Friday, July 1, 2011
“Can You Keep A Secret?” – Himitsu: Top Secret (anime) – 8/10 Beach Balls
Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets. ~Paul Tournier
Review Status: Complete (26 Episodes/26 Episodes)
Licensed: No, this anime is not licensed in the US
Art/Animation: The palette of colors used is dark and subdued, almost dull. It’s a less well-know title by Madhouse Studios, so the animation is quite good, though the CG is very apparent and not always integrated well. Some of the styles look a little dated, but it has been over a decade since the manga came out, and that’s what the anime is based off of.
Dub Vs. Sub: There is no dub for this anime.
Summary: A newly developed method allows to display the memories of dead people. It is used to solve difficult murder cases. But at what cost? What of the dead's privacy as strangers poke about in their most private memories? What about the effects the imageries may have on the persons whose jobs require going through psychotic murderers' minds and experience whatever emotions and feelings these murderers felt as they skin and disembowel their victims?
(adapted from manga description)
Review: What are the secrets that drive people? Everyone has them. Some just happen to drive people into death and murder. Those are the secrets that this section investigate. By piecing together clues from the memories of those who have died, they discover things about people that are shameful, that are sad, that make them more human and real than just reading a case file.
How does this work? They take the brain of someone who has died in the last two days, hook it up to a machine that can ‘read’ the signals coming from the neurons within the brain, and using those connections they are able to see the things that happened within a persons’ life. It isn’t perfect- they are limited to what that person saw and sometimes heard, and we don’t store our whole life in our memories- there are some random ones, and some emotionally charged ones, and some important ones, but our lives are not stored like movies. However, using the clues within the memories of people, sometimes leaping back years, they are able to piece together most of what happened in a crime. Each case manages to make an innovative use of the machine and what it can do, keeping it fresh and interesting.
However, this isn’t a story about piecing together crimes, although that is a major component in the story. No, this anime is about the people in Section 9. Aoki, our main character, has been brought to Section 9 as an investigator. He navigates the world of Section 9, his own morals, and his family in order to try and find a balance in his life. It’s his questions and thoughts on what is happening that drives the best part of the series- the moral questions and issues that drive the series. The rest of the team all have their own issues and backstories, from Maki, the section leader that has a hard past to deal with, to Amachi, a woman with a slight sixth sense that is brought down in an investigation. Each person gets an episode to get into their characters, and while it does make them more real, they still receive very little character development.
The mysteries, while well done, and the characters, while decently interesting, are merely vehicles for the issues that are presented in the anime. This is all about privacy- how far does one go in investigating using these methods? When is it okay to divulge secrets that may destroy someone’s reputation? What happens when they intrude on another section member’s life? These things extend beyond the cases they work in and into their own lives- Aoki worries about his coworkers discovering his secret lust for his sister should he die and his father has secrets that have a lot to do with him. His coworkers carry similar worries and ideas. And even those issues delve beyond privacy and into things that affect society- you have problems concerning body modifications, homosexuality, and more.
How these are presented and handled creates much of the drama and makes the stories compelling. Everything is well done, but dealing with these is where the anime shines. This has a heavy psychological atmosphere that makes this heavy watching, but a very good show and handles these issues well. However, the anime does have some issues with various plot threads being dropped. The most noticeable of these is Aoki’s love/lust for his sister, which only is relevant for the first 4 or so episodes and then forgotten.
Overall, if you enjoy dealing with moral issues and society, then this is one to pick up!
Recommended: 16+. This is an anime that deals with some very heavy things. One person they investigate is homosexual. Some are having affairs. One deals with body modifications. Aoki is dealing with lust for his sister (this is not exploited or really dwelled on, merely mentioned). This does deal with murder mysteries, so there are deaths. Most are non-graphic, though the details behind what’s happening can delve into gruesome. I don’t recall any nudity, though there was at least one scene where Aoki sees his sister getting dressed and we see her back and the back of her bra.
Other titles you might enjoy:
Mouryo no Hako (anime)
Aoi Bungaku (anime)
Shiki (anime or manga)
Bokurano (anime and manga)