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Anime / Case File nº221: Kabukicho

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Sherlock Holmes as never seen before.note 

"Shinjuku West Side. On the other side of the wall from its well-ordered, well-lit streets lies the chaos of the east. In the darkness of Kabukicho, where elephants roar to sound the time and villains lurk in every shadow, you'll find six detectives. Weirdos, freaks, bozos and fools to a man. Who knows what madness they'll bring with them. Please enjoy this battle of wits between detectives."
Introduction to the show after the 1st episode.

Case File nº221: Kabukicho (Kabukicho Sherlock in Japan) is an original anime production directed by Ai Yoshimura and created by Taku Kishimoto with character designs by Toshiyuki Yahagi and music by Takuro Iga.

The show is animated by Production I.G and airs currently on MBS, TBS and BS-TBS in Japan when the first episode aired on October 11, 2019 under the Animeism program block. The anime will also have a manga and novel adaptation, the former starting by January 4, 2020. An OVA was released on August 26, 2020 and covers the past and future of the main cast.

Outside of Japan, Funimation has licensed it for streaming the original Japanese version with English subtitles and an English dub track in North America, Britain and Ireland while AnimeLab streams it in Australia and New Zealand. For Russia and Russian-speaking countries/territories, it is done by Wakanim. Dynit handles the show for Italy and Italian-speaking countries/territories and the show is exclusively aired in those places via Amazon Prime.

The show primarily takes place in Shinjuku, in the red light district of Kabukichō, which has been walled off somehow in the middle. On the advice of a yakuza oyabun named Kaneko, John Watson heads to Kabukichō in order to seek out a detective named Sherlock Holmes. Holmes happened to be The Quiet One who doesn't say much. But he is a very intelligent person who's able to hunt for clues and information by studying the evidence at crime scenes and making deductions, then describes his theories of the crime to others... usually in the form of rakugo.note 

Holmes and Watson started to work together when they investigate a murder case, alongside some private and actual detectives of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, attributed to a Serial Killer dubbed Jack The Ripper, while Watson tries vainly to interest Holmes in his own problem. From there, they tackle cases that occur in Kabukichō and the surrounding areas. That's if... they can work together despite the other detectives trying to upstage him in cracking a case for the money.

Like BBC's Sherlock and CBS' Elementary, it's basically Sherlock Holmes transplanted to modern society set in Japan.

Case File nº221: Kabukicho has the following tropes:

