Welcome to our latest detective initiative! In No Case Too Small we will be highlighting series that pay homage, do a parody, or simply have an episode that involves a detective. These are one or two episodes stints in a larger series that doesn’t really involve sleuthing otherwise. Since our detective series list excludes such we wanted to give them a place all their own. And we want to make sure they don’t go overlooked or get forgotten.
The case in question is episode 30 of Hayate the Combat Butler: “The Beautiful Rich Great Young Detective Lady Saw It! The Case of the Murdered Female Teacher Amidst Clouds of Steam”
Hayate the Combat Butler is a character based comedy series but they love to parody and poke fun at a wide variety of topics at the same time. Given the popularity of detective anime, and detective series in general in Japan, it is no wonder that Hayate and Nagi encounter a mystery while visiting the hot springs. This intentionally cliché scenario leads to a fourth wall breaking look at the mystery genre with tongue firmly in cheek.
The prime show that is referenced in the episode is Detective Conan. Since Detective Conan runs in Shonen Sunday along side the Hayate manga so they often tip their hat to their brother comic. The fact that Conan is also the most iconic detective anime is no minor factor as well. They often have Nagi dressed as Conan throughout the episode with his signature glasses although she acts more like Kogoro Mori than Conan Edogawa. In the end we see Hayate drugged in a chair with Nagi hiding behind him impersonating his voice with a bow tie as in the classic Conan formula. We also see references to the phantom thief Kaitou Kid and the Conan’s hint segment. But the examination of the genre goes beyond just a parody of the adventures of Shinichi Kudo. When Nagi initially examining the body we have a series of reference to classic Sherlock Holmes mystery the Adventure of the Speckled Band. At the same time the red text transitions are a nod to the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni murder mystery game series. And nothing wins Narutaki’s heart like a nod to Sherlock Hound.
The episode also look at the universal tropes of the murder mystery genre. There is a montage of classic hot spring mystery cliches which is a set unto itself including the obligatory fan service of girls bathing shots, a gourmet meal scene, a ping-pong match, and an interrogation at the bar. We also get the classic dying message with an unexpected Dick Cheney joke. They also pull the standard trick that the dying message actually has two layers one of which is easily seen but sends people on a wild goose chase and the correct interpretation which the detective notices. There is also the video tape made just before the murder that gives the detective another type of dying message. We also get the old chestnut of placing a recorder underneath table to play the victim’s scream to throw off the time and/or location of death. But the granddaddy of all tropes in the final denouement that takes place on a rocky cliff with the ocean raging in the background.
This was an undoubtedly an enjoyable little anime adventure that did not appear in the manga although there is a chapter that is a silly Conan/Hayate crossover. This episode was a loving tribute to murder mysteries that praises the genre while taking it down a few pegs at the same. I think this tribute to all thing mystery related makes an excellent episode to start of the No Case Too Small segment of the blog.