Every year there’s that movie that you see mid-summer. It may not be a movie you particularly want to see or even one that you had planned on seeing. It’s that time you go to the cinema when it’s too hot out, buy a tango ice blast and some overpriced popcorn and sit in a dark room, watching some sort of action movie with a familiar actor. That is a great day out that has been denied to us due to the ongoing global pandemic.
However, that film, that idea of watching something entertaining without compromising our tired brains or our sweaty bodies. One that doesn’t really need or make you think. We should all be allowed that day. Yet we can’t get it, so luckily, Netflix’s new anime original Great Pretender is the perfect replacement.
Great Pretender (named after the famous Platters song) is a Japanese crime/comedy anime television series released on Netflix on 20th August 2020. The show was produced by Wit studio, who are known for adapting the worldwide phenomenon Attack on Titan.
The show focuses on Makoto ‘edamame’ Edamura, a two-bit Japanese conman who spends his days swindling old ladies, tourists and anyone he can to make a quick buck. One day he gets in over his head when he tries to con Laurent Theirry; a famous french con-artist. However, Edamura ends up getting tricked instead. After running away from Japanese police, Edamura follows Laurent to Los Angeles where he gets intertwined in a massive scheme to sell fake drugs to a member of the mafia.
Great Pretender works for a number of reasons. The first being it’s stackability as a show. There are currently 14 episodes available, which have been split into three different ‘cases’ or storylines; Los Angeles, Singapore and London. It makes the show much more appealing to a broader audience as they can essentially watch a whole story in under two hours. The plot features Edamura, alongside a cast of con artists that only steal from those that deserve it; a modern take on Robin Hood.
As the plotline is mostly centred around a heist, it makes the show simplistic enough to follow, but challenging enough to keep the viewer entertained. It certainly bears comparison to the Oceans franchise, as the Great Pretender tracks the crew as the years and heists go by, allowing for a smooth narrative progression alongside great character development.
Another reason that this show has captured the hearts and minds of anime fans is due to its art style. Reminiscent of Lupin III, the show effortlessly combines a more retro 1960’s style alongside modern anime production levels. It features bright contrasting colours alongside sharp character movements. To top it all off, the soundtrack is one of the best you’ll find in anime today; with an amalgamation of jazz, rock and more lo-fi inspired tracks. It’s also very important to note that the ending credits have Freddy Mercury’s version of Great Pretender sung by a bunch of animated cats.