“Toys. They are miraculous buds that swell from the hearts of the chosen. Some flowers are born pure, while others bloom laced with poison. The Age of Detectives. The two flowers, vying for beauty. Their names are the Detective and the Phantom Thief.”
This simple explanation is given at the beginning of each episode of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, and yet it fails to capture the true nature of the show. While Milky Holmes sets itself up from that intro to be a serious detective-like show, it is anything but serious. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is a comedy in its purest form, its only intent being to entertain its viewer and keep them laughing: An effort that both works at some times and falls flat at others. Milky Holmes is very much a mixed bag, but it has a lot of positives to it that somehow make me unable to pull away from the franchise.
As the initial quote would imply, the primary “conflict” in Milky Holmes comes to us through the clash between two primary forces. First are the Detectives, those who would use their Toys, special powers granted to those capable of using them, to fight crime and keep the people of Yokohama safe. Secondly, there is the Phantom Thief Empire, led by the Phantom Thief herself, Arsene, who would use their powers to commit grand thefts. These two forces are locked in constant conflict, with the Yokohama Police Department also involved and working independently from the detectives to capture the Phantom Thief and her sub-ordinates. However, as you could guess by my earlier statements, this conflict is not the general focus of the anime. Instead, we focus on one group of ace detectives turned lovable losers, the titular “Milky Holmes”.
Milky Holmes are first introduced as a team of ace detectives hunting the Phantom Thief and able to do battle on an equal level. However, a freak lightning strike ravages their rooftop battleground as Arsene escapes, with the shock from the impact causing Milky Holmes to lose the use of their Toys. Without the tools that make most Detectives able to function, they are reduced. Upon losing the use of their Toys, they are faced with the risk of potential expulsion of Holmes Detective Academy if they cannot reclaim use of their toys in a three-month period. Now that we have the backing, let’s look at where Milky Holmes shines, the characters.
In a show like this, the characters are what make or break the show. While some may feel differently, I really feel the characters are where the show shines. Between the four members of the main cast, we have Sherlock Shellingford (voiced by Suzuko Mimori), the aloof, carefree genki member of the group who’s Toy gives her telekinetic powers. Nero Yuzurizaki (voiced by Sora Tokui) is the sarcastic jokester of the group, who’s Toy gives her the power to manipulate electricity using a metal object as a conductor. Cordelia Glauca (voiced by Izumi Kitta) is the head-in-the-clouds member who acts as the “elder sister” to the girls of Milky Holmes (while also having crazy delusions about her friends), who’s Toy gives her heightened senses. Hercule Barton (voiced by Mikoi Sasaki) is the shy member of the group, who’s easily embarassed nature leads her to stay quiet while trying to be the voice of reason while her Toy gives her super strength.
The show mainly relies on its character interactions to carry through each episode and, while the interactions with the main cast are all cute and entertaining in their own rights, it’s how these girls interact with the side cast that really brings the best comedic moments in the show. Several times, the girls butt heads with Kokoro Akechi (voiced by Yoshino Nanjou), an agent of the Yokohama Police Department, who leads a special investigation unit named G4. Scenes with Kokoro are always hilarious and entertaining and she’s a really great character to add a lot of unique flavor to an already very unique show. My only regret really would be the minor exposure of the rest of G4, as they all seem to have interesting personalities that are ripe for expansion.
Lastly, on characters, now that we’ve discussed the girls of Milky Holmes and G4, we have to discuss the Phantom Thief Empire. Led by the Phantom Thief Arsene, the Empire spends their days passing themselves off as normal citizens and members of the Holmes Detective Academy. Henriette Mystere (Satomi Akesaka), the Phantom Thief Arsene herself, is the student council president at Holmes Academy, constantly deriding Milky Holmes for their lackadaisical nature while secretly encouraging them to reclaim the use of their Toys. Souseki Ishinagare (Takuma Terashima), Stone River in the Phantom Thief Empire, passes himself as a janitor and cook at the school, maintaining a serious, cold exterior and acting as the most disciplined of Arsene’s underlings wielding a Sword-type Toy. Jirou Nezu, Rat within the Empire, plays as a classmate of Milky Holmes and acts as the young, brash confident member of the Empire, wielding a Toy that gives him manipulation of Fire. Kai Nijuuri, Twenty within the Empire, acts as the girls’ teacher and he is easily the most ridiculous of the bunch, shown to be a major pervert and exhibitionist while using cards in his attacks. As great as the rest of the cast is, the interactions among the underlings might be my favorite, given the way they’re constantly bickering and fighting amongsts themselves to gain Arsene’s praise.
Animation and Sound
This is where some of the missed potential of Milky Holmes really comes into play. J.C. Staff did the animation for the first season of Milky Holmes The animation is not great and it’s clear the animation budget was going into other shows at the time, like the recently finished Kaichou wa Maid-sama! and A Certain Magical Index II. The soundtrack of the show itself is nothing special. All the pieces are nice, but there isn’t really anything within the show itself that stands out. However, the OP, Seikai wa Hitotsu ja nai performed by the members of Milky Holmes is a very catchy earworm of a song and the ED, Honnou no Doubt by Faylan, might be one of my favorite EDs, absolutely catchy and with a really funky beat to it.
The term “guilty pleasure” really comes into play when talking about Milky Holmes for me. From a quality standpoint, there are several areas the show could improve in. The animation was average and the show’s OST was nothing to write home about, but I absolutely loved it anyways. The girls are cute and for some reason, even if the show was being absolutely ridiculous and maybe shouldn’t have elicited this reaction from a reasonable standpoint, some moments of the show had me dying from laughter. While the quality of the show overall might not have been great, my enjoyment levels during were definitely a highpoint.
My final rating might be a bit generous, given some of the things I’ve said previously, but I thoroughly enjoyed Milky Holmes. The plot might not have been executed to its full potential, the animation might have only been average, the sound direction within the show might not have been stellar, but I adored this show and I would watch it again in a heartbeat. Milky Holmes is a special oddity of the show that keeps me watching even when the analytical side of me says I shouldn’t.
Story: 6/10, the concept of the story was really interesting and had its high points within the show, but overall could have been executed better
Characters: 8/10, each of the characters was a lot of fun, and I just wish more of the side cast was able to get more exposure.
Animation: 7/10, nothing too amazing but solid in its own right and had its highlights
Sound: 6/10, there are some nice tracks, like Final Battle (Arsene’s Theme) and The Age of Detectives (I think that’s the title? The one that plays for the Toys introduction each episode, can’t find a link), but nothing that really stands out
Enjoyment: 9/10, Like I said, I massively enjoyed Milky Holmes and have a lot of fun every time I watch.
Taku Recommends: Maybe watch it, it’s definitely not for everyone and has a very off-kilter style of humor that turns some people off, but if it’s what you’re in the mood for, there’s nothing better.
On a side note, while I can only partially recommend the anime, I can absolutely 100% recommend the music from the Milky Holmes vocal unit. There are some spectacular tracks that I absolutely love, PM me if you want to give them a try and I can send some samples