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Great Pretender (2020, Wit Studio)

Anime Reviews

Great Pretender (2020, Wit Studio)

Worth A Watch

After the honest life didn't work out for him, Makoto Edamura decides to become a swindler as people have been accusing him to be one when he found a job at a shady company. Now his ambition was to become the best and richest in Japan but, one day while trying to scam a foreign tourist named Laurent he meets his match and almost gets arrested. By chance he jumps into the same taxi and decides to go with him to LA. Only later did he realise, he's already been conned multiple times but he wasn't ready to give up yet and was ready to beat Laurent an international con artist at his own game by seeing who can con the most out of the most wealthy and dangerous criminal in LA.

However, after losing Laurent decides to keep Makoto as part of his operations no matter how reluctant he was. Makoto just can't escape his schemes. Whatever he tries to do Laurent always manages to foresee and so he finds himself continuing to take part in Laurant's plans to con the rich and powerful, but good moral lacking characters.

An original show by Wit Studio better known for Attack on Titan. It's got all the things you'd usually see from similar stories such as car chases. Every criminal they target controls entire cities with corruption so you get a sense of scale of what our "phantom thieves" are up against.

Characters are good; you've got the annoyingly manipulative Laurent who always manages to read ahead, Makoto who's overly straight (probably why he's named that, "makoto/real"), Abigail who's angry all the time and your classic seductive beauty Cynthia. Since they don't consider themselves a team, it's interesting what each of the swindlers end up choosing to do that lead to a change of plan.

Each case spans five episodes mostly apart from the last, taking you to Los Angeles, Singapore, London complete with various brand placements; no parody brands in this show unlike most Anime shows. Well for the most part anyway, mainly Asian places have real brands.

Unfortunately it gets to the point where you just think, "This is all just part of their grand scheme. Everyone's involved right?" It's the same every case. Makoto thinks he's gotten off to a great start by himself then suddenly it's all part of Laurent's scheme again.

Artwork isn't exactly spectacular. Background art is almost lifeless, little animated but it's clean. Despite that there's some good attention to detail such as how much make-up they give to the female characters and when whereas in other shows, they just draw them with make-up all the time. On the other hand, I'm not a real fan of the unique looking colour scheme as it feels like someone looking at the world through tinted glasses but... maybe that's the idea? The con artists and power abusing characters seeing the world in their own way? Those big grins really bring out the con artist image in the characters.

Music is very retro like those old secret agent shows with its saxophone which suits the whole swindler plot. They speak in a lot of languages such as English, French and Chinese Mandarin which actually don't sound too bad compared to most shows. Well, I guess they did hire natives to voice them.

Since it's based on adult con artists and criminals, expect brief mentions of drugs, nudity and sex although nothing terribly graphic. With that in mind I'd say there's pretty much no fan service as long as you don't count Cynthia seducing their victims.

If you're after a comedy show with a mature setting and classic retro setup instead of your usual gag show or high school setting, you might like this. Group of con artists who only go after the criminals with strong characters and your classic tale of romance. Oh, and your hint of Boys Love. The final case gives the show a good finale wrap-up and closure.

I think the only reason this isn't in my recommended is the lack of a creative world and the story setup with your group of con artists isn't anything new either despite the strong characters. Wit Studio might have chosen Ryota Kyosawa best known for his crime stories for this common setup as it's the safest bet for appealing to as many people as possible via Netflix. The scams are just too perfect, no screw-ups at all although I guess like Laurent puts it, "it's scripted entertainment".

On an off note, Makoto's place reminds me of Hina's place from Weathering with You where you can clearly see the Sky Tree and narrow alleyways in between the buildings.

Great Pretender

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