Spoilers are more scared of you that you are of them.
I have a list of anime series I want to watch, but sometimes I just see another series and just jump into completely blind. That was the case of In/Spectre. It was not in my plans, but I just got into it. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting and it’s going to be a bit challenging explaining it without giving it all away. It’s not a roller-coaster ride. It’s not a slice-of-life. You’ll see.
In/Spectre is an anime adaptation by Brain’s Base studio, directed by Keiji Gotoh and based on the novel by Kyo Shirodaira. Iwanaga Kotoko is a young girl who lost an eye and a leg. She has been approached by the Yokai (a class of supernatural apparitions in Japanese folklore) to be their Goddess of Wisdom. She runs into Sakuragawa Kuro, a university student visiting his cousin. When she runs into him years later, she lets him know she’s going to enter the same university he is in and she will be his girlfriend from now on.
Iwanaga (they refer to her by her surname, as she doesn’t like her first name) is quirky and eccentric but rather smart. She acts as a mediator for the Yokai, often solving problems that spill into the mortal world. She enlists Kuro, who tokenly has already rejected her but passively lets himself be dragged into her world. She also ends up enlisting his ex-girlfriend Yumihara Saki, who has a job in the police department. Kuro and Saki look a lot older than Iwanaga, and the way she dresses she looks like she’s coded younger still. The show does make a point to say she’s older than she looks, but it feels awkward sometimes.
It’s hard to set it on a specific genre. It’s a supernatural thriller that mixes up fantasy, horror, action, crime and some lighter comedic moments. It can be very violent and tragic but shy about full gore, although blood is spilled quite a bit. The yokai themselves can sometimes embody comedy, tragedy and horror at the same time. Iwanaga herself can be a bit of a contradiction, capable and vulnerable at the same time but always smarter that she lets on. Kuro harbors a few secrets that I will not spoil here. Saki after being introduced acts as the audience’s surrogate.
It’s going to be an acquired taste for sure, as you will start watching the show expecting something and find yourself discovering the dynamic as the first episodes uncover the main players. When a major case starts to develop we see exactly how smart Iwanaga can be as she uses all the abilities of the team to bring out and defeat the mastermind behind a series of attacks that eventually result in someone’s death. Some audiences might like the detective brainstorming process, some might be bored by it.
Recommended with reservations. If you want to experiment with an anime that is more of a slow burn that mixes up horror and detective work, it might be up your alley as long as you’re willing to wait for the payback. Horror wise, it’s more about rising the stakes than actually endangering its main cast. However, once you learn what Kuro’s nature is, it’s hard to be concerned for him. As for romance, Kuro hardly takes Iwanaga seriously while Iwanaga constantly feels threatened by Saki spending time with Kuro. At the end of the day, the theme changes might leave the show feeling a bit unfocused, so it comes down to how interesting you find the cast of characters and whether you’re game to see where the show goes.
That will do for now.