I now turn to Cuticle Detective Inaba (Cuticle Tantei Inaba) (2013). This is a short, gag anime- only 12 episodes long.
What’s it about?
The premise of the plot is relatively simple… Hiroshi Inaba is a part-wolf, part-human hybrid, referred to in the series as a “Secret Doberman”, with a hair fetish, who left the police force where he worked with Kunihara Ogino. Now he runs a detective agency along with his assistants Kei Nozaki and Yuuta Sasaki. However, Hiroshi and his ex-partner remain on good terms, and Ogino asks him for help regularly, calling on Hiroshi’s special power. What is this power? Well, Hiroshi has the ability to know all information about a person by tasting a strand of their hair. Hair also gives him special abilities when he is ‘transformed’.
In the first episode a rivalry is set up between Hiroshi and Don Valentino, the head of the mafia and (literally) a goat. Throughout the series, Hiroshi and co. attempt to arrest Valentino, and Valentino and his side-kicks attempt to take Hiroshi out of the picture. Both sides use particularly useless, silly, and hilarious methods.
For the most part, each episode consists of two “cases”; each with its own plot. The two cases are not always related to each other, most giving off the feel of an OVA or sketch. However, there is an overall plot that threads particular episodes together, although more-so towards the latter half of the anime. This focuses on Hiroshi’s attempt to find his younger brother Haruka, and then his brother’s involvement with the secret organisation NORA.
Personally, I find the nonsense humour in here to be comedy gold… the quick dialogue, amusing play on anime conventions and ridiculous plot makes for an anime that is designed to purely entertain.
The characters work well together on the screen, and rely on over-the-top stereotypes. For example, Ogino is the ‘tough guy’, taken to the extreme… not only do bullets and flames have no effect on him, he can also scale tower walls, command giant goats to sit, and take out six 17th century Japanese commanders in under four hours (episodes 8 “Sasaki Yuuta Kidnapping Case”, 10 “Goat Park Revelry Case” and 2 “Confidential Document Robbery Case” respectively). Likewise, Don Valentino is seemingly immortal, constantly surviving being shot, usually at the hands of his irritable assassin Gabriella. I also like the way they incorporated basic dog characteristics into the Secret Doberman’s reactions and mannerisms… such as Hiroshi’s immediate response to fetch things that are thrown, or the way his mood immediately bounces up when he is praised.
The anime is fast-paced, which is perfect for the comedy in it. The episodes are easy to watch, light and funny, with the exception of a few concepts/moments that are more serious in nature (such as episode 8 “Inaba Family Breakdown Case”… where did that come from?! Had to hold back the tears…). There is enough action to keep you entertained and plenty to make you laugh.
This anime is very silly. Extremely silly. I know a number of viewers will find the nonsense in the anime to be stupid and not suited to their taste.
As expected in this anime, once the character’s stereotyped role is defined, there is no change nor personal growth, creating predictability in the humour at times. However, this is somewhat counterbalanced by the crazed plots.
The only thing about this anime that I really had a problem with is the small roles of certain characters that appear to be important in the overall plot, but play minor roles on-screen (i.e. Akiyoshi). I know there is a manga, but I have not got around to reading it yet, so I’m not sure if these characters are further elaborated in there.
Anything else I should consider?
I think that whether you like this anime or not really boils down to the humour in it… if you love it, you’ll love the anime. If you think the first episode is painfully unfunny, don’t keep watching it, because it won’t get better for you.
Art: 8/10: The characters are styled well and the art fits well with the comedy of the anime.
Story: 7/10: Bit hard to judge… each case is short and comical, and the overall plot is easy to follow but not fully explained.
Characters: 8/10: Over-the-top, and oddball, the characters are extremely lovable in their own ways.
This anime doesn’t take itself seriously, and the viewer shouldn’t either. I found this anime to be hilarious, but I recognise that it’s definitely not to everyone’s taste. If you like nonsensical humour, you will probably like this anime. Overall I give it an 7.5/10, almost solely for the comedy.