The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple

Title: Agatha Christie’s Great Detectives Poirot and Marple aka Agatha Christie no Meitantei Poirot to Marple
Genre: Drama
Company: Oriental Light and Magic
Format: 39 episodes
Dates: 4 Jul 2004 – 15 May 2005

Synopsis: Mabel West, daughter of Raymond West, has an exceptional great-aunt. Miss Jane Marple may be elderly, but she understands people better than most and has become known as a local mystery solver. While visiting London with her father, Mabel also meets Hercule Poirot, a well-respected private investigator. She convinces him to hire her as his assistant as she strives to learn about the detective business. Between Poirot and Marple, she will have lots of opportunity.

The Highlights
Mysteries: Very faithful to the originals.
Mabel: Surprisingly not that intrusive, even with her duck.
Poirot: Sharp but dull.
Creativity: Lacking.

“There is no unsolvable mystery. Truth shines on me!” So says the famous detective Hercule Poirot, one of the most well known characters of 20th century literature. Not too far behind him is Agatha Christie‘s other insightful investigator, the elderly Jane Marple. So which one should be the star of the anime series? Neither of course. The choice is obvious really. It has to be the girl and her duck! To her credit, Mabel is actually quite smart and sweet and does her duty of tying together the two real stars without having too much of an effect on the well-established stories. A pretty standard sub-plot about her growing up is established, but only mentioned a few times.

The episodes, featuring a mixture of novels and short stories written by Christie, are very faithful to the source material. The short stories are told in one or sometimes two parts, while the novels are treated to three or four. The novels fare better, with enough time to flesh out the characters and create some real tension and suspense. The short stories didn’t manage to enthrall me the same way, though – being less well known, they are probably new to all except die-hard Christie fans. The best tales are “Sleeping Murder” and “The A.B.C. Murders”, which drew me in and showed the detectives at their best.

Miss Marple is exactly as she should be – unassuming, clever, observant and kind. Poirot, who is known for being an arrogant, self-absorbed little man in the novels, is portrayed as fatherly and warm in the anime. The Poirot who captured people’s attention was not a gentle and sweet man, but a blunt and frustrating genius more akin to Dr. House. This is the best example of what is wrong with the series. It’s bland. It cashes in too much on the quality and popularity of its source material. It doesn’t add anything new to the tales and dulls whatever bite it originally had (not that Christie stories were known for being gritty to begin with). Characters like Hastings, Inspector Sharpe and Miss Lemon, who have decent screen time, don’t have a lot of personality.

I would have loved if the creators had tried to create something more unique. There are already a thousand plays, movies and TV series based on Agatha Christie‘s work, plus the novels themselves. Just telling the story is not enough. Where is the atmosphere? Where is the artistic interpretation? The music is a bit repetitive, but OK. The animation is simple, but OK. The voice acting is OK. Nothing challenges the viewer or makes us see the stories in a new light. Even if it was meant to be accessible to a younger audience, that doesn’t mean it has to be plain. It’s a series that does nothing badly, but nothing exceptional.

For a time, when I was around 12, I read nothing but Agatha Christie novels. As a fan, it was nice to reconnect with old stories and characters. I enjoyed the series, but given the option, I would rather curl up with the book.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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