Woodpecker Detective’s Office revolves around fictional versions of poet Takuboku Ishikawa and linguist Kyousuke Kindaichi. Both figures were friends with each other in real life and Ishikawa did die young at the age of 26, something which the anime acknowledges and uses for framing device where an older Kindaichi reflects on his friend’s life and therefore the story. The one major difference between the history and the fiction is, well, the whole plot of the show. Struggling to pay rent and feeling guilty of Kindaichi’s generosity, Ishikawa decides to pursue a secondary profession as a private detective.
As far as I can tell, the real Ishikawa didn’t do that. In fact, if you google the man as a detective, your first result will be this anime. It’s a little odd but there’s admittedly been wilder takes on historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln being a vampire hunter. The idea of a writer becoming a detective is still a little far-fetched. Like, being a writer would entail a keen sense of creativity and attention to detail that can translate well into detective work but you can’t expect me to believe this poet is 100% qualified for the job from the get go.
For what it’s worth however, Woodpecker Detective’s Office sets itself up as a pretty promising mystery series in and of itself. The case presented in the premiere, which inspires Ishikawa to become a detective, involves a murder in a pleasure quarter and a letter that has been pulled from the crime scene. It’s not anything fancy but it’s not self-consciously acting big or cool either. There’s some clever moments here such as when Ishikawa alibis Kindaichi and himself out when they get suspected by the police and when he convinces them that there’s another letter and suspect without having no real evidence to back his claim. The detective work on display by Ishikawa is all very Holmesian. You even have Kindaichi acting as the Watson in the cast, serving as the viewpoint character and everyman in the wild hijinks his friend is getting the two of them into.
It’s a very modest start but it works for me. While I hope for stronger cases down the road, the mystery of the week is compelling enough and it more importantly does a great job showing how the main character could be a detective. The framing device of an older Kindaichi visiting his friend’s old office ten years later lends the show an emotional angle to work with and could be interesting in how it connects to the present story. I don’t know how much I should expect from this show but compared to The Million Detective Balance: Unlimited, this looks to be a more appealing offering from the mystery genre this season.
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Watch Woodpecker Detective’s Office on Crunchyroll