Fun Dynamics, Not-So-Fun Mysteries in Ron Kamonohashi’s Forbidden Deductions

Season aired: Fall 2023

Number of episodes: 13

Watched on: Crunchyroll

Translated by: ?

Genres: Mystery, Comedy

Thoughts: The strange detective and the straightlaced good man is a pairing as old as the mystery genre itself. After so many variations of the same relationship in episodic mysteries, I was left wondering if Ron Kamonohashi’s Forbidden Deductions can bring something new to the table. The good news is yes, the relationship duo between the detective and the good man is unique and interesting. The bad news is the actual mysteries aren’t interesting.

Ron Kamonohashi likes to talk to the corpses of murder victims. He lays down next to them, he asks them to tell him their story, and with his superior detective skills, he always deduces who the murderer is. Unfortunately, he’s also afflicted with a strange superpower beyond his control. After identifying the murderer, he can compel them to kill themselves in retribution for their crime. Enter Toto, a police detective who isn’t respected by any of his coworkers. After meeting, Toto and Ron form a partnership to solve crimes together.

The first thing I liked about the series was Ron’s quirkiness. At a certain point, the “quirky detective” trope starts growing predictable as many iterations are just Sherlock Holmes copycats. They don’t communicate, they observe quickly, and they don’t respect authority. Ron is none of those three, and his enjoyment of lying next to corpses and talking to them as if they were alive is truly unique to the genre. It makes his rapport with the kind, albeit naïve Toto endearing, and their relationship is what made the series worth watching.

However, the mysteries got boring as the series continued. Part of the fun when watching mysteries is trying to figure out the answer yourself, but the connections can often feel either so far apart or so obvious that the resolution doesn’t feel satisfying. There is an exciting twist in the middle of the series that hints at a larger plot beyond the episodic mysteries the duo solve, but that was only used as a hook for the second season rather than to strengthen the first season.

Additionally, with a rather weak plot, the boring technical aspects made the series forgettable as the story continued. There is little to no uniqueness in the execution and direction of the series, and the soundtrack doesn’t work in many of the scenes. Moments regarding the murderer’s reveal sometimes felt underwhelming because the music didn’t make me feel the gravity of the situation.

Ron and Toto

The only thing upholding the series is Ron and Toto’s interactions – largely thanks to the voice actors’ natural chemistry with each other. We’re used to hearing Junya Enoki as the shounen anime protagonist, especially with his breakout role as Itadori from JUJUTSU KAISEN, but he really nails Toto’s character. Serious yet oblivious. Kind yet exasperated. Toto has a wide range of emotions, and Enoki is expertly able to bring Toto to life with his voice acting. Youhei Azakami has great chemistry with Enoki in his performance as Ron. Although less impressive than Enoki, he manages to successfully sell the quirky speaking-to-corpses habit that Ron has.

I personally think Ron Kamonohashi’s Forbidden Deductions is a missed opportunity in adaptation. While I’m certain that the various episodic mysteries happened in the same order in the series as they did in the chapters, I think the production team definitely could’ve moved things around or worked in some foreshadowing of the plot twist to keep it relevant.

There’s active worldbuilding in the series with a detective academy called BLUE and a crime family responsible for some of the most heinous offenses in the country. However, they often fall by the wayside in favor of small mysteries that matter little in the larger scheme of things. When I think of teams that managed to successfully elevate source material (i.e., 86: Eighty-Six or Bocchi the Rock), it’s because of their willingness to shift story elements, add new plot lines to enhance the characters and main narrative, or cut down elements to tighten the pacing. These adaptations are not relegated to a singular genre, and I am left wondering how much more fun this series would be if Ron Kamonohashi’s Forbidden Deductions had the same treatment. After all, the plot twist in the middle is a very exciting one. Right when I was getting bored of the episodic mysteries, it instantly won me back over.

Rating

Plot: 6 (Multiplier 3)

Characters: 7 (Multiplier 3)

Art/Animation: 6 (Multiplier 2)

Voice acting: 7

Soundtrack: 6

FINAL SCORE: 64


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