Balance: Unlimited (Fugou Keiji) Review

No comments

art by @starwovened instagram

Balance: Unlimited is an anime following the story of Haru Kato, who is a detective working in the Modern Crime Prevention Task Force (MCPTF) and the billionaire Daisuke Kambe who suddenly works in the same agency.

I found out about this anime through the internet as it had huge hype even before it was published. The trailers looked very promising and it was early into 2020 that the anime was starting to air.

The genre it supposedly aligns with is comedy, crime and mystery.

Considering it is a story about detectives solving crimes, the crime genre is definitely represented. It is quite unusual that not every episode exhibited a new case that needed to be cracked but a more natural feel to how detectives work day to day.

A bit later into the anime the plot starts to turn a lot darker than expected. The backstories of the characters as well as the general tone and atmosphere become a lot more heavy with for example Daisuke’s family case. 

Crime and mystery are definitely the genre that paint the story the most, but there are comedical elements in it. There are some scenes where you especially feel the bickering between Daisuke and Haru as well as other characters that show certain comedic relief.

It’s a very fun pacing between action scenes and slow burn character arcs that make this particular anime stand out from others.

I’m a huge fan of detective stories and I can’t deny that my first thought about the anime was “Ah~ Sherlock!”, because the posters made the characters have that familiar look. 

A tired and compassionate character whose life is absolutely disrupted by encountering a smart detective with an eidetic memory.

Nope, I was wrong! 

What makes this anime stand out is the new and modern use of technology as well as the shift between the upper class who can make anything go away with money and the lower middle class workers who live paycheck to paycheck trying to do their best.

The clash between Haru and Daisuke and the way their friendship formed despite the huge divide between them shows how people can grow closer just by a matter of the same moral code.

The thing that makes this anime different from others and distinguishes Haru and Daisuke from other detective duos is the fact that justice is something they both pursue, but see in a different light.

Throughout the whole anime one question arises again and again: What is justice? 

After taking some time to watch the whole anime of eleven episodes I bring you now the full review. Be careful, this is a review of the whole anime and I will be talking about the plot as well as the ending, this is your spoiler warning. 

First Impression:

Like mentioned before, I was expecting some kind of Sherlock detective trope, but was pleasantly surprised to find out this was a remake of a well known story.

You see a duo of two very different characters, one of them compassionate and the other cold, the Sherlock Holmes series might pop into one’s head.

Yet in this instance the anime is based on the Fugou Keiji novels written by Yasutaka Tsutsui since 1975.

It’s not unusual for an anime to have a base beforehand, but it’s normally either a manga or light novel, sometimes even a movie or general trope. The novel went from becoming a radio drama to a manga to a TV-series and then finally hit us all in anime form in 2020.

The setting started off not too unusually, as Haru Kato was the typical justice driven character in middle age, but when Daisuke Kambe made an appearance everything took a different turn.

Not only was the way he mowed down other cars incredibly amusing, but his sudden skill of speaking arabic representation I didn’t expect and really enjoyed as it’s a very rare occurrence. 

I quickly realised that this anime was going to be very unique. After the first episode I was immediately hooked and wanted more, until the next episodes were delayed due to COVID and continued later in the year. The eleventh and last episode aired in September.

Setting:

The whole atmosphere was very pleasing to watch from the beginning. The animation looked very impressive and the colours used as well as the urban japanese setting were really enjoyable. 

I absolutely loved the scenery in the background and it was again a typical japanese environment that just keeps getting more and more beautiful. 

The first episode showed most scenes in the city, but we later find more traditional mansions of the Kambe family and even get a glimpse of the presumably United Kingdom in the end of the anime.

I am not sure as to what exact year the anime timeline resides in, but the technology in Fugou Keiji is very advanced. 

HEUSC is the perfect example that shows us the state-of-the-art technology that Kambe uses. 

HEUSC reminded me a lot of the AI Tony Stark uses in the Marvel universe, as it has its own personality and communicates swiftly and efficiently with the surrounding environment.  

On the other hand, the MCPTF is a typical office with no extremely new technology which also makes me note that the writers wanted to let us know that not everything in that world is advanced.

Speaking of that, the problems of society still seem to be the same. 

Corruption and greed as well as illegal activities by people in higher power that are overlooked as well as psychological problems that are addressed in the anime.

Societies Problems:

To complete the segue I just built, Balance Unlimited focused on a lot more dark and deep topics than I expected. 

While the Modern Crime Task force may not have to work on psychologically driven cases, Haru is shown to be a demoted detective from the Investigation Division One. 

After shooting the wrong person in a standoff, he is unable to use a gun and still holds severe trauma from it. Even though the person was a perpetrator as well, as he had no order to shoot the young woman and still has her death in his memory. The anime surprisingly depicted his trauma responses in combat very profoundly and they didn’t shy away from making Haru vulnerable in pressing situations.

