A trope in and of itself, members of faith are usually portrayed as a caliber of charlatan or deceiver and are potentially as evil as the evil they are fighting, and usually at the expense of those they purport to be saving. But we are working both with and against this trope with “Vatican Miracle Examiner” (“Bachikan Kiseki Chōsakan”).
In this age of modern technology and scientific breakthroughs, miracles seem harder to find than ever. So, when one does occur, the Vatican wants to make certain that it is a true and genuine miracle before bestowing its blessing upon it. To this end, the tag team of Fr. Hiraga Josef Kō (left) and Fr. Roberto Nicholas (right) go to where they are directed to determine the validity of what is before them. So, in one sense, they are detectives (The Church Police?), but more properly called the Seat of the Saints. It’s just nothing is as it appears and what looks like a miracle ends up being something much more than bargained for.
Aiding them is the Italian hacker genius and jailbird, Lauren Di Luca. He decided to help them when he lost this complicated game that Hiraga invented. It’s kind of like Go played inside a giant wheel. Now, Lauren is such an amoralistic person, he wears an anklet filled with poison that can be employed if he goes against the Vatican. With this little entourage, they tackle these trying and troubling situations around the world.
This is where the negative part of the trope comes into play, as we realize that the ‘miracles’ are far less than they appear. But since it opens up into something more far-reaching, it is the faith of our two Fathers that come into question as well. There aren’t that many ‘stories’ to tell, as it takes three or four episodes to run it all down. This is a good thing, as nothing ever unspools as you wish it to be, and there are always hidden agendas and red herrings to try and distract you from your main goal. But the fathers also have their own demons to slay and they are constantly challenged on every front. They WANT to believe that this is a miracle, as their faith compels them to do so, but their analytical part forces them to examine and dispel the doubt.
I am sure the words of St Thomas Aquinas haunt them all the time: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” But they are pulled and pushed and challenged and dared and tempted and threatened in every aspect of their jobs, to which they even question their questioning. It was still a good series, at least for the mystery aspect of things. It’s when things got needlessly complicated that things soured.
Plus, this also had a downer point for me, and that is the ‘Pre-Show Warning’. Are things that bad that you have to hoist a disclaimer, lest people feel this is some caliber of documentary? “This story is a work of fiction. The names, characters and organizations in this work are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental.” What, the Catholic Church and some representative from Vatican City are going to come over to your anime company to slap you with a cease-and-desist order? I personally find these warning annoying, but I guess the suits want all avenues covered.
I will put that aside and suggest that you see this show. Even if you do not wish to buy into the religious angle of it, you can’t refuse a good detective drama and this certainly is that, as we see the logic and how the evidence points us in a particular direction. And with the complicated closing for the first season, there could be a second season, as the overall fox hunt intensifies.
This is what I call Grouped Binging. You could blitz through it, but I feel things work better if you operate within each arc, take a break, take on the next arc, rather than stem to stern (as you may feel you are being keelhauled). You can still do it all in one day, if that is your decision, but it gives you a break between investigations. Cleanse your palate before the next course, as it were.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Pretty standard)
Plot 8 (Well-balanced mysteries)
Pacing 7 (Moves along consistently)
Effectiveness 7 (A few too many flashbacks)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Bingeability 10 (But as a Grouped Binge)
Overall 8 (Really holds one’s interest)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Examine it fully.