One of Anime’s Few Legal Thrillers
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Mystery, Psychological, Thriller
- Airing Date : October 7, 2019 – January 28, 2020
- Producers : Revoroot
Based on the novel series by Mado Nozaki, Babylon is one of the very few legal thrillers in the world of anime. Tokyo’s neighboring areas of Hachioji, Machida, and Sagamihara have formed the experimental semi-independent state of Shiniki. Despite its special status, many preexisting political parties in Japan are throwing their hats in the ring to gain a seat in its executive and legislative branches of government. In the midst of these elections, Zen Seizaki, an accomplished prosecutor, has to investigate a pharmaceutical company for falsifying data on one of their drugs. As Seizaki’s partner Fumio pursues a lead in the investigation, he is found dead by suicide the following morning. Refusing to believe that Fumio committed suicide, Seizaki continues the investigation as it leads him to something bigger beyond what he was initially assigned to as it could affect the entire world.
1. Addressing Suicide
What this anime does an excellent job of portraying is the issue of suicide. While it’s a major problem in Japan, it still happens everywhere else in the world. This anime best addresses the debate on suicide in episode 6. Babylon succeeds not at explaining the moral argument, but how it negatively affects the economy and society. Ultimately, Nozaki, one of the politicians arguing against legalizing suicide, uses the human factor as to why it would never work. He brings up that when people consider or actually commit suicide, they’re not in any clear state to think for themselves. However, Itsuki, the politician in favor of suicide, feels that by legalizing it, it could reduce suicides (like how legalizing marijuana reduced crime in some places that took such measures) and encourage people to talk about it more openly as opposed to hiding it.
2. Japanese Legal System
During the broadcast of Babylon, the controversies surrounding former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was all over the news in Japan. Then during the 2019-2020 holiday season, he fled Japan because he felt how unfair the system was to him. While Babylon glorifies the Japanese legal system, it does demonstrate some of its flaws in very unconventional ways to make Seizaki more heroic. For example, in episode 6, Seizaki abuses his authority in an attempt to kidnap Itsuki. While he does get support from his colleagues and some of the authorities, without going through proper channels such as getting a warrant, he’s violating basic human rights. Sadly, this is kind of what the Japanese legal system is like to some degree based on those who have experienced it first hand.
3. Japan’s Political System
Like many other nations’ governments, Japan’s is also unique. Unlike America, Japan’s Communist Party actually has a presence in its government at the local and national levels, and the anime portrays that! In addition to Japan’s Communist Party, other major parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party and Japan’s Democratic Party are also portrayed in Babylon. While America’s Democratic and Republican parties have been at each other’s throats for the past 150 years, Japan’s numerous political parties can be competitive but know when to work together, which is also masterfully portrayed in episode 6.
1. Themes of Suicide
Considering that suicide is a constant theme in Babylon, if you’re someone who has strong feelings about suicide or have experience with it in some form, then Babylon may be difficult for you to watch. While there’s nothing in this anime that glorifies suicide, due to its constant presence, it may be disturbing for some viewers to watch.
2. A lot of Twists are Introduced and Thrown Out
While 12 episodes are the standard amongst a good percentage of anime, the episode length negatively affects the anime in multiple ways. For starters, Seizaki initially has to investigate a pharmaceutical company and after his partner dies, the whole pharmaceutical company investigation just instantly goes away. Upon the ending of episode 6/beginning of episode 7, Itsuki’s son, a minor, announces he wants to run for parliament and after that, the series does nothing with that plot twist.
If there’s any reason to watch Babylon, as you progress throughout the series and learn the truth about the suicides portrayed in this anime, you’ll come to one conclusion that if Jeffery Epstein did kill himself, the culprit had to be Ai Magase! Considering that the anime broadcasted during that fiasco, there are no doubts that some viewers had to come to the same conclusion!
All joking aside, Babylon is certainly for those that love thrillers that are political and legal in nature. While American politics such as All The President’s Men are intriguing, Babylon offers something that is both unique to Japan and yet includes themes that are universal to all audiences. Last, if there are any readers who are struggling with mental health issues and/or suicide, we strongly encourage you to seek help.