The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

Title: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
Genre: Comedy
Company: J.C. Staff
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2010 – 23 Dec 2010

Synopsis: Sheryl, Nero, Elly and Cordelia are four popular students at Holmes Detective Academy and members of the Milky Holmes group. They solve many cases with the aid of their Toys, special powers that grant them abilities ranging from super strength to expert electrical manipulation. While trying to capture their nemesis, the Phantom Thief Arsène, the Milky Holmes detectives lose their ability to handle their Toys. The Student Council President strips the girls of their pampered lifestyle at Holmes Academy and forces them to regain their Toys or face expulsion.

The Highlights:
Tone: The first episode comes off as serious, but the series as a whole is quite bizarre.
Humor: The selfishness of the Milky Holmes girls is always funny, and the show’s strange quirks provoke great reactions.
Twenty’s extendable nipples: I don’t even know how to describe them.

Milky Holmes is an experience. I knew going in that it’s a strange comedy, but Milky Holmes operates in a level of reality rarely breached by most anime. This is a world with teachers who have extendable nipples, masochistic princes, and the ghosts of famous detectives. Holmes Detective Academy is ostensibly a school where detectives can sharpen their skills, but it’s more a world built exclusively to drive the Milky Holmes girls to madness. The strange and the terrible intersect to make everyday life miserable for the four protagonists, which forms the genesis for much of the show’s comedy.

The girls start off as Queen Bees in their school. Because they have the best powers, they get preferential treatment. Even when their powers disappear, the girls are so used to their pampered lifestyle that they don’t bother thinking about how to retrieve their Toys. Why does that matter when there’s delicious food to be eaten and luxurious beds to sleep in? The Milky Holmes quartet is not comprised of great people. They are selfish, bratty, entitled and dumb, incapable of doing anything without the aid of their powers. Their negative traits inform the darkness and nastiness of the show’s humor. Each scenario is concocted to grind the girls into the dirt just a bit more and bomb them from all sides with harsh reality to strip away the layers of awful behaviors that make them who they are.

This would probably be too mean-spirited after a while if Milky Holmes didn’t exist in a distinctly cartoonish reality. When Sheryl tries to make friends with a bear and is promptly swatted away, she bounces back rather quickly. When three of the girls find themselves in a jail cell and gorge themselves on bananas to the point where they swell like balloons, they’re totally fine the next episode. The expert slapstick softens the cruelties the girls endure just enough so that it’s actually amusing rather than terrifying.

Milky Holmes doesn’t find humor only in pummeling its protagonists, however. There are a number of strange scenarios in which the girls find themselves throughout the series. My favorite is in episode six, where a princess who looks exactly like Sheryl wishes to switch lives with her for a day. The princess gets to spend a day with Sheryl’s friends (who promptly mock her for being so emotional about spending time with people), while Sheryl meets the masochistic prince to whom the princess is betrothed and gets a little into indulging his kinks. In another episode, the girls get trapped in a dream world while trying to nurse someone back to health. Milky Holmes is deft at mixing its comedy so that there’s never too much or too little cruelty inflicted while producing a host of funny scenarios.

As a whole, the cast is amusing. They have their main traits: Sheryl is dumb as a brick, Elly is shy to the point of crippling social anxiety, Cordelia easily falls into delusion, and Nero is selfish and impulsive. These traits are balanced and well utilized; in the wrong hands they could quickly become stale, but one of the strengths of the writing is that it takes full advantage of the girls’ quirks for comedy. That’s the thing with Milky Holmes — its sheer lunacy makes it appear as if the creators are pulling things out of nowhere, but there’s a level of craft and care that’s easily noticeable if you know where to look. Milky Holmes is the type of comedy anime needs more of.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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