A short post on the fun of enjoying the extremely awful main character of The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited (Fugou Keiji).
In my little corner of the anime community, the extremely wealthy are not well liked. To put it gently, we tend to perceive rich people as symbolic of a broken economic system, one that allows a small number of people to acquire assets far beyond what is reasonably needed for a good standard of living while others live in abject poverty. This is a reason that popular superheroes like Iron Man and Batman have fallen out of favor—their first superpowers, after all, are that they are absurdly rich.
But while we’ve collectively decried the millionaires and billionaires and turned our backs of mainstream favorites whose stories implicitly lionize their wealth, we’ve all fallen for a new face on the block: Daisuke Kamba.
What does our pale, slim, smug detective have that these others do not, that makes us weak at the knees for him? Why have we all seen his yen-infused policing tactics and, rather than being disgusted, celebrated? Why is that smirk, as he watches a man who truly believes in justice and doing the right thing fall into a river, so darn appealing? Is it just because he is drawn to be (admittedly, very) hot? Or is there something else that allows us to put concerns that bother us both in the real world and in other fictions in service to falling for this terrible, terrible, and very attractive man?
My theory is that there are two main factors at play, each nestled inside each other like matryoshka dolls or like two sequential gates—the first paves the way for the second. The initial one is the most obvious: The Millionaire Detective Balance: Unlimited is a work of fiction, and this fact gives us all the freedom to play at being attracted to a person who is by all accounts (pun not intended) aside from his looks, a true travesty of a human being.
But this is a bar that Iron Man and Batman clear, which leads us to the second factor. This is that The Millionaire Detective is the product of a subculture, rather than the mainstream pop culture zeitgeist. Although the show is based on a book that adapted into a live-action TV show in 2005, I’d wager that even in Japan the story never quick hit the mainstream (although I don’t really know, so feel free to correct me). Because the show emerges from a non-dominant entertainment culture, squealing over Daisuke Kamba avoids the unwanted knock-on effect of contributing to the popularity of a problematic fiction already impressing itself upon the masses.
In other words, if we scream about Daisuke Kamba’s smirk, we’re not going to perpetuate the superhero mono-culture that presents Batman and Iron Man as forces of good without examining the implications of their use of wealth. We avoid the guilt that might otherwise come, because really—the consequences of our love for Daisuke Kamba (I’m finding its impossible not to write his full name) are negligible.
“Do you hear your conscience telling you not to like Daisuke Kamba?”
And third, less interesting but perhaps just as important, reason is that The Millionaire Detective appears to be very self-conscious of Daisuke Kamba’s ridiculousness. If the show were to, Batman-style, prop up Daisuke Kamba as a figure to be admired (or even to be attracted to), I suspect far fewer people would be flocking to be looked down upon by our impeccably dressed, deep-pocketed seasonal hunk. Bobduh’s done a nice job describing the mechanics of the humor for ANN’s preview guide, but once again the point might be an alleviation of potential guilt.
We don’t have to worry about Daisuke Kamba being sold to us an idol, someone to aspire to be like. The show makes clear immediately that his methods are crude, and that as a person he is so insulated from the consequences of his actions that he is entirely unconcerned with the well-being of others. With the show itself aware of Daisuke Kamba’s, err, scumbag tendencies—and playing it for laughs that make him the butt of the joke—we can enjoy his nicely tailored suit, chiseled jaw line, delicately rendered line art, and the hotness that is a dude in earrings with abandon.
It’s a perfect playground of attraction, and that’s why we can’t get enough of the piece of shit that is Daisuke Kamba.
Or maybe he’s just hot and we don’t care about that other stuff.