An animated beauty.
This is a SPOILER-FREE review of B: The Beginning Season 1.
Netflix’s B: The Beginning, one of 30 new anime series premiering in 2018 on the streaming provider, is a perplexing visual marvel filled with enough animated splendor to satisfy any fan of the genre.
The 12-episode series centers on the Royal Investigation Service, or RIS for short, as they pursue an elusive serial killer known as Killer B who’s been terrorizing the fictional nation of Cremona. Leading the investigation is Keith, a legendary detective reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes — he’s aloof, short-tempered, and brilliant. Keith is often referred to by his nickname Genie, which means Genius in German.
If Keith is Holmes, then his lovely young RIS counterpart Lily is Watson. Their combustible relationship is enjoyable from beginning to end. Lily desperately wants to work with Keith on the case, but he’s more of a lone wolf. Her youthful enthusiasm for doing good police work mixed with his grumpy demeanor is fun to watch as they constantly clash over their different ideologies. They act like they could have been brother and sister in another life. Sadly, the villains aren’t as engaging.
A secretive criminal organization known as Market Maker pushes the typical villainous agenda of causing chaos with acts of terrorism. Most of their gang looks like a combination of The Joker and Harley Quinn with face paint, tattoos, and colorful costumes included. They definitely have the bad guy look nailed, but lack depth in terms of character development. One of their leaders, Minatsuki, just stands around monologuing about his evil plans, which gets old after a couple of episodes. Thankfully, there is a supernatural element that makes up for the lackluster villains.
Most of the supernaturally-charged OMG moments in the series revolve around Koku or the black-winged king as he’s sometimes called. He’s a bit of an anomaly in the first half of the story, which makes it difficult to know what his motivations are. Koku will pop up out of nowhere, kick some butt, then move on. Fortunately, the writers further develop his backstory towards the season’s midway point, which I won’t spoil here. If you find yourself lost after the first three episodes, hold tight, the answers you seek about Koku and his unique abilities are coming.
And Koku’s fight scenes are a thrilling showcase of B: The Beginning’s animation. His wings allow for flight and he has an arm that can transform into a blade, which comes in handy whenever he goes up against a member of Market Maker. There’s a fight early on between a gang member and Koku that involves a skateboard chase on a skyscraper and an epic battle on a train, all set against a beautiful industrial neon backdrop. It’s one of those “wow moments” that’s truly memorable.
B: The Beginning is most impactful during those incredibly animated action sequences and while exploring the dynamic relationship between Keith and Lily. Though the stories surrounding the serial killer mystery and the generic villains diminished what was an otherwise enjoyable binge, B: The Beginning is still worth checking out.