The Great Pretender Must Read Reviews
Makoto Edamura is a cheat who is supposed to be “Japan’s most prominent deceiver.” One day, in the wake of attempting to pickpocket an outsider, Edamura tracks down that the entirety of his cash was taken all things considered. Pursuing the man down right to Los Angeles, he learns the outsider is Laurent Thierry, a French rascal who has connections to global criminal associations. After Edamura follows Thierry and ruins his enormous medication bargain, Edamura gets tied up and left to kick the bucket on the popular Hollywood sign
Action, Adventure, Mystery, Comedy, Psychological
What we have here is an expression of love for art. It’s a treat in every sense of the phrase, being sweet to the taste beyond expectation and a dietary rarity worth your appreciation and indulgence. As time goes on, television ad rates plummet, and production committees get stingier and stingier with their limited funding and man power, impossibly ambitious original anime become more and more financially harrowing to fund and logistically nightmarish to create. Yet somehow, here we have it, the beauty to behold: Great Pretender.
How much of what I’m about to tell you which you find completely obvious is entirely dependent on how blind, deaf, and senseless you happen to be, because if you ask even such a staunch critic as myself, this is the hardest masterwork to overlook and the single most broadly appealing triumph of entertainment I can name. From the drop dead gorgeous artwork and animation to the surprisingly thoughtful, endlessly amusing storyline, and from the delightful cast of lifelike characters overflowing with charisma to the fantastic music which itself is just as charming and built with just as much personality as any one of the characters, every facet of the show is delivered with expert craftsmanship awarding its audaciously dedicated production values. Given just how expressive, experimental, and downright weird the roots of anime are, most of the standouts which you can find therein are just as esoteric, and Great Pretender stands to be an exception the likes of little before. Inspired by Western crime dramedies which it swiftly outclassed in a single debut episode of exceptionally clever episodic structuring and excellent visual direction, Great Pretender follows amateur swindler, Makoto Edamura, as he gets swept away by the real deal, a gang of con men with whom he exploits others and entertains himself all whilst reaping the seeds of trickery they’ve all sown together…which is what I meant by “broadly appealing.” Yes, I conveniently left out the show’s thought provoking themes, all its discussions and ideals on social injustice justifying an individual’s turn to crime, but my basic summary of the plot is no lie, and it is such a cliche setup as to be almost embarrassing, so the fact I can even get close to calling it the masterpiece which I nearly have already speaks to the brilliance of all involved in its peerless creation. Great Pretender is solid proof a simple concept can write its way to a classic. It’s exploding with life, love, and lavishness in every way it can, and anyone unable to appreciate the monumental effort and unrivaled talent necessary to deliver on such a beauty or empathize with the unflinchingly human psychological core behind all its scheming and hilarity is simply beyond my comprehension, or somehow just contrarian enough to deny it all.
If I had to oversimplify it, what makes Great Pretender so good in a single phrase is the tact with which each episode is handled and the way in which they are uniquely cared for by whichever member of the directorial staff headed its careful creation. Despite being an arc structured show which does not hesitate to grab you with low-stakes, hardly annoying cliffhangers, the true method to the narrative’s madness is every single episode feeling like an open and shut case nailing the finish and leaving you as gratified as you are dying for more, whether you be left hanging on the cathartic conclusion to a resonant character development, the satisfying resolution to an episodic or overarching plot point, or simply on the butt of an actual joke, landing yet another delightful punch line driving home the show’s damn funny comedic identity just a little more. Unlike most anime and, quite frankly, most entertainment in general, Great Pretender is self-aware regarding all its metatextual eccentricities and in-universe contrivances, so no matter how hysterically outrageous nor matter how artistically bold the story goes about presenting itself, it will always be tongue in cheek enough to come across as jest as opposed to being an irksome logical conundrum, and while not every episode is as perfectly balanced as the last, the show as a whole certainly is. Most anime which aren’t made for TV find themselves with the privilege to be as uncensored as they’d like, and by extension, they often end up leaning too hard on their freedom to finally incorporate vulgarity and nudity to their heart’s content, but Great Pretender stands as a complete and total exception. Accompanying its boisterous comedy and sensational personality is an incessant sense of realism offered by—yes, those brands of obscenity—but also by its deftly paced character time and nuanced characterization sewn throughout the hijinks. Comparable only to the best of Shinichiro Watanabe’s works from Cowboy Bebop to Space☆Dandy, Great Pretender has mastered the art of endearing and repulsing the audience with its duplicitous adult cast, the push and pull which invests viewers in the among the most human yet still the most entertaining on-screen individuals one can find in the most natural way one can find them.
