REVIEW: ‘Moriarty the Patriot’ Part 1 is a Fun Twist on Classic Sherlock Holmes

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Moriarty the Patriot

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes has stood the test of time to be an iconic character. The legacy has led to numerous works inspired by the fun people have following the eccentric detective. This time around, though, it is his infamous rival/arch-nemesis, crime consultant William James Moriarty that takes the stage. Moriarty the Patriot is a split-cour anime from Production I.G, with the second half due out spring 2021. It is adapted from the manga created by Ryosuke Takeuchi and Hikaru Miyoshi. Moriarty the Patriot Part 1 lays the groundwork for the great detective and his rival’s many famous interactions to come.

Moriarty the Patriot reimagines the crime consultant into a young man who, along with his brothers Albert and Louis, resent the class system and fight against it from the shadows. In this case, the crimes that Moriarty orchestrates are to avenge someone who has been harmed by a noble abusing their privilege. In creating the crime, often the noble’s secret misdeeds are revealed to the public. It is a clever spin, making the show feel somewhat modern despite being set in 19th Century Great Britain. Moriarty believes that he has to get his hands dirty, using any means necessary. In creating crimes that undermine the class system, he hopes to eradicate any who abuse their power. In 2020, it is a rather satisfying ambition to watch unfold. The mysteries themselves often lie more in “how they’ll do it” since viewers know “whodunnit.”

Moriarty the Patriot Part 1 goes to some dark places, as the characters are solving (and committing) murder, arson, and more. The very first episode kicks off with a case to stop a serial child murderer. The backstory between the three Moriarty brothers is shockingly twisted, and so intensely illustrates their devotion to each other and the cause. It is ultimately the character moments, rather than the cases themselves, that make Moriarty the Patriot such a fun watch. The first few episodes predominantly focus on the relationship between the brothers, and their allies Fred Porlock and Sebastian Moran. The most recent episodes have delved into Moriarty’s budding relationship with Sherlock Holmes.

This was an absolute highlight. Both Sherlock and Moriarty are multifaceted and foil each other well. Their rivalry is reimagined as Moriarty seeing Sherlock as the key figure to reveal crimes to the public while he must stay in the shadows. It is a fascinating contrast: Sherlock is on the legal side, but cares more about excitement than others, whereas Moriarty is on the side of crime, but everything he does is for the good of others. Their mutual respect and growth will be a blast to watch in the spring. Every character has a stake in the game, and even by the end of Part 1 not all the cards have been revealed between characters.

Moriarty the Patriot

Although it can be a nice catharsis, Moriarty the Patriot Part 1 does suffer from oversimplification, a shame considering the characters’ brilliant minds. It may be fun to watch Moriarty take the cruel ruling class to task, their depiction is cartoonishly evil. The villains in each episode laugh maniacally on screen completely color-washed in red. Their faces have devilish grins that are interlaced with quick shots to demonic-looking gargoyle statues. Their outspoken verbal disdain for the lower class sets them apart so significantly from the other nobles, that it is easy to dehumanize and separate oneself from the possibility of being like them. The characters and show acknowledge the systemic problem, but the actual depictions on-screen individualize it. The other glaring element was the lack of any racial diversity. The show somehow assumes that everyone in 19th Century Great Britain was white (which is false), thereby eliminating any discussions of the intersection of racism and classism.

Lastly, the animation is stellar in Moriarty the Patriot Part 1. Production I.G. knocked it out of the park. Everything feels slick and smooth, and paired with a fun musical score really immerses the viewer in the period piece detective drama. Much more electronic opening and end credits give the show a modern edge. Although this review mentioned earlier some visuals and use of color as contradicting to the themes of the show itself, it must be stated that they are still visually great to look at. Red and green washes are a common trend to dramatically depict the inner thoughts and perspectives of characters. This show really likes red and is not afraid to use it.

The voice acting also deserves praise across the board. Special shout outs given to Moriarty’s voice actors Soma Saito and Shizuka Ishigami (young Moriarty) for their portrayal of the crime connoisseur. Moriarty may have an astounding poker face, but they still manage to make him feel human in his interactions with those he trusts. In addition, Makoto Furukawa does a great job giving a layered portrayal of Sherlock in a short amount of time, showing him as both excitable and selfish; but also an insecure addict.

Overall, Moriarty the Patriot Part 1 will scratch that itch for Sherlock Holmes and mystery fans alike. It is well animated, scored and acted, and has an added cathartic quality in 2020. The show’s tendency to make the privilege abusers cartoonishly villainous, and its lack of any sort of racial diversity in 19th Century Great Britain, oversimplify its intended themes about classism. While not as progressive as it thinks it is, the first half of this show has been perfect popcorn entertainment.

Moriarty the Patriot is streaming now on Funimation.

 

Moriarty the Patriot
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    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Moriarty the Patriot Part 1 will scratch that itch for Sherlock Holmes and mystery fans alike. It is well animated, scored and acted and has an added cathartic quality in 2020. The show’s tendency to make the privilege abusers cartoonishly villainous, and its lack of any sort of racial diversity in 19th Century Great Britain, oversimplify its intended themes about classism. While not as progressive as it thinks it is, the first half of this show has been perfect popcorn entertainment.