The Perfect Insider, or Subete ga F ni Naru in Japanese, could be defined as that seasonal anime that goes unnoticed by many, but that could actually be a contender to be in the top 5 anime of the season (excluding second seasons). The Perfect Insider is certainly a hidden gem, but is it really that good?
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the series
The 2015 fall season could be labeled as “the season of second seasons of popular animes” (Noragami, Haikyuu, K, Seraph of the End…) and there was also the highly anticipated One Punch Man. From the beginning, The Perfect Insider didn’t stand much of a chance. Based on a novel and with a live action TV series adaptation of its own, this 12-episode anime promised to be a mystery series to pass the time, but not much else:
[SYNOPSIS] “Genius programmer Shiki Magata has been living in isolation at a research facility on a solitary island since she was a girl. Nagono University associate professor Souhei Saikawa and Moe Nishinosono wish to meet Shiki in person, so they visit the facility but get caught up in a murderous game”. (MAL)
While I agree with many viewers that the first minutes of the series suffered from being a bit pretentious, this anime actually managed to make me think and forced me to be constantly concentrated on everything that was being said. Far from what I thought, this is not a light mystery series that you can watch for fun, but rather one that demands your absolute attention. The series includes some really deep conversations, like the meaning behind life and death or the very nature of human beings. If you’re not a fan of deep conversations, it’s likely that this anime will come off as quite pedant to you and you will eventually get bored.
Another argument that was often made was that the pacing is quite off for the first half of the season, something that I completely agree with. As a matter of fact, there’s an unspoken rule that says you should give 12-episode series, 1 to 3 episodes before deciding whether you want to drop it. Unfortunately, many people dropped the series as soon as they finished the first episode, because it felt very slow and the sense of thrill that is to be expected from a mystery series was missing. However, I do believe that, to make a mystery case in twelve episodes, the setting and preparation are as important as the final conclusion. Personally, I didn’t mind the slow pacing that much because I knew what this series would be from the start. This is not the type of mystery that involves action scenes, danger or gunshots. It’s not the type of series that ends with a big explosion, but with a whisper. It’s a series about its characters and their philosophy.
Aesthetically speaking, the character design was made by the amazing Inio Asano, which is already a big plus. A-1 Pictures also brought their best game when it came to not only the beautiful animation, but also the amazing OST (still waiting for it to be released). As per the opening, I didn’t care much for the it at first, but now it’s in my Top 5 of the season.
And now for the things that I didn’t like or that I thought that could have been improved. First of all, as it often happens with short seasonal animes, there were many elements and characters that were introduced and then quickly dropped. In this case, I’m referring to the fact that Saikawa-sensei and Nishinosono Moe travelled to that island accompanied by other students, but we barely got to knew their names or their personalities at all. I assume they were just there as fodder and to emphasize that Saikawa and Moe’s relationship is a special one. Speaking of which, I found Moe to be really annoying for the most part. I like her past, she’s very clever and I do believe that her story with Saikawa (and the reason why she loves him) is really beautiful. However, her attachment to him is also very unhealthy, constantly needing to be praised by him and practically hissing at every female who approaches him. Needless to say, the fact that I didn’t really like the female protagonist that much lowered my enjoyment of the series.
Finally, I will say that this is probably an anime that is meant to be binge-watched, instead of watching one episode per week. In a 12-episode mystery, there will be a lot of information and many small details to remember. It often happened to me that I didn’t remember what had been said in the previous episode and I was often confused as to what they were talking about. And believe me, this series gets really confusing as it relies more on psychological and even existential conversations, rather than on the mechanics of the murder. This is also the kind of anime that you could watch twice once you know how to solve the puzzle. That is if you really liked it, of course.