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Cuticle Detective Inaba Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Cuticle Detective Inaba
Cuticle Detective Inaba
The mark of a good series is often the quality of the villain. In this series, the mafia boss is a cute goat. Can such a series really fail?

What They Say:
In a world where half-human, half-animal chimeras live and work alongside normal people, there are sure to be a few bad apples in the bunch. Unfortunately, criminals who are only half-human means there are often non-human clues that leave the police stumped. That’s where lone-wolf detective Hiroshi Inaba comes in. He’s literally part wolf and has the amazing ability to extract critical information just by examining or tasting a sample of someone’s hair!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. With no English language track here, we get a pretty good stereo mix for the show that works the comedy chops well as it works across the forward soundstage. With a lot of wild takes and wacky situations that come up throughout it, it’s pretty much using the entire soundstage to tell the tale since so much is going on all over the place. It has its quiet moments and those definitely hit the right notes, but when it goes big it has a lot of fun with what it does and it definitely makes for an engaging mix between the dialogue and the action effects that comes into play. The show may not really stretch in some ways but it definitely comes across well here and makes good use of everything. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is all on one disc, which Sentai has said is possible when you remove a lossless audio track and free up that space. While I’ll leave the technical debate to others that are more aware of encoding, the show from studio Zexcs definitely comes across very well here. With bright, bold colors, it has a very solid feel and plenty of detail that comes through wonderfully throughout. The bit rate works well with a lot of time spent in the upper teens and low twenties with plenty of variation throughout but in the end, the show has a very good look here that takes what I had seen in streaming form in 1080p and shows that it can look so much better when given this kind of encoding. While there will always be warranted concerns about quality with this many episodes here, the presentation we get definitely works well.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is done with a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc inside. The front cover is a bit darker than it should be in some ways with the background but we get a decent bit of character material with the core cast of good guys in the front with big smiles while the background characters has Don Valentino and his gang blending into the darkness. THe logo is a bit bigger than it should be along the lower left but it definitely lets you know what the show is. It’s just not a terribly eye-catching piece overall because of the darker tones of it all. The back cover goes for a traditional layout with a few shots along the top, a decent premise summary in the middle and the bottom third covering the production credits and technical grid. The episode count is laid out clearly as are the extras. Similar to the front cover, the shots here are a bit darker and that keeps it from coming across as the really fun and light show that it is.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is a very busy one because of the nature of the text to it, but we do get some decent character artwork to go with it. The left side has the menu navigation which doubles as the pop-up menu but it’s very, very busy due to the length of the episode titles that are often split with two stories each, so there’s just a whole lot of text. With bright reds and yellows with some white background, it definitely stands out and has a certainly kind of almost garish appeal. The right side provides the character artwork which gives us a few of the leads and with Don up front and close, it’s definitely silly and fun while having a rather basic look about it there. There’s little in the way of navigation here beyond the episodes and the extras but it all works smoothly and is nicely accessible as a pop-up menu.

Extras:
The only extras for this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series by Mochi that began in 2008, Cuticle Detective Inaba is a twelve episode series that ran for twelve episodes with studio Zexcs handling the animation. Mochi’s manga has had a good run and is still ongoing at this point with ten compiled volumes released. With one of the stranger titles out there with what it means, Cuticle Detective Inaba was a show that when I first started watching it I wasn’t sure what to make with it. Comedy series are definitely hit or miss for people for many reasons and when you do something like this where it’s just quirky as hell with what it wants to do, especially for a sort of police procedural where one of the characters has abilities based on hair, well, you kind of just have to go with it. What really surprised me was that as I settled into the nature of the show, I found it to be very, very funny, particularly with the parodies. And especially when it involved the villain of Don Valentino and his group.

The show revolves around a detective agency that’s run by a former police dog that’s now in human form named Hiroshi. The Inaba Detective Agency is how Hiroshi gets to continue doing something he’s good at while not being involved directly with the police, which is something that he didn’t care for as we see early on when his human partner, Ogino, shows up looking to draw him in to help with a new case. There’s a lot of silly and wacky kind of material as they first get together and we see how the agency has a cute crossdresser as a secretary, but it’s also just seeing how it goes for the changed-up animation for the comedy side of it to draw the laughs more. The mixture of more straightforward and serious style designs that then go cute works well.

Of course, the show also knows how to just be outlandish, such as when they all go out to follow up their first lead and it brings them into contact with the big Don of the area, who just happens to be a talking goat. Don is amusing in some ways, depending on how he’s used, but he is an over the top villain who we do see eats money but also can be used to spit out money. The cast in general plays well off of Don, though when we see Inaba get all serious and negative in a way, it ends up letting the character of Kei get explored a bit as we see how depressed he gets having to deal with such a surreal situation. All of this works to set up up the rivalry between Inaba and Don when you get down to it, which definitely has its amusing moments but comes across as something that may be a bit hard to maintain for twelve episodes.

