Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Anime Review

The Essentials

Nijuu Mensou no MusumeName: Nijuu Mensou no Musume; Daughter of Twenty Faces; Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Fantasy
Episodes: 22
Aired: April 12, 2008 – September 27, 2008
Based On: Characters created by Edogawa Rampo
Director: Nobuo Tomizawa
Produced By: Bones
US Distribution By: Not Licensed

Cast

Character Japanese Cast English Cast (N/A)
Chizuko “Chiko” Mikamo: Aya Hirano
Twenty Faces: Yuya Uchida
Ken: Masaya Matsukaze
Tome: Satomi Arai
Shunka Koito: Rina Satou
Detective Akine: Masanori Takeda
Akechi: Kenji Hamada
Nozomi Kayama: Miyuki Sawashiro

Review

Nijuu Mensou no Musume, a.k.a. The Daughter of Twenty Faces a.k.a. Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief, is the story of Chiko Mikamo, a young girl who is slowly being poisoned by her parents so that they can claim her parent’s inheritance, but who is rescued by the famous master thief “Twenty Faces,” who has been given the name due to the fact that it is said that “no one has seen his real face.”

Chiko, who was already enamored with the stories of Twenty Faces’ heists, gladly goes with him and his gang as they travel around the world, pulling off heists, stealing valuable objects from people who gained them through less-than-honest means and return them to their “proper” owners or to places like museums.  This includes the “Anastasia Ruby” which is the Mikamo family heirloom whom Twenty Faces returns to Chiko.  Along the way, Chiko trains with all the members of the groups until she is a very skilled fighter.

This lasts until one day, a rival gang, who wants to steal the treasures Twenty Faces has collected to keep for themselves, attacks and wipes out Twenty Faces’ gang, seemingly killing Twenty Faces as well, and once again leaving Chiko to return to her parents.  However, she and a detective named Akine who befriends her still believe Twenty Faces is alive and they both separately seek out Twenty Faces, learning about his terrible past along the way.

The first quarter for so of Nijuu Mensou no Musume – the part of the series where Chiko was traveling around with Twenty Faces and his gang – was very good, and perhaps could have vied for best series of the year had that story line kept going.  However, when that story arc ended, the series switched to a series of weird story arcs which were seem more suited in a science-fiction or fantasy story than in a historical drama.  If one has ever seen the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, it has a little bit of that flavor to it, though this series is overall better than that movie in my opinion.

I think the new fantasy-like story arc was able to hold it’s own for a while, though I think it started wearing thin after a while, with the series ending more in a sputter than in a bang for me.

The animation was pretty good, though I’m not sure it’s good enough to warrant getting a perfect score, and the same goes for the music.  As this isn’t licensed yet, there is no English dub to score.

Overall, I give this series a 4 out of 5, which is more of an average between the 5/5 I’d give the first third of the series, the 4/5 I’d give the middle third, and the 3/5 I’d give the final third.  I think the show is still a worthy watch, but the more it decided to go the “weird” route, the more disappointed I became with it.

Scores

Story: 4/5
Animation: 4/5
Music: 4/5
English Dubs: N/A

Overall: 4/5

First Watched: April 2008 – February 2009
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes

Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 22 [END]

It’s (finally) Nijuu Mensou no Musume episode 22. It’s been 3 years since the incident in Tokyo, and the Detective Girls are able to reunite for one final mission.

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Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 21

It’s (finally) Nijuu Mensou no Musume episode 21 and Chiko and Twenty Faces try desperately to stop the professor before this experiment destroys all of Tokyo.

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Top 10 Anime of 2008

It’s that time of year again…time to rank the top 10 shows of 2008.  Of course, the usual caveat: this only includes shows which I watched, which this year was only about 20, so it was a kind of slow year for me.  Nevertheless, this list still boasts a pretty impressive list of shows.

10. Birdy the Mighty: Decode

Birdy the Mighty Decode LogoIsn’t it every boy’s dream to have easy access to a female body?  Well, Tsutomu in theory is living that dream, except the girl is in control of the body because she accidentally destroyed his.  Oops!  What results is a mix of action and comedy which is pretty well executed all told, with Tsutomu frequently getting freaked out by Birdy’s alien ways.

Two things held this series back: animation, which wasn’t exactly top-notch, and the fact that, after Tsutomu gets his body back, they find away in the end to make him and Birdy share bodies again.  I guess Tsutomu just thinks that he can be immortal as long as Birdy is there to absorb him whenever he takes a notion to destroy his body.  The one minus that this sets up is that it implies that the gimmick of them changing bodies is the only real draw of the show, and the writer’s belief that they can’t have a successful show without that gimmick.  I’m not sure that bodes well for the second season, but that doesn’t necessarily impact this season all that much.