  • Alternate Universe: While roughly the same as the actual Shinjuku, the chief difference is that something major happened that was used as the basis of splitting the area into west and east sectors and walling off the east one with a single gate (but several alternate routes known to criminals). "The Dream of Fuyuto Kyokgoku, the Ace" shows that security barriers are located in the middle of Shinjuku with security guards roaming with handheld metal detectors and x-ray body scanners for anyone using the pedestrian sidewalks to go from the east to the west and vice versa. The rooftop pink elephant that trumpets hourly stands in for the actual rooftop Godzilla that roars hourly. And the over-54-story multi-tower building called "city hall" in "Not Breathing" best matches the 48-story Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building #1.
  • And the Adventure Continues: In "See You In Kabukicho", the Pipe Cat detectives continue taking up cases after Sherlock finally moves on from Moriarty's death.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: James Moriarty a.k.a James Moran lost his twin sister at the hands of Jack the Ripper. He feels responsible for her death because he let her go to the East Side alone while wearing his clothes.
  • Artistic Licence – Geography: The show portrays Kabukichō as a multi-layered area with bridges and elevated walkways. In reality the place is completely flat without any kind of vertical element besides the buildings themselves. It also gives an impression of far greater size than the actual Kabukichō.
  • Author Appeal: There is a surprisingly large population of drag queens and male to female transvestites in this series.
  • Brand X: Books Kinositaya is a stand-in for Kinokuniya, a bookstore chain that operates in Asia, Oceania and in parts of the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. There's also Asetan, a stand-in for Isetan.
    • In computers, there's 3 1/2chan as a stand in for 2chan.
  • Breather Episode: "No More Nyan-Nyan" shows the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper case where Moriarty got arrested for killing the Ripper and his detective friends are all shocked by the events that occurred, most especially as one of their compatriots happened to be the Ripper herself. Then, Mrs. Hudson forces the detectives to find her missing cat, Pipe, as an attempt to cheer them up. At the end of the day, they manage to find Pipe safe and sound and Mrs. Hudson throws a party in celebration of Pipe's return.
  • Casting Gag: Both Junichi Suwabe and David Wald have been previously cast by coincidence as Itami back in GATE.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: The series is a Lighter and Softer version of Sherlock Holmes where there's a lot of comedy involved with the characters. It only gets serious when the actual Jack the Ripper is involved or when Moriarty does something suspicious.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The idea of VTY bankrolling a criminal act including a mass poisoning attack behind the facade of a friendly face is a reminder of what Aum Shinrikyo did in 1995 when it was known at first as a religion trying to gain popularity.
  • Dragged into Drag: In the OVA, Kyogoku and Kobayashi are forced to wear a dress and put on make-up by a culprit inside a truck. Turns out the culprit is Mrs. Hudson who tricked them into doing it so that she can make a V-Tube channel. Both men are not pleased with this, though Kyogoku outright tells Kobayashi that he looks better than him, which causes a fight between them
  • Fictional Social Network: The show has Onstagram as fictional counterpart of Instagram.
  • Finger in the Mail: The Stinger of "Don't Take Off Your Swimsuit" shows Irene receiving a box containing Agatha's ear and a note from Jack the Ripper, threatening her to give him the USB drive.
  • Foregone Conclusion: If you have a character named after Sherlock Holmes' Arch-Enemy, then you do know that he's going to be the bad guy eventually. And it took nineteen episodes to get there.
  • Funbag Airbag: Irene and Sherlock hide in Milverton's sauna bed when the latter enters his room. Unfortunately, Irene is on top of Sherlock, who is very distracted by her boobs on his face, causing him to quickly recite the rakugo Jugemu. Irene has to shut him up by smothering him with her boobs, causing him to pass out.
  • Gaslighting: In a very brutal fashion: Sherlock and Moriarty lead Watson to believe that the latter is Jack the Ripper so they can get Kyogoku who is obsessed with the drive, while Watson is clearly saddened and traumatized with what had happened to Irene.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Cecilia Moran's death wasn't actually shown but the sounds of electrocution and the shot of the light flashing behind the bath curtain presents how horrifying her death is.
  • Happy Ending Override: "Don't Take Off Your Swimsuit" ends with Milverton dead and all his blackmail evidence destroyed by Sherlock, saving all the blackmail victims while Irene helps Agatha cover up her involvement on Milverton's death. The Stinger pulls a cruel twist where Agatha ends up being Jack the Ripper's victim and her ear is sent to Irene as a threat to give the Ripper the egg USB drive.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: After learning the truth behind Alex's death, James furiously beats up the Ripper who taunts him about how Alex died. Sherlock, Watson and the rest of his detective friends try to convince James not to give in to the Ripper's taunts. But it's too late as James slashes the Ripper's throat in front of everyone.
  • Jack the Ripoff: "Hello Detectives" has Sherlock and the other detectives initially told that the murder victim, who's a failed recruit into the cabaret club White Rose, was killed by the actual Jack the Ripper. Turns out that the cabaret owner's personal driver killed the woman by accident when she bumped her head into a table edge. He tried to cover up by fixing the scene to look like Jack did it, but got some details wrong.
