(This review was previously posted on another blog. It is my own work, I own the rights to this piece.)
B: The Beginning
Anime series: 12 episodes
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi
Streaming Service: Netflix
If you like Psycho-Pass, this hidden banger is for you.
Over the weekend on Netflix, the much hyped Voltron: Legendary Defender was making its return with season 5. In the all the hype of that, I feel this anime, which also debuted the same day, got lost in the sauce. But that’s why I’m here fam! Let me catch you up to speed with this hidden-not-so-hidden gem on Netflix called B: The Beginning.
B: The Beginning is about a genius detective named Keith Flick making his return to the Royal Police force, the RIS, after a long hiatus. As he returns, a “legendary” serial killer known as serial killer “B” or Killer B (on their social media) emerges and is making a statement. After B kills their target or victims, an etched out symbol that looks like a B with 4 tick marks is drawn or formed somehow at the scene of the crime.
While it may appear that the main focus of this story should be about the killer, which it is in its own way, the story also follows Keith as he works through another mystery that deals with yet another serial killer that sits right under our noses. Pretty early on, actually in the first episode, you find out who B is and you learn Keith knew as well and he wasn’t too concerned. Who B is in terms of the killings that got them famous is the least important part of the story. It’s the why they did it, the separate storyline that goes along with it, and how that all ties in with Keith is where the money is. The jumping back and forth between mythical, almost biblical lore and modern science gone wrong is amazing and keeps each episode fresh and makes you want to know who is B and if they’re an ally or the enemy. To avoid spoiling it and ruining a pretty good mythical lore, I’m not going to talk about B. Even though you find out practically in episode 1 and 2, who they are…I’m going to leave that for you guys.
B: The Beginning is a product of the amazing production company, Production I.G; who have given us bangers like Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell, FLCL, Kimi ni Todoke, Sengoku Basara, and so many more that I highly recommend. So it wasn’t a surprise that the quality of the animation and storylines were top notch. Before you start to think I’m overhyping something, and I can promise you I’m not, this anime series was pure brain candy. This psycho-triller, get deep into your cerebral, anime knows how to pull their viewers out of what they THOUGHT they knew and into the mind of a cunning detective. After watching a lot of anime series that are either magical like The Ancient Magus Bride or full of action like Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens, I was in the mood, maybe a need, for a series that would get my brain working.
Every now and then it’s nice to jump into a series that makes you feel like you’re on top of the mystery when you’re actually about 5 steps behind. One of my favorite things about this series was Keith and how his mind works. He’s not your Detective Cohan in how he solves mysteries in a comical and know-it-all kind of way. He is pretty intense and straight forward in his approach. He has needs to write things down and solve things out in a mathematical fashion. He draws and writes out mathematical equations on everything and doesn’t care if he ruins your expensive computer monitor or the walls of a room in his apartment. A fun feature in the anime is how they incorporate his thought process on the screen. Text or diagrams would just appear as he works a crime scene or things over a mystery, allowing us the viewers to peer in on his train of thought and figure out things we might’ve missed. Even though the series focuses mostly on B and Keith, you have other highlighted lead characters like Lily Hoshina, another cop on RIS who is pegged as someone who is on the same line of thinking as Keith. This isn’t to say that she doesn’t play an important role in this story, she adds the humanity and comedic relief that you don’t get from Keith. She works out mysteries similarly to him and it’s clear she has a long way to go before she is on par with him, but she is the closest person on the team who could meet him somewhat at the middle.
One of the things I truly appreciated about the series was the attention to detail and how things that seemed random weren’t peculiar at all. Even the symbol had a double meaning! A few episodes into the series, Keith is referred to as Canopus. Of course the anime explains why he is called that but I had to look it up and it blew my mind. Canopus is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Carina and the second brightest star in the night sky. In terms of navigation, this star is used as a southern pole star. It’s meant to guide those who want to head in a certain direction or to get their bearings. That explains exactly the role and purpose of Keith in this anime.
Keith has to deal with his own issues and a crime that has plagued him for 8 years. We see him confront that crime yes, but he also serves a pivotal role for those around him. For Lily, he is like a mentor. In his own…stoic way, he pushes her to think outside of the box a bit and see things from his eyes; he helps her strengthen her skill-set. In turn, she helps him confront feelings and thoughts he tries so desperately to block out and has done so for 8 years, if not longer. For B, he is almost a father figure, in a way replacing the one B lost or rather…picking up where their previous guardian left off. Giving B what he has learned over the years, as an intellectual or just as a man who has been through the ringer, he helps B grow and develop into a person we can relate to on some level and learn to emphasize with. Not too often you find yourself showing sympathy or empathy for someone who kills people.
As I said before, every now and then it’s nice to step into a well thought-out series that takes you out of your element and truly immerses you into the world that they have created. B: The Beginning is the kind of series you watch when you’re in the mood for something that feels bigger than you with a plot that doesn’t follow fun tropes and mainstream genres. If you want something fast pace, this isn’t for you. This is the kind of anime you binge knowing that each episode is going to cause you to fall deeper and deeper into something you weren’t prepared for. Even though this series was only 12-epsiodes long, each episode banging out an average of 26 minutes of psycho-thriller, it felt a lot longer and heavier than I could ever imagine. And I loved it.
4.8 Scuffy faced Keiths out of 5
P.S: There is a Marvel-style end credit at the end of the last episode. STAY FOR THE CREDITS! DON’T PLAY YOURSELF! You’re welcome.