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.
7 thoughts on “The Millionaire Detective’s Daisuke Kamba: A Playground of Attraction”
Well, I would object that Batman and Iron Man have experienced one of the worst kinds of poverty there is, that of losing their loving parents before adulthood. I do not think they deserve to be in the same boat as Daisuke Kamba. Their main superpower is not the millions that they have inherited (and which to some point maintain the balance of their worlds, making them forces to be reckoned with in the corrupt Gotham and the confusing world of Hydra respectively), but their shared inventive and determination.
Batman deals with trauma and plans things from years ahead, and has his own version of the BNHA Midoriya booknotes applied to anything and anyone, while Iron Man´s origin story is a McGuiver story about solving an impossible situation through technical ability and few resources. And both have invented a way to deal with a new kind of threat to human life at a great personal cost. In my opinion, those who do so, even if they are billionaires, deserve the name and the admiration due to forces of good, to heroes.
The reasons you point out are fair, although I’m not sure they necessarily liberate either Batman or Iron Man from the criticisms of them that I describe. Daisuke Kamba, though, seems to be engaging in police work for his own gratification rather than any desire to contribute to the great good, so you’re right that in some ways it’s a bit rude to compare them. Then again, this post was made mostly for fun so I can’t admit to having fully thought through all the implications of the comparisons. Life is too short.
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Of course! My reply was done in the same spirit. As a lawyer in civil life, I love to half-seriously defend fictional characters online.
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I don’t much like Kanba, though. He’s the wrong kind of smug; just irritating me. Unfortunately, our co-protagonist is a little dull. The show has an easy energy driving it forward, so none of that matters much. But it’s not a show I’m going to watch for the characters (if I get through it at all).
Maybe they’ll do something interesting with the set-up? It’s not impossible.
To be honest, I think that you are not supposed to like Kamba as a person. But as a man? Well. That’s another matter.
You are right about the easy energy, though. I don’t know how the set-up will come to fruition; as is, it seems likely to be mostly comedy with possibly some “Kamba becomes less of a horrible person” thrown into the mix ala Sherlock.
I’m perfectly capable of liking unlikable persons as characters. I don’t like him as a character though, and after episode 2 I can honestly say I don’t like the other one as a character either. They deserve each other, but not necessarily on my time. I hear the show’s going to be delayed, and that’s probably lethal for my interest in the show. The show itself isn’t bad; good pacing, never boring, servicably pretty… But I don’t like the characters.
That’s very fair! To be honest, I also probably won’t go back to the show now that it’s been delayed either. It was fun to ponder in a tongue-in-cheek way Daisuke Kamba’s sexiness, but as they say, looks are but a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of life.
Or something like that.