The Millionaire Detective: Balance UNLIMITED Review
Season aired: Spring 2020/Summer 2020
Number of episodes: 11
Genres: Mystery, Comedy, Drama
Thoughts: The Millionaire Detective: Balance UNLIMITED had the misfortune to air at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan. As a result, after airing only two episodes, the show’s remaining schedule was eventually pushed to Summer 2020. The momentum it built thanks to its titular character, Daisuke Kambe, lost steam due to the break. While Daisuke still tended to trend on Twitter in the summer, it was within a niche anime group rather than the larger anime community.
So, who is Daisuke Kambe? Daisuke is the heir to the financially powerful Kambe family, a family so rich that they have a footing in many industries and have quite an influence on the economy and people in political power. He literally crashes his way into a crime scene one day, while Haru Kato, a disgraced Division 1 policeman relegated to small menial tasks in the police force, is on duty. The two start off on rocky footing but soon find themselves as partners when an age-old murder resurfaces and bears its ugly fangs.
The Millionaire Detective is great in many ways. The character designs are sharp, especially Kambe’s, and the jokes land. Daisuke’s wealthiness is so over the top that the anime ends each episode with an accounting track record of how much money he spent, which easily goes into the millions and even, at times, the billions. One can’t help but draw parallels to the Batman comics, with the difference being that Kambe is literally both Bruce Wayne and Batman’s personalities mashed together. Daisuke even has an Oracle-like ally, Suzue Kambe, a huge tech geek who supports Kambe and Haru’s adventures behind a computer screen. In a way, it’s like a parody of Batman itself.
However, the show is absolutely not without flaws. Its beginning fools the audience into believing that it is a silly episodic detective series, as Daisuke literally solves all the cases with money, without a bigger overarching threat. However, the fooling stretches out a little too long. As a result, his money-spending-solving-cases antics became boring after the first two episodes because they were a rehash of the exact same joke with almost no differences. And then there was the delayed third episode, which caused the anime to lose a lot of viewers.
It may be strange to say that a single episode in an otherwise solid anime could do so much harm, but it really did. The third episode focuses on Haru’s backstory and his fall from the esteemed Division 1 police force, which clearly continues to haunt him during the series. However, instead of writing an emotional episode, the anime chose to supplement the revelation of his history with an extremely predictable and easily-solved hostage train problem. Then the series layered a predictable plot with comical moments that disrupted the atmosphere. With misplaced vibes and a weak detective case, the episode not only disconnected viewers from Haru’s character, but it also disconnected them from the storyline as a whole. I distinctly remember thinking to myself that if this series was going to commit to an episodic detective structure in which every case ends in incredibly predictable ways with the same jokes, it was going to be an insufferable series.
Which is so unfortunate because the anime didn’t have a bad episode after the third one. In fact, by the fifth episode, I found myself literally on the edge of my seat and invested in the plotline and the characters. The main case had finally kicked in — a case personal to Daisuke’s family that money couldn’t solve. After its introduction, I found myself leaping onto my laptop every Thursday to see what happened as twists were introduced and the stakes increased.
While the plot becomes the series’ strongest point, the two main protagonists remain likable. Daisuke, in particular, goes through good character development and motivational revelations, but Haru also remains sympathetic and kindhearted in everything he does. I think the series could’ve strengthened itself more if it had added some more memorable supporting characters. Aside from one older man, none of Haru’s coworkers really had any true contribution to the plot, and their skeevy attitudes lend little to likeability. Suzue starts off as a badass tech geek, but she doesn’t get any further development, which unfortunately depowers her influence on the story itself. While I hold positive opinions towards the two main protagonists, I can see how this series wouldn’t interest others if the series only gave two characters for the viewers to really care about — good plot or otherwise.
Meanwhile, the seiyuus aren’t given much of a chance to show off their voice-acting abilities due to the show’s storytelling by creating suspenseful action scenes rather than revealing the mystery out loud through dialogue. I think that is the right decision to make in a visual media such as anime, but unfortunately, that gives Daisuke’s seiyuu fewer opportunities to showcase his voice acting skill, which I had really wanted to see. Daisuke’s seiyuu, Yuusuke Onuki, is actually a professional dancer and not a professional seiyuu. This could’ve been not only his breakout role if he continues to pursue voice acting, but also his chance to prove his ability to voice act well. Although we get to see that his smooth, collected voice fits Daisuke’s character and personality well, we never got the chance to see him truly perform as the character. I had hoped once the mystery was solved, emotional scenes would appear since the major conflict is personally tied to his family. Sadly, my wish remained unfulfilled.
The soundtrack is pivotal to the series. Opening and ending theme songs aside, the soundtrack that accompanies both the suspenseful and the comical moments elevates the story well. Daisuke’s theme in particular, which plays whenever he makes a flashy entrance, has become so iconic that hearing just the first few seconds make me imagine the rich Kambe heir entering the scene in some dramatic fashion while looking fabulous.
I think that if the series had stopped with the comical-using-money-to-solve-problems antics after the second episode and devoted itself to the plot while integrating Haru’s backstory throughout the remaining episodes, it would’ve performed better on the charts and within the general anime community. It makes me quite sad seeing people drop the series early on. After the third episode, the anime showed its true strengths with jaw-dropping plot twists and an overarching theme that I appreciated.
At the end of the day, Millionaire Detective isn’t so much a story of cops and detectives. This is a story about being a hero who wants the best for others — without having to don a cop uniform and brandish a gun. I do truly hope whoever has chosen to drop this will pick it back up again so that they might fully enjoy the thrill ride it secretly is.
Plot: 9 (Multiplier 3.5)
Characters: 7 (Multiplier 3.5)
Voice acting: 7.5
FINAL SCORE: 77