What makes building a character such a delicate science is you want to make them worthy of the screen by having their actions be somewhat absurd enough to be entertaining, but you also want to keep their passions down-to-earth enough to be emotionally engaging as relatable human beings, and this is where Shinichiro Watanabe truly excels. No one just throws on episode one of Samurai Champloo immediately invested in characters as ostensibly ridiculous as Mugen, Jin, or even the comparatively normal Fū, but given how well-written and smartly characterized these misfits are over the course of the show—the show which itself makes a point to show them at their lowest, most vulnerable points in life and at their happiest, most unapologetically free spirited—even the most jaded among viewers will finish the journey completely immersed in their stories, assuming, of course, they weren’t cynical enough to drop the show before then. Great Pretender is not only a master of the exact same craft, but one which has just as handily mastered the accompanying craft of outstanding voice acting. Complementing the prepossessingly sharp character designs of industry legend, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, every character is deftly brought to life by a cast of talented actors and actresses who’s voices embody their respective characters to a tee. As Makoto and his compatriots march along the vibrant parade which the animation staff has made their lives, skeletons start falling out of closets just as you’d expect them to from the secret histories of real people, and the characters subtly progress in intimacy as they overcome problems of life and love alike. Be it Laurent, the mastermind fueling every fire under everyone’s asses; Abby, the blunt, stoic braun serving as the honest counterbalance to Laurent’s conniving brains; or Cynthia, the absolutely badass, electric heroine who you’ll be wanting as a best friend for life or desiring as a wife by the end of the show depending on your sexual preferences; every single one of the colorful personalities on screen has just as much to learn and love behind their beautiful faces as the cover of the show itself has. And speaking of having a colorful personality, Great Pretender is one hell of a feast for the eyes!
Great Pretender, visually, is straight fucking unbelievable. While you may get this impression immediately, credit to Takeda Yūsuke’s ever legendary background art, all facets of this anime prove themselves to be crafted to the perfection of a Production IG classic back from the days of the Kamiyama Team who shared the same art director. Be it the explosive yet expertly balanced coloration and its astoundingly consistent shading, the flawless character artwork and the intricately detailed linework required by those razor sharp designs, or the flowingly lavish animation elegantly weaving it all together, every frame of Great Pretender is laudable to some degree even at its very lowest points and worthy of a standing ovation at its mountainous heights. Everything is overflowing with personality and branded with an unforgettable artistic identity such that I can promise with complete confidence you’ve never seen anything quite like it at such a high production value, and I promise just as easily you’ll never see anything like it again outside the purview of Production IG. This is the first project handled by WIT Studio with the exception of their debut series with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa’s full involvement, and his intimacy with this endeavor is no secret given the amount of IG names inscribed on this gem. With Takeda Yūsuke having already been mentioned, Kyouji Asano, the now legendary graduate of Team Oshii and Animation Director for Psycho-Pass and the first two seasons of Attack on Titan, has made his return along with too many animators to count, and Ishikawa also seems to’ve organized the recruitment of the best of the best not already under the illustrious IG umbrella. From the criminally obscure genius color designer behind works such as Space☆Dandy and Redline, Yūko Kobari, to the industry veteran sound director who worked with Chiaki Konaka in bringing to life the brilliant soundscapes of Serial Experiments Lain and The Big O, Shouji Hata, Great Pretender is stacked with more talent than you could ever imagine, and somehow, every little bit of it shows. Great Pretender is the first time WIT Studio has fully lived up to both the technical perfection and unflinching consistency of their founders at Production IG, and it never ceased to be breathtaking to behold on the whole.
