‘Do you know, Watson,’ said he, ‘that it is one of the curses of a mind with a turn like mine that I must look at everything with reference to my own special subject. You look at these scattered houses, and you are impressed by their beauty. I look at them, and the only thought which comes to me is a feeling of their isolation and of the impunity with which crime may be committed there.’
– The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Adventure XII: The Adventure of Copper Beeches
My dad has often told me that I have a gift with computers. To him, my ability to type fast, my love for Photoshop and editing images, and my knowledge of social networks would make me a perfect candidate for learning computer science, programming, and data analysis. For my generation, this comparison is laughable; my hobbies have almost nothing to do with any of these areas. Computer sciences isn’t just putting a computer together and disassembling it in minutes – it’s the complex theory of numbers, formulas, and systems. I love computers enough to know that much! And yet, ironically my dad is right in some ways. I’ve always wanted to learn more about coding and how the tiny metal rectangle I carry around with me works and manages to do most of what I tell it to do (I say most, as neither Windows 10 or Mavericks are perfect). I’ve just never had the time.
Time. That excuse seems fitting for many of the things I’ve wished to learn over the past few years. Economics, cinematography, art history, world politics – my brain is too crunched on the number of hours in one day to do anything outside of my specialty, which is medical/biological sciences. In this sense, Sakurako-san speaks directly to my heart. “The skull is the most elegant bone,” Sakurako-san says in the first episode, and while most people laugh, I nod my head in agreement. The skull really is the most elegant bone, in my opinion. The formation of many intricate parts that cohesively form together in such a way to protect one of the most important organs in our body and give us the ability to talk, see, and hear. For many though, that sentence feels nothing like a mere wave off to Sakurako’s obsession with bones. For me that’s the dialogue that goes on in The Perfect Insider, especially the ending credits, which through my lens, is nothing but pretty geometry. One man’s trash is another’s treasure though, and my friend excitedly notices that the same ED pays accurate homage to how Linux operating systems boot up.
Sakurako-san and The Perfect Insider may be two very different mystery shows: one has a light, enjoyable atmosphere, while the other seems more dominated by intense cat-and-mouse games, but they both are connected by the thread of focusing on niche obsessions. What is invisible and perhaps nonesensical to the eye of the observer is treasure to the participator. In Sakurako-san, the focus is bones, while in The Perfect Insider, it seems to be computers and programming. As a result, we, as the audience, may not understand the workings of these characters’ minds, but we are able to deduce many things from the way they share this interest with their coworkers. It brings a new dimension to their relationships, which makes this the heart of the show rather than the topics themselves.
Interestingly enough, both shows go about this method in very different ways. For Sakurako-san, a show that treads upon its specialization lightly, the information is accessible through the eyes of our main character, Shoutarou. It follows the format of a typical Sherlock and Watson duo; an insufferable genius that is specialized in the area while the empathetic and yet somewhat spineless partner is just beginning to learn, diluting the information and making it easier to comprehend for the audience. Not only is most of the first episode shot through Shoutarou’s eyes, but most of what Sakurako says is often glossed over by his internal monologues, allowing us to get to the heart of the show – the relationship between Shoutarou and Sakurako. This kind of information may be inaccessible to anyone else – as hinted in the beginning, when Shoutarou is able to decisively bury a dead cat despite shocked reactions – but it’s exactly what makes Sakurako’s bond with Shoutarou so fascinating. Their base for interactions is completely unique to them and them alone. It adds a layer of complexity to their characters, but also allows the two of them, despite being complete unalike, to work together and inspire the other.
The Perfect Insider works in contrast. It has no accessible source of information; rather, it relies on the camerawork to show us how these characters interpret the world around them. All three main characters are linked by their shared philosophy (and what I’m assuming, is also their shared interest in technology) but also through their behavior and ideas. Moe’s relationship with Saikawa could be construed as a student’s simple admiration and love for her teacher, but their interactions and shared belief systems show us that it’s something more. Moe sincerely believes in Saikawa’s philosophy but seems to also follow it out of a desire to just be with Saikawa. However, her relationship with Magata shows us that she’s much more independent and knowledgeable than originally percieved. On the other hand, Saikawa’s relationship with Magata seems to be nothing but weakly founded glorification. He sees her as the truest genius of them all, but his actions display little sincerity to his (and by default, Magata’s) belief system and instead mask his disillusionment and frustration with society. All three characters are very different in personality: Magata is cold and calculated, Saikawa is apathetic and discontent, while Moe is flexible and charming. Yet it’s the shared philosophy that brings them together and creates shades of complexity in their relationships.
The Perfect Insider makes it clear that we don’t need to know how Linux systems need to boot up to get what’s going on in the show – after all, that’s not what it chooses to be about, just as skeleton mysteries are not what make Sakurano-san the compelling detective story it is. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t enjoy the information behind either shows. I’ll still enjoy Sakurako-san the way that I often enjoyed Bones, the TV drama. There’s a poetry in there that cuts deep to the bone, tingles down my spine, and gets me excited. But shows like The Perfect Insider also allows me to put some backbone into understanding the cogs and wheels that go into things like OS systems and programming. It’s an exciting way for me to learn something I’ve always wanted to learn about, albeit a new and engaging way – not just through facts, but through interactions with my own friends. Frankly speaking, that’s the way I enjoy things best, and I can’t wait for the upcoming conversations I’ll be having about these shows and learning something new along the way.