9. Kurenai

KurenaiKurenai ekes into the top 10 list by doing a reasonably good job at two things: writing and animation.  Perhaps the best part of this series is watching the struggle and growth of the characters as they have to adapt to new environments, particularly Shinkuro, who is trying to find his true strength, and Murasaki, who has to adapt to living out in the “real world” now, all while having a powerful family chasing after them.

However, this show has a few weaknesses as well.  First, the show’s conclusion in a sense made a compromise with the devil – accommodating an evil family which probably shouldn’t be accommodated in the least, taking the air out of a lot of what everyone was fighting for and protecting throughout the show.  Second, I think overall this series, despite it’s overall good writing, missed some chances to turn Kurenai from simply a good series into a great series.  The theme music, particularly the opening theme, also didn’t seem to match the show at all and just seemed kind of weird.  However, overall it was still a pretty good show.

8. The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka

The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka logoThe mantle of “Otaku Show of the Year” probably goes out to The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka this year as there are anime references galore, as well as every otaku’s dream:  A girl otaku. A hot girl otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku who likes you because you don’t shun her once you discover her secret of being an otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku who likes you because you don’t shun her once you discover her secret of being an otaku and who likes to cosplay as Shana.  I mean, can it get any better than that?

I guess one of the nice things about this show, as opposed to something like, say, Lucky Star, is “normal people can be otaku too.”  However outwardly odd Konota is in Lucky Star is how outwardly normal Haruka is in Secret.  Yes, she illicitly sneaks off to Akihabara every now and then, but overall she’s your normal high schooler.  Of course, the series is also hilarious on top of all of this too.  The main problem is that it’s a little thin in the plot department, but given that the purpose of this series is to have fun, and I had fun watching it, it goes into the top 10 list.

7. Shion no Ou (2nd half)

Shion no OuThe conclusion of Shion no Ou dealt with the big shogi tournament being sponsored by Satoru, Hani-meijin’s brother, from the start of the final state of the tournament where the 9 bracket winners plus 3 of the bracket runner-ups face off in a 12-person bracket to determine the winner of the tournament.  As a result, a few of the games played last through multiple episodes, but the writers are able to keep the show interesting nevertheless.  Increasing the attention on solving the mystery of who solved Shion’s parents just adds more intrigue into the show as well.

The main weakness of this show is that, if watching people play shogi bores you to death, then this show may not be for you, as a lot of time is spent with the characters playing.  I thought that the show did a pretty good job keeping the episodes interesting despite this, but I can easily see if people disagree with that.  However, overall I thought the conclusion to Shion was pretty well executed.

6. Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Nijuu Mensou no MusumeI should note before starting: fansubs have only come out for 20 of 22 episodes.  However, I felt that it was complete enough that I could put it in the rankings.

Having said that, Nijuu Mensou is a show with a very good premise and animation.  It’s set in the mid-20th century – an era which you don’t see a lot of anime shows set in, so it is unusual in that aspect.  And Twenty Faces himself makes this series pretty compelling, to say nothing about Chiko, his all-but-adoptive daughter and title character.

Two things keep Nijuu Mensou from being a truly great show however: reuse of the “OMG Twenty Faces died! Oh, nevermind!” gimmick probably one too many times, and the fact that the series goes into stranger territory than I was expecting for the show.  Nevertheless, Nijuu Mensou still puts together a very solid performance.

5. Soul Eater (first 3/4)

Soul EaterSoul Eater is a very fascinating show.  It’s quite different from just about anything else, yet Bones is able to pull it off pretty well.  However, the thing that really drives Soul Eater is the wealth of unique characters.  While some of the character development is a little odd (Maka and Soul don’t seem to be very powerful for a pair to have almost created a Death Scythe – especially with only six Death Scythes existing the world, suggesting that it’s a very hard thing to accomplish), it is generally pretty good.  All three pairs are compelling in their own unique ways.

If I have one beef with this series (actually two), it’s that it veered off it’s original premise – gathering 99 kishin eggs and one witch’s soul – pretty quickly, and it has a bad habit of drawing things out to death (how many episodes did it take to get through the battle at Shibusen, anyway?)  However, all told, Soul Eater still puts in a very solid performance.

