I’m kind of liking the influx of anime on Netflix. The madium is certainly popular in many circles, but it’s still surprising to me that Netflix has latched on to it. Granted, Netflix seems to be dead set on making or shepherding as many new projects as possible, profit margins be damned, but still. Not everyone is into anime like they are comedy movies or police dramas for example, so it’s nice to see the medium getting a lot of love from the streaming giant.
B: The Beginning is a 12-episode series that takes place in the fictional nation of Cremona. The show’s first scenes communicate that this will be a hunt for a serial killer. Shortly after, however, we see that there are definitely going to be a lot of fantasy elements as well. This split first impression leaves the viewer a bit confused as to what the show wants to be. That feeling permeates throughout the entire series too. As a result, B: The Beginning is just okay.
Brilliant Detective and Angel……..Thing
The story revolves around and alternates between two characters. One is Keith Flick, an ace detective/analyst who’s been hibernating for 8 years since the death of his younger sister. He believes that the current murders, perpetrated by the one known only as “Killer B”, will lead him to his sister’s killer as well. He inserts himself into the investigation and immediately begins wowing the other cops with his brilliance. None of it makes a whole lot of sense. The connections Keith makes are of the “um, okay I guess” variety. We don’t know enough about the setting and characters to know how he’s drawing these conclusions. The plot tells us he’s right though, so things move forward.
The other protagonist is Koku, who repairs violins by day and is a mutant angel by night. He can sprout black wings and his left hand turns into a sword he can fight with. He’ll need all this and more, as an underground organization named Market Maker is out to get him. They’re comprised of eight or so combat-ready, sometimes depraved individuals who are dead set on capturing him. They and Koku seem like they have something in common, but it’s not clear what that might be.
Clash of Genres
For fear of spoilers I won’t say much else about the plot other than that the two stories move forward from there and may intertwine. That’s probably nothing you didn’t already know. It’s not uncommon to blend genres of fiction, so that’s nothing to get hung up on. Doing this well is not to be taken for granted though.
That’s really the issue with B: The Beginning. There are some worthy ingredients here, but they’re not blended all too well. You have two stories running alongside each other, both of which have their highs and lows. You’ll be bored with one of them for an episode or two but then things will pick up. It’s also worth nothing that these peaks and valleys are never in sync with each other. It’s up to each individual viewer whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing given what’s presented here.
When the plots to veer towards or run into each other, it just doesn’t feel natural either. This is probably the biggest issue with the show despite the good, which I’ll highlight below and that the show does have. The script is the biggest issue here though. I like a lot of the characters and I like a lot of the ideas, but the plot just never settled down and gelled for me.
The good news is that B: The Beginning is just okay, but in that critique are some positives. The animation is solid in my opinion. I also think that the character designs are above average. The fight scenes have a unique style to them that’s sort of minimalist at times (or the sign of a lower budget), and it actually works very well. There are also fights that seem to have legitimately good choreography. You can tell that the creators put a lot of thought into each and every movement, which I appreciated.
For all my complaints about the plot(s), I would say that the show stays interesting the whole way through. It’s just a shame that it never even comes close to that addiction, binging quality. Again, the plot lines had potential to get there, but competed too much for my attention.
You could do a lot worse than B: The Beginning if you’re searching for an anime to watch, or any kind of show on Netflix for that matter. Though I found the supporting cast to be pretty generic, you may find one or two other characters you like as well. If nothing else, there’s a lot going on that attracts the eye and makes you wonder how things might unfold. There’s just a little too much of that for the show’s own good. It really feels like two completely different shows trying to be melded into one. The result is a narrative that argues with itself the entire way. Still entertaining enough in a pinch, but overall, B: The Beginning is just okay. The main characters are good enough.