Fugou Keiji Balance: UNLIMITED (The Millionaire Detective - Balance: UNLIMITED) gave all kinds of anime fans something to cheer for. Recognizable fun tropes of money and power, murder mysteries, and opposites attract made for a fun series for all genders to appreciate. It’s funny, mysterious, and shows some pretty incredible situations with the power of money. While it does a lot to draw in interest, Millionaire Detective doesn’t quite live up to its potential in some ways. Let’s examine what it does right and what it does wrong.
In the Modern Crime Prevention Headquarters in Tokyo is a place for the demoted or unambitious. Mostly a group of detectives that are content with security duty, Haru sticks out as a guy always wanting to go above and beyond the call of duty yet being unable to take orders that would kill a suspect. When ambitious and irreverent Daisuke comes into the mix, he seems to just play at being a detective in modern Tokyo, taking advantage of his immense wealth and information network that makes everyone else’s actions look like child’s play. Corrupt politicians, high-speed car-chases, and terrorism threaten the generally relaxed attitude of our humble crime-fighters.
In a setting that could be our world with themes of abuse of power and information, it’s easy to connect with the characters suffering from an unjust system and trying to fight for some semblance of justice in a modern world. While the setting is very obviously in Japan, it being in such a big city with similar problems experienced by those around the world helps us understand the subject matter even more despite none of us having immeasurable wealth. There’s enough familiarity to ground us amid Daisuke’s mind-blowing spending and technology utilization that helps convey how ridiculous his actions and powers are.
Haru and Daisuke are very much strong characters that don’t so much learn from each other as use each other’s natural tendencies. Only twice in the show do they seem to support each other and receive that support in a vulnerable moment as Haru’s infrequent attempts are often met with disinterest or physical repercussions. They are good, multi-faceted characters even though much of Daisuke’s nature is repressed in order to achieve his ultimate goal. Haru blends loose-cannon cop with being unable to kill, instead constantly putting himself at risk to save bad guys against his superior’s orders. One disappointment with the characters is Suzue who is the ambiguous relative of Daisuke who she would do anything for. In the first episode, she seems very smart, great with gadgets, and incredible backup. Instead of being a proper team member to Daisuke, she’s regulated to weeping for his safety much to Daisuke’s annoyance and being hurt while trying to protect him which Daisuke never seems to acknowledge. Instead of a woman utilizing her skills to achieve a common goal, she seems to just be another tool to Daisuke for most of the series which amounts to wasted potential.
Two cops with very different ideas about how police work should be done is an old trope but a fun one. One of them being super-rich and the other having a hero complex is a new one though. At the start of the series, the one-off stories are fun and highlight the differences between our main guys. In the latter half, things take on a darker tone akin to cop dramas and start to move away from regular crime-fighting to the evil overlord realm. Despite the show constantly proving nothing is impossible, it still manages to surprise you at the end even when you think you know where it’s going. A few actions and motivations do seem baseless or uninteresting until the near end of the series which makes for an exciting ending but can also take away from the plot at the time of watching.
Millionaire Detective is an exciting ride despite clear room for improvement. Just seeing how cleverly money is used makes it a fun anime. It’s not about having the best toys or fastest cars, but about using money in ways that tears down societal or physical barriers. While there’s a lack of growth in Haru and Daisuke’s relationship, it’s hinted to be greatly improved in the last scene with both Haru’s intense drive to help people and Daisuke’s desire to flaunt his money well intact. Let us know what you thought about it in the comments!