Genre(s): Comedy, Mystery, Adventure, Action
Age-Appropriateness: 17+ (Profanity, violence, one brief scene of nudity)
TheAwersome Rating: 8.5 / 10 (Quality Goods)
Premise: A series of unfortunate events has led Makoto “Edamame” Edamura to adopt the life of crime—pickpocketing and scamming others for a living. However, after swindling a seemingly clueless tourist, Makoto discovers that he was the one tricked and, to make matters worse, the police are now after him. While making his escape, he runs into the tourist once again, who turns out to be a fellow con man named Laurent Thierry and ends up following him to Los Angeles. To defend his self-proclaimed title of “Japan’s Greatest Swindler,” Makoto challenges his rival to determine the better scammer. Accepting the competition, Laurent drops them off outside a huge mansion and claims that their target will be the biggest mafia boss on the West Coast.
Jumping from city to city, Great Pretender follows the endeavors of Makoto alongside the cunning Laurent and his colorful associates in the world of international high-stakes fraud. Soon, Makoto realizes that he got more than what he bargained for as his self-declared skills are continually put to the test.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This was a great breath of fresh air on so many levels. The story and writing didn’t follow any overused tropes, the art style is striking and bold without being distracting, and the soundtrack is Jazzy and energetic. I was reminded of Cowboy Bebop in both the music and the non-pandering, more adult vibe this show gives off. There are a lot of great characters (and very attractive ones at that) so it’s easy to really get into. I will say that the first season outshines the second in my mind. As is often the case, when a really fun show gets down into serious overarching story mode and tries to answer all the questions, I’m rarely left fully satisfied.
TLDR: Cowboy Bebop meets Matchstick Men in a bright, bold, modern style.
While the second season gets more into character backstory and development (which is always good) I feel it tried just a bit too hard to make sure everybody’s stories all get tied up perfectly. In doing so, it takes a hefty blow to suspension of disbelief (and pacing), so you’ll just have to roll with the tenuous plotlines and easily foilable schemes that get by unscathed.
You’ll likely enjoy this if you enjoyed: