Great Pretender season 1 (part 1) review – another very good, visually striking Netflix anime

August 20, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Anime, Netflix
3.5

Summary

Great Pretender storms confidently out of the gate with the first part of its first season on Netflix, delivering a visually striking and well-written effort.

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3.5

Summary

Great Pretender storms confidently out of the gate with the first part of its first season on Netflix, delivering a visually striking and well-written effort.

This review of Great Pretender (Netflix) is spoiler-free.


You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if its cover looks like a single frame of Netflix’s new original anime Great Pretender, perhaps you should reconsider. The first part of the first season dropped today, and across its 14 episodes, its strikingly surrealist animation makes a stronger case for anime fans’ attention than the character-driven noir-ish thriller plot that gives the art an excuse to flex its muscles – even if solid writing, smart structuring, and a comfortable storytelling pace ensure it isn’t all style over substance either.

As is becoming pretty standard with Netflix’s anime releases, this is simply Part 1 – more is coming, though when is anyone’s guess. Chronicling the exploits of eccentric conman Makoto Edamura across three separate cases – the episode’s titles are divided, obviously but clumsily, into Case 1_1, Case 1_2, etc. – this freshman outing takes a simplistic premise and gives it fresh energy with both the visuals and a strong character focus in each mystery.

But it’s the eye-catching visual design that stands head and shoulders above any of the show’s other positive qualities. Great Pretender boasts a seemingly limitless supply of ingenuity and color, and the artwork is consistently striking and impressive, aside from some brief uses of CGI and trips to drearier climes. It’s an eclectic package enhanced by an equally wide-ranging soundtrack, a mish-mash of styles that come together and just work in that inexplicable way that clashing elements sometimes can. The show’s influences are as broad as its style of homage to them.

Yet, Great Pretender never feels anything other than confident in all its component parts, delivering a remarkably self-assured outing with striking originality in some departments tempered by a comfortable familiarity in others. It’s an odd combination that’ll no doubt attract even more eyeballs to Netflix’s consistently burgeoning library of original anime content, and in this case, any attention is well-deserved.


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