, giving their relationship and added level of depth. What I absolutely love about their relationship though is that there is no stupid blushing, and the girl is simply trying to help the guy, which is a refreshing change of pace seeing as most anime series these days have the protagonist being an emotionally immature nitwit who freaks out at the sight of anything related to women. In this show, Yakumo doesn't express any feelings for her at all, and instead simply allows her to tag along, while she is trying to help him in dealing with his troubled past. It's obvious they are concerned about eachother and harbor feelings, but the best part is that it's successfully conveyed without either character being awkward or embarassed in any way. The supporting characters also offer comic relief and intel on future missions, as well as being occasionally super adorable(I just wanna give his deaf little cousin a hug for being so cute <3). Once again, job well done Yakumo. Overall: (9/10) This show, while it may get dull for 7 or 8 minutes at a time, will entertain you thorougly and will definitely be a show to look back on with a smile.


I watched Shinrei Tantei Yakumo out of looking for something similar to Un-Go, the only thing similar about them is the detective part, but the themes are entirely different. Some light spoilers may follow. Story (8.5) The premise of this story is simple, special boy with special powers solves people's problems. The first few episodes are clearly for setting-up purposes, with the classic boy-meets-girl-solves-her-problems-and-they-become-"close" sort of thing to the episodic solve this and that problem of other people. It's quite formulaic at first and I would presume many people by the third episode would throw their hands in the air and give up. Don't. It picks up the pace soon enough. While our titular bishounen-character Yakumo quickly resolves some cases, another case is brewing behind the scenes which, as the viewers should expect, comes around to punch some life into the series, which it does, successfully and manages to conjure a good amount of interest in me for me to carry on and marathon it. The themes Shinrei Tantei Yakumo deals with are quite dark, starting from coming to terms with one's anger and despair or being swallowed up by it. While there are no overtly violent or sexual scenes, certain instances of terrible things are alluded to and/or shown off-screen. In contrast though, the story also manages to lightly relay a handful of enlightened insights, which did not really come off as heavy handed and did not fail to make me appreciate the whole series in general. I would note that there are certain scenes that are quite subtle and relays to the viewers certain scenarios that wouldn't have fit into the whole story, such as the case of the Detective and his wife, whose infertile, which was hinted at by some magazines. The fact that it bothered the Detective was only revealed in another scene where he sits in a playground watching children play. I realized that nearly all of the main characters were quite well-thought out and accounted for. It's got a lot of heart, so to say. It is important also to note that despite this being a rather supernatural story, the detective-themes somehow managed not to get buried underneath the main storyline too much. I somehow forgot that this was a detective story at least twice through the series, which the show then reminded me of such a fact, also twice. Animation (7) The animation is solid. It's not stunning but it's not entirely lackluster either. There are certain shots that felt like it could have been animated better. Still, it's shortcomings do not distract from the story. The animation is dark when it befits the mood and light when it does so, which is appropriate and leaves me without much to complain about. Sound (7) I did not notice the soundtrack at all, save for the opera-singing which thankfully enough was sparingly used and appropriate. As the background music is not prominent, it's safe to say that it does not entirely impede upon the viewer experience nor does it enhance it much either. Characters (8.5) I can certainly see why people would be put-off by Shirei Tantei Yakumo's characters. I certainly felt this way early on when I felt that Yakumo was just another angsty boy and his girlfriend Haruka was just another pure-hearted bimbo. Give them a chance. Like any good character, Yakumo does have his reasons for acting this way. For one, it is probably a given that he's given a lot of shit for having a creepy red left eye which does tend to make an anti-social bastard out of anyone. Other reasons for his behavior are revealed as the story progresses and his behavior is consistent throughout the series. It is worth noting there is a subtle amount of personality growth as well, which is a d'aww moment for me and convinces me that Yakumo is a solid character. Haruka on the other hand, as at first, quite annoying. She has these moments of airheadedness that puts her into various situations, but as the series progressed, so did her likability. Her motives and drive explain her lack of judgement in some cases and the fact that she seems to genuinely care for Yakumo and acts accordingly. Still, there are times when she does seem quite helpful to Yakumo, which makes me forgive her and even like her a lot. The other characters of course, such as Detective Gotou, Uncle Isshin, Ishii the rookie are all quite well thought-out and presented as well. Each character is integral to the story in general, which just makes everything better and come-off as well-rounded. Overall Despite shortcomings and the weak start, Shirei Tantei Yakumo is a solid and enjoyable. The story has clearly been thought over towards the end, complete with mysteries and such. The ending is well-done and satisfying, something I believe is quite commendable for a short series with a novel and manga that's still ongoing. Go watch it.

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