‘The Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited’ review

Need a departure from typical anime action? Then Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited might be the perfect show for you. This thrilling buddy-cop anime takes the conventional tropes of a rich detective without skill and flip it on its head with its lighthearted, yet surprisingly complex, story. This series hooked me from its very first episode and it is easy to see why.

Daisuke Kambe presenting his badge to Haru Kato in Episode 1, “I Came, I Saw, I Sponsored”

Inspired by Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel, The Millionaire Detective, Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited follows recently-demoted detective Haru Kato as he is forced to work with newly-appointed crime detective, Daisuke Kambe. Kambe proves to be a challenge for Kato to understand due to his near endless bank account and over-reliance on technology. Kambe’s dense exterior leads the two to many personal conflicts over the course of Millionaire Detective‘s first few episodes. However, the two are forced to put their working relationship behind them as a larger case looms before them.

There is not a single character in this series that does not get their due. Kato and Kambe make for an incredibly entertaining duo and play off of each other excellently. Kato’s simple yet effective backstory for his demotion helps us endear to him and understand why he works so hard despite no longer being a first division detective. Taku Kishimoto’s writing reminds me greatly of Keiko Nobumoto’s from Cowboy Bebop, with Kishimoto blending simple episodic stories reliant on character interaction with a larger ongoing narrative. This is most obvious in the characters of Detective Chosuke “Cho” Nakamoto and Chief Katsuhiro Takei. The history these two share mirrors the working relationship between Kato and Kambe, while adding depth to the story being told. These four characters are Millionaire Detective‘s emotional center and the primary reason it works so well.

Kato and Kambe during a stake-out in Episode 2, “Love Does Much, Money Does Nothing”

CloverWorks (Rascal Does Not Believe in Bunny Girl Senpai, The Promised Neverland) did a phenomenal job animating this series. Their work shines brightest during the intense action set pieces. Millionaire Detective contains some of the most fluid action I’ve seen this year, rivaling that of Great Pretender. The car chase from the very first episode was more than enough to hook me on the rest of the series, and it only gets better from there. However, the most memorable scene for me is the train hostage case from the third episode. The way the action was directed was intense, but still allowed the character interactions to shine. I also appreciated the aspect-ratio changes for flashbacks, creating a more dramatic atmosphere for the darker elements of the series. Millionaire Detective is able to balance such pure fun with serious drama, making it one of my favorite anime of 2020. Tomohiko Ito (Erased, Sword Art Online) truly outdid himself with his direction of this series.

With that said, the series would be nothing without Yugo Kanno’s (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Psycho-Pass) amazing score. Kanno is easily one of my favorite anime composers, and his score for Millionaire Detective is no different. Kambe’s main theme “Balance: UNLIMITED” is incredibly jazzy and reminds me greatly of Monty Norman’s theme for the James Bond films. As loud as this main theme is, Kanno, just like with his scores for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, compliments it with a more dramatic tone. This is most noticeable with “Kato’s Past,” which gives off an almost melancholic feeling, representing Kato’s vast change in character during the scene in which it plays. Kano even goes full Blade Runner at times with tracks like “My Purpose.” Millionaire Detective‘s score is easily one of my favorites of 2020.

Cho and Takei attempting to reconnect in Episode 7, “Money is the Root of All Evil”

As if all of these factors weren’t enough, the English dub is also fantastic. I sung Clifford Chapin so much praise during my review of his ADR direction for Dr. Stone and he continues to be one of my favorite English ADR directors. Adam Rowe (Kambe) and Ricco Fajardo’s (Kato) chemistry is astounding. I could listen to these two argue about noodles for hours. However, Kent Williams’ performance as Cho easily steals the show every single time he is on screen. The way he plays off of the rest of the cast, especially Kato, is incredibly endearing and only makes his backstory more depressing in hindsight. The rest of the main cast, including Michelle Rojas as Suzue Kambe, Aaron Roberts as Shinnosuke Kamei and Christopher Sabat as Chief Takei, are all great as well.

Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited is the perfect anime for fans of detective dramas and spy thrillers. The way the series manages all of that while containing such well-written characters and Kanno’s sublime, yet intense, score make Millionaire Detective one of my favorite new anime to come out of 2020. In case you needed to fill the hole in your heart left by the ending of Great Pretender, Millionaire Detective will do just that. You can watch the entire series subbed and dubbed on Funimation.

Rating: 9.5/10

Published by John Wintroub

Aside from being an aspiring mathematician, I also enjoy writing about all things pop-culture related, especially film, music, anime, and comic books. Killer Queen has already touched this bio and King Crimson has obliterated the rest.

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