B: The Beginning review — Netflix series marries police procedural tropes with anime standards

Framed as a good versus evil battle, Netflix's anime series B: The Beginning encompasses ghoulish crime, supernatural happenings, comedy and drama.

Karthik Keramalu April 01, 2018 13:33:03 IST
B: The Beginning review — Netflix series marries police procedural tropes with anime standards

Is there another traditional movie production company or digital entertainment site that’s diving into as many seas as Netflix? As much as they’re enabling Indian filmmakers to conquer laptop and phone screens via originals and bringing us the very latest in prestige TV, the streaming giant is also adding to its roster of anime series.

One anime series that recently released on the platform is B: The Beginning. Framed as a good versus evil battle, B: The Beginning encompasses ghoulish crime, supernatural happenings, comedy and drama.

Detectives Lily Hoshina and Keith Kazama Flick are poles apart in their approach to crime-solving, and yet, there’s a strange similarity in how they make decisions. Keith is the thinker, Lily the talker — an equation that's reminiscent of the Japanese television drama Galileo. In Galileo, too, there’s a genius at work, who loves uncovering truths, and a police officer who’s a motormouth.

B The Beginning review  Netflix series marries police procedural tropes with anime standards

Framed as a good versus evil battle, B: The Beginning encompasses ghoulish crime, supernatural happenings, comedy and drama. Netflix

Teaming up a mind-reader and a non-stop talker is a template for police procedurals. I’m not going to complain about the trope, especially since it doesn't affect the rhythm of BTB. What does hurt the show, however, is the absence of solid writing. The thrills and revelations are placed more in the latter half of the episodes, so, the first couple of hours are mostly occupied with Lily's shenanigans. And the sci-fi elements that are part of the plot wouldn't be out of place in an Indian potboiler.

One of the moments I did enjoy in the series was when a supporting character describes Keith as "an exceptionally dull man". Dull is not a complimentary adjective, but when applied to Keith it is. As another character explains, Keith can (accurately) predict what lies ahead and this makes it difficult for him to act in the moment. Everything else that BTB achieves in other departments (the terrific theme song, the action sequences) falls short of surpassing this moment of insight.

Directed by Kazuto Nakazawa and Yoshiki Yamakawa, BTB doesn’t really tackle anything that other anime series haven't already. Neither is this a series that will bowl you over right from the get-go. The series is divided into 12 bite-sized episodes that can be binge-watched in a single-sitting, and Netflix gives you the option of watching the series in Japanese or English.

Good for a weekend viewing, we'd say. BTB is currently streaming on Netflix.

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