The actual title of this week’s episode of Pretty Boy Detective Club is The Pretty Boy in the Attic. That’s a great title. It’s super silly and evocative. I would pick up a movie or book called The Pretty Boy in the Attic.
But I also wonder if it’s a nod to Edogawa’s Watcher/Stalker/Stroller in the Attic (it’s been translated in a lot of ways). I know it sounds like a bit of a stretch, the “in the attic” wording is very common. But we can’t deny just how influential Edogawa is on Japanese fiction and this is a detective series. I think it fits. I get excited about references like this. Don’t mind me.
The Pretty Boy in the Attic is starting out with what has to be one of my favourite premises. No qualifiers. A bunch of paintings, seemingly reproductions of 33 very famous paintings all show up but without any actual characters in them. Only the sceneries. No one knows who painted them or why and we have to figure it out. It’s a really great premise and perfect for a visual medium.
It’s also incredibly niche as a premise. This just doesn’t sound like it has the broadest appeal. It spoke to me though and I was fascinated!
And maybe I’m imagining things or maybe this was on purpose, but I think the backgrounds in this week’s Pretty Boy Detective Club were by far the prettiest and most detailed we have seen in the show. Dojima’s bedroom in particular but also the sun-drenched street and the school gates. Even the Pretty Boy’s club room looked a lot more interesting with all those paintings lined up against the stark white walls and furnishings. Then the red seats in the auditorium created a unexplainedly tense and aggressive visual background right at the end of the episode. Great stuff!
I actually wrote down notes on the backgrounds before the premise was even revealed so I have some hope it’s not just in my head.
The episode also had a lot more slapstick and accessible humour than past ones. And I like that they are mixing up the tone a bit. I think it keeps things fresh. We even got a whole new art style that reminded me of my childhood as it was reminiscent of Powerpuff Girls or Dexter’s Lab. Something that aired on Cartoon Network.
Of all the theories, I liked Hyouta’s best which I guess means I’m not suited to be a Pretty Boy Detective. But hey, if I was an artist who was great at backgrounds but sucked at portraits, I would also reproduce great pieces of art with only the backgrounds. It would show people how great scenery is! I do also like Yubiwa’s idea that there are 33 more paintings, which I assume would be the character-only canvasses. That sounds cool too. Not sure why anyone would do that but I would like to find out.
Involving the world of fine art in a show like Pretty Boy Detective Club is a natural fit and I’m surprised it took this long. I have a feeling it’s once again going to go into a ridiculous conspiracy that includes several governmental agencies and underground organizations. I like this show…
Halfway through the season and the one strong theme that I’m getting is beauty is in the eye of the beholder but it’s also a tangible and powerful thing. I like this theme. It updates the classic trope and allows for some grey to black morality to seep in.