Hello fellow creatures that go bump in the night (or the afternoon if you prefer). We have already arrived at the 6th part of my Countdown to Halloween series, a collection of weekly posts where I’m celebrating all things horror as a prelude to the 31st of October. The date that is better known as Halloween. Movies, books, anime and boardgames all get their turns here, and today it’s time for another anime series. The first anime that I chose for Halloween, Parasyte-the Maxim really took me by surprise as it ended up being a totally different show than I expected it to be. To make things clear for the ones who missed that post, it was a pleasant surprise to be sure. They say that lightning usually doesn’t hit twice, but well with B-the Beginning I have again been taken by surprise. This time however it wasn’t a totally pleasant one though, because well this is one of those shows that I simply don’t really know how I feel about it after the end credits started to roll. It’s an anime that certainly had a lot of potential and some very good ideas, but if it achieved all of it’s goals is a question that I find very hard to answer. But well let’s start at erm the beginning first shall we?
B-the Beginning takes place in a fictional place called Cremona that at times reminded me a bit of France in the old days, in terms of atmosphere. While technology like computers exists, it still has a bit of an oldschool feel to it. We follow the Royal Investigative Service (or R.I.S. for short) which is a special police unit that if you want to compare it to something comes close to our F.B.I. Lately a series of brutal and very graphic murders have Cremona in their grasp, and the R.I.S. is getting desperate as they have yet to find some clues to who or what is causing them. All they have so far is that at every murderscene their is a mysterious calling card left in it’s wake, in the form of the letter B, hence the serial killer is given the nickname “Killer B”. The victims have all been criminals, so it seems that a vigilante is running amock and taking justice into it’s own hands. Returning to the R.I.S. after a seven year absence is the criminal investigator Keith Flick. To call him quite the eccentric is an understatement, but no one even remotely questions his expertise. Together with the young and very enthusiastic Lily Hoshina, Keith tries to uncover who is responsible. Soon he stumbles across secrets that trace back to his own dark past, and that might have been better to have left buried forever….
I think every blogger has those posts where you don’t really know what to write or where to begin. This is one of those posts. I even struggled with the description of this series, as well, it only covers a remote fraction of what this series is about. In fact, I think that’s one of the problems that this anime has, what exactly is this series? A crime drama? Certainly. A supernatural horror thriller? You can add another check mark to the list. There are so many elements that have been put into this series, that it runs the risk of becoming total chaos. But well, that doesn’t really happen. Yes this is a show where you need to pay attention. In fact, I think that if you were to miss even a minute of the show you would be cast adrift, and lose track of what the story is about. Still, even though that is the case, it’s an intelligent and well written tale, that while certainly it could have benefitted from a bit more fleshed out details, is well worth the ride. Next to the complex story, we also have a huge cast, and well, not all of those characters, especially the villains, have been worked out very well. Some depth and more background could have helped with that.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t any characters that are enjoyable. Keith Flick is the one that’s pretty much the lead of this anime. It’s through him we experience most of the story, and he’s a, for lack of better term, pretty weird man. But I mean that in a good way. He’s totally focussed on solving crime, and because of that isn’t really a people person, and often has trouble in dealing with his colleagues. That certainly results in a couple of pretty hilarious scenes, especially when he’s paired up with Lily who was without a doubt my favorite character. She has an incredible energy to her, a great sense of humor, and is just so full of life that you can’t help but smile whenever she entered the scene. I can’t say too much about the killer, nor of the killer’s abilities, because as always I want to keep things as spoiler free as possible. Suffice it to say, that Killer B is also not exactly what you might think of when you think of serial killers. Not that you need to think about serial killers a lot, mind you. There are a lot of villains in this story, and well, that’s where I thought the anime fell a bit short. Most of these had little to no background, and that made them kind of throw away characters, which is a bit of a shame.
The animation style is definitely another highlight of this series. You can certainly see that this is a anime that was made by the people behind Psycho-Pass as for the most part it really looks amazing. One could argue that some of the computer generated action scenes didn’t quite work out, but that would be nit picking. The first few episodes of the show had me on the edge of my seat, with some great action sequences, a gritty and at times brutal atmosphere, and some jaw dropping moments. As the series progressed though, the complexity of the story, as well as a bit of a change in pace, started to diminish my initial enthusiasm. The ending of the series also felt rushed, especially a big battle sequence that ended quite abruptly. A second season of the show has been confirmed, but no release date is known for it so far. I do think that overall B-The Beginning is a show that’s worth watching. Probably with a second watch of this anime, more of it’s secrets and details will fall into place as you now know what to expect. One important thing to note is, even though there are certainly horror elements in this series, I wouldn’t classify it solely as a horror show. That’s as mentioned I think the show’s biggest problem: it has trouble finding out exactly what it wants to be. Still, it’s an anime that’s definitely not boring, and has enough in it to satisfy most animelovers that like their shows on the darker side.
I give B-The Beginning a 7 out of 10 score.