GREAT PRETENDER – Anime Analysis

First in the series: 8. July 2020.
License: Netflix has ordered episodes
: 24
Studio : Studio Wit
Manga: 3 (from: January 2020)

LARGE PRESENTER (グレートプリテンダー, Gurētopuritendā)


A little story…

Like a swindler, an impostor? It’s simple. Become a shop steward. There is something very tempting about burglary sagas that contain a touch of comedy that elevates the art of taking risks above telling a rewarding story. It certainly involves the viewer in the intoxicating nature of committing a madman. The ultimate thrill to escape with riches beyond your wildest dreams. Sounds fun, huh? A GREAT PRESENTER, that’s just it. A hidden fun trail to draw the audience into the action and build a relationship with the eccentric assistants. An amazing original series from the team that originally produced the anime adaptation of Attack on Titan, Wit Studio. The series was first unveiled at Anime Expo 2019, where 91 Days and Guilty Crown’s Hiro Kaburagi were appointed director of the series.

Ryota Kosawa, known for his work as a screenwriter in the comedy-crime genre, has been named principal screenwriter and is making his debut in the anime. Kosawa wrote the screenplay for JP’s Trust Man, a film that has nothing to do with THE GREAT PRETENDER. The legendary artist Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, who was sought for his expertise in character design, brought his unique and acclaimed style to the series led by Kyoji Asano, head animation director of Hunter x Hunter and Psycho Pass. Asano’s latest contribution to the anime includes the last episode of the highly regarded Shonen One Piece franchise. Yutaka Yamada, known for his excellent opening in the anime adaptation of Tokyo Gula, was invited to apply the excellent work of the jazz melodies that accompany the title if you can love crime drama.

The first two seasons are currently streamed on Netflix.

⚠ Main part (Note: spoiler)

Meet Makoto Edamura, the biggest self-proclaimed scam artist in all of Japan. Together with their partner Kudo, the duo deals with the dark matter of cheating on elderly people with fake identity cards. The impetuous and hopeful young Japanese boy aspired to a prestigious and well-paid career that would help him pay for his sick mother’s medical expenses. Kudo trusts his father’s friend and old business partner and decides to hire Edamura without informing him that his father runs a shady company that mass-produces health tea with fake diet labels and entices customers to buy the product for its deceptive health benefits. Without questioning Kudo’s dubious tactic of reselling the healthy drink, the two men got a large crowd to buy their entire stock.

No sooner had they celebrated their success than the whole company was arrested by the local police for selling fraudulent products. Kudo and his entire team are arrested and Edamura is released on bail. His family name was disgraced in the small community because his father was involved in large criminal gangs. After failing to achieve his personal goal, Edamura waits for Kudo to be captured and confronts the villain with his release. Realizing that he has no other choice, he joins Kudo and deceives the old men by posing as a plumber. After replacing a bunch of fake appliances, selling them as water filters and charging exorbitant costs to the residents, the shabby duo ends up at the bar in the bustling street market, where other customers are also seen as drinkers.

To mislead the blond Frenchman, Makoto asks the tourist, approximately in English, if he has lost his wallet. Without thinking about it, Kudo takes the foreigner’s wallet and claims it as his own, not waiting for Makoto to take it away from the drunken rascal. After handing over the wallet to the traveller, he thanks Makoto by paying him the reward, kisses the young rascal and leaves. Unaware of his plan, Makoto takes the Frenchman’s real wallet out of his back pocket, containing the pile of bills he had originally used to pay the couple, and exchanges the original for a fake wallet filled with silver newspaper clippings. Back in his apartment building, Kudo pays homage to Edamura and claims he is Japan’s greatest thief. They share a cup of coffee to celebrate, while preparing to count their winnings for the day.

Makoto unpacks the leather strap and finds the newspaper clippings that Kudo had originally placed there. Edamura recounts every step he took to cheat on a sophisticated stranger, only to eventually realize it was him who cheated. Suddenly a loud scream can be heard outside his door when a swarm of men in black suits knocks on the door of Edamura’s apartment. He and Kudo both hurry to their respective escape routes and wish each other good luck with their escape. Sneaking through the pipes and jumping over the gates, Makoto makes his way to the ground floor, where he quickly runs to an open taxi, which he happens to share with the same Frenchman who swindled the swindler earlier in the day. In his speech, the foreigner explains that he is not a crook, but a merchant. He offers to accompany Makoto to Los Angeles, where he reluctantly accepts, to get his money back and escape the police. Hoping to break the ice between them, the French offer Makoto Japanese sweets in a pink container and put them in Edamura’s lifebag.

Once in Los Angeles, the smart dealer finally reveals his name to Edamura. Laurent Thierry or Laurent: The French bastard who knows his customers and colleagues is a crook himself, but he uses a long label to describe himself: A man you can trust. When they give Edamura the next mission, the two men buy expensive suits to disguise themselves. Without explaining Makoto’s intention, they travel to Beverly Hills to meet an executive producer who is interested in buying the product. Laurent takes the lead and introduces the Hollywood mafia Dr. Edamure, a drug specialist recruited by an alleged trader to produce exclusively Sakura Magic. Laurent takes a pink can of this fabric and tests it on one of the manufacturer’s customers. A few seconds after dissolving the pill, the girl starts hallucinating, jumping through the garden of the mafia pool until she ends up completely drugged and stunned in the pool. Laurent says he will produce the drug exclusively for the manufacturer at a cost of $5 million per case.

