Bishounen Tanteidan (Pretty Boy Detective Club) is based on Nisio Isin’s light novel of the same title. It combines the trademark lengthy and surreal dialogues of its creator with a coming of age story and reverse harem elements. Perhaps you have watched the 2000s parody and reverse harem hit Ouran High School Host Club or are familiar with the older CLAMP School Detectives. Pretty Boy Detective Club follows their legacy and almost reads like a gender-swapped Bakemonogatari. We can tell that Pretty Boy Detective Club might not be for everyone, however that, precisely, is its charm. Let’s take a look into why we are enamored with the pretty boy detectives of Yubiwa Academy.
Beauty is Ephemeral
Playing games will stop at the second year of middle school, this is what Mayumi, our protagonist, believes. In fact, so many anime series are about 14-year-olds, because this is when Japanese students decide what to do in their lives, which high schools to apply for, something that will determine where to go for college and their later careers. Mayumi made a promise with her parents: unless she finds the shining star she saw as a child, she will have to give up on her dream of becoming an astronaut. She would have to give up on her young spirit and conform.
This is when the Pretty Boy Detective Club steps in, to help her find that star. The bishounen show Mayumi the importance of beauty, which, like being young, is ephemeral. Mayumi’s special eyesight, if overused, will be gone, so she will use it only to solve mysteries with the boys and preserve this special time in her heart.
Solving Mysteries Beautifully
Everything should be done beautifully otherwise it is not worth it. Manabu the Aesthete, leader of the club, lives by this ideal. Solving mysteries is taken very seriously by the club, despite their unconventional approach. Mayumi grows by watching the members’ methods and puts value in her own uniqueness, her eyesight, turning into Mayumi the Seer. It looks like each mystery they solve together will take up three episodes. In each storyline, there is a heavy focus on dialogue, with clever witticisms and playful banter between the characters.
Gender-bending in Pretty Boy Detective Club is not played for laughs or romance. It’s not really an issue, but more like a play with appearances. Mayumi presents as a boy (shounen, literally one of young age) to become an official club member. Manabu turns into a Hatsune Miku look-alike to present as a couple along with Mayumi in the first arc and they both look super cute!
All About Aesthetics
Produced by Studio Shaft, Pretty Boy Detective Club looks gorgeous. The night sky in the first arc (episodes 1-3) is truly captivating. The detailed backgrounds, the weird camera angles in the club room and later on in the casino, and of course, the boys’ designs, create an aesthetically pleasing result with a surreal twist.
Manabu the Aesthete, Hyouta the Adonis, Michiru the Epicure, Sousaku the Artiste, and Nagahiro the Orator all look gorgeous and have a talent that is connected to a classical aesthetic ideal in living a good, worthy life.
Pretty Boy Detective Club is an idiosyncratic series with a cast of beautiful boys and an unconventional approach to solving mysteries. If you need a share of bishounen in your life, mysteries solved through beauty, and enjoy witty coming of age stories, Pretty Boy Detective Club is a must.
Have you watched Pretty Boy Detective Club yet? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments below and thanks for reading.