Every year there is usually one show that goes slipping through the cracks. Daughter of Twenty Faces is not a show has gone totally ignored by anime bloggers and fans. I have found some reviews and a few single reports. But overall a show this good should be on everyone’s lips but it remains a hidden treasure only known to a few. I hope this review does a little to alleviate that fact. This review is actually a long time coming. If I remember our original plan was to post a review about this time last year but due to the last few episodes coming out very late you are only getting it now. However, this show proves that some things are worth the wait. But then again a steampunk detective/phantom thief show with an awesome heroine is always worth the wait.
When I checked Daughter of Twenty Faces out in the Spring 2008 review, I already knew it was something special. But I didn’t know if it would grow to be a great series or just an entertaining one. Either outcome was fine by me. But it just so happened that the show got better, more intriguing, and even harder to pin down as it went along. We even praised the series up and down almost a year ago on the Ani-Gamers podcast! Hisui is right, this has been a long time coming.
Chizuko Mikamo is a unfortunate young girl whose parents have passed away and left her with a sizable inheritance. While her aunt and uncle are taking care of her they are also poisoning her gain her fortune. Fortunately for her the infamous phantom thief Twenty Faces comes to steal her fortune but realizes the true treasure in her mansion is Chizuko and whisks her off to recruit her as a member of his gang. So she proves to be intelligent, resourceful, and cunning member of this rough and tumble family of thieves who take her in as one of their own. But Chizuko’s aunt wants her back to claim her fortune and Twenty Faces also has many a mysterious and dangerous skeleton in his closet as well.
Daughter of Twenty Faces has some wonderful twists and turns, especially in the beginning. The pace of the first episode is so runaway train there is no way the rest of the series would or should be that way. However, the show consistently has an up and down storytelling that gives you a breather only to take away your breath in the next episode. It is not quite clear till around episode 8 that there is more of a science and steampunk influence than was first garnered in the opening stories. This isn’t in detriment to the series but something that has to be accepted. The story pulls elements of both detective work and smooth theft to create a winning combo that is clearly a familiar with the tropes of both genres. But Daughter of Twenty Faces isn’t merely a mash up of such things, oh no, this show is fueled by mysteries of both the past and present and Chiko’s own cunning and curiosity about her mentor and father figure, Twenty Faces.
If you do not like Chizuko aka Chiko then get off my blog and go somewhere else you black hearted villain. Chiko is an introverted and quiet girl and that is her default mode but she can turn on the charm when she need to. But she also also introverted and quiet because she is always thinking and always observing. When she first meets Twenty Faces is is extremely smart and observant but he she trains with his gang she not only raises her mental abilities to the next level but she matches it with an equal amount of physical skills. Everyone is soon impressed with her determination and natural aptitude. Chiko is an amazing character and a sheer inspiration. Twenty Faces is everything that embodies the dashing thief. Handsome, observant, cunning, charming, inventive, powerful, dexterous, and street smart as well as book smart. He possesses an easy and powerful leadership over his gang and commands a solid fatherly authority. This combination inspires both admiration and love in Chiko. He comes off as a man who has everything but he clearly has a deep melancholy due to events in his past when he lets his guard down.
Chiko is above all else smart and observant. Even in this situation she finds herself in at the start of the series, she takes her chance to get out. Chiko is a clear-headed young woman who is able to reason and think very deeply though she has a quiet, sometimes stoic, demeanor but it does not make her any less endearing and engaging as she grows in her skills as both a thief and detective. And as her outward facade starts to break in bits, first thanks to the gang and Twenty Faces, and further by Tome and Koito later on, Chiko emerges a stronger woman with a firm belief in herself and Twenty Faces. While Chiko is enamored of Twenty Faces when she first meets him, it is easy to see why. From the moment he steps onto the screen this series tells you Twenty-faces is a suave, cunning, and flashy phantom thief. He can also disguise himself incredibly well (while not as good as Baroness, he is still impressive). He is a wonderfully gray character with a reputation for villainy combined with an intriguing past and truly a moveable heart. Never is this more evident than in his relationship with Chiko. Twenty Faces is prone to both dramatic entrances and exits throughout the series each time leaving more mysteries than answers.
Throughout the series Chiko makes several allies and enemies due to her relationship with Twenty Faces. The rest of Twenty Faces gang each warms up to Chiko at their own rate. Ken and Hans warm up to her quickly but it takes time for Skipper and Muta to trust that she can be a true part of the team. As the series goes on the not only accept her as a partner but an extended member of their family. They all teach her various skills from foreign languages to combat skills. The villains in Twenty Faces start off rather normal. We have Yoshie and Shoji Mikamo and scheming aunt and uncle who seem fond of poison and hire the rather incompetent detective to track her down. Then there is rival thief Tiger who a rather psychotic man with razor sharp claws. As the series goes on we get enemies with steam punk armor and various other super science enhancements as we learn how Twenty Faces was tied into their development.
The bonds that are established early on with Ken and the entire gang of Twenty Faces, who act as a supportive family for each other and big brothers to Chiko, are some of the most lovely moments in the show. There is a slow, but steady growth that is almost heart-warming at times. Ken as the series goes on comes into prominence on his own as he acts as kind of a shadow to Chiko and her activities. He is a bit impulsive but takes his role as a follower of Twenty Faces very seriously which only makes him more attached to Chiko. Both women who come into Chiko’s life help to solidify the surrogate family feel in Daughter of Twenty Faces. Koito is really the first person Chiko’s age that she connects with. Both share a sense of justice and adventure but Koito is much more out spoken and rambunctious. Tome is always trying to keep the girls on a proper path certainly filling the role of older sister, if not mother figure, for Chiko. Each of these ladies insert quite a bit of humor to the series as well making them ever more essential.
One piece of fascination about this series are where some of the characters get their roots. Twenty-faces, and probably the more famous Akechi who appears in brief stints, are characters originally created by Edogawa Rampo (one half of the famous mystery writers that make up Edogawa Conan’s name in Detective Conan). But as the title and plot imply, the true star of the series is a totally original creation.
If you have ever seen the original manga the anime is much easier on the eyes. The manga art is very stylized in a way that I don’t particularly care for so I much prefer the more traditional character designs in the anime. The opening and the ending are both fairly catchy. The opening song is soft but strong and set a good tone for what to expect out of the show. The ending is mostly an excuse to dress up our heroines in a variety of different outfits. I do find it most amusing that the ending really focuses on the detective girls despite the fact that only really comes into play in the last half of the series.
Daughter of Twenty Faces is able to integrate many genres without being too ambitions and losing sight of what it is: the adventures of the surrogate daughter of the world’s most famous theif. If you didn’t know about Daughter of Twenty Faces till you read this article, well, I am sure glad you came to read it! I hope we were able to convince you to check it out, otherwise our boasting of being a detective blog is just a lot of hot air.
Daughter of Twenty Faces starts off as a rollicking caper series and then shows you the darkness of the world as it end being a pulp adventure. But the focus is always on Chiko and how she tackles her challenges either being a thief with a detective’s skills or a detective with a thief’s skills. There are some great mysteries to be solved, intrigues to be foiled, and impossible capers to be pulled off. With a winning cast and an amazing heroine what more could you ask for? I suggest you go out and either steal your self a copy or investigate where you can find the episodes depending on your mood.