Even something as familiar to Riko as Reg’s face is inverted the first time she opens her eyes at the beginning of their journey. The fact that the above framing is thanks to Reg’s protectiveness does little to assuage the sense of foreboding that permeates the entirety of Episode 4.
Robot high-school student Nano Shinonome is late for school. She calls back into her house — a small, older unit close to the train overpass — not to a parent but to her young professor before dashing out the door. Running, she checks the small digital watch set in her forearm. It’s 7:50 a.m.. “Maybe if I run, I’ll just barely make it,” she says.
As she nears the first intersection, a blond boy with headphones appears. He hums along to his music while walking. Nano begins flailing her arms like pinwheels in an attempt to stop suddenly. “Watch out!” she yells. It’s too late. The collision causes an explosion felt all over town. A few moments later, debris hits fellow high-school student Yuuko Aioi.
Strong visual direction doesn’t simply look beautiful, although that’s certainly an aim. The strongest of visuals lead one’s eye down a specific path, telling a story just as well as any dialogue or script. In some cases, like that of The Perfect Insider, they do the heavy narrative lifting, making parts of the script seem rote and tedious in comparison.
In spite of a few animation and perspective struggles, The Perfect Insider is a slow burn of an anime series that relies more on its visual direction and cinematography than its writing or dialogue, which is somewhat surprising considering that it’s based on a mystery novel. Where one would expect the series to focus primarily on the verbal sparring between two would-be detectives – Professor Souhei Saikawa and his student, Moe Nishinosono – the audience’s eye is instead drawn to the aforementioned Moe and Dr. Shiki Magata.