Can counterfeits ever be considered works of art? It’s a question that comes up a lot in Holmes of Kyoto and its anime adaptation and it’s quite clear what Kiyotaka’s view is on the subject. To him, counterfeits are vile and disgusting items that cannot even compare to the real thing. Episode 5 of the anime marks a slight change when it comes to the order of the story (and also skipping some very interesting but unimportant mysteries). This is because Ensho finally makes his formal appearance, acting not only as a perfect foil to Kiyotaka when it comes to their values, but also giving the anime a long-running story that can weave itself into other episodes.
Japanese title: 失われた龍
I will expose all of his counterfeits
Akihito has come back to Kyoto in order to present a travel programme about Kyoto’s famous spots. Luckily for him, Kiyotaka just happens to be going to Nanzenji so he is able to tag along in order to learn about the temple. This episode is a little different from what we have seen so far due to this actually taking place from Akihito’s point of view! The scene that takes place next to the aqueduct is actually my favourite scene from Book 2, and I was very pleased that a lot of the dialogue was lifted directly from the books. Akihito and Kiyotaka’s relationship is quite amusing, and there is a different side to Kiyotaka that we get to see here only because the sweet and pure Aoi is out of the picture. Akihito’s internal monologue is mostly missing, except for one line – ‘Huh? That’s a pretty major thing he just said so smoothly’. Kiyotaka’s admission that he’d rather have a fling with a girl than a relationship is indeed said so smoothly and without feeling that it could have been easy to miss. Talking about favourite scenes, Akihito grabbing Kiyotaka’s hand in his excitement to declare that he wants to treat Kiyotaka was even more adorable in the anime, and the addition of the squeeing ladies in the background got a chortle from me (the girl that took a photograph, omg). Did you notice the way Akihito ran after Kiyotaka under the aqueduct like a puppy following his master? He’s so cute.
The episode then moves on to introduce us to the Moriarty to Kiyotaka’s Holmes – Ensho. The anime had already introduced him a lot earlier than in the books, but it’s understandable as he is such an important character when it comes to Kiyotaka’s character development. His voice actor is Kyoto native Yusa Koji, who is known not only for voicing characters in Kyoto dialect but also for voicing villains (perhaps one of his most recognizable characters, Gin Ichimaru from BLEACH, was actually both of those things). Ironically, Ensho is apparently from Amagasaki in Hyogo prefecture, but it’s still part of the Kansai region. The moment with Kiyotaka exposing Ensho when he attacks him with the fan marks a big change in the story as a whole. We suddenly have two enemies standing face-to-face. The hatred that Kiyotaka feels for the con-artist is quite clear, but Ensho seems to see it as more of a challenge. Essentially, it was the existence of Kiyotaka that caused him to start forging again. We are going to get see some interesting clashes between the two from here on. It’s not just simple hatred between two rivals- they both have a lot to gain from each other in the future, I’m sure. As the priest said to Kiyotaka, ‘we leave Ensho in your hands’.
Places that appeared in Episode 5
This episode mostly takes place in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto. This is where Kyomaf (Kyoto Manga and Anime Fair) takes place each year and is perhaps most famous for the ginormous torii shrine gate that stands in front of Heian Shrine. Kyoto Zoo and the Lake Biwa Canal Museum are located here, as well as Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the National Museum of Modern Art’s Kyoto branch. Although cut out from the anime, Akihito starts his journey at Keage train station on the Tozai line of the Kyoto Municipal subway, and he makes his way through an awesome tunnel called Nejirimanpo (so named because of the red bricks in the tunnel that spiral like a ‘neji’- a screw). Around here you can find not only the canals but also an incline which used to be used to ferry boats up and down. It’s no longer used for boats, but as the incline is lined with cherry blossoms it is now a very popular spot to view the beautiful trees! (don’t do what I did and wear heels…the incline is lined with gravel…) I used to walk through this area once a week, and one of the things I loved most was the usage of the red bricks which are so rare here in Japan. If you keep following the canal you will come to Nanzenji and the aqueduct which Kiyotaka and Akihito visited. This area is one of my highest recommendations if you are looking for somewhere quiet to spend an afternoon walking around in Kyoto.
The mystery of this episode takes place at Nanzenji, which is one of the most important Zen temples in Japan. At the entrance, you will find the huge Sanmon entrance gate, which you can climb for a small fee. It is associated with the famous line ‘zekkei ka na, zekkei ka na’ from the Kabuki play Sanmon Gosan no Kiri and uttered by the famous thief Goemon Ishikawa as he overlooks the fully blooming cherry trees. However, as Kiyotaka explains, Goemon had already been executed by the time the Sanmon was built, but that’s part of the romanticism that surrounds it. The temple is also famous for its autumn leaves, so it should definitely go on your list if you plan to visit Kyoto in late November.
This chapter is one of the only chapters to not be narrated by Aoi, and takes place entirely from Akihito’s point of view in the novel. Through his words, we get to see how much admiration he has for Kiyotaka, and it’s confirmed that he really is just a straight-up honest guy (even if it’s implied he’s a bit of a playboy and that he tends to sexually harass poor Aoi).
At the beginning of the episode, Seiji leaves the store only for his grandson to say, ‘you’re going to Pontocho, aren’t you?’ Pontocho is a narrow street that runs parallel along the Kamo river. There are many restaurants that line the alley, including affordable places that plebs like you and I can visit. However, the restaurants that Seiji visits are likely not those type. That is because Pontocho is a Hanamachi. A Hanamachi is a geisha district, so if you visit Pontocho during the right time in the evening you may see some of the beautiful maiko on their way to the teahouses. Due to Kiyotaka’s attitude towards his grandfather, it is likely that he’s off to visit geisha, or visit other expensive restaurants that are difficult to enter if you don’t have the right connections.
Here it Comes, Kiyotaka’s Kyoto Dialect
In this episode, Kiyotaka speaks in Kyoto dialect as he declares to Ensho that counterfeits are not worthy of being called art. It even leads to Ensho saying, ‘so that’s the real you, eh?’
Let’s start the appraisal
There was actually a lot happening in this episode. The first half of the episode focused on one foil to Kiyotaka, the bright and bubbly Akihito. Although he is also from Kyoto, he doesn’t have that ‘Kyoto Boy’ nastiness we see in Kiyotaka. Whereas Kiyotaka carefully weaves his words in a cunning way, Akihito is just a straight and honest as you can be (perhaps made more obvious by the fact he speaks in standard Japanese). Kiyotaka may be very harsh to the young actor, but it’s clear they do get along in some weird way. Then, we have a different kind of foil in the form of Ensho. Kiyotaka loses his composure only when counterfeits are involved, and he almost seems like a different person when it comes to this talented con artist. Having both these foils appear in this episode shows us just how much there is to Kiyotaka. Despite the quite poor animation (sometimes the characters eyes seem quite unfocused and it’s really off-putting), the delicate storytelling is still quite strong. As always, one chapter needed to be squeezed into one 20-odd minute episode, but we got the right balance here, and it seems the right point in the story to introduce a bit more drama.
In the next episode, we’re going to a party!
Don’t forget that we will be here each week with a preview of the next episode. You can check the stills gallery from Episode 5 here.
Holmes of Kyoto
Summer 2018 | Anime Info | Simulcast