This is a spoiler-free review.
Occasionally I come across an anime from a fair while back that looks decent, but that I’ve never heard of before. So I give it a try. Sometimes shows like this flop; after all, if I’ve never heard of them there’s probably some reason behind that, right? However, sometimes the show proves decent and the experience overall is quite enjoyable. In these cases, I’m always at a bit of a loss as to why I had never heard anything before.
Himitsu: The Revelation doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything, but it’s interesting and fairly unique. It’s a fun and relatively engaging watch for the majority of its 26 episodes, and when it comes to finding a fun way to kill some free time that’s exactly what I look for.
The anime tells the story of the fictional Section Nine of the Japanese police, a small group of men and women who use a state-of-the-art MRI device to visually reproduce memories from the brains of deceased people. They use this technology primarily to tackle baffling murder mysteries that would be nigh-unsolvable without such insight.
Despite the plot-heavy sound of the premise, this anime is actually largely character-driven. There are multiple reasons for this, chief of which is that each murder case can only last for so long before content is exhausted and a new story needs to be introduced. Most cases last for only a single episode, with the occasional two-episode story giving variations in both length and complexity. While the stories themselves are intriguing (and are the primary focus of the show), they really serve as a vehicle to develop the characters, both independently and in their actions with other members of the team.
Which brings us to the characters themselves. Overall, I liked each of the major and minor protagonists as they were depicted, but with a few grains of salt. There aren’t many common archetypes in this cast, but that may be because they are all professional adults working in the same super-serious field. Because of this, many of them don’t feel all that different from one another. Take the two main female characters for example, Nanako Amaichi and Michiru Sendou. Effort is made in a couple of key episodes to distinguish the different thoughts, feelings and traits of each of these women, but at the end of the day their personalities and dispositions are so similar (and the differences so seemingly insignificant) that they don’t really feel like separate individuals. Minor male characters Yasufumi Okabe and Takashi Soga receive the same treatment. Add on top of that the somewhat classic shoujo bishounen Tsuyoshi Maki, who although he is distinctly his own individual seemed to cling more to his female viewer-targeted traits than actual complex character aspects.
Because of this, my favorite (and arguably the best) characters from this anime were the protagonist Ikkou Aoki and the computer wiz Onokida Hijiri. Aoki was definitely the most complex character in the series, the only character who developed significantly, and the person from whose perspective most of the events are depicted. Onokida, though not even a remotely complex minor character, was fun and actually had a distinct personality. Typically, every group scene where he had dialogue felt superior to the ones where he did not.
Let’s get some additional background out of the way. Himitsu: The Revelation is based off of a manga titled Himitsu: Top Secret that was serialized from 2001 through 2012. The anime aired across two seasons in 2008.
Anime that are based on a manga but that are aired before the manga’s completion have two options. The first and more common method is to include some degree of original content and eventually diverge from the manga plot entirely in order to reach a solid conclusion (Elfen Lied, Fullmetal Alchemist, Hellsing). The second method is to air only a portion of the manga’s content, postponing further anime seasons indefinitely at least until more content is available to be adapted (To LOVE-ru, Deadman Wonderland, Berserk). So, while the first option allows for a conclusion to an anime adaptation, it also requires additional original content, which is always a risk and often unpopular at least to fans of the original manga. The second option, though usually lacking any controversial original content, also has the problem of being incomplete. Additionally, in the cases where further continuations of the anime are never released, fans often end up feeling slighted (I’m looking specifically at Berserk here).
Himitsu: The Revelation follows the first pattern. Since I have not read the manga, I don’t know what percentage of the anime content is original, but some stuff in particular stands out. Certain facets of the conclusion, especially those rooted more in pseudo-science or bordering supernatural, leave a bad taste in my mouth. Events near the ending of the series feel quite rushed (the conclusion, and all necessary revelations related to it, occur only within the final two episodes), character interactions switch to feeling somewhat unrealistic and forced, and several questionable elements are introduced. And all of this culminates in a conclusion that’s not really a conclusion, because it forces the viewer to decide for himself/herself exactly how the story ended.
The art is good, in my opinion. It’s a fairly standard shoujo style, but uses darker, washed-out colors for a more realistic feeling, which I was especially fond of. The animation was good enough for the content (this show is not exactly packed full of fight scenes or anything) and no CG was used.
Sound was of similar high quality. All the voice actors did excellent jobs for their characters, and none of the minor characters were particularly grating or out-of-place feeling. The background music was a bit of a mixed bag; most of the time it helped the mood, but occasionally came across as too melodramatic and turned a serious moment somewhat comical or eye-rolling instead. The OP and ED themes were both nice, with neither ever breaking the mood of the series.
Overall Himitsu: The Revelation was an enjoyable experience that I would recommend to fans of mystery and police stories. The conclusion is lacking and some character interaction feels forced, but much of this is made up for with the interesting and concise stories.
A fair warning for the prospective viewer: this is not a lighthearted show. The majority of the cases and stories covered are murder mysteries, which can sometimes have the impact of being emotionally or psychologically disturbing. This fact is further exaggerated by the unique method of investigating used in the show: by watching the memories of a deceased person, usually the victim. In addition, the series contains a fair bit of blood and gore, so if you can’t stand such things I’d recommend giving this one some extra thought.
- intriguing mysteries, proper tone-setting
- mystery and police genres
- a good shoujo anime
- believable characters
- decent art and sound
- occasional melodrama, occasional forced character interaction
- forced, inconclusive conclusion
- inclusion of implied supernatural aspects
- annoying homoerotic undertones
Final MAL score is a 6.7/10, rounded to 7/10.