"This mystery is already on the tip of my tongue..."
Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro (“Demon Detective Neuro Nougami” but popularly Woolsey’d into Private Evil Eye Neuro Nougami”) is a supernatural detective manga and later anime that follows Neuro, a demon who literally eats mysteries. Having eaten all of the mysteries in Hell he goes to Earth in search of the ultimate mystery. There he meets Yako Katsuragi, a schoolgirl whose father was recently murdered. In order to keep his identity as a demon secret Neuro sets up a detective agency under Yako’s name, pretending that she is a brilliant schoolgirl detective and he her assistant. With the aid of his 777 Tools of Hell Neuro spends his time solving the murders he deems interesting while, naturally, dragging Yako along with him.The plot itself bounces between solving the individual cases of one time murders and much larger overreaching situations such as the mystery of the Phantom Thief X. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the series is when the culprit reveals his/her true nature and transforms into another form entirely. At this point Neuro reverts to his demon form and devours the mystery. That said, it should be noted that since any bystanders (Yako excluded) never see Neuro doing this it can be interpreted as more of a mental representation.While the search for the ultimate mystery at seems like a typical Excuse Plot for a Mystery of the Week setup, once the character dynamics and the world are established, the series kicks into high gear with the HAL arc. As it turns out, despite the usual Shōnen conventions, Neuro was not kidding when he said that he was starving to death. A main character that is gradually growing weaker the more he uses his power instead of getting stronger becoming more absurdly strong than he was before, a female character whose growth is important to the story and a wholelotofcrazypeople make this a very unique and surprising series.Both the manga and the anime are complete at 202 chapters and 25 episodes. Gecko Ending beware.
Ambiguously Gay/Mistaken for Gay: Godai. Maybe. On one hand, Neuro seems to think so, complete with literally throwing musclemen magazines at him. On the other hand, Neuro would do that sort of thing anyway because that's how he rolls. On yet another hand, Godai denies it. On the final hand, Godai's encounter with a Camp Gay policeman indicated that his life apparently works like a gay Dating Sim. So it all comes down to a big who knows.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Early in the manga, there's a throwaway exchange where Neuro is talking about how in his world, it's normal for the weak to submit to the strong. The person he's talking to asks if there's anyone Neuro would submit to. The answer is no. The obvious conclusion was later confirmed. Another clue was the long version of the name of the Seven Weapons of the Demon Emperor.
Though it's put into question when he states that he's lived two weeks on nothing but beer, sunlight, and salt, and acting like coughing up blood is nothing to be jumpy about. He even encourages Yako to visit him in the hospital after having just coughed up blood.
Naohiro Usui, during the Sicks arc. He boosts up his game and attempts to stop Sicks, even outmaneuvering one of Sicks' top men and leading them into a trap.
By the late manga, Yako. According to Neuro, if a normal human is equivalent to a paramecium, then at one point Yako's a pillbug. A complex, multicellular lifeform with built-in armor, thousands of times a paramecium's size.
Badass Pacifist: Yako. Using nothing more then her empathetic abilities and sincerity to defeat those even Neuro could not.
Beneath the Mask: The series frequently explores this concept, with every villain having this in some way: until the criminal is revealed, everyone acts normal. The moment it is revealed, they shed their masks and usually become sadistic and cruel. However, it's also used for the heroes, usually to show more caring natures.
...But then you have Sasazuka. Normally cool and level-headed, he is a force to be feared. It's not just that he can superior aiming skills, he will kill you if you don't tell him what he wants when he's serious about it. In particular, Godai tells a story about how Sasazuka once went to a big-named thug for information: Sasazuka was ruffed up, then within minutes the thug was being held off a 25-story building with twice the amount of injuries Sasazuka was shown being given. And, during this little story, Sasazuka is busy killing Sicks men with a Psychotic Smirk.
Big Eater: Yako never gets full, paralleling Neuro's appetite for mysteries.
This is increasingly Flanderized as the series continues to the point that she regularly eats meals several times her mass and has admitted to trying to eat underwater before. One scientist even comments that what she does is physically impossible.
