Daughter of Twenty Faces: anime review – good ingredients but bad recipes

Review: Daughter of Twenty Faces is a good example of the anime that has all the best ingredients for making a great epic action series but fails miserably because it lacks a good chef who knows how to put these ingredients into good use.

Chiko is heiress to the rich family. She is adopted by her aunt who continually poisons Chiko’s food and eagerly awaits her death so that she can eventually claims her fortune. Thanks to Chiko’s intelligence, she manages to avoid most of the dangerous food and prays for the day she will be set free. The story is set into motion when Twenty Faces breaks into Chiko’s Mansion and takes her away from her evil relatives (along with the family heirloom, the Anastasia Ruby).

The first arc is a brilliant yet traditional crime drama. It depicts Chiko’s life during her stay with Twenty Faces’ band and the viewers get to see Chiko growing up and learning the art of combat and thievery. It sets our expectations to something completely different from the rest of the series and perhaps different from what the series really try to tell. Thus, the remaining part of the show feels irrelevant and incompatible.

The middle part starts after Twenty Faces’ group is disbanded. Chiko returns home and keep searching for the seemingly dead Twenty Faces. This is the worst part of the show, in my opinion. Everything seems at a lost, no direction, no progression and full of irrelevant and pointless subplots. Somehow, the anime utterly loses its momentum which is well built up during the first arc and the abrupt change of mood from crime drama to urban detective/comedy is almost unbearable. I have no idea why the show bothers to bring up the detective girls story because eventually it’s all about Chiko anyway. For me this middle part is mostly fillers until Twenty Faces returns and the final arc begins.

The third and final arc is the revelation part; Twenty Faces’ true identity and mysterious past are exposed fully and the anime, abandoning the previous detective/drama genre, takes a sharp turn towards sci-fi action genre. If it weren’t for the same OP, I would have thought I was watching a completely different anime. This final part is pretty good, actually. It has interesting sci-fi elements like the fourth form of water and the ending sequence is compelling with lots of large scale action scenes. The problem is that the whole thing does not fit well with the previous part of the show. The persistent inconsistency of the show’s theme is all the more evident.

On retrospective thought, Daughter of Twenty Faces is the show with incredible promise. Chiko as a noble girl trained by the world renowned criminal sounds extremely interesting. Twenty Faces with the mystery surrounding him and his past sounds like a very good plot device. The animation and music are consistently well done and nothing to be ashamed of. With better pacing, direction and probably better director, the anime would have turned out to be a good entertainment at the least.

To put things simply, Daughter of Twenty Faces composes of three arcs;
The first arc is a brilliant old school crime drama.
The second arc is an incompetent and incoherent detective story.
The third arc is an average action, sci-fi, steam punk anime.
The end result is a shameful disappointment. (The C rating comes solely from the first arc)
Rating: C

Facts
Title: Daughter of Twenty Faces (Niju Menso no Musume)
Genre: action, sci-fi, crime drama
Released date: April 12, 2008 – September 27, 2008
Episode: 22
Director: Nobuo Tomizawa
Animated by: Bones
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8 responses to “Daughter of Twenty Faces: anime review – good ingredients but bad recipes

  1. I’d say your complaints are spot-on. The first story arc was absolutely thrilling. Somewhere after that, the story just became sorta inane and boring in that you wished Chieko would go back to being her daring self punctuated by a sort of independence. But nope, she leans far too heavily on her mentor and that dependence was what really laid the show low.

  2. It’s like you took the thoughts right out of my head and placed them online (if this was America I would have pressed charges :-) ). I still remember it as one of the biggest disappointments in the anime-genre for me. Like you said, it started out excellent…interesting plot-line, captivating story and a realistic depiction of Chiko’s life without the usual “sugar-coating” too often used in anime these days. It simply had it all and I really looked forward to watching every new episode that came out which is something of a rarity for me. And then 1/3 through the series the entire production cast must have had a simultaneous cerebral breakdown…The story and the intense gripping action that made me enjoy the series like a kitten in a bowl of cream completely disappeared and the story crashed faster than an A-380 with a brown bear in the cocpit. Naive as I were I continued to watch it hoping they had succesfully put a clamp on the otherwise excessive bleading cerebral aneurism that apparently in a blink made the producer think he/she had started a completely new anime series, but to avail. In the end, exciting and mature thief/mystery theme turned cute and cudly schoolgirl police and robbers game story turned weird and incomprehensive sci-fi’ish fail.
    Such a waste of great potential.

    • LOL, thank you.
      I am convinced that the drastic change of tone was due to internal problemd. Something must have gone terribly wrong in the production process. What a waste!

  3. I enjoyed the show, but I do agree that the storyline felt awkward and misshapen at times. It felt disjointed and rushed. It may have worked better if they had 52 episodes to work with.

  4. This series is on my “to watch” list, and it still actually is, I’m really interested in the first third of the series. I’m a real big sucker for detective, thieving, and murder mystery series. I actually tried to start watching it a few weeks ago but the media player I was using then was crummy. But I think after reading your review I’ll prioritive Lupin III over it.

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