Greeting everyone! Sorry for the delayed review, but we are still excited to bring you our review of Heaven’s Memo Pad! We’ll be back to reviewing full length anime now, after our fun Shorts Week. As always, beware of potential minor spoilers ahead, but there are highly unlikely to be any.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: Narumi Fujishima is an ordinary high school boy who remains isolated from his fellow classmates. One afternoon fellow classmate Ayaka Shinozaki invites Narumi to join the gardening club and introduces him to a reclusive detective named Alice. Alice hires Narumi as an assistant and puts him to work solving the strange mysteries of Angel fix, an illegal drug. Little does he know it could put him and Ayaka in serious trouble. -Anime News Network
When doing any sort of story of the detective and mystery genre, there are very frequently right ways to do it, and blatantly wrong ways, with the divide much crisper than in other genres. Heaven’s Memo Pad does a lot right between setting up most of the mysteries successfully, and giving hints to the viewer as the characters are also trying to solve it. It even occasionally throws in a red herring. However, Heaven’s Memo Pad becomes a good case of trying to do too much with too little. When it starts, it has a pretty bare bones premise and tries to expand on it more than it is capable of. The transitions between arcs are often muddy, and the inconsistent tone of the series makes it borderline cringey to watch sometimes. In the end, Heaven’s Memo Pad ends up being something very different from what it started out as.
The characters of Heaven’s Memo Pad has a fairly large and diverse cast, and as such, much of the story often revolves around their interactions and those relationships in solving the mysteries. The protagonist Narumi is an especially interesting character, as his character development is a little bit different from what we generally expect from the protagonist. The other character are well defined as well. However, the characters are highly specialized and some, such as the NEET detectives Alice withholding, seeming to exist only as plot conveniences. These specialized characters are not especially fleshed out, such as with backstory and the like, making them somewhat robotic. Alice is a little bit better off, but still much of her true character is withheld. These specialized characters are not as flexible to the inconsistent tone changes and just feel out of place.
The animation is plenty solid and easy to follow. The dark colors really fit the themes of the anime, of which we will discuss briefly. Overall, nothing to complain about.
The soundtrack is fairly varied and fits most scenes well, though it lacks anything special or especially notable. The varied music helps make up for some of the obscure tone shifts.
Like most detective shows, Heaven’s Memo Pad explores themes relating to what most people deems as society’s issues: drug, prostitution, etc. However, while Heaven’s Memo Pad explores many of these individually, it also explores the umbrella theme of corruption, which all of these problems embody. The show does this effectively given the urban environment and interactions with many Japanese would consider morally corrupted groups like NEETs and the yakuza (if you are unaware what this, think more organized Japanese version of gangs or mob). No character highlights the theme of corruption than Narumi, who by involvement with the NEETs, transforms from a cynical but good kid to someone who is violent and reckless, things you would not expect from him earlier in the story. The main issue with the themes is that Alice exists. She stands separate from this corruption, contrary to what most detective characters would do. While the show explores other archetypal themes such as truth and justice, Alice still seems out of place. From the very beginning she introduces the theme of truth, yet seems relatively uninvested in it. As the detective character, she should embody truth and justice, and the connection between them, not merely a plot convenience that she sometimes is.
Final Score: 8.2/10
Final Grade: B
Heaven’s Memo Pad was a fun anime. Honestly I don’t even remember why I watched it in the first place, because it is not the type of anime I would usually watch. Whatever made me give it a chance I am glad I did. It is a really fun anime. The characters are all fairly well put together and are enjoyable to watch. However, sometimes the anime would have a darker tone to it, which the characters don’t fit into very well. This sometimes makes things feel forced to move the plot along. The animation is really nice and clean, which just adds to the experience. Out of 10 I would give this anime a 7.5. I highly recommend this anime to people who are looking for a detective anime with a twist, or if you just want a fun new anime to watch. – B-Ro
Every now and then, a show comes along that just makes me say, “man, I love anime”. And Heaven’s Memo Pad, despite being pretty flawed, is one of those shows. What’s weird about it for me is that one of my favorite parts about the show is also the root of one of my biggest complaints: the concept. I just find it so strange and yet so awesome that there exists a show about NEET detectives with some Yakuza stuff mixed in all led by a 12ish year old girl who only likes Dr. Pepper. It reminds me of just how uniquely weird and creative anime can get. Conversely, this concept does kind of mess with logic and tones to an extent. The idea that these specific characters can do all of this is one that you just have to roll with. While I was able to do that most of the time, there were moments (especially some of the more serious ones and when they tried to be deep) where all I could think about was how not seriously I could take this premise. Though I do want to emphasize that this didn’t happen too frequently, and I did appreciate some of the deeper themes they were going for. I did really like the characters, and the music was pretty well done and extremely varied. It went from orchestral, to synth based, and I even heard some sort of lyrical reworking of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” at some point. That was pretty weird, but not in a bad way. The opening song was pretty good, the opening visuals are awesome, and the closing is a really random insert that left me scratching my head. Well, the first episode’s closing at least. The actual closing is okay. So despite a somewhat hard to get behind premise, and times when the plot and emotions can’t be taken seriously due to the premise, Heaven’s Memo Pad is an enjoyable show that I can’t help but love. Definitely more interesting and absorbing than most detective crime drama I’ve seen on network tv here in the states (except Psych, but you can’t top perfection).
Final Comments: A detective show that plays to its themes and animation well inspire a sense of awe at Heaven’s Memo Pad, though certain characters and plot particularities can feel very out of place.
Thank you for reading this review! What were your thoughts on Heaven’s Memo Pad? Be sure to comment below! If you missed out on Shorts Week, be sure to check out some of the anime and review we wrote on them by checking out the Bonus Post Announcing… Shorts Week. Our next review will be Fate/Zero.