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Cuticle Detective Inaba Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

5 min read
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.

Cuticle Detective Inaba
© Mochi / Square Enix
I’m not familiar with the type of thing I’m seeing.

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!

Of course, that ability has also resulted in Inaba having a little bit of a hair fetish, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for his two assistants. Well, at least the cross-dressing one isn’t complaining much. And it’s nothing compared to the strange tastes of Inaba’s nemesis, the omnivorous, half-goat crime boss Don Valentino, who has an appetite for green legal tender instead of tender young greens!

Inaba’s sworn to cut Valentino out of the criminal flock before the Don can wolf down more ill-gotten dough, but he’s going to have to chew his way through a lot of evidence to get his goat. Can sheer dogged detective work put the baaaaad guys behind bars?

The Review:

There’s only one audio track on this set, Japanese 2.0. The sound quality is fine, but it obviously doesn’t have any bells and whistles. Also, because I’m an old man, I end up paying more attention to what I’m seeing than what I’m hearing, so the aural quality didn’t really factor into my enjoyment, or lack thereof, of the show. English subtitles are provided for non-native speakers.

Each episode is presented in 16:9 anamorphic and it looks pretty good. There are no distortions or transfer issues that I could see.

The series’ twelve episodes come on two discs. The first resides in a center inset and the second inside the back cover. Not sure why Sentai decided to use the inset instead of just housing the first disc on the inside of the front cover, but it’s not really an issue—just something I’m curious about.

Befitting the show, the front cover is a jumble of images set against a dark purple background. Don Valentino, the baby goat antagonist, looms large in the background, flanked by his minions. Inaba stands in the foreground, standing back-to-back with his wolf form, and he’s also flanked by his comrades in arms.

Don Valentino and Inaba form bookends on the spine, with the Don hanging upside down and Inaba standing right side up. Their images flank the show’s title.

The back cover features the standard still images from the show, story synopsis, cast and crew credits, and DVD specifications.

All in all, it’s a pretty standard design, but hey, why fix what isn’t broken?

The menus for both discs follow the same design: a picture of one of the major characters occupies the right side of the screen, and the menu options occupy the left. The episodes are clearly marked, and the cursor is Inaba’s head in silhouette, so it’s easy to navigate.

Nothing major here: just the standard clean Op/Ed (I really like the Ed, by the way) and Sentai trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I think if this show could have figured out what it wanted to be, it might have been fun. As it stands, it’s a ponderous, sometimes frustrating mishmash of broad character types and competing, mismatched tones.

Based on the manga written and illustrated by Mochi, Cuticle Detective Inaba is sort of about Hiroshi Inaba, an artificially created werewolf designed by the government to work with the police to catch criminals. He once worked for the police, but went into private detective work partially because he was tired of taking orders, but also so he was free to find his younger brother Haruka. He’s assisted by Kei Nozaki, the “normal” character in the series, and Yūta Sasaki, a transgendered boy who identifies as female who also harbors murderous intentions against anyone that might get in the way of her affections for Inaba. In particular she despises Kuniharu Ogino, a police detective and Inaba’s former handler.

The yin to their yang is the criminal Don Valentino, a diminutive goat mob boss who eats money and regurgitates it as counterfeit currency (it’s not as gross as it sounds). Don Valentino also has a tendency to speak in reflexive pronouns, saying things like “I am Don Valentino, I am.” He’s aided by Lorenzo, his right-hand man who wears traditional Japanese clothes and a burlap sack over his head for reasons unknown; Gabriella, a hitwoman with a size fetish (if you’re under a certain size, she will try to kidnap you and add you to her cadre of harem-minions; and Noah, a 14-year-old mad scientist who’s also Gabriella’s sister.

The stories mostly revolve around Inaba and crew trying to capture Don and his gang. Most of the stories are lighthearted and silly, full of random idiocy and characters acting with no thought to actual logic, but some of the stories take a darker turn, especially the ones dealing with the secret society of werewolves created and employed by the world’s governments for military and police purposes. The two tones don’t really match and switching from one to the other creates a jarring effect.

This is one of those shows where I spent a good portion of my time folding my socks and doing other odd bits of labor. It just didn’t hold my attention, with rare exceptions. I must admit I found myself enjoying Don Valentino and his oddball gang. In fact, my favorite episode is all about the Don finally going to jail and making a new friend. That one worked much better than the others. Inaba and his crew were just annoying. They didn’t have that lovable loser quality like the Don and his folk.

In Summary:
In terms of tone and style, Cuticle Detective Inaba is in the same lot as shows like D.D. Fist of the North Star. I suppose I enjoyed Inaba more than North Star, because this review isn’t drenched in bile like that one was, but man, this is definitely an acquired taste. If you enjoyed D.D. yadda yadda then you’ll probably enjoy this. If, however, you’re like me, the cuteness of the Don isn’t enough to make this worth watching. Seriously, though, he’s a little goat wearing a cape! How cute is that!

Dr. J gives this a…

Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: D

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection

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