Dr Magata Shiki has a superhuman intellect and unique beliefs. She has multiple personalities, and believes that is the natural state of humanity. She was accused of killing her parents and claimed a doll did it… instead of imprisoning her, they built a research facility around a series of small rooms that comprise her prison, lab, and home.
The show starts approximately 15 years after that fateful day, and Magata Shiki has started having web interviews, looking as though she hasn’t aged a day. Our protagonist, Nishinosono Moe is fortunate enough to get one of those interviews… and it has a profound impact on her. On a field trip, Nishinosono and her teacher Saikawa Sohei visit Magata’s lab and are horrified to see that she has been murdered.
Thus begins a strange psychological mystery…
I’ve said this before, but mystery shows stand and fall by two things: the quality of their characters and whether the mystery feels ‘fair’ or solvable. Since you generally don’t have much action or very many diverging storylines in a lot of mystery shows, the actual mystery itself has to become the main character, and it needs a strong supporting cast of real characters to keep it going.
As far as characters go… The Perfect Insider actually works out pretty well. I won’t say the characters are likeable but they work for the show. The characters are a socially awkward, but that’s what we’re dealing with. One thing that many shows are incapable of pulling off is the socially inept genius. They tend to turn it into either a degenerate pervert or a playboy-in-secret. Fortunately, Saikawa is a great example of a character who has neither problem. He’s awkward around people, incredibly smart, not very good at expressing feelings, and generally introverted. Magata (primarily seen in flashbacks), Nishinosono and the show’s secondary characters are also quite interesting, if all a bit annoying to deal with.
The disappointing element comes when trying to push your way into the mystery itself. You see, the mystery itself is fascinating and I was really excited to try to solve it. The whole history behind these characters, the implications and complications of this unique environment… it was all incredible. So why is this a disappointment? Simple: you can’t solve it conclusively. Many of the cues and clues they use to solve it are things that are either nearly impossible to spot (things that require you to remember and compare obscure and extremely minor details in between different episodes) or actually not revealed to you until they solve the mystery. And one of those clues is utterly essential to understanding the mystery.
That isn’t to say the solution doesn’t make sense. It does, the clues are all logical and it all makes sense given what we’ve learned of the characters. The problem? We’re denied access to a few key pieces of information that could have easily been provided in subtle ways to ensure that the mystery felt fair. Sadly, we weren’t, and that left the show feeling like a shell of what it could have been.
That being said, with relatively interesting characters and a deep backstory… I did enjoy my time here. That being said, don’t be disappointed when the promised mystery doesn’t quite live up to what was promised. Because, sadly, it’s just not done quite that well.