And it is a bit hard at times, but when you have the majority of it actually working, you can easily move past the gags or shorter stories that don’t work. Especially since there’s a pretty good cast involved that allows it to stretch beyond just being about the leads, enough so that it really does feel more like an ensemble as it progresses. The fact that it can spend some good time by dealing with Ogino’s wife and daughter definitely helps since they have a few very cute callbacks throughout it. The first appearance of his daughter, Azusa, involves her digging up a key he needs and that sets him on the path to trying to get it back from them. With this happening, Ogino sets Horishi to watch after them since he just knows there’s a stalker of some sort shadowing them. Ogino is really amusing to watch when it comes to his family, even if it is just familiar gags and quirks. While Valentino and Lorenzo are stalking them, most of the time is spent with Hiroshi trying to keep Azusa safe as she’s a real troublemaker with what she gets into. Especially when she gets her hands on a chainsaw. While we know Ogino is pretty good at his job, Valentino notwithstanding, seeing just how good Azusa is at so many things makes her pretty much the most interesting character of the show.

Another episode has Don deciding to use the chocolate giving experience as a way to get at Hiroshi and take him out. His research department has come up with a comical piece of chocolate that has a love potion inside, though it’s a bit complicated in how it works since it’s a two piece chocolate. He intends to trick Hiroshi into falling in love with him, disguised, and then dump him and crush him through those feelings. Though that’s the focus, things have a comical streak due to an accident involving the chocolate Azusa gave her father and he’s now on a hunt for Horishi. That gets everyone else caught up in the wake of destruction which is rather amusing since it just spirals out of control. So when Don gets involved in it, it just gets even weirder, though definitely amusing.

Even more amusing is the story that has Don quite nervous at first as a new wolf is on her way from France. Stella’s a pint-sized girl that’s pretty darn adorable as the latest Secret Doberman to be a part of the show. Ogata takes to her pretty well which is cute to see play out since they’re going to partner together, something that Ogata is definitely in favor of. We get some decent time spent with the group as we see Stella get integrated a bit and understand a little about how the training works, making the group fun to watch. But it also shifts as it goes on as Don Valentino puts his silly plan into motion to cause trouble, along with Lorenzo and Gabriella, since the addition of a new wolf is just going to cause him more trouble. It’s kind of restrained but it has a good flow to it and was fun to see.

When the show decides to expand the cast more as it goes on, it’s not surprise that they bring in Hiroshi’s brother. What I didn’t expect was that I’d like Haruka as much as I did since he has his issues and brings a certain kind of style to things, especially just in his attire which makes him a good one to blend in with Don Valentine’s group. And naturally, Haruka has his own group of people as well which adds to the cast but doesn’t overwhelm. There’s some definitely quirky bits here, especially with the way we see how the wolf comes out of the little doll-like figure and causes plenty of problems while going through everything. Amusingly, Yataro has decided that it’s time to deal with Hiroshi and his group and goes for the direct approach of just crashing on their couch until they all show up. It is, in essence, the wolf side just wanting to go for a walk as Soumei is inside of him. That leads to an explanation of how this whole situation works, showing how Soumei was a police dog from some years ago and has come up with some creative survival routines since then. There’s some decent info dump stuff done here and it’s fun seeing the two groups interact with each other in this way and the amusing reveal about who Soumei may really be.

One of the traps that a show like this tends to fall into is that they often go into doing more parodies of other properties and that can kind of dominate. Thankfully, what we get here is a show that spends its time enjoying itself and going into the quirks of it while also seeding some decent character material revolving around Hiroshi and his family’s past and what’s involved there, especially when Soumei becomes more of a player in it. But while it does expand things in a bigger way with more characters, it really does stick to the comedy itself with the characters. And that works far better than it should in a lot of ways. What ended up being the stronger point to the show was what I thought would be the weakest with Don Valentino and his group. While there are some basic gags with each of them, they all have such amusing interactions with each other that you could have a show focusing just on them without the good guys. Not that there isn’t fun with Hiroshi, Ogino and all of them, but what we get with the little mafia group just hits so many sweet spots that you can’t help but to laugh and enjoy the quirkiness of it all.

In Summary:
When I first watched Cuticle Detective Inaba, it took a bit for me to really get into the groove of it. But as I watched it on a weekly basis, I found myself looking forward to it more and more and just enjoying the utter silliness of it all, the cast and the goat himself. While I like a lot of different types of comedies, they’ve always been a bit more hit or miss than usual when it comes to anime since you end up watching them in marathon sessions. Cuticle Detective Inaba takes a bit of time to really get into its groove but once it does it’s really amusing and revisiting the earlier episodes definitely helps. The series is one that I definitely felt would be a longshot to get licensed so I’m definitely glad that it did and that they could bring it out on Blu-ray since there’s a lot of great designs and color quality to it. But in the end, it’s about the humor and this series delivers pretty much across the board, especially when it focuses on Valentino and his group. I had a lot of fun with this during its simulcast run and a blast revisiting it and see this wacky group of characters once again. Very recommended.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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