Laurent is dragging the rest of his clients into drugs, not before he’s made Edamura swallow a whole. Makoto panics and notices that the gold watch he and the Frenchman wore is vaguely similar to that of Kudo and the old lady with the water filter. He then rushes out of the Hollywood house and flees Laurent and the mafia. A little later, Laurent follows Edamura into an alley and confronts the impostor, who tries to explain the situation in more detail. Makoto tries to defend herself, but ends up with the same girl that Sakura Magic would have brought back to the mansion, Abi, and her crane shot screaming No Mercy – yes, references to Karate Kid. Meanwhile, in Japan, Kudo was partying with the police gang while an elderly lady was cleaning the room and another elderly man entered the room and noticed that there was a tap with a filter on it. Yeah, the whole thing was a trap. A few hours later Edamura wakes up upside down from the famous Hollywood board, crying out for help. Laurent and Abi introduce themselves and tell Makoto that they are villains.

What an epic series. I had no idea the WORLD PRESENTER existed until it was brought to my attention a few days ago. As a fan of the Ocean’s 11 franchise and the genre of detective comedy itself, I was immediately attracted to the eccentric, capricious, overly sophisticated con artists who try to outdo each other by working together to get rid of the bad guys. The double standard with which he tells his story makes him a hilarious hobby from the start. Relaxing with a cocktail in your hand while the naughty French bastard lies on his back and lets Edamura do the hard work is treating himself to moments of laughter. The most striking part of this whole series is the team that our best thieves have with their personal determination. Thrill seekers who want to leave a life of fear and frustration behind for treats or quick repairs. That’s what makes our protagonist’s game, as Makoto seeks an absolute way out of a criminal’s life to get his life back on track, but the path he follows only draws him back to Laurent’s despicable deeds. A seductive journey that appeals to the viewer on such an emotional and personal level.

Makoto’s true desire to help his mother and live a good life has never hesitated. The life he led in Japan was almost a facade to hide the pain of his daily struggle. Kudo only led the young man when he could, just like his father was an impostor. Laurent’s attitude, hoping to obtain Edamura, reinforces the character’s refined and polished personality. The Confidence Man evokes an intoxicating presence with his silky, muted tones. He deploys his stoic assistant, who will certainly leave an impression on everyone, including our young male antihero. Abi’s restless upbringing leads her to Laurent, hoping that the self-destructive teen will not commit suicide. An attractive teenager cares for no one but himself, even though he is less concerned about his own well-being. I was impressed by the personality at the forefront of this amazing anime. There was a new twist at every turn, and almost every episode clung to the cliffhanger.

Each story in the 24 episodes of GREAT PRETENDER is divided into acts and chapters. Divided into four cases, each chapter tells different facets of the respective story, repeating some events but offering alternative perspectives that unfold in real time. There is an evaluation of the story of each character, which is very detailed but does not obscure the real story. Although we have an idea of each character’s dominance and personal aspirations, the story continues to revolve around Edamura’s chaotic escapade with his new group of accomplice troublemakers. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s distinctive illustrations and characters evoke special emotions right from the start, highlighting the incredible work of the team behind this great series. I immediately recognized the artistic style and a quick Google search confirmed my suspicions about the link to one of my favorite movies, Summer Wars. I must also congratulate Kyoji Asano on his work on the environment. The influence of the FLCL is clearly visible here, creating excitement with its mix of washed-out tones that contrast with any cell animation. Such an amazing world of design is packed into this series. My only hope is that we have the privilege of a third season.

Noteworthy (Note: small spoilers)….

  • Let’s make one thing clear, Abi’s the better girl.
  • Yutaka Yamada’s series of jazz swings is unbelievable. When I saw his melodies in series, like Tokyo Ghoul, I was struck by the fact that there was a seasoned artist behind all this. By tapping the toes, of course.
  • I buzzed the tune of The Great Pretender The Platters before pressing the play button of the opening episode of GREAT PRETENDER, not knowing that the series would use my favourite rendition of the song as ED. The Great Pretender – Freddie Mercury is the solo song that enabled the British singer to break through and break away from the legendary rock band Queen. Listening to him finish every episode of the anime was perfection. Was it weird to hear Mercury singing that famous song instead of the obligatory J-POP that closes every episode? Sort of, but the purpose of this song is definitely a wedding made in heaven.
  • The use of Japanese and English in the dubest is incredibly unique. At the start of the series, I had to make sure I looked at the dub, because every character speaks Japanese with subtitles. As the series progressed, I noticed it changed to English, but the multilingual aspect remained throughout the season.
  • A Cavalcade of voice acting royalty presents here the favorite series, including : Laura Post (Persona 5 Royale), Fred Tatasciore (Spider-Man: Miles Morales), Jamison Price (Persona 5), Cassandra Lee Morris (Bugsnucks, Persona 5) and Kirk Thornton (Katherine: Fill the Body, Persona 5).

Great Pretender (in the style of GREAT PRETENDER) is an original Japanese anime crime comedy TV series made by Wit Studio, directed by Hiro Kaburagi and written by Ryota Kosawa. The first series (Los Angeles Connection) was released on Netflix in Japan in June 2020, for its television premiere. It was broadcast on the anime block of Fuji TV +Ultra from July to December 2020. The first three cases in the series (Los Angeles Connection, Singapore Skies and Snow from London) were broadcast worldwide on Netflix in August 2020, followed by the fourth case (The Wizard of the Far East) in November.

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