That said, even she will run from her mother's cooking. One, and this term is used loosely, "concoction" is radioactive and safe to approach in fifty years or so.
Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad is dead, but Neuro has to return to the netherworld since he's nearly on his death bed, a large percentage of the Japanese population has been killed during the terrorist acts of the New Bloodline and several important characters like Sasazuka, Sai and Fumio have died due to their connections to the Big Bad. And The Dragon survived his would be death and has taken over as the pinnacle of evil, and there's no permanent solution to prevent more people like Sicks from showing up since we're all inherently insane. But life goes on and Yako becomes a negotiator and Neuro returns eventually.
Blue and Orange Morality: Neuro, to the point of Xenofiction. At first, it seems as though he's forcing Yako into this, has no respect for her & views her as an inferior life form equivalent to a paramecium. Then, the series shows how Neuro acts towards people he detests (Sai), considers far over the Moral Event Horizon(Sicks) and actually holds in contempt (Yako, when she decides to stop being a detective). Realizing that Neuro treats Yako that way because he actually respects her and is often proud of her verges on Mind Screw.
Broken Aesop: Ep. 14 ends with a message about how people shouldn't be so intolerant of other people's cultures. The irony is that this is delivered in reaction to the antics of possibly the most xenophobic and offensive depiction of an American in anime since 1945. Of course, a later chapter reveals that the American was the first test subject of the electronic drug, so the Aesop is strongly reinforced, since if Yako and the others hadn't been blinded by stereotypes of Americans, they would have noticed something wasn't right much earlier. So, don't be blinded by xenophobia or a crazy computer will conquer the world?
Butt Monkey: Ishigaki. To a lesser extent, Yako and Godai for Neuro.
Card-Carrying Villain: One of the most disturbing examples ever; the series explores what would happen if someone really believed in being Evil. Something, the New Bloodline, especially their leader Sicks, embody this principle.
Chekhov's Gun: Several. For example, Neuro mentions a few details about himself either right out or offhand that turn out to be very important. The fact that he's starving to death and needs mysteries to feed on seems like an Excuse Plot that certainly wouldn't be a real problem for an invicible Shōnen hero until the HAL arc, where Neuro gets exhausted and seriously hurt for the first time. And there's no miraculous cure or power up.
Another is the murder of Sasazuka's family and the connection to Sai; it both leads the protagonists and Sasazuka down to finding Sai and gives Sai his inspiration for a modus operandi.
And then it happened again but this time with 24 hours of tapes.
The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Yako's father was killed via his head being cut off with a chainsaw, and his blood was used to paint the walls. Since there was no way to enter the room, it was ruled a suicide by the police.
Only in the anime. In the manga, his body was pincushioned with knives. And in the manga the police don't think it's suicide, obviously.
Eagleland: Again, episode 14, which takes this trope farther than any show before it, which is very far indeed. However, it turns out that Professor Harukawa chose him as the first victim/test subject of the electronic virus. Harukawa using the American as the trial run, since people would believe an American would do something like this, makes this an Exploited trope.
Evil Gloating: What Neuro does every time he beats an enemy — often accompanied by ironic torture.
Evil Mentor: Neuro to Yako, also Aya Asia to Yako. And those two mafia guys... Yako has a lot of these.
Evil Versus Evil: Neuro vs. all of the villains, with Sicks being the most extreme
Evil Versus Oblivion: Neuro vs. Sicks, one wants humanity to survive so he can continue to feed off of their evil intent as well as mess with them, Sicks just wants humanity extinct for his New Bloodline
Evolutionary Levels: Neuro uses this to describe the times Yako Took a Level in Badass. Learning to read people, developing super strength, and so on. Being Neuro, he still manages to make this sound insulting, but if later-series Yako is to a normal human what a complex, multicellular organism with built-in armor is to a paramecium?
Also the criminals, early ones had a Game Face once their True Colors were shown, but by the end of the series, the New Bloodline had developed their evil intent enough to manifest as a Battle Aura.
