In/Spectre – How can a show with such a premise be so dull?

How can a series with a premise of being a cerebral focused, detective Yokai show be so boring. The elevator pitch for this show alone would have been enough to get me on board with bells on. But now we’re eight episodes in and hit the end of the first major story arc, the premise feels secondary to why I’m still watching this show.

There have been two major stories told in In/Spectre so far, the first involving our main character, Kotoko talking a big water spirit down from being all vengeful about someone dumping a body in their lake. I talked about that in my 3 episode rule article, the whole conclusion to the story amounted to Kotoko just making an educated guess and passing it off as fact.

I spoke before about how I had a bit of an issue with how little the events being hashed out seemed to matter to our main characters or the grander story being told. Then we moved onto a new story, one that seemed to have the three main characters already introduced playing an active role in creating a solution; the case of “Steel Lady Nanese”.

In/Spectre - How can a show with such this premise be so dull?

Again, the premise of this is all good. The vengeful spirit of a dead idol is going around with a steel girder causing havoc. Sounds good. Kotoko and Kuro are both present to try and put a stop to the yokai, but get mixed up with Saki; Kuro’s ex girlfriend who is now a police officer in the city.

Like with the first story, on paper this premise seems really cool. Coupled with the fact that the ghost is a spirit brought about by the power of believe, showing how internet culture can give urban legends a very real and dangerous power in this world. It’s like a combination of the Slender Man and the premise of Nightmare on Elm Street.

And with such a good premise, I am amazing at how painfully dull I’ve found the whole affair. Aside from the odd action scene every few episode, the vast majority of the show has been people sitting around and talking. I wrote a piece a while back about the problems with writing smart characters, about how shows like Dr. Stone misrepresent intelligence with precognition. Which is kind of ironic when the characters in this show literally can peer to and slightly alter the future.

In/Spectre - How can a show with such this premise be so dull?

In/Spectre kind of has the opposite problem, in that it focuses too much on procedural aspect of the show and dumps a lot of information onto you at a pretty relentless pace. Not knowing a lick of Japanese myself, I can’t fully appreciate the nuances of the acting, or even know if it’s good or not. Plus, if I really want to keep up and understand what’s happening I find myself having to go back and rewatch scene to make sure everything soaked into my brain.

Something I gave up doing these past three episodes.

The thing that has actually kept me watching the show this long are the characters, the weird dynamic between these three protagonists and their weird little love triangle thing they have going on that becomes a love quadrangle. Seeing them interact is giving me much more enjoyment than the actual plot of the show I’m watching.

In/Spectre - How can a show with such this premise be so dull?

One that got even more interesting when we got the introduction of Kuro’s cousin Rikkia in the most recent episode. Introducing her gave the villain a whole new relatable dynamic, esspecially considering Kuro seems to have a mini crush on her. Giving the villain a face, a personality and a connection to the main characters made the face off against the the steel lady something I could get invested in.

Then things came to a head and Kotoko ended up comparing her face off against Rikka as something akin to a parliamentary debate and it lost me again. I’m so torn about it, because when it’s about the characters, the melodrama intrigues me, but when they get into the action segments, the show has a unique ability to make the exciting feel dull.

I like how self assured and aloof to the craziness going on around her Kotoko is, and yet how flustered she gets around Saki when she shows up on the scene as a rival to her seemingly one sided love with Kuro. And yet Kuro himself seems even more detached and aloof than she is, seemingly not into her at all despite her continued insistence that she is his girlfriend. But actually gets flustered around Rikku.

In/Spectre - How can a show with such this premise be so dull?

Yet when Kuro and Kotoko are alone together, despite his lack of any lack of any outward emotion, he does care enough about her that it seems there is some mutual feelings between the two, and it’s not just Kotoko being some weird stalker. This is the stuff I like about the show.

I probably will stick In/Spectre out until the end, mostly for the characters and their designs, the animation and the killer opening and endings that I end up watching every time. Huh, when I list all those things, it makes the show seem pretty good actually. It’s just funny to me that a bit of melodrama and jealousy between characters is more interesting to than a story about a paranormal detective using an immortal precog to stop murderous ghosts. Man, I must be getting old.

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