Woodpecker Detective’s Office Ep.5 – Springtime à la carte

That title is really very tenuously related to the episode. I mean themes of love and longing and young men’s fancies and all but really it’s very different story in a completely different style and setting. I’m still using it as a title. I’ve always quite liked it and if I can encourage one person to read (or reread) some O’Henry today I will consider it a good deed.

O’Henry always makes me happy. We can all use some happy. OOOHhh, brain maelstrom! There should be a Slice of Life anime adapting O’Henry’s short stries. That would be so adorable! How do I make it happen?

Sorry guys, I got over excited there. That seems to happen a lot doesn’t it? I really like O’Henry. In fact, I really like a lot of authors. This sort of betrays my bias for this show.

And just as I predicted, Woodpecker Detective’s Office is proving to be frustrating. At least to me. A decent first episode followed by a very strong second, a so-so third and forgettable fourth and now, a very odd choice that’s likely to appeal to a super specific niche. Or maybe just to me! I think a lot of viewers would have found episode 5 of Woodpecker somewhat boring and I don’t blame them. I really liked it.

Are your seatbelts on? We’re about to take a real sharp left turn here. I’ve been rambling on abut things I like so why break the trend. I really like Sound Euphonium. There is an episode in the second season I believe which is  the orchestra competition. There’s a bit of build up a few scenes between the leads but really, almost all of the episode is dedicated to watching them play. over 1 minutes of unbroken classical music with accompanying animation of kids playing instruments. That’s it. No cut away no drifting into some dreamscape no cutting the piece off after the intro. I considered this spectacular. To me, it was an achievement that I wouldn’t have been able to find elsewhere.

This episode of Woodpecker Detective’s Office reminded me of that episode of Sound Euphonium! Yes there was a bit of strife between Kyosuke and Ishikawa (what else is new?), and sure there were funny and sad little interludes of love bursting about here and there. But these love stories with competing suitors or unrequited feelings were all just a framing device for the show to deliver what was essentially a classical Japanese poetry recital. And boy was I impressed.

I’m sort of picky with poetry and usually prefer it in French. Some of these pieces were beautiful other’s went above my head. I really likes Ishikawa’s quote of “The smell of paper in Western books always makes me hunger for money“.  I know I put quotation marks there but I’m actually paraphrasing. I tried to find where that quote was from (it is in quotes in the episode so I thin it’s from something. As you probably guessed I couldn’t retrace it.

Anyways, my point is not so much that the poetry was beautiful, some of it certainly was but poetry is a very personal ting. Just like music. What is great to m is that a whole production team got together and said to themselves, our viewers are going to appreciate an entire episode of classic poetry. These are viewers that are going to give something different a chance even if it isn’t full of action and artifice. This tells me two things. That the production has faith in the audience and that someone on the team really likes poetry. And I find both of these ideas completely charming.

Of course there was a poem about cats. Japanese literature has a lot of cats in it.

We did get some story out of the episode as well. Mainly it was a fairly lighthearted affair with most of the supporting authors pining over a server at the regular izakaya trying out poem each other for her affections. I particularly liked how Nomura innocently asked if the young woman’s feelings should be taken into consideration just to be ignored by the rest and have it come back to bite them.

We even got introduced to Bokusui Wakayama who is apparently the best when it comes to poems about alcohol. Of course I had to look it up and as he seems to have drank himself to death (a depressingly common fate for literary types) I figure there is some truth to it. I read a number of his poems and liked them quite a bit. This is the only one I could find that directly relates to drinking:

Some distance away
thunder roars divinely
yet here rainless –
under crimson sunset clouds
I keep heating sake alone

Sheesh, if yo thought the episode was way too full of poetry for your taste, I’m not making it any better am I?

Here are my general thoughts. I seem to like this series best when Kyosuke and Ishikawa are arguing. I’m not sure why. Also, although I in fact like Ishikawa a lot, I think the series benefits when it doesn’t focus on him too closely. Having other characters pursue their own stories helped balance things out. He is a bit too  specific a personality type to always be onscreen.

Also, although Kyosuke is presented as the straight man and the adult in the room most of the time. He is in fact a total drama queen and it’s pretty funny when you think about it. During these 5 episodes, he’s thrown some type of mild tantrum  in 4 of them. Granted, in that time his best friend almost framed him for murder but really what do you expect by picking someone like Ishikawa as a best friend.

The only actual crime happened (maybe) at the very end of the episode. We  didn’t get to see much but I thin it was a murder. From the few images there that’s what it looked like. Also it’s always murder in this show. Actually I should have just lead with that. It’s murder cause it’s always murder….

Well let’s see what they do next. Maybe a deeply offensive episode?

Woodpecker Detctive's Office ep5 (51)

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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6 Responses

  1. I love O’Henry too! My favorites are “The Gift of the Magi”, “The Last Leaf”, and “The Ransom of Red Chief.” (“The Last Leaf” had me close to crying in American lit class which would have been an utter catastrophe.)

    “Sound! Euphonium” is one of those anime that I keep hearing is really great. When I tried watching it, I couldn’t get past the “underperforming high school band trying to reach for the heights” trope. Is it something I just need to choke down the first episodes in order to enjoy?

    OTOH, I worship “Liz and the Blue Bird.” Three levels of interpreting the same fantasy in the same movie. Absolutely stunning.

    • Irina says:

      I felt Liz and Euphonium were very similar…. Bt if you didn’t like it I wouldn’t choke anything down. PLenty of other anime out there.

  2. Dawnstorm says:

    How often will this show kill women for drama? I wonder if that’s really what happened. The ending was quite cryptic.

    I did like the poetry scene, but I’m getting a little tired of Kyousuke/Ishikawa. I’m not really getting into the show on the whole, but they do reliably provide good moments that make it a worthwhile watch.

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