Face-Heel Turn: Sasazuka in the latest chapters partially performs one of these, changing from a hero to a not-quite-villainous, but significantly more ruthless Villain Protagonist , in order to seek revenge against Sicks for the murder of his family. He doesn't get to enjoy it for long, though, as the confrontation ends in his Family-Unfriendly Death
Averted with Higuchi, though he doesn't always wear his glasses and instead keeps them up on his forehead most of the time.
Gecko Ending: Instead of introducing the New Bloodline, the anime has a confrontation with Sai in Brazil. She meets a bunch of Yakuza Aztecs: a random touch of Mayincatec.
Genre Shift: Somehow we started with a detective anime, led into the computer-focused HAL arc, and then... Yakazuka Mayans? What?
In the manga, instead of that last part, it turns into an action series with Neuro facing against a group called The New Bloodline. However, the series manages to go about it in a completely different way than most other action anime and manga, with, among other things, Neuro actually growing weaker as the series goes on, and the regular humans even managing to take out two of them by themselves.
Hot Springs Episode: And poor Yako does not even get to enjoy the hot springs because one of Neuro's devilish creatures was set loose on the water.
Humanity Is Infectious: Averted, or so Neuro claims. Since he's fundamentally incapable of understanding how the human mind works, that's the other thing he keeps Yako around for.
Humanity Is Insane: This is apparently why Neuro can't understand us: it's also something the manga spends a lot of time observing. It's also the reason Humans Are Special: since we're so insane and illogical, we can commit premedited crimes for really strong, twisted reasons, and it's that energy Neuro eats, and why he won't let the New Bloodline destroy humanity.
In the Blood: The New Bloodline. Like humans in appearance, but they have evil intent in their genetic code, and see themselves as distinct from humanity in this respect.
Iron Butt Monkey: Yako stays surprisingly intact even after being made Neuro's chewtoy, doesn't she?
Same for Godai.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Usui takes pride being a police and works hard fighting criminals. He is also shown to have respected Sasazuka, especially at the end when Sasazuka dies. Neuro also qualifies. When he was about to die, he questioned his own motive for protecting the humans: was it really just to save his food source? Also, Neuro kept Akane alive with a battery even when he had none to spare.
Karma Houdini: To a certain extent, Kasai, who managed to survive after having a burning building fall on top of him.
Kid Detective: Subverted in that although Yako is supposed to be the leader of the agency, in fact all the detective work is done by Neuro.
Kid with the Leash: Neuro tellsSasazuka that Yako controls him and is taking terrible advantage. Their relationship seems like an inversion, but when Yako is serious about no longer being a detective, she does what she wants.
Lack of Empathy: Neuro is a demon, after all. The idea of giving a shit about what beings other than him want or feel generally does not occur to him.
Lethal Chef: Yako's mother in the manga. Part of Yako's talent with cooking is to enable her to eat anything handy and the other part is allow her to have anything safe to eat. Her mother's food has both resulted in nitro-glycerin and radioactivity.
Mad Artist: Including a furniture designer who kills people who look down on furniture, a hair dresser who cuts off people's heads so he can style their hair and a stand-up comic who kills people because it's funny. There is also a singer who killed her friends to make her songs sound sadder, however she is one of the series sanest characters.
No Export for You: Though the anime was aired on Viz, it was not dubbed. The manga has also failed to come out in English.
Nuke 'em: Referenced by Neuro. When he first arrived on Earth, a nuke wouldn't have put a scratch on him. Of course, by the time he's saying this, he's weakened enough that ordinary guns could kill him. Like the one the man he's talking to, who has tried to kill him before, has right there.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Neuro acts like a puppet of Yako and speaks with a friendly accent in front of suspects... just before turning into a bird-headed monster that eats mysteries.
Playful Hacker: Higuchi who hacked into the Metropolitan Police Department's computers...and transformed their website into a department store website complete with replacing all of the departments and personal with lookalike shops and employees.
Power Degeneration: Neuro, becomes a plot point in the final arc when the enemies try to weaken him enough to kill him.
The Power of Love: In the manga, Neuro doesn't eat mysteries per se but the energy that would drive someone to do terrible, shameful, twisted things, knowing they're that wrong (otherwise, why try to hide them?). When he finally devoured the energy that caused the creation of HAL and the entire HAL arc, there's so much of it he acts like he's sugar high.
