Come with me and take a trip to the beautiful city of Kyoto. Kyoto Teramachi Sanjo no Holmes or Holmes of Kyoto is a series of novels by Mai Mochizuki which uses the ancient Japanese capital as a backdrop for this mild yet interesting story about an antique shop named Kura and the people connected to it. I am actually coming in to this anime as a fan of the original novels, and the city hold a special place in my heart. My first year living in Japan was spent at Kyoto University, and I absolutely fell in love with the city.
Before you get started with the anime, it’s probably important to note that despite the name, we aren’t getting a Detective Conan style anime here! The mysteries are quite mild, and it’s just a calming story in general. The real focus here is on the characters and their development while learning all kinds of new things about Kyoto and Japanese antiques.
Let’s look at the first episode!
Japanese title: ホームズと白隠禅師
‘Didn’t you know? Kyoto men are quite wicked’
The first episode of Holmes of Kyoto was a lovely and calming watch. I was surprised at first since they switched the order of the story around slightly by adding the scene with the Osakan scammer into the first part of the story and then adding in what was the prologue of the first novel in as a flashback. I think this was a pretty good move, as the scene with the scammer instantly showed off Kiyotaka’s appraisal and deduction skills, his polite yet slightly wicked personality, and the cute relationship that he and Aoi share. Importantly, it also shows his absolute disgust for counterfeits. In the flashback, we see Kiyotaka practically reading Aoi’s mind and I always love how he is quick to tell people that his nickname does not come from Sherlock Holmes (sure, boy).
As for Aoi, I was a little worried about how she would come across in the anime. She is actually the narrator for the majority of the chapters in the books, so most of her personality comes through in her internal dialogues. I find her extremely cute and just a normal teenager to whom I related pretty quickly. Her desperation to go back to Saitama after her boyfriend and best friend betrayed her sounds pretty stupid, but to a teenager like her, this kind of thing can feel like the end of the world. I honestly feel for her. The anime version of Aoi seems very cute so far; for example, her terrified look when she saw the porcelain doll and the way she jumped back and shielded herself from the teacup when she learned it was worth 60 million yen. The way she barked out ‘if you have milk and sugar’ when offered coffee was exactly how I imagined her face too.☆
Speaking of facial expressions, having an anime means we get lots of reaction faces! The intense expression on Kiyotaka’s face as grandpa Seiji was hitting on Aoi was pure gold and something I couldn’t have imagined reading the books, so that gave me a good giggle. Kiyotaka’s body language is also perfect, with his pointy fingers, wry smile, and the odd wink or two. He is meant to be the epitome of ‘elegance’ and came across very well here. When he says to Aoi, ‘Us Kyoto men are awfully wicked’ in his native Kyoto dialect and a teasing pose, us girls are meant to feel a ba-thump in our chests (trust me, that this is more likely if you realize he is speaking Kyo-ben). I certainly did! (But my heart already belongs to Akihito, who we will probably be meeting in just a couple more episodes).
All in all, I am happy so far as an existing fan. The calm atmosphere has been kept perfectly and it looks like we are in for some treats when it comes to seeing the important temples which will appear in the story.
Nasty Kyoto Boy
People from Kyoto are often said to be very prideful and malicious, or haraguroi (literally means ‘black-bellied’). After the business with the Osakan scammer, Kiyotaka cheekily tells us that people from Kyoto are indeed haraguroi. Kiyotaka sure does have a cheeky aspect to him, and that is because he is a ‘Kyo Otoko’ – a Kyoto Man. However, Aoi very cutely keeps getting this phrase wrong and refers to him as ‘Kyo Danshi’ – Kyoto Boy. This brings us to Kiyotaka’s poignant line near the end:
‘Kyo otoko wa ikezu nan ya de’
This is Kyoto dialect for, ‘Us men from Kyoto are wicked’ and you probably noticed the big effect it had on Aoi. In fact I think at this part of the book, Aoi says (I paraphrase) ‘my heart was cartwheeling in my chest’ and I can see why. This is also the first time Kiyotaka speaks in his native Kyoto dialect directly to Aoi, as he usually speaks in very polite standard Japanese.
Apart from the line above, there is actually another part of the story where Kiyotaka speaks in Kyoto dialect and that is when he is throwing out the scammer. Although he speaks in this dialect to his friends, which we may or may not see later on, Kiyotaka uses very polite standard Japanese to almost everybody, including his own father and grandfather. The only exceptions to this rule are when he is feeling particularly emotional. This means that when he’s using dialect, you’d better watch out! Unfortunately, this will be very easy to miss if you are unfamiliar with Japanese, but I’m sure the official subtitles will try to work something out for you guys. The only other times Kiyotaka uses Kyoto dialect are…well… you will see.
By the way, Kiyotaka’s father speaks in standard Japanese and his grandfather speaks in Kyoto dialect all the time (his grandfather is voiced by Rikiya Koyama, who is a native of Kyoto City).
Places That Appeared in Episode 1
This one is probably the most obvious place as this is where the all-important antique shop Kura is situated. Teramachi arcade is a covered shopping arcade which runs north to south in the center of the city. Sanjo is a famous street which runs east to west, so Teramachi Sanjo is the area where the two intersect. It’s quite easy to pinpoint more-or-less the exact spot where the shop is, and you can even see a shop based on the famous crab restaurant ‘Kani Douraku’ when Aoi leaves the shop. (Interesting trivia, the main Kani Douraku store in Osaka appeared in Idolish7 episode!)
Kyoto University Clock Tower
Kiyotaka mentions that he is to enter Kyoto University for his post-graduate degree. We see a building with a clock tower as he mentions it. This is the famous symbol of the prestigious university and is right at the entrance to the Yoshida campus. If you have seen The Tatami Galaxy or Night is Short Walk on Girl, you will probably be quite familiar with this tower already!
The river we see at the beginning is most likely the Takanogawa or Takano River. This river is close to Aoi’s house near Shimogamo shrine (more on this next episode) and joins with the famous Kamo River to run straight south through the city. These two rivers are very famous for their cherry blossoms, so it makes sense that we start off with this shot in the episode.
Let Us Start the Appraisal
From the standpoint of a fan, I was very happy with this episode! Although the animation is not very polished, the cute designs of the characters and the wonderful design of Kura more than enough made up for it… for now. However, I’m a little surprised to see that Kiyotaka’s father and grandfather look the same age! (I always imagined grandpa Seiji to be bald, haha). All the important bits were carefully chosen to put into this short episode, and changing the order slightly as well adding in that shot of Ensho the monk getting angry at the scammer were definitely a good choice. I am still a little unsure about having Kiyotaka voiced by somebody from Tokyo, but Ishikawa’s performance stills gets across the gentleness, grace, and slightly teasing attitude of Holmes very well. It was a nice touch to have the characters Ueda and Mieko appear (they are in the shop when Aoi first steps into Kura). Ueda is from Osaka and is voiced by an actor from Kobe (very close to Osaka) and Mieko is from Kyoto and voiced by an actress from Kyoto.
If you don’t mind a slow-paced, calming anime, then I hope you will stick around! You will get to learn so much about Japanese antiques and the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto!
Don’t forget that MT will be here each week with a preview of the next episode. You can check the stills gallery from Episode 1 here. You can also check our First Impressions article to see what I and the rest of MT’s writers think about the series.
Kyoto Teramachi Sanjo no Holmes
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Simulcast