  • Market-Based Title: In Japanese, it's known as "Kabukicho Sherlock". Outside Japan, it's known as "Case File nº221: Kabukicho". This is most likely due to strong copyright enforcement and trademark issues from the Doyle estate, since a few SH stories were not yet in the public domain at the time of production.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Sherlock mentions in his usual rakugo deductions to his fellow detectives that Kyogoku is desperate to get the USB drive because he was drugged and manipulated by his lover, this led Michel, Mary and the other detectives including Kyogoku to realize that Maki is Jack the Ripper.
  • Mistaken for Gay: After he decided to stay in the East Side to become Sherlock's assistant, Watson offers him a handshake, only for Mary to show up and assume that the two men are getting together. Then, she drags Watson to announce it in front of the Pipe Cat Bar gang.
  • Myth Arc:
    • The first half of the show has an overall arc centering on the murders conducted by Jack the Ripper in Shinjuku in the wake of Alexandra Moran's murder and discovery by Watson of a hidden transmitter on her body.
    • The second half deals with multiple criminals, several of whom escaped from the same prison where Moriarty was confined, committing suicide after they were apprehended. Common to these deaths was that they uttered some strange code in front of Sherlock.
  • Never Found the Body: After the events in "Not Breathing" where Moriarty jumps off of a 50ft building, the authorities are unable to find his body. Together with the kidnapping case caused by another escapee from Moriarty's prison, this leads Sherlock to assume that Moriarty is alive. However by the end of the show, it seems that Moriarty is indeed dead and Sherlock chooses to move on.
  • Official Couple: Kyogoku and Maki end up together in "That Woman's Pad" and they even have sex together, although his sexual inexperience and the shot angle make it unclear what actually occurred. Then subverted when it turns out Maki is the Ripper who manipulated Kyogoku to get the USB drive.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Sherlock providing The Summation of the crime with a rakugo performance.
    • Mrs. Hudson also recites a haiku before dispatching the detectives to their case.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: The Pipe Cat claims to have six of the best detectives in Kabukichō. But since the series focuses on Sherlock, the other five look incompetent by comparison. Though when Sherlock pushes his fellow detectives in the right direction after giving a summation on the cases, they're actually good on their own right.
  • Photo Montage: The second type of ending credits have Sherlock and Watson looking at the photos of their friends and one of them is holding a photo of Moriarty. The credits end with a group photo of the Pipe Cat Bar detectives.
  • Police Are Useless: The TMPD has troubles lately in Kabukichō. For starters, they were getting nowhere in hunting Jack the Ripper so private detectives, including Sherlock, jumped into the fray and began working on the case. The mayor got so angry at the department's incompetence that he contracted private detectives to take any cases that the police are having trouble with, after his own daughter was killed by Jack in an incident a few months ago.
  • Ponzi: "Where is He?" introduces Vision To You which is an MLM scam that claimed to counsel people. Dilan, one of the regular Pipe Cat Bar employees, asks the detectives' help to look for his "fiancee", Cathy, who left him after VTY took all his money. Turns out the scam is much worse, as it was run by Tetsuo Isshiki, who had been poisoning his relatives for sadistic reasons, and is planning a terrorist attack using liquid-spraying drones.
  • Private Detective: The six Pipe Cat detectives, whose diverse backgrounds give them distinct working styles and personas. Mrs. Hudson charges a sizeable fee for each case, which goes to the first detective to solve the case, though it's usually left up to each detective whether he or she wishes to take on a particular case.
  • Red Herring: In the second half of the show, the strange codes uttered by the suspects who ended up killing themselves seems to be a message for Sherlock to crack. Turns out that Moriarty did that on a whim and the codes were just his favorite numbers he likes to pick out. Subverted in "See You in Kabukicho" where it turns out that the codes really do have some use.
  • Relationship Sabotage: In the OVA, Lucy tries to sabotage Mary and Watson's date with help from Sherlock. However, towards the end of the story, Mary and Watson are actually pretending to date so they can track down a man who is cheating on his wife and Mary is buying a surprise birthday gift for Lucy.
  • Running Gag: Expect Watson to be forced to clean up Sherlock's mess in his apartment.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: In "Why Not Join the Staring-At-Eye-Moles Squad?", Holmes hires the Kabukicho Irregulars to send the Morstan siblings on a wild goose chase, culminating in a shot of the two chasing after "Holmes" back and forth down the back alleys of the city.
  • Sue Donym: When Watson bumps into Godfrey Norton in his house while trying to find the USB drive, he almost says his real last name so he just combines it with Torataro's surname. Godfrey mishears it as "Johnwa Kobayashi" and seems to buy it despite how ridiculous it sounds. Holmes even lampshades it, revealing he was listening in.
  • Summation Gathering: In "Jack the Ripper", Sherlock gathers the rest of the detectives regarding the true identity of Jack the Ripper.
  • Shown Their Work: The presence of (at least) an African man calling out to anyone passing him to go to a bar is actually correct. Foreigners working in Japan doing this are usually Africans in various wards where there are a lot of bars/clubs.