Both Harukawa and HAL strive to bring back the woman they love, by making an electronic person with the former, and by hacking into other super-computers to create another electronic person from zero with the latter.
Serious Business: Mysteries, for Neuro, which makes sense since he's starving to death and they're not his food, but they're evidence that the energy he eats should be present. This becomes a problem during the HAL and Sicks arcs, when crimes are being caused not by human twistedness but the electronic drug, biology, and so on. See No, Mister Bond, I Expect You To Dine.
Sidekick Ex Machina: Neuro needed someone to the decoy for detective work, since people would understandably be worried about a demon running loose.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Some human beings are just plain evil: others are crazy and even a mild-mannered housewife can decide to start planting bombs. Even good people can have disgusting obsessions and our minds are at the mercy of our biology (poor, poor Setsuna, not to mention Sai).
So Last Season: Subverted, then inverted. While Neuro makes more use of the Seven Weapons during later arcs, they're not power-ups or new attacks but techniques he's had all along: they just weren't needed until now due to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil. In fact, the reason he's using them isn't that he's gotten stronger but because he's growing weaker as he starves to death, and he needs the most powerful spells in the demon world to do things he could have done with normal tools before. Turns out to be a double subversion, since the power that turns the tide in the last story arc is one that hasn't been a big deal before: human allies.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In the manga you first have the regular murders, then ones who we find are being stirred up by Professor Harukawa's research. That leads to HAL, and then X takes on HAL's powers. Then finally Sicks shows up and sweeps X off the map with his minions are coming in order as well.
Justified however in that Sicks send out his minions one after the other in order to weaken Neuros powers. If they had tried to team up on Neuro in the beginning he would have easily curbstomped them.
The Stoic: Sasazuka is very calm most of the time. Neuro, too, can arguably be in this trope, because he hardly ever loses his cool when fighting with villains even while many humans are in danger.
Not So Stoic: Sasazuka, when he finds out his family's murderer.
Surprisingly Good English: Seriously. Not even one "spilled" R. The fact that a word is mispelled in English is a plot point, even.
Thou Shalt Not Kill: Despite how much Neuro forces Yako into(torture, bondage, general punishment, so on), Neuro has never once taken a life. His belief is that, even if a human has created a puzzle before, if they're left alive they can create more.
Transformation Sequence: When a culprit is revealed he/she undergoes one of these. YMMV with how well it works, as some people consider it to be rather narmy. However, this happens more frequently in the anime and in later chapters than at the beginning.
Unholy Matrimony: X and Ai are a cute couple...when you get past all the killing.
The Virus: The electronic drug. It hacks the victim's mind and finds something to exaggerate in order to make them useful to HAL. For instance, a childhood fondness for digging holes in the sand becomes an obsession with making holes in people.
Wall Crawl: Neuro makes gravity his bitch on regular basis, even sleeping on ceilings.
Xenofiction: The series spends a lot of time exploring just how alien Neuro is, and both his value system and biology are extremely important to the plot.
You Are Number Six: Sicks; as well as Setsuna.note The number closest to zero. "Setsuna" is pronounced the same as the Japanese way for saying one over a billion; it's also commonly used to say, in Japanese, "an instant".
Instead of giving Neuro chocolates for Valentine's, Yako gives him the wrapping paper. Which is made up of leads to potential mysteries, what he actually eats. It's a CMOA for Yako, that's she's grown to understand him so well, as well as a CMOH.
Sicks invites Neuro to meet with him, and tries to arrange a meal for him by forcing several people to kill, right there, by threatening their families and so on. He's wrong in that it's not the mystery itself Neuro eats, but the psychic energy of the motivation behind it, the twistedness that would drive someone to commit murder and try to hide it. Sicks's sick little tableau was the equivalent of offering a starving man Syrup of Ipecac. And then, since they hadn't pleased Neuro, he killed all of them, meaning that they would never be able to produce a real mystery. At that point, the reader learns how Neuro acts when he's really, really angry.