First Impression: Pretty Boy Detective Club

A girl stands in the spotlight on stage and monologues about Voltaire, with a punchline about death. In the next scene, which takes us back to the beginning of her story, Doujima Mayumi nearly becomes that very punchline, but fortunately is rescued by a pretty boy in an outfit reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, just in the nick of time, as she plummets from the rooftop observatory of their (very Shaft-esque) private school. He deduces that she is searching for something in the starry sky and invites her to come present her case to the Pretty Boy Detective Club, a mysterious organization that is rumoured to cause as much—if not more!—trouble on campus as they solve. The over-the-top introductions over, Doujima admits that she has been searching for a star she once saw, ten years earlier, but soon must give up on her dream of finding it. Though she is prepared to dedicate her life to the quest and wants to become an astronaut, her practically-minded parents are having none of her “games”. She has until her (fast-approaching) 14th birthday to complete her search. The boys are on board to help her and ready the helicopter. No, really. They set off to recreate that fateful night, a decade earlier, when Doujima first saw that star that has sparkled in her eyes ever since—complete with a beach-side barbecue, for the sake of authenticity. These beautiful boys take their work as detectives seriously! Will they find the missing star? Will Doujima give up on her dream? 

Pretty Boy Detective Club has three rules: you must be pretty; you must be a boy; you must be a detective.

The MAL blurb for Bishounen Tanteidan sounded like a cross between Ouran High School Host Club—which I’m not really a fan of—and Hyouka—which I adore. But it’s also by Shaft and I just spent the weekend re-watching Madoka, so that tipped the balance—though I wasn’t holding my breath. Well, I was pleasantly surprised, as it exceeded my expectations! The opening monologue makes it clear this is neither a typical shoujo nor a straightforward send-up of the genre—and that’s a good thing in my books. Instead, we’re treated to a surprisingly self-reflexive episode that engages with the tropes of the shoujo and coming-of-age school drama genres in a genuinely thoughtful way, particularly in the closing dialogue between Doujima and the epicurean pretty boy, Fukuroi. She calls him and the boys out for their performativity, their disingenuous offer to help her and their patronising theatrics, and he shoots her down in return for not believing in her own dream. (The air cleared, they come to an understanding over mouth-watering kebabs.) I wasn’t expecting the masks to fall away quite so soon in what otherwise seemed to be a rather silly story. There might just be some real depth to this series! I will be tuning in to the next episode at least, to see if they find Doujima’s star…

Fukuroi dropping truth the way Doujima just dropped her kebab.

Pretty Boy Detective Club can be streamed on Funimation.

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