B: The Beginning is a weird name for an anime. I mean, sure it makes sense part-way through the first episode, but it’s still odd. It’s a good thing the anime itself is damn good.
In B: The Beginning, the Royal Investigation Service of the Kingdom of Cremona get caught up in the usual hardline cop kind of stuff, like dealing with serial killers, conspiracies and all sorts of societal tomfoolery. The team however find themselves in the grip of a larger, more sophisticated crime syndicate that seem to know their every move. Adding complexity to the puzzle to the work is the continuing presence of a seemingly supernatural vigilante who marks his presence simply as “B”.
To get to the bottom of the situation, their leader, Eric, calls in his old mentor Keith Flick to help untangle the increasingly complex situation the team of detectives find themselves in.
I love a good detective/murder mystery/thriller production and it’s something that seems to have fallen out of popularity in recent years. In fact, I lamented the same thing when reviewing Cop Craft recently, so it’s kind of nice to have had two shows to review in close succession that take the cop drama from different angles.
Where Cop Craft chased the buddy cop model with an exploration on power, classism, racism and the challenges of a society divided over progressive or conservative shifts in structures and values with fantasy overtones, B: The Beginning is more an exploration of systemic political and bureaucratical corruption around the exploitation of supernatural sources of power and the use of sophisticated conspiracy agents.
It’s an interesting combination. The series generally does a great job on the detective drama despite leaning on some common ground for the genre (including the savant detective role for Keith), but what was surprising is the way they fold in the supernatural elements of the story. In the interest of not giving crucial plot elements away, the way it explores the character of B and the conspiratorial agents doesn’t break the rules of a good cop show too hard to trigger a hard disconnect in the story. It’s certainly a little out there and may struggle to work in a live action production, but it’s probably no more questionable than the first few seasons of Supernatural (based off memory mind – I don’t think I got around to watching that show beyond the second season and who knows where it’s gone by this point…).
What really helps are the core cast, both those in the police department and the conspirators. There’s interesting points of contrast and a degree of development, but nothing that will rock your foundations. Diving into B’s character over the course of the show is a really great payoff and starts earlier than I was anticipating which keeps the pace running along nicely.
Production IG’s behind B: The Beginning so it looks and sounds great. All those CG vehicles don’t come off as too wooden thankfully, and the animation style does an excellent job accommodating the range of personable humour from the detective team’s banter through to some amazingly brutal action sequences.
The local release of B: The Beginning is no slouch either. Encoding is rock solid, it’s bilingual and there’s some great bonus features that give great insight into the production – the Q&A with the director was surprisingly frank at times which can sometimes be difficult to coax out of Japanese creators on video and was well worth a look.
B: The Beginning is a great mash-up of hard boiled detective drama and supernatural conspiracy theory. Along with the excellent production values and a great local release there’s not a lot to fault here. Being a Netflix series hopefully we’ll see another season getting a physical release down the line (I’m still waiting for more Castlevania!) – fingers crossed!
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.