Many TV detectives have a gimmicky side: Monk is as an obsessive compulsive, one of Randall and Hopkirk is dead, but perhaps this anime has the oddest TV detective of all: a werewolf hair fetishist.
Cuticle Detective Inaba is a surreal crime comedy, featuring all kinds of bizarre characters and crazy humour. The series began as a manga in 2008 by an artist under the pseudonym Mochi, and then was adapted as an anime at the start of 2013, running for a dozen episodes, with most of them consisting of two individual short stories, although some had longer or shorter narratives.
The title character, Hiroshi Inaba, is a “Secret Doberman”, a half-human, half-wolf being, who used to work for the police. Each Secret Doberman is attracted to a certain thing from which they are able to gain extra information about a case or some sort of extra power. In Inaba’s case, he is attracted to hair, which resulted in him becoming a hair fetishist. He cannot control his lust for natural human follicles (he is not interested in animals, and hates dyed hair). However, he no longer works for the police and is now a private detective, where he is also constantly trying to find his long-lost sickly younger brother Haruka.
He is assisted by 16-year-old Kei Nozaki, the token straight man of the show despite his huge love (and allergy) of cats. Inaba’s other assistant is Yuta Sasaki, a boy who cross-dresses as a stereotypically cute anime girl. Yuta is skilled at martial arts, one of which is often used on Inaba. This martial art causes Inaba to transform into a more powerful form, where he is able to gain extra powers when he bites a hair, depending on the colour. For example, black hair makes everyone around Inaba depressed, while blonde hair allows him to shoot lightning bolts. Inaba’s main client is his old police partner, Kuniharu Ogino, a man who loves his daughter a bit too much, and a man that jealous Yuta wants to kills because of his past relationship with Inaba.
Most of Inaba’s cases involve foiling the plots of a mafia family, led by Don Valentino – who just happens to be a goat with a fondness for eating money. Not surprisingly, goat Valentino hates wolves and thus considers Inaba his mortal enemy. Assisting Valentino are Lorenzo, a man constantly seen with a sack on his head and whose love of the Don is excessive; Gabriella, a short-sighted but deadly assassin who likes to kill anyone outside of a certain height range and make everyone else her minion (Kei fits into her range); and 14-year-old girl Noah, a mad scientist who becomes friends with Yuta due to their fondness for both wanting Ogino dead.
The enjoyable aspect of this series is the surreal comedy. Because it is surreal, just about anyone can get it because it is all bonkers to everyone, whether you speak Japanese or English. As a result, this is a comedy that plays to British sensibilities. The British have had a love of surreal comedy with the likes of The Goon Show, Monty Python and the works of Reeves and Mortimer. If you are into this sort of comedy, you will like this show.
There is not just the comic aspect too. As the episodes move along, the characters develop and become more human – or werewolf – or goat. Inaba especially becomes more complex, due his past relationships with his brother, the police, or indeed other characters that are revealed later on in the series.
Cuticle Detective Inaba is a barmy, silly, funny show that is worth watching if you like your comedy to be a bit bonkers.
Cuticle Detective Inaba is available on Region 1 DVD from Sentai Filmworks. It can also be streamed on the website Crunchyroll.