The introductory paragraph of this review is worded in such a way to mirror the first anime review I ever read, which I’d directly quote if not for having unfortunately forgotten the address of whatever blog I saw it on. I only remember the impression its wordage left on me. Sentimental, I know. It was a review for an anime equally ambitious and equally outstanding as Great Pretender which shocked as many critics as fans it elated. It was a work also made at the dawn of a new decade, relatively speaking, and much like this decade, it was a time in which anime as a whole was on a downturn. Studio Madhouse had just thrown out Masao Maruyama in the face of their ambition fueled bankruptcy, and now, a decade later, their only remaining holdout of talent is Director Natsume, who’s work is the only excuse optimists have left to not call the studio dead. Gainax had been exposed for their toxic business environment which drove away Hideaki Anno only to then lose its remaining creative leads, who now, nine years later, are thriving in their own limelight at studio Trigger whilst proudly carrying the creative torch of the Gainax of old before it all went sour. More positively speaking, Kyoto Animation was redefining the word “polished” and winning award after award for their work on genres most powerhouse studios would scoff at, yet now, nine years later, a fifth of their staff was horrifically massacred in an inhuman arson which has gone down in history as the second most deadly mass killing on Japanese soil since the end of the Second World War. So much has changed since that review was posted, so much, except the studio which pioneered the anime it was reviewing. That’s right, the studio was Production IG, and the anime was Psycho-Pass. The reviewer offered his thanks to the pantheon of artistic prowess and creative genius which had, in such an incredible fashion and with such an epic production, restored their hope in an industry they saw as stagnating, and now it’s my turn to do the same. The son has grown into the shoes of the father, as WIT Studio has finally, unequivocally matched their founders at Production IG, and with their achievement, my own hope in the anime industry has been restored just as those of the cynics before me.
Thank you for reading.
Great Pretender was exceptionally disappointing. What I thought to be watching was a modern Lupin, it ended becoming the classic ‘predictable but not fun’ kind of story. I wanted to like it and say originals aren’t always bad… I couldn’t.
Nothing in this godforsaken anime makes sense. Every ‘plan’ is meant to show that our main cast is good at this, but everyone besides them are plain stupid so of course they’re gonna succeed without breaking a sweat, or are they? Well, we’re meant to believe that they’re trying really hard but the ‘challenges’ are never found. All of the outcomes are painfully predictable and you can see who is who and/or what she or he is up to based on their personalities alone. The supposedly villains are just there, often times without any reason and in the end they lose, as you would guess. What you don’t know is that all of this feels underserved. You don’t cheer for the main cast nor get to either love or hate the villains. You only feel empty. Like an emotionless humanoid who wanders in search of happiness. That empty.
Furthermore, some of the characters are so smart that often times distort reality. “Predicting the prediction one character has predicted once his prediction was predicted” is the whole anime in a nutshell. When these guys start doing something you know they’ll win, as aforementioned, undeservedly. Nothing can go wrong with them around and I don’t like how their “everyday life” is portrayed. You see them walk all over and yet, after everything they’ve done, they still live. How’s that possible? Because it isn’t. The ‘Great Pretender’ world is modern and considering the whole thing is full of cameras (and more) I don’t see any reason why the gang hasn’t been killed yet or at the very least put in prison. Is this anime really expecting me to believe that despite all of that they keep outsmarting everyone? Because if that’s intended to I don’t buy it for a second. It’s humanly impossible.
“Great Pretender” has a bad cast, a poorly written story with a immeasurable predictable results and even its ending song (which is best thing this anime has to offer) couldn’t save it. If you want to hear my advice, stay away from this. Just my two cents.
