In Shinjuku ward's east side lies Kabukichou, a vibrant city of chaos that glows brilliantly with neon lights but also hides unseen darkness. Employed at a university hospital on the west side, John H. Watson is looking for someone who can assist him with an odd case. His search leads him to the Pipe Cat, an underground bar that serves as a meetup venue and job board for some of the best detectives in Shinjuku, the most prominent among them being Sherlock Holmes. Upon finding the bar and meeting the peculiar investigators, John learns that they are pursuing a case involving Jack the Ripper, an infamous serial killer. Due to subsequent events, John ends up driving Sherlock to the crime scene of a murder supposedly carried out by Jack the Ripper. Even though John is only there to enlist Sherlock's help with his case, he witnesses Sherlock brilliantly uncover the truth behind the crime scene. However, he begins to realize that Sherlock is not only a genius detective but also an eccentric character. As John continues to request Sherlock to assist him with his case, he finds himself spiraling into the detective lifestyle of solving cases beyond the minds of ordinary civilians. Through this work, John begins to see the true colors of the chaotic city that is Kabukichou and starts to unravel the unsettling mystery behind his own case. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Here’s a basic thing the confusingly titled Case File nº221: Kabukicho gets wrong in its premiere, a gap in its narrative’s connective tissue that demonstrates just how overstuffed and undercooked this modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story is. This version of Watson, who has a background in medicine as per usual, encounters Sherlock Holmes not as a matter of chance or professional acquaintance, but because he is specifically looking to hire Holmes for help with…something. The entirety of this first episode is essentially nothing but exposition, but for the life of me I’m certain that Watson doesn’t explain his desire to hire Sherlock beyond simply having “weird stuff” happen to him. This version of Sherlock, by the way, it a positively unhinged man who performs terrible rakugo to deduce the mysteries at hand. These investigations just so happen to be funded by the apparently incredibly wealthy crossdressing cabaret singer Mrs. Hudson, whose combination nightclub/apartment complex also functions as a front for Hudson’s prize-pool driven competitions between private investigators. When Watson ends the episode by running over and nearly killing Holmes, he moves into the Kabukicho apartments and will presumably become Sherlock’s stalwart partner, though we have absolutely no idea why he would need to be doing any of this.
Here’s a bigger mistake Case File nº221: Kabukicho makes in its efforts to transform Sherlock Holmes–both the story and its character–into a farce that trades primarily in reductive stereotypes of queer characters and obnoxiously loud banter: It has fallen into the trap of believing that Sherlock Holmes mysteries are made interesting because of the detective’s nearly superhuman knack for deductive reasoning. The wackier and more ludicrous Holmes behaves, the more folks will eat the story up, right? Unfortunately, this opener’s mystery proves that you can’t simply make a solid mystery out of a sociopathic clown that babbles random clues at the audience five minutes before the episode is finished. The bones of a Holmes mystery are there, if you squint hard enough: There’s a dead girl whose body has been horribly mutilated, and the crime scene has the hallmarks of a Jack the Ripper murder (Jack the Ripper is up to no good in modern Kabukicho, too, for reasons). We follow Holmes and the other detectives around as they case the crime scene and the victim’s residence, and then Sherlock does his rakugo thing while a baffled Watson watches, and the facts of the case are laid out.
Except the facts of the case are clues no audience member could have possibly picked up or pieced together, and they involve characters we’ve never met until the final minutes of the episode, which makes the central “mystery” not much of a mystery at all. Even in the stories that don’t lay out every possible perpetrator and clue in exacting detail for the audience, the whole point of a Holmes procedural is to see how careful observation and deductive reasoning can make even the most impossible cases solvable. Not only is this mystery only “solvable” in the most basic and reductive sense, it’s just lame. There are few clichés lazier at this point than “A crime of passion is clumsily disguised as the work of a creepy serial killer”, and to attach it to a man that nobody could ever be bothered to care about reveals the hollowness at the heart of this episode. It’s too busy making gay panic jokes and having us watch Sherlock casually sniff the corpse of a mutilated assault victim to bother engaging with any of the qualities that make for a decent Sherlock Holmes mystery. If you have no attachment to the genre or the source material, Case File nº221: Kabukicho might do more for you than it did for me, but it’s easily the most disappointing fall premieres I’ve seen yet. You can alos free Kabukichou Sherlock anime watch online and free anime download.