Anime Review | The Perfect Insider (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 15.01.2017

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The Perfect Insider (UK Rating: 15)

Based on the award winning debut novel of prolific Japanese mystery writer, Hiroshi Mori, locked room mystery, The Perfect Insider, has received numerous adaptations since its initial publication, in live action, as a visual novel game, as a manga, and as this anime. Courtesy of Manga Entertainment, The Perfect Insider brings a complex and cerebral murder mystery thriller that is quite unlike anything that has come before.

With any mystery, it's difficult to talk about the plot or the story without accidentally ruining things that are always better for the audience to discover or figure out themselves. The Perfect Insider is very much a murder mystery, but it's much more than that - a story that spans 15 years with some really smart writing. The story follows a chain-smoking cynic professor named Sohei Saikawa, and the daughter of his mentor, Moe Nishinosono. The pair embarks on a field trip with Saikawa's students to visit a reclusive genius with a dark past, and quickly become embroiled in an unexplainable murder mystery.

The genius recluse is Magata Shiki, a girl who killed her parents when she was just thirteen, stabbing them both to death. Her uncle watched it happen and her aunt walked in just as he was prying the knife from Magata's hands. The courts found that Magata was not in her right mind and between her age and her multiple personality disorder she somehow managed to be declared innocent. Even at the young age of 13, Magata was considered a prodigy and a genius that could change the world. After this incident, she isolates herself in the "Magata Research Institute," a lab built on a remote island with only a handful of staff. She goes even further for her isolation, sequestering herself in a set of rooms with no windows and only one door.

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Moe and Saikawa are going to visit Dr. Magata 15 years after her initial confinement; true to her word, in that time no-one has entered or left the room. She has been almost unreachable by the outside world in all this time but recently began taking visitors to her private island for video conversations. Moe was one of her most recent visitors. Moe was interested in someone like her. Moe is also a budding prodigy that lost her parents at a young age, although unlike Magata, she wasn't the cause. They died in an accident right before Moe's eyes. After Moe's initial meeting, she teases Saikawa enough to go on a trip together for another meeting with the homicidal genius. While visiting the lab, a power failure releases the door to Dr. Magata's room and a terrifying sight rolls out: the remains of Dr. Magata, dressed in a wedding gown, rolled out on a remote control trolley, missing its arms and legs… This then begins a setup of the classic "locked room mystery" setup; who could have killed her when no-one had entered or left that room in 15 years, with only one door in and out, and constant video surveillance.

The mystery itself is a particularly enjoyable one that will keep viewers surprised throughout, not to mention being filled with IT technical aspects that knowledgeable members of the audience will truly appreciate. The mystery is the centre of the show but this is still very much a character-focused story, with plenty of likeable characters. Saikawa and Moe are both fantastic characters that would be great at the heart of any story, and those who enjoy them would be wise to check out the live action adaptation along with the original novel, which actually sees the pair partaking in other adventures. Moe is definitely the star of the show, utterly charming with her quirky behaviour; she's young but strong and clearly very much in love with Saikawa. The other centrepiece of the story is Dr. Magata, and the glimpse into her history is another particular highlight of the series. Set during the time before she killed her parents, the story of this 13-year-old girl struggling with her mind and her world draws considerable parallels to the novel "Lolita." Some viewers may find these scenes difficult to watch for obvious reasons, but it's chilling and eye opening to see what influenced some of Magata's dark behaviour.

The quality of the series is impressive. A-1 Pictures always puts out some good looking series and The Perfect Insider is no exception. On the audio front, the opening and ending themes are catchy little earworms and the voice actors deliver great performances, with Moe once again stealing the spotlight. Voice actress Tanezaki Atsumi really helps to create a highly likeable character. There is one negative in the voice acting, as two Japanese voice actors conduct a conversation in stilted English. It's a strange choice and has some cringe-worthy moments. The extra features here are sorely disappointing; there are eleven episodes in the series and the first nine are on Disc One. Disc Two is dedicated to the last two episodes and the special features. With so much space available, surely those special features would be considerable? Nope. It's the same old clean opening/clean closing and trailers for other series from Sentai Filmworks. It would have been good to have some features looking at the other adaptations, into the author, or the process.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
The Perfect Insider is a fascinating mystery that doubles as a real character piece around the protagonist duo. It's a shame, though, that the ending doesn't quite live up to the rest of the series. As good as the mystery and its conclusion are, the finale is somewhat lacklustre. Those who enjoy philosophy will relish the waxing lyrical on various nihilistic and existential ideologies, along with the many long discussions on the human condition.

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