It Just Works Better: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD

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The original Tantei Opera Milky Holmes is an anime I viewed as largely a disappointment. Ostensibly about a group of cute female detectives with superpowers, the premise is more window dressing for moe comedy and reference humor. That combination can be okay, but in Milky Holmes the jokes are very hit or miss (mostly the latter). The majority tend to be rather one-dimensional (That’s from that anime! Haha!), though every so often there would be a truly impressive gag. Case in point, I fondly remember the “Baritsu” gag, which spent an entire episode setting up the name of a semi-fictional martial art found in the Sherlock Holmes novels in order to deliver a pun based on the climax of Laputa: Castle in the Sky. However, because the show felt so flimsy and the humor fell flat so often, when it came to the next one, Futari wa Milky Holmes, I felt little need or desire to check it out even if there were some brighter moments.

I’ll be honest when I say that, if it weren’t for my Patreon sponsor Johnny Trovato, I probably would not have given the franchise a second look. As wide as my tastes are in anime, and as willing as I am to give shows a second chance, I had ignored it in favor of other current series. That’s why I was rather surprised to find that the third and latest anime, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD, is pretty much an improvement all around compared to its original predecessor.


While the humor continues to be a mixed bag of weak, one-note references and stronger, more developed jokes, what makes Milky Holmes TD work better is that its story provides just enough stability that the anime doesn’t live or die by its gags alone. The four main characters, Sherlock, Nero, Cordelia, and Hercule (all named after famous fictional detectives), must solve a rather bizarre missing “persons” case. An idol, whose songs are powered by fairies that have been a part of her since birth, have gone missing, and nobody knows who is responsible. What makes this mystery even more difficult is that the fairies end up in the bodies of people who are unassociated with the original crime, and so the girls of Milky Holmes work towards finding them one by one, with the ultimate goal being to find the original culprit. Though not much actual detective work goes into the series, it’s enough to get a sense of progress from one episode to the next, and to inspire a viewer to feel invested.

Essentially, as the girls find each of the fairies, there is this general forward movement where they move one step closer to accomplishing something. In contrast, although the first anime starts off somewhat similarly with the Milky Holmes girls themselves losing their powers and by extension their positions as the best detectives in school, that storyline doesn’t go anywhere until the last episode (which admittedly was an enjoyable finale). I doubt that existing fans of Milky Holmes care too much for that sort of thing, at least within the context of Milky Holmes itself, but I think it gives an “in” for those who might otherwise pass it up. It might not seem that significant, but I believe this is the sort of thing that can expand a franchise’s fanbase, if only a little.


Speaking of abilities and reputation, I like the fact that the Milky Holmes girls are re-introduced in Milky Holmes TD with a kind of reverence. I think it’s meant to show just how far the Milky Holmes media franchise has come, and that while they were “rookies” of sorts in the original, now they’re back and better than ever. Also, because they have their powers and at least try to make use of them, you can believe that they’ve actually had past success in helping others out. It’s a fine line, I think, because it’s not like the girls show powerful deductive reasoning, and for the most part that is barely even a consideration in Milky Holmes. However, having capable yet humorously hopeless characters appeals to me more than just having them be all but useless.

From my perspective, you can more than easily skip the original series and go straight to Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think it stands a better chance of drawing in an audience beyond those who think “cute girls and anime references” are enough content. Now if they start to better utilize their detective and phantom thief motifs better, then it’ll really turn some heads.

PS: Akechi is the best character.milkyholmestd-akechi

8 thoughts on “It Just Works Better: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD

  1. I feel it’s better to have strong niche appeal than very limited general appeal. Let’s at least wait until they do something worthwhile before praising them or calling them “better”. At least the first two seasons could be loved if you loved the gag comedy. There’s really nothing about TD worth loving yet, and I say that as someone who wants this season to work out.


  2. I think the deciding factor as to why this doesn’t work as well as the previous iterations of Milky Holmes is that the overall Idol-related plot linking all episodes so far is very forgettable and it distracts from what makes the show entertaining. Also, having recently watched the series, the referential humor isn’t nearly as pronounced as you claim. Sure it is a parody of moe-shit, but it does it in a way that involves punishing Milky Holmes for trying to adhere to their archetypes, hence where most of the humor lies. That one episode with the Saint Seiya and Hokuto no Ken references had more blatant calls to other works then any of the previous episodes.

    Also pretty much every episode of the 2nd season craps all over TD Milky Holmes.


    • As I mentioned in the post, I skipped over the 2nd season, so this is more my comparison of the original and TD. If Futari wa is as good as you claim, then perhaps I should give that a chance too.


      • I’m not sure what you mean? There are three aired seasons of Milky Holmes, and now a fourth is airing (TD). Futari wa (season 3) is the least of them so far by far, and is scorned for good reason.

        Now, if you’re telling me that you merged both seasons one and two together (all 24 episodes) that’s a different matter. I won’t judge you for not finding enough entertainment value to make those 24 episodes worthwhile (though I will consider it a miracle), but I can’t in good conscience say that TD is better than those. Better than Futari wa, yes, but that’s a given.

        TD is basically a generic “Detectives vs Phantom Thieves” anime with the barest hints of parody; if you just want a more interesting and less dumb version of Tantei, then IMHO you’ll get much better mileage out of the classics of the genre like Saint Tail, and possibly even Magic Kaito. TD still has a chance to be better, but it isn’t really taking it so far. Seasons one and two at least made good sport of the genre, but TD has a long way to go. Just my two cents, of course.


        • Ah I see, I’ve been mixing things up and assuming that Futari wa WAS the second season. Thanks for the clarification.

          As for the previous seasons making good sport of the detective genre, my memory might be off as I haven’t seen the original in a long time, but my impression, as I stated in the review, was that it didn’t really play with it so much as use it as flavoring for the world to highlight the girls themselves.


      • If you didn’t like Season 1, I doubt you’d like Season 2. It’s more of the same, only it sacrifices whatever sense of progression S1 had for more zaniness. It’s basically the Army of Darkness to Evil Dead II.


  3. Applying Weber’s Calvinist capitalistic approach to the Milky Holmes series as a whole has led me to find that each season shows different working conditions for the protagonists, i.e. the presence of their toys and how they function in society.. The seasons where they lost their powers shows that they still functioned in society however had their own brand of happiness, even if they were eventually roomed in an attic. TD shows they still have their happiness but it still digresses back to the same needs shown in the earlier seasons even being paired with an idol. Facticity does not seem to get in the way of Milky Holmes pursuit of their goals and happiness. If you also view Milky Holmes with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it could be shown that their needs are still being filled, however, they seem to lack a drive for self-actualization. Futari is even more interesting as it shows two young individuals circumventing the system to fulfill their wishes and becoming secret detectives “The Feathers.”

    I have to wonder if the Japanese creators are truly parodying the moe subculture or just deconstructing social and economic stigmas?

    Maybe cultural ones too, I like how Nero disappears for the rest of the WHOLE episode after her beef comment in one episode of TD.


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