Even though I knew it was a crime anime and I did expect some sort of gore or violence, I did not expect suicide and car explosions, as well as detailed mentionings of death in almost every episode.

Daisuke Kambe’s first big entrance shows how he treats the people around him. He calculates value and seems cold in his demeanor until his true intentions are shown. 

He wants to know what happened to his mother and eventually seeks to reprimand his father at all costs.

Showing him as a cold and calculating adult only to reveal his past child yearning for answers was shocking to me, and it made the whole plot even more interesting.

Multiple times throughout the story I was impressed by the problems that were shown in that society. 

A brother who only saw crime as the possibility to save his ill sister, a young couple committing a robbery just to pay off their debt, models and higher horses being involved in drug trafficking and parties as well as a froeign minister ready to plow down native folks holy land and even more cases that showed how corrupt the world of Fugou Keiji really is. 

This just makes the anime a mirror image of our reality and shows how innocent projects could hide devastating facts from the general public.

Soundtrack:

The intro song as well as the outro song have been stuck in my mind all the time while watching, especially the outro “Welcome my Friend” was a personal favorite, that embodies the urban detective atmosphere as a whole.

The soundtrack was enjoyable even during the episode, especially every time when Daisuke appeared and his signature theme played I automatically had a huge grin on my face.

The Intro had a very unique feel to it as well, it was almost sounding like the typical K-pop/J-pop genre with some english terms as well.

Character Dynamics:

The characters in Fugou Keiji were pretty diverse in personality. 

Haru has an extreme thirst for justice and is very compassionate and empathetic. In episode four we see his love for drama series and it shows that he is very idealistic. He thrives to lock up criminals and helps even in the most minute ways to achieve justice. 

He believes every person’s problem should be solved and taken seriously, to the point where he even takes time to help find a kid’s missing dog.

Idealism is nothing new to our Daisuke, someone who may adhere to different rules and values, but ultimately wants to seek justice out himself and even gets to do so with his grandma.

Haru and him may ultimately have similar goals in achieving justice, yet they have very different means of getting there.

The duo keeps rubbing each other the wrong way, as Haru doesn’t like how Daisuke toys easily with people’s lives and pays them off with money.

They have multiple arguments and Daisuke sometimes even blatantly ignores him, still they learn to trust each other and form an inseparable bond.

Even though Haru doesn’t like how Daisuke plays with money he realises that it has helped them in tricky situations, and Daisuke starts to trust in Haru’s words and actions which was really unexpected. 

The trust goes both ways, Daisuke took some time as well to get along with Haru. In later episodes it is Kambe who trusts Haru with his life in precarious situations for example on the boat in episode nine.

I found it interesting how they both learned from each other and became the best versions of themselves, and start to work together even though they don’t have to.

Here are some honourable mentions of interesting character dynamics in Fugou Keiji:

Hoshino’s and Haru’s relationship goes from working together in one agency to Hoshino keeping Haru at a distance after he got demoted from the first division.

Interestingly enough, even though Hoshino kept telling him to stay away and reminded him of the fateful incident, it was Haru who kept a professional attitude towards him. 

While Haru has a strong belief in justice, he is okay with breaking the rules as long as he can help. 

Hoshino kept telling his senior that he had to stay in his lane as he isn’t part of the first taskforce anymore, until Hoshino realised that the hero Haru used to be was not lost. 

I was very touched by their resolve and the respect both had for each other, as one might’ve thought they were written to be workplace enemies. 

Suzue and her expertise in technological innovation was a pleasant trope throughout the anime. She was adamant on helping Daisuke, who she refers to in a very respectful manner, and was always on the scene when needed.

Never was Suzue the character who needed saving, but she was the mind behind Kambe’s actions and helped him multiple times. This shows that she is a very strong female character that isn’t seen often enough.

Even as she was injured in one of the episodes on her way to save Kambe, but kept going until she knew he was safe. 

It’s interesting to have a family relationship that still builds on mutual trust the way it was depicted here. 

Ending and Conclusion:

To come to a conclusion, I did not expect Balance Unlimited to be such an enjoyable anime as it was. The plot was really nuanced and unexpected and the ending was pretty open, still I liked the short and yet very condensed nature of the story.

I can’t completely stop comparing it to other crime anime and fiction I’ve seen or read, but it has made its way to my favorites and I would definitely recommend it for everyone who wants to see some nice modern crime series.

The characters and the atmosphere were unique and even though some tropes were pretty standards I can only say that the surprising elements definitely hit hard.

From all the anime that have been released in the last years this one I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend immensely!

The plot is really well written and surprises you even in the last seconds, the characters make one think deeply about their motivations and drives.

Now if you have another or different opinion I would urge you to leave it in the comment section below! I’m really stoked to see what you think about Fugou Keiji!

Until then, ah- SUZUE THAT’S MY BOBA!

-Nissa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s