Season aired: Summer 2018
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Romance, Mystery, Slice of Life
Thoughts: Holmes of Kyoto follows the story of Aoi, a student in Kyoto whose disastrous love life leads her to an antique store where she meets the handsome, knowledgeable, and “nasty” Kiyotaka Yagashira, nicknamed as Holmes by others around him. Immediately sensing Aoi’s impressive intuition in picking out real antiques from fake artifacts, Holmes asks her to begin working in his family-owned antique store. Adventures, mysteries, and hilarity ensue as Aoi begins her apprenticeship to become an expert appraiser.
I personally enjoyed this anime a lot, but I have to say right off the bat that this is not an anime that can appeal to everyone. First thing first, I’m a huge history fan. Second thing, I’m also a huge art fan. As a result, this anime combines two things that I’ve always loved to research, so I personally didn’t feel bored when Holmes began divulging into antiques and explaining the meaning as well as the significance behind certain artifacts. That being said, however, certain episodes end up as little “lectures” with information rather than snappy dialogue. These episodes would certainly bore anyone who isn’t already interested in Japanese history or art.
Despite the fact there are episodic mysteries, the mystery in question tends to be more slice-of-life than an actual question to be solved. From secret bullying to possibly unfaithful fiancés with a fake artifact thrown in once in a while, the mysteries are nowhere near the mysteries people expect from a Sherlock Holmes series. Nonetheless, the anime does make it clear from the first few episodes that the use of Holmes and later a Moriarty is not meant to be taken super seriously as the focus of the actual story is on Aoi and Kiyotaka’s relationship, which is actually one of the best parts of the series.
I sincerely believe in the chemistry that exists between the two main characters who share similar heartbreaking stories and thus are immediately able to empathize with each other upon their first meeting. As they grow closer in their relationship, I also grow to believe that they are also extremely compatible. They both share the same passionate interests in artifacts and antiques. Both characters have their fair share of quirks, though Kiyotaka more than Aoi. But what’s most telling of their complementary natures is that they both recognize each other’s quirks yet still find those quirks to be the traits that attract them to each other the most.
One of those quirks is the Kyoto accent that Kiyotaka’s voice actor, Kaito Ishikawa, would cleverly sneak in whenever the character became irritated or flustered, accurate for anyone who actively fights against one. Which brings me to one of the most pleasant surprises of the anime – Kaito Ishikawa. Kaito Ishikawa has successfully voiced many different roles in his successful career but a smooth butler-like character is definitely not one on his list. Although this is his first time, it is absolutely charming, and it greatly adds to Kiyotaka’s character. There’s a teasing intonation that we haven’t really gotten to witness in his voice thus far in his career that does wonders to the character, and I think that he, out of the entire voice cast, really blew the performance out of the water.
I wish I could say I loved the art the whole way through, but unfortunately, the art starts to suffer halfway through the series. It is particularly disappointing as the attention to detail put into the locations and historical sites of Kyoto were extremely well done, and I think the character designs are very beautiful and added well to the air of elegance and refinement. However, the characters’ faces look extremely distorted at certain points, and the beautiful backdrops are given a backseat as more and more episodes take place inside instead of outside and around historical sites.
All in all, Holmes of Kyoto will only appeal to a select amount of people. Those who want to watch a natural romance blossom between two likable characters while gaining a hefty amount of knowledge in Japanese art and history will likely find themselves appreciating this anime as I have.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 70