We will, we will mislead you.
There are many confidence man in this world. Some people acts for money. If they did mistake once, they loses everything. It serves them right. Because they’re villains. Well, exception exists. They bring out excellent skills in some cases and keep surviving like pro. The group name is unknown but we can know their existence. “GREAT PRETENDER”.
In Los Angeles, Makoto Edamura’s trouble begins continuously. He is this show’s MC and his nickname is Edamame. He is known for very famous confidence man in Japan. However, his luck didn’t continue forever. One day, Edamura was cheated out of his money by a certain person. He was force to go America. Main story starts from here. Edamura would be caught up in lots of case. At first, I love Edamura’s personalities so much. He is very clever, sensitive, and clumsy in a good way. His English locution is really funny. In other words, strong accent. Edamura isn’t perfect human. His past is very cruel and sad. He became a confidence man helplessly. His true dream is opposite of something like that. More bright and hopeful, you know. He cherish his family and friends at the same time. Especially his family is the biggest existence for him. Edamura is not evil. His life is thought-provoking and profound. You never know when our lives may come to the end. Actually Edamura is struggling for his destiny so hard. You may be misunderstand his first impression but wrong. Edamura is a purely human. Following the above, I can respect him. He knows money is not everything. You can understand his identity by watching this show. He only think of his important people. Let’s talk about Edamura’s advantages more. He is a good talker because he is a confidence man. So he can fool and steal someone’s things. This point involved in main story deeply. He seems silly during every episode but different. He cheat some enemies by his own brain, and eventually he gets the upper hand. That’s why he continues to his job very well.
Not only Edamura, but there are many smart characters in this show. Laurent, Abigail, Cynthia. They’re also main characters. You can expect their character development. It’s amazing. Abigail is a hot-tempered, grumpy, militant woman. She has fatal bond with Laurent. Her past is so hard more than Edamura. I won’t spoil her details but she is very delicate in terms of human feelings. Her special skill is Air Race. In a word, badass. Abigail knows how to win in betting. Almost opponent loses to her. It can also be said gun fights. She is the strongest gunslinger. About Cynthia, she is quite sexy and comprehensive woman. Cynthia has lit sweetheart but their relationship is complex. Nevertheless, they keep good relationship. Her fascinating looking and speaking would be confuse every enemies. Don’t underestimate her true power. She is understandable with her companions at the same time. How cute. Laurent is the most mysterious guy. His information is all riddle. Although he is basically good man. He already see through Edamura’s potential before meeting. He is genius. You should be seen relationship like Edamura and Laurent in many works: buddies theme. However, this show is wrong. Two relationship is just setting. Not including important elements. But you can expect their funny and interesting dialogues. Of course, this is not something limited to them. This show is full of surprise. Every cases are really enjoyable.
Wit Studio’s visuals won’t be disappointed you. They’ve been did good job like Attack on Titan. Great Pretender is no exception, too. Very colorful, detailed, well-made. Especially OP animation with jazz. Reminds me of Baccano! and Cowboy Bebop strongly. Their working never betray us. I praise their world level hard work. I wanna appreciate them. Music and voice acting also eargasm. ED song is brilliant. Freddie Mercury is known for Queen’s vocalist. I was surprised staff members used The Great Pretender. Awesome. Every episode won’t get bored us. Because main writer is Ryouta Kosawa same as Confidence Man JP (Japanese TV program name). If I was to describe about this show’s slogan, Confidence Man USA. I’m a big fan of Hiro Kaburagi (this show’s director). His 91 Days job was truly wonderful for me. Great Pretender can be spiritual successor of 91 Days. Both have gene.
Great Pretender is literally GREAT show. Many exciting scenes, well-written characters, mature style. This show is definitely targeted for older people or adult audience. Not your typical crime thriller at all. I love this show from my heart. I recommend this PRETENDER gem to you. I hope you will surely love it. This show deserves more attention. AOTY as Original category for me.