Shinya TakahashiRikiya KoyamaYasutaka TsutsuiAkira Kamiya
The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2020: M
Also known as: Fugou Keiji Balance: UNLIMITED
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Tomohiko Ito
Writer: Taku Kishimoto
Original creator: Yasutaka Tsutsui
Actor: Akira Kamiya, Junya Enoki, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Kentaro Kumagai, Kozo Shioya, Maaya Sakamoto, Mamoru Miyano, Reina Ueda, Rikiya Koyama, Shinya Takahashi, Yusuke Onuki
Keywords: anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 11 episodes
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 17 October 2022
Millionaire Detective Balance Unlimited
Kanbe Daisuke has an infinite supply of money. His AI butler (HEUSC) has a catchphrase of "Balance: Unlimited". Every episode ends with a "Costs incurred in this episode" invoice, which amuses me and could be read as a subtle riposte to all those adventure shows that go hog-wild like Kanbe but don't want us to think about the financial consequences. For what it's worth, Kanbe breaks the million-pound barrier (but in yen) almost every week and there's one episode where he spends two billion. And that's not counting the episode that simply says "Costs incurred in this episode: Unlimited."
Naturally (ahem), Kanbe has decided to become a police detective. His partner (Haru Katou) despises his methods, but they amuse us. (Especially with the music that plays whenever he's being outrageous.) Got a problem with drug dealers? Buy the building they're in, then shoot it with rockets and sleeping gas.
At first, this is silly. (Especially in ep.1, when Kanbe drives a car up an almost vertical slope. I cried "bullshit".) To put it mildly, it's surprising that Kanbe should be risking his life with everyday detective work, especially in the low-ranked police division he chose to be assigned to. It's equally odd that his new colleagues don't seem to have smelled a rat about this. (They're cops! Smelling rats is their job.)
After a while, though, we realise that the show's meatier than it looked at first. It's based on The Millionaire Detective, a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui. (He's the father of postmodern SF in Japan, he's controversial for attacking Japanese taboos and his other books include Paprika and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.) Kanbe has a reason for doing what he's doing. His money and gadgets make him omnipotent... except when they don't, because there are questions HEUSC blandly refuses to answer. Even Kanbe could have hidden enemies powerful enough to threaten him, e.g. another Kanbe. There has been death and there will be more. The plot's actually quite good.
It can be both dramatic and funny. The show's main joke (Kanbe's money-supercharged methods) is absurd, but highly entertaining. I enjoyed the show... but I don't imagine I'll rewatch it and I don't think I'll keep the episodes.
1. Kanbe's an emotionless robot. He wasn't always like that, but he is now.
2. Katou's a good, principled man who once made a mistake that tortures him... but he's also a stubborn, rude stick-in-the-mud who's occasionally frustrating to watch. I got annoyed with his refusal to co-operate with Kanbe in ep.2. I understood his anger and hostility, but he was wasting time and making the case harder and more dangerous.
I don't even like the theme songs or the title sexyquence. (The latter is very 007, but with a visual motif of bank notes. Lighting your cigar with bank notes, lying in a bath of bank notes, etc.)
There's also a 2005 live-action TV series based on the same novel, incidentally. I took a quick look. Ouch. It stars an actress who can't act in the (gender-flipped) lead role. She's actually been in some fairly good films and I'd have expected better from her, but Japanese live-action TV is a horror unto itself.
There's a lot of good stuff here, including jokes. Ep.4 takes away Kanbe's money, which is fun. (Pretty much everything in Katou's life is stuff he hadn't known existed. He's more likeable than you'd think, actually, once you've accepted that he's a dead fish.) The plot's well constructed and I like its balance between absurdity and seriousness. I'd recommend this show, but for me it's a renter, not a keeper. Its cast is almost all male and its heroes lack warmth.