You know, we were this close to getting a bingo on our British Pop Culture Figures bingo. If you just pushed to have a Doctor with a blue box in there, that was all we really needed. Oh well, maybe next time.
The detective that seeks justice and the Lord of Crime, two sides that hold stake over the future of London as William James Moriarty and his posse of hitmen and accomplices seek to overturn the harsh capitalism that the nobles have over the struggling poor. As both sides become even more opposed to one another in this wild game of cat and mouse, someone new, a woman, comes into play as another piece on the board.
“Competency” I think is the word that I think best describes Yuukoku no Moriarty. Much like its first season predecessor, season two features a myriad of cases and events that involve the opposing parties of Sherlock and Moriarty to varying degrees, changing on a case by case basis as Sherlock could either lag behind and get put into place by whatever scheme that Moriarty cooks up, or, he could do something outlandish that no other player in the board currently could ever expect. The show really likes to figuratively make everything like a giant chess game, which at least gives credence to the fact that we are working with two intelligent individuals who are both either trying to outwit each other, or in Moriarty’s case, sway either the public or relevant plot individuals to do exactly what he needs in order to succeed. As a result, the show never loses steam from a story perspective, and managed to grip me into being interested in whatever case or one-off story the show decided to do at the moment in time.
I think a lot of that also comes from the whole ‘spectacle’ aspect of the show as well, seeing as how Moriarty for one likes to make grand entrances or grand showings of what the Lord of Crime is capable of doing as a means to send his message to the nobles that control the means of production and profit off of the labor that got them that rich in the first place. Add in a surprising amount of twist or often times brutal elements that the show is now even more keen on showing now, and Yuukoku no Moriarty manages to be a fun watch that keeps a relatively even pace as the slow bubble leading up to the confrontation of the two parties eventually pops.
That being said, I would be remised to add in my personal grievances with the story (that being the case of Miss Adler) as well as the heavy-handed industrial capitalism politics that oozes throughout the series still. Personally, I’m disappointed with how the series treats Adler, and by extension the other female characters in the story. I feel like none of them got their due justice despite their relevancy to the plot, and it feels kind of weird having Adler especially be sidelined when initially, she had a strong start to shake things up, so to speak. In regards to the show’s attempted politics, I find the issues I saw in Season one to still be present here with little to no change on how any of it was presented. I know the series is trying to go for this whole ‘Eat the Rich’ mentality by showcasing the nobles as power hungry and too privileged to deal with those economically lower than them, but the black and white aspect of “Nobles bad, poor people deserve better” is so basic that it kind of lost its luster halfway through season one. I’m not expecting a complex gray area of morality featuring socioeconomic impact as a result of a changing system or anything from Yuukoku no Moriarty, but it really stinks when a greater majority of the cases or mini plots just have a bunch of rich dudes going, “I’m rich, you’re poor, therefore you don’t deserve anything because you were unluckily born in a different social class than I was” as your setting.
As for the ending, well, that’s also kind of a bitter taste for me too. I feel like the pacing of the last two episodes just kind of accelerates over a few key points in favor of just trying to create a climactic and dramatic end without taking much consideration into what happened before. Sure it makes sense, but there’s just something missing about it that doesn’t give me the kind of satisfaction that I was looking for. Especially when you consider all of the build-up up prior the to the last two episodes. Overall though, Yuukoku no Moriarty is still a solid show, managing to have some interesting cases with a sprinkle of suspension of belief needed to consider some of the things that the show tries to sell the audience on. Just personally, I feel like there were some things that could’ve been changed since I’m not typically a fan of heavy-handed narratives, and nuance kind of goes out the window when the scene cuts to a rich white dude snickering to himself in the corner because he thinks he’s untouchable because of status.
