Today’s anime is one I could easily foresee being much higher on my list had it come out earlier in the year and I’d already seen the entire run. It’s because I’m a very easy mark for the source material, and seeing it mixed up in this way is a great pleaser. As are nearly all interpretations of these characters are for me. So much so that I cracked out my old book of the original stories for some bedtime reading. Although that’s more like early morning for me at the moment.
#5: Moriarty the Patriot
Originally aired 11th October to Present | 24 Episodes | Based on the Manga by Ryosuke Takeuchi | Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Like was the case with Deca-Dence, this was an anime I came very close to missing out on. Only actually deciding to pick it up at the last minute turned out to be one more lucky decision for me. Although this one should be a little less surprising considering I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, so I should have fully expected to love this series right from the start. I guess I just didn’t put two and two together upon seeing the title. Some detective I’d be.
As of the time of writing this, I’m up to the 10th episode. And while the series might not even be halfway done at this point, having seen what I’ve already seen, I already feel pretty confident about my placement because I really like this anime.
As the title would suggest, Moriarty the Patriot is a new interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes story, this time from the perspective of his greatest rival and series antagonist: Professor James Moriarty. Although this version of the character is a little different from the original, twisted old man we know of from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
This Moriarty is a pretty anime boy, as are all the characters in the series, one with a more altruistic streak when it comes to helping the poorer and downtrodden people of Great Britain against the evil ruling classes of the nation. The first handful of episodes work to introduce us to this character of Moriarty and how he came to be the criminal consultant that we know him as.
Part of the reason I enjoy this series so much is the dark, gothic tone a lot of the stories can take. Moriarty has gathered this cult of personality around himself to help him pursue his goal; which just so happens to be the gruesome murder of any and all members of the aristocracy who abuse their position and the people they deem lesser than them.
Despite his dark and sinister actions, there is something very earnest about his desire to help those around him, all in order to make England a better place. It makes him seem more like an anti-hero than a true villain. Although if he simply were some kind of cerebral version of the Punisher, the story would only be so compelling to me.
While Moriarty does wax lyrical about how his dream is to balance the scales and eliminate the class system entirely, there is no doubt he gains some perverse pleasure from his actions, given his ongoing insistence of being present when his victims are about to meet their end, coupled with his need to make that sinister smile that lets them know exactly who is responsible.
It’s this that really turns him from a pure anti-hero and makes him into more of a highly charismatic villain that you can’t tear your eyes from. It was just when I was starting to wonder how long it would be until I’d start to turn against Moriarty and his self-indulgent ways when the series makes a pretty aggressive turn and shifts focus. At the 6th episode, we’re introduced to the anime version of Sherlock Holmes, who seemingly goes on to hijack the series from his rival and become the new lead character.
Not that I’m complaining, because I really like this interpretation of Sherlock, and he’s honestly a more compelling lead than Moriarty is given the nature of his personality and his position as the person solving the mysteries rather than laying these intricate webs of malice and murder. When Moriarty is on screen, you can’t tear your eyes away, because he’s able to simultaneously play a situation, while managing to avoid Sherlock from suspecting him. If anything, the two seem to have devolved a little intellect crush on one another.
As the series has gone on and the rivalry between Moriarty and Sherlock has been established, I get the distinct impression that this relationship is going to become the driving force for the series. Almost to the detriment of Moriarty’s own plans. I talked about the importance of the rival in anime a few weeks back, which you can read here. But based on where I’m at in the series right now, I get the impression that Sherlock is the first person to excite Moriarty on an intellectual level.
And now he can’t help but challenge this man, in a compulsion I would equate to the Riddler from Batman. There’s an almost homoerotic excitement between the two when they meet for the second time. And while Sherlock is non the wiser as to the identity of this “mastermind” right now, I feel that Moriarty will end up being the architect of his own demise eventually in his need to pursue this “relationship”.
I love the setting, the dark tone, this series interpretation of the characters and the mystery driven narratives that each episode is generally based around. In short, this is a pretty great anime interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes story, and as massive fan of the source material, I have a lot of time for this series, even in this early stages. So expect to hear from me talking about this series a bit more in the future.