The attempt of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat to retell the story of Sherlock Holmes in modern-day London turned out to be a tremendous success, so tremendous indeed that the series gained popularity all over the world and the hype didn’t leave Japan out. On the contrary, a manga series was announced on October 4, 2012 covering the first case “A Study in Pink”. Personally, I’m not an expert when it comes to western TV-Series, but as an Anime-addict, I noticed some traits in BBC Sherlock many fellow Otakus are quite familiar with. (I don’t think that the series is in any way inspired by the Anime I’ll mention later on, yet I found the similarities worthwhile enough to appreciate in this article.)
First: Take a look at some characters and you notice the use of trademarks, for example, Mycroft’s umbrella. It is not a rare case to see Anime-Characters that are defined by a certain trademark, a catchphrase (“You see, but you do not observe”) or a pose and it is the same in Sherlock. There is, for example, Mycroft’s female assistant who is glued on her smart phone almost for her whole screen time. She is no three-dimensional character since her whole character is defined by her smart phone-affinity. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Mycroft’s penchant for umbrellas. Yet, he is also more of a two- than a three-dimensional character. As Sherlock describes him, “he (Mycroft) practically is the British Government”. This means, Mycroft is the representation of governmental authority, the incarnation of the concept of power. Similar characters can be found in Mohiro Kitohs terrific manga “Narutaru” where Naozumi Sudo is the embodiment of nihilism whereas Takeo Tsurumaru represents chaos.
One could criticize those characters for being unrealistic, but on the other hand, this is exactly what gives them their iconic value.
The previous description applies to another character, the criminal mastermind, Jim Moriarty. Sherlock once calls him a “spider” in the web of crime. He is able to manipulate it at his will, making him the most dangerous of all criminals. Sounds familiar.
In Naoki Urasawa’s manga “Monster”, the angel-faced psychopath Johan Liebert is the mastermind behind an invisible web of crime that he solely holds in his hands. His character and his objective might differ from Moriarty, but the idea of an invisible web of organized crime created and manipulated by an embodiment of absolute evil is present in both works.
Let us not forget our protagonist, Sherlock Holmes. The super-sleuth who mastered the science of deduction is a (self-proclaimed) sociopath who hunts criminals for his own pleasure. He is an antihero, lacking humanity and compensating for it with intellectual prowess. The antihero-character was so famous in the last decade of Anime (it almost became a cliché). Light Yagami from Death Note and Leloch Lamperouge from Code Geass come instantly mind. Those characters try to solve the problems of the world by the use of morally wrong means. Though to Light the primary cause of his actions is to fight and defeat a challenging opponent. In Light’s case it is L, in Sherlock’s case it is Moriarty and both vice versa. I won’t bother comparing L and Sherlock, though it would be interesting to see both of them in competition.
The next point is more interesting to the female audience. BBC-Sherlock takes the whole “My dear Watson”-thing, that kept the Fujoshi,s busy for years, to a whole new level. It seems like all of their (wet) dreams have come true, now that no episode passes without hinting that the relationship of Sherlock and his dear John might be more than platonic, though they never cross the point of officially confirming it (maybe out of consideration for the male audience).
To those of you who are still not convinced that this especially pleases the desire of female Manga/Anime-fans, go and read a Hetalia-fanfic.
Spoiler-Alert! Finally it is time to look at the unbearably cruel cliffhangers at the end of Season 1 and 2. During my first rewatch, I noticed strange similarities between Sherlock and an Anime famous for its perfect usage of this plot device, namely Code Geass. At the end of the first season of Code Geass, the two protagonists Lelouch and Suzuka point a gun at each other. We didn’t know if one of them shoots or if anyone of them dies and we were left wondering for a whole year before it was explained what happened. Then, the finale of the second season showed the antihero Lelouch shouldering the whole guilt of the world and dying as a messiah while the whole world thinks of him as a mad dictator. Sherlock’s “death” at the end of Season 2 is not that ‘biblical’, yet he also has to die and in order to safe the ones dear to him, he claims to be a fraud, a psychopath and a murderer. In the eyes of the public this image remains, while he actually “died” as a true hero.
Those are my main points and I hope you enjoyed it. If you are an Anime-Addict or not you should definitely give Sherlock a try especially now, that the third Season has been scheduled for autumn.