I kind of want to put both Moriarty and Sherlock in the same bubble this time around because these two are more or less playing a game of cat and mouse given the way things went. Much like more modern interpretations of the two, their roles of the Schemer and the Catcher becomes even more prevalent here as Moriarty’s involvement and way of doing things in order to bring London to ‘justice’ directly counteracts Sherlock’s sense of justice and desire to catch the criminal at large. It’s certainly the heart of their dynamic, and these murder boyfriends do this song and dance throughout the series from case to case, usually with Sherlock a step or two behind his counterpart as the Lord of Crime’s goal is fulfilled before Sherlock can even get there. And while their tried and true characterization works well for the series, there really isn’t much change between the two, with the story doing a majority of the legwork to even get these two to either interact or tangentially interact with each other via Sherlock investigating the crime scenes.
And now we get to the curious case of Miss Adler, a character that I really, really wish the show cared to keep around longer. With her characterization being typically that of a woman who was capable of cunning and wit on par with the great detective while also having ambitions of her own, for me, Adler made quite a splash in Season two with very little downsides to her introduction given the wrenches and power she had over the two opposing men, acting as something of an independent party that I was very interested in seeing more of. Unfortunately, not everything in life is fair, and I have personal grievances with the show for what the plot decided to do with her. While I’m not against what ended up happening, I really wish we kept a consistent female player in this sausage-fest of a show especially since Adler was like the one other character that could hold a candle to those. I’m just disappointed is all.
Other characters aren’t really as important I believe the show thinks they are since the rest of the cast like Watson, Milverton, Jack, Mycroft, and any other new individuals that gets brought up in the show are mostly just case/background placeholders that build up this image of London instead of add to the overall experience in the show. It definitely helps to provide a brand new set of faces with each case in order to give each passing arc a different feel and focus, but at the end of the day, they’re mostly just plot relevant characters instead of focal ones that move any significant pieces on the board.
Production I.G. returns with not much difference between Season one and Season two. If I had to make some form of comparison, it would definitely be the fact that this season has a lot more gore, moving shots, and blood than its predecessor, but really not much else. All around a solid show that does a lot of good showing off the Industrial age of London, but changes very little from its Season 1 predecessor in order to make it stand out. I do think the show this time around ended up using less imagery than it did prior, and that’s honestly kind of a shame. I really liked seeing edgy imagery alongside my edgy Victorian London show about toppling ‘The Man’.
Weirdly enough, both the OP and ED of Season two is a lot softer and less high energy than I expected. Compared to what Tasuku Hatanaka did with “Dying Wish”, “Twisted Hearts” is a lot less energetic with a much more mellow beat than I was expecting. It still has those ‘darker’ beats that its predecessor had, but whereas Dying Wish had a lot more contrast, this OP just kinda sounds…samey. And while I still think it’s a good opening, I’m a little disappointed that the song isn’t as dramatic or over the top as its older sister. Same story with Stereo Dive Foundation’s “Omega“; a song with a pretty even beat throughout without much variation throughout. Though this one isn’t that much of a far cry from Season one’s ending, so it’s not that ‘offensive’. Just not as memorable as I think it could’ve been.
While I’ve certainly aired some personal grievances about Yuukoku no Moriarty’s presentation and characterization, at the end of the day, there’s not really a lot else I can say for or against the show. For the most part, the show encapsulates the Sherlock mythos in a way that feels both classic yet new given how Moriarty is the focal point and functions as a murderous Robin Hood style character with his ‘Eat the Rich’ mentality and sense of justice. On top of that, the show does a fantastic job at creating new cases that each feel different from one another in presentation despite all of them focusing on the same socioeconomic problem that serves as the lingering thread that ties everything in this show together.
All of this is competent storytelling that provides a genuinely good viewing experience. Not much else aside from that can be said because while very few aspects of the show make it worth docking points, by proxy, there isn’t anything here that truly wows me either. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories have received dozens of adaptations to refit the narrative of the Lord of Crime vs. The Great Detective into slightly different boxes, all hanging on the same basic story beats which ends up giving these adaptations both a sense of familiarity and loose story structure to follow. Yuukoku no Moriarty really isn’t that different from other stories that do that, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the show is still a good watch at the end of the day.
Overall, a recommended watch if you want to watch something that’s either genuinely a competent show or if you’re looking for some homoerotic undertones between a few of its cast members. Just don’t expect too much beyond what’s stated on the tin.