    • Sherlock using a sensu (paper fan) as part of his rakugo sketch since it's a required item. But he doesn't use a tenugui (small cloth), although it's the other required item to do rakugo sketches.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sugimoto's henchman Potter is seen selling a Kabukinger Z model in "Kobayashi the Man, Giving It His All".
    • The deserted theater in "That Woman's Pad" has a movie poster that resembles Sean Connery-era James Bond movie posters.
    • The band The Momotaros wear costumes based on the characters of Momotarō.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The six detectives at Pipe Cat compete with each other to solve each case, and most of them resort to spying and sabotage to keep ahead of the others. But at the end of the day, they're all good friends with each other.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In "Wife Looks Into the Future", the Morstan siblings are detained by Adler's bodyguards while trying to go inside her house to look for the USB drive. They were never seen again for the rest of the episode as they're locked up in jail after they were passed into police custody.
    • In "Jack the Ripper", Watson punches Sherlock on the face after he found out that he's being manipulated and used as bait to lure Kyogoku and find the real Ripper.
    • "No More Nyan-Nyan" has Moriarty apprehended by the TMPD for his role in killing Maki once she's revealed to be Jack. No civilized society will tolerate anyone going after a bad guy on their own, since he brought justice to Alexandra's murder by killing the serial killer instead of calling in law enforcement.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "That Woman's Pad" seems to be a lighthearted episode since one storyline involves Kyogoku trying to confess his feelings to Maki. But the other storyline involves Jack the Ripper going after Irene and it ends with Irene dying and Watson suspecting Moriarty as Jack because no one knew about Irene's hideout except himself and Sherlock.
    • "Jack the Ripper" reveals that James is the late Alexandra Moran's twin brother, making him the son of Mayor Sebastian Moran, and he wants to find Jack the Ripper in order to avenge Alex's death. The Ripper turns out to be Maki who drugged and manipulated Kyogoku into getting the USB drive. After Sherlock and Watson confront the Ripper, James beats her and slashes her throat, though not before the Ripper tells him that Moran wants him dead and he hired the Ripper to kill his son except that Alex died in his place. And the most tragic part? James kills the Ripper in front of his detective friends and crushes the USB drive, destroying all the evidence connected to Mayor Moran and the Ripper.
    • "Lots of Animals" looked like a calm episode where Sherlock, Moriarty, and Watson investigate the deaths of some zoo animals until the second half of the episode where one of the zookeepers was murdered by three crazed fangirls of Momotaros (the band that Sherlock, Moriarty, and Watson investigate in a previous episode). After the three girls confessed that they want the main trio to pay for disbanding their favorite band, they flee from the scene only to be cornered by Moriarty. By the time Sherlock arrives to apprehend the girls, he watches in horror when the girls utter another strange code and burn themselves to death while Moriarty watches on in a very disturbingly calm manner. Meanwhile, the media has published a story regarding Mayor Moran's connection to Jack the Ripper.
    • "The Curtain Rises on the Grand Guignol" reveals that Moriarty is behind the suicides of the escaped inmates and he did this for his amusement and for Sherlock to solve all of it. He also helped Albert assassinate a VIP that Sebastian knows, via IED attached to the car.
    • "Moriarty Savors" is possibly one of the most shocking in the entire show: Moriarty is indeed a disturbed child who committed Matricide. Alex's death and his killing of the Ripper slowly brought the worst out of him. Then, Moriarty kills his father and everybody in the Moran mansion except Mycroft, kidnaps Lucy Morstan and forces her sister, Mary, to kill Watson in exchange for her sister's freedom. The episode ends with Watson slowly bleeding to death while Mary tearfully apologizes to Sherlock on the phone.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In "Where is He?", the VTY CEO introduces her secretary to Watson and Mary with the name Tetsuo Isshiki, who happens to be the same Isshiki who was jailed for poisoning his wife and had treated Moriarty in the infirmary when he was bullied by his prison mates. The fact that he was released from prison two episodes ago and later appeared as one of the ringleaders of a Ponzi scheme looks very suspicious.
    • Near the end of "The Thread Where We Talk About Yeast", Watson reunites with Sherlock only to find him holding a bloody knife and the kidnapper dead. What's worse is Sherlock smiling and giggling.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Jack the Ripper mocks James about his twin sister's death by telling him her last words.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: While attempting to infiltrate Irene's house, Kyogoku disguises himself as an old man who coughs blood in front of her house so that the maid would call for help. Unfortunately for him, Watson is in the vicinity and because he's a doctor, he tries to help him. The gambit falls apart when Irene sees through Kyogoku's disguise and orders her guards to kick him out.
  • Wretched Hive: Kabukichō itself. According to Watson, he calls it a "city of chaos".


Video Example(s):


A city of chaos

John Watson has a few words about the state of Kabukicho once he crosses through the underground passage between the West and East side of Shinjuku.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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