4. CLANNAD (2nd half) / CLANNAD: After Story (1st half)

CLANNADFor the second straight year, CLANNAD comes in at #4 in the list.  Since the first series of CLANNAD exited it’s “four-episodes-an-arc” mode and got more into mixing arcs or telling an overarching story, and since we got into CLANNAD: After Story which, until the lastest episodes, centered around more minor characters, this series has fallen in favor a little bit (though obviously not very much).

CLANNAD is still very much the class of both 2007 and 2008, and presumably will contend for a top spot on this list in 2009 as well.  We might not be in arcs for the main girls, but the storytelling is still pretty good, if not a little slow going at this point, which is why it only comes in 4th on the list.

3. Toradora! (1st half)

Toradora!The choice between 2nd and 3rd was very close, and I think the fact that Toradora was in it’s first half while the 2nd placing show was in it’s concluding half was the main reason why Toradora came in at #3.

Toradora is a very, very good show – one which I think may challenge for the #1 spot in 2009 if they keep up what they’re doing in the first half into the 2nd half of the show.  While Toradora has a somewhat familiar flavor – it is, afterall, essentially a slice-of-life harem show – there is still something about it and (especially) it’s characters which makes it different, and a lot better than shows that it might be compared to.  It pulls off good drama and comedy almost simultaneously and still gets in some good character exploration and storytelling to boot.

2. Shakugan no Shana II (2nd half)

Shakugan no ShanaThe first half of this show didn’t even grace the top 10 list in 2007, just to show how far it came in the second half of the series.  We started with Pheles, then moved to Sabrac, then on to the Bal Masqué’s ultimate plan at the end.  There was hardly time to breathe and Shana and friends moved from one major confrontation to the next, making the second half of Shakugan no Shana II one of the best action shows in quite a while, not just 2008.

1. ef – a tale of melodies

ef - a tale of melodiesImproving on it’s sibling’s 3rd place finish last year, ef – a tale of melodies was nothing short of epic.  And to think that 40% of this show (the Kuze/Mizuki arc) was pretty dull, that just shows how good the other 60% of the show (the Yuu/Yuuko) arc was.  If the entire show was just that arc, ef – a tale of melodies would not only contend for best show of 2008, but also perhaps for best show, period.

This show had (almost) everything – romance, drama, shocking plot twists, and more.  You almost couldn’t help but me drawn into the show.  And the fact that the show isn’t afraid to put your heart at ease, only to tear it out in the next episode just makes this show all that much better.

12 Moments of Anime Day 5 – Twenty Faces of an Unexpected Twist

Perhaps one of the most under appreciated shows from 2008 is Nijuu Mensou no Musume a.k.a. The Daughter of Twenty Faces a.k.a. Chiko the Phantom Thief.  The thing about this show is that it appeared to be going on it’s merry way when, in episode 6, a huge twist threw the entire series into chaos:  Twenty Faces’ entire gang gets wiped out and Twenty Faces himself is presumed to have died.

The heat was on Twenty Faces in episode 6

My reaction to this episode was literally “holy shit” and this episode probably still stands out as the plot twist of the year so far for the shows that I’ve watched.  I was just stunned for a while after watching it, and if I was doing a “top 10 episodes of the year” countdown, this episode would almost certainly be on it, if not near the top.  This earns Nijuu Mensou episode 6 a spot in the 12 Moments of Anime.

The 12 Moments of Anime project is the brainchild of CCY.

Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 20

It’s Nijuu Mensou no Musume Episode 20, and Chiko, Twenty Faces, Ken, and Kayama continue to pursue the professor as he attempts to reactivate the broken tower.

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Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Omnibus: Episodes 15 – 19

This is an omnibus of 5 of the post-midway episodes of Nijuu Mensou no Musume, catching me up to where Live-Evil has released fansubs of this series. The series has finished airing, but only has 3 episodes left to be subbed.

In these episodes, Chiko has to deal with getting back to life as normal, though not for very long as her biggest challenge may have just shown up.

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Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 14

It’s Nijuu Mensou no Musume episode 14, and Ken and Chiko have to try to keep the blimp from crash landing into the city. Meanwhile, Tome confronts Chiko’s mother.

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Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 13

It’s Nijuu Mensou no Musume Episode 13. What are the white woman’s plans for Chiko? What is her relationship with Twenty Faces? And will the real Akechi please stand up.

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Nijuu Mensou no Musume – Episode 12

It’s Nijuu Mensou no Musume Episode 12, and Chiko is on her own again, this time with the white haired woman kidnapping Tome. Can Chiko rescue her on her own?

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