The Daughter of Twenty Faces: The Legacy of Twenty Faces

Alas, poor Chiko, hearing the devestating truth about Twenty Faces’ actions.

Actually, this was a fairly good episode, all things considered–the worry about the crazy biomechanical steampunk armored powered suit thing wasn’t overdone too terribly bad, as I had feared, and it seems like, for the most part, that will no longer be a factor in the rest of the series, unless the other rogue superpowered doctor gets her own powered suit–but that will be unlikely, as it seems the suit was mostly intended to keep the wearer alive, or something.

From the very first of the episode after the OP, I got extremely faint vibes from the situation the researchers placed themselves in with (and now for something completely different) the rather little-known book A Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson. I am basing this comparison solely on the fact that A Bridge of Years features an antagonistic character who a) wears a powered suit of armor b) is warped by drugs into being a ruthless killing machine despite the fact that they’d really rather not be ruthless killing machines and c) the process of being turned into a ruthless killing machine is actively eating away at their life and slowly killing them. There’s no other reason to cite this occurence of themes, as in both stories this character plays a relatively minor role (I think in A Bridge of Years you didn’t even see this character until at least halfway through the story, and the protagonist never met him until the climax; but, then, he really wasn’t a major part of the story despite getting featured on the cover of the copy I read, so…), but it’s amsuing to note the similarities, and also it serves as an excuse for me to state that everyone should go read a couple of Robert Charles Wilson’s recent books, because…

Okay, well, I’ll shut up now.

Back to the topic I’m actually supposed to talk about. I’m fairly certain that this business with Twenty Faces being a noble warrior out to undo the mistakes of his past is entirely made up for the purposes of the manga and isn’t necessarily a reflection of the original stories by Ranpo, as I highly doubt that Ranpo would have been interested in actively pursuing that route with his stories, which were less about making war philosophy and more about making the reader turn the pages as fast as they could. This is, of course, the case with any original work that bases itself in a pre-existing universe, or uses pre-existing characters to enhance a story/widen the audience/make everyone recall the good old days. I’m not going to be in any position to judge whether Ranpo is tossing and turning in his grave at the moment, but we do know that his family/body of representatives approved the use of Twenty Faces in both the original manga and this adaptation–but the trustees of Agatha Christie did the same for Great Detectives Poriot and Marple, and I’m pretty certain that Christie would have been somewhat upset to see Hercule Poriot solving the dangerous and deadly mystery of a missing pearl necklace, even if it was supposed to be a kids’ series. To which I say: Detective Conan is a kids’ series, and that has lots of grisly murders and decapitations and whatnot. So there! Nothing stopping you from adapting Murder on the Orient Express into an anime (or, if you want to catch the Touhou crowd, adapting And Then There Were None).

However you slice it, the 2000s are not exactly the 1930s anymore, and our pulp tends to be a bit less..visceral…than pulp from those days, and Daughter of Twenty Faces is quite clearly pulp in nature (more so than most other anime, I think. And there’s nothing wrong with pulp, or melodrama, or whatever you want to call it, because it’s awesome), so it’s clearly being true to its source material in that sense. And so, in that sense, it’s understandable to give Twenty Faces a better motive to go around stealing things that isn’t “because stealing things is cool and I am awesome and I can outwit you coppers”, even if it’s a fairly standard plot device used in anime. They did hint at Twenty Faces’ past a bit in the early episodes, but it’s still rather shocking to hear him involved in research for a biological superweapoin. His response to this poses a parallel with Tetsujin 28-go, which I am also currently watching in my own slow manner–like Professor Kaneda, Twenty Faces has seen what kinds of horrors weapons research can bring, but, unlike Kaneda, decided to change things…by stealing lots of things. I think there was some kind of logic to that that I’ve since forgotten, but it’s not like it matters much anyway. Given the way this episode turned out, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the rest of the episodes are a sequence of revelations about certain elements of Twenty Faces’ past. I hate to invoke Monster as a comparison here, but my guess is Daughter of Twenty Faces will progress like Monster, exscept not because it isn’t Monster because Urasawa Naoki had nothing to do with it and I really want to watch Yawara! sometime so I can figure out if there’s some kind of massive conspiracy in the judo world that Yawara has to fight against using her judo powers.

I’m still giving points to this series simply because it’s trying something relatively different (in a kind of standard way) and getting away with it relatively well, even if part of the reason it’s getting away with it is Hirano Aya, but such is life.

1 Response to “The Daughter of Twenty Faces: The Legacy of Twenty Faces”

  1. 1 otou-san 20 June 2008 at 10:41 am

    I think I just like a good caper, and there isn’t much more to my enjoyment. But I like the direction it’s taken of learning more about 20 Faces even as Chiko searches for him.

    One thing I noticed in this episode, the animation quality was really great and the directing was done with style. For the first time in the series, it actually felt very “Bones-like.”

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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June 2008

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