What They Say:
For most people, finding a dead body on their vacation would mean the vacation is over. However, for Souhei Saikawa, a professor of architecture, and his student Moe Nishinosono, a math prodigy, it’s a different kind of challenge.
Genius programmer Shiki Magata, one of Souhei’s idols, is inexplicably murdered inside the sealed research lab she disappeared to after being found innocent of her parents’ murder. As Souhei and Moe take the first steps into a deadly new world, they must untangle the complex web of events and clues leading up to the murder. With danger creeping up around them, this may be the last mystery this pair of human anomalies attempts to solve in THE PERFECT INSIDER!
There is no English dub for this release, so I listened to it in Japanese, which is available in 2.0. As always, it’d be nice if there was a 5.1 mix, but as this show is centered entirely on dialogue, it is not that big an issue. What I always wish is for an English dub, and in this case, I definitely feel that way. With everything potentially acting as a clue, it would have been nice to have been able to focus entirely on what was happening and not having to divert some of my attention to reading the sub-titles. While I get the economics behind dubbing, this is certainly a case where I wish they’d put that aside and do it anyway.
This is a really nice-looking anime. I love the character designs, and the overall aesthetic of the series fits well with the subdued atmosphere of the show. Colors are dark and bold, and everything feels just a little bit “off.” It’s hard to explain, but you’ll probably understand it if you see it. The transfer is well done too, with no technical issues I could detect.
The two discs for this release come in a single-wide, double-sided amaray case. The front cover has SAIKAWA and NISHINOSONO standing in an area reminiscent of Escher’s Relativity lithograph, with various elements of the mystery placed at points all around. The back has a picture of the two set against a background that is almost an optical illusion with screen shots and a series summary. While the overall package is basic, I really like the look of it. It’s both eye-catching and fits with the overall theme of the series well.
The menus are also pretty basic, though again they fit well with the series. The episodes are placed in a list down the left-hand side on a black bar, with the front cover image acting as the background. In a nice touch, the cursor is represented by two “F”s (an important clue in the mystery). It’s not something that would jump out on initial viewing, but does when going back. The great OP plays in the background while on the main menu, and the whole thing is allowed to play before it loops, so it doesn’t get repetitive too quickly.
All that is available on this release are clean versions of OP/ED.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Perfect Insider was a series that I not only knew nothing about before taking a flyer on it, but I hadn’t even heard of it. But it sounded like it had potential, and (almost more importantly) sounded very different than much of what comes out, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Based on the Japanese novel Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider by MORI Hiroshi, this anime takes a fascinating approach to a murder mystery, and it fully justified the chance I took on it.
SAIKAWA Sohei is an architectural engineering professor with a fascination in the study of human nature. He has modeled much of his own work after that of MAGATA Shiki, a genius programmer and theorist who earned her PhD at the age of eleven and seemed to be destined to go down as one of the greatest thinkers in history. But Dr. MAGATA’s destiny hit a speed bump when, at the age of fifteen, she brutally murdered her parents and was deemed mentally incompetent. As such, she has since lived in a remote research lab, still able to continue her work as she sees fit, but locked up and isolated from the outside world. Her only communication with the world outside her enclosed apartment is through teleconferencing, and only when she feels like it.
Fifteen years have passed since she went into isolation. Professor SAIKAWA would like nothing more than the chance to meet and have a conversation with Dr. MAGATA, but despite his work closely following hers and being considered a top expert in their field, he has yet to be granted an audience. Enter NISHINOSONO Moe, his top student. NISHINOSONO is the daughter of SAIKAWA’s own mentor and is a brilliant mathematician in her own right. A few years previous, her parents were killed in a plane crash. SAIKAWA has taken it upon himself to look out for her, creating a bond that is rapidly developing into something deeper—particularly from her point-of-view—and she does what she can to both assist him in achieving his goals. And so, using her family’s connections, she is able to arrange a trip to the lab where Dr. MAGATA is quarantined, and she invites SAIKAWA along for the ride. But when they arrive to find Dr. MAGATA has now been brutally murdered in her apartment, despite nobody going in or out for fifteen years, they suddenly find themselves immersed in a murder investigation that will try every ounce of their brilliance to figure out.
The Perfect Insider is a series that caught me a little bit off guard. You would think that a series like this—where all the characters find themselves cut off from the rest of the world in a remote research lab while a murderer is on the loose—would create a sense of danger for the characters and build tension through that, but that is actually not the case here. Despite the murder of Dr. MAGATA (and her uncle, the Lab Chief), nobody ever seems particularly panicked that the murderer is on the loose and that more people could possibly be in danger.
Instead, SAIKAWA and NISHINOSONO find almost themselves more intrigued by figuring out the puzzle of how the murders happened than figuring out exactly who did it (though they do recognize that solving one will lead to the other). And since that’s their approach, that’s the approach of the series too. What that gives us is a series with a more ponderous tone, reflecting on various aspects of human nature and trying to unravel the mysteries of Dr. MAGATA’s life, which might give them insight into why somebody might want to kill her. It is very well done, and very different from where these stories often go. I love that about it.
The atmosphere is only enhanced by a great cast of characters, too. SAIKAWA and NISHINOSONO play off each other very well. SAIKAWA forces himself to play the detached academic who is incapable of becoming invested in anything other than his work, all the while gently guiding NISHINOSONO along a path that fosters her interests, her knowledge, and her passions. NISHINOSONO, on the other hand, is a young woman with the potential to surpass SAIKAWA, but who cannot help being guided by her emotions and youthful exuberance. SAIKAWA is perfectly uninterested in what others around him have to say about him, while she is almost overly too interested. And through it all, we have two people who obviously care for one another, even if she doesn’t always see that. They work very well together as a pair, even if there are plenty of times where she wants to strangle him.
The Perfect Insider hits every note perfectly for me. I don’t think I can praise it enough. The characterization is top notch, and I love the relatively relaxed atmosphere in which the entire investigation takes place. It is intriguing from a psychological aspect but does not rely on the tropes of the genre to create artificial danger and tension. It gives this series a different feel than many others of the kind, and I appreciate that for what it is. I loved every minute of this series, and I cannot recommend it any higher.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing Animations.
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, LG BP330 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System