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)
Title: Daughter of Twenty Faces (Niju Menso no Musume)
Genre: action, sci-fi, crime drama
Released date: April 12, 2008 – September 27, 2008
Director: Nobuo Tomizawa
Animated by: Bones