Title: Heaven’s Memo Pad
Alternate Title: Kamisama no Memochou
Encompasses: Complete 12 Episode Season
Published by: Siren Visual (Australia and New Zealand) / Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Based on: Light novel series written by Hikaru Sugii and illustrated by Mel Kishida
Audio: Hybrid Dub
Classification: This title has been classified as M for Mature Themes, Drug References, Sexual References and Animated Violence
Special Thanks: Siren Visual for providing me with a copy of this release to review!
Room 308 of a multi-tenant building somewhere has a plaque on the door, which reads:
“NEET Detective Agency”
It’s the only NEET thing to do.
The Office is home to Alice, who calls herself a “NEET* detective” (*young people Not In Education, Employment or Training). She is a social recluse who does not step outside her house, but she makes full use of the internet to expose the truth and solve cases. Under her gathers Narumi, her assistant, and the group of NEET detectives. Some cases are irrelevant for many people but mean the world to a small number of people. This is a tiny but heartwarming story about such cases.
While like many male protagonists before him he doesn’t make the front or even back cover of the packaging, Heaven’s Memo Pad revolves around a high school student by the name of Narumi Fujishima. Living with his sister and having had to endure many school transfers over the years, he has become to an extent a social recluse, often spending his time by himself and avoiding class events and clubs. That was until his classmate Ayaka Shinozaki manages to convince him to join the Gardening Club – which eventually leads to an after-school visit to her place of work (A ramen shop) and he meets some familiar faces from around town and Alice…. a young-looking girl who skilled at the use of a computer calls herself a NEET Detective. While the NEET part really only carries through in references made throughout the plot and a reason to focus on Narumi – it is the detective component that is played more heavily in this show.
With the aid of her other NEET team members and a local Yakuza group whom Alice works with, most of this show is dedicated to solving single or multiple episode cases. After a double-length first episode that features a rather interesting tale surrounding a missing high school student and prostitution, there were sets of episodes that were clearly better written than the others. The darker arcs that delve in issues such as drug use and money laundering to name a few sets the series apart from other “High School Detective” shows and really helped capture the viewers attention. On the other hand there were a few individual episodes in between that snapped the theme back to the more trivial cases that I didn’t find as interesting. Each of the episode sets are individual and while characters do carry across from one to the other you don’t really find them overlapping.
On the topic of character development it is quite interesting. While each of the mysteries to have their own individual characters associated with them, each of them generally have a character attached to them and you will find them making vague hints towards them within the first three episodes. That being said, aside from Narumi I found that most of the direct members of the NEET Detective Agency including Alice herself (Albeit to a lesser extent) were really lacking in character development despite some hints towards their back-stories and a lot of potential pretty much going to waste. Instead the character development is stronger in the recurring characters who have episodes or sets of episodes dedicated to them.
Overall however, despite some underutilized characters and a couple of the episodes being overshadowed by more impressive ones, Heaven’s Memo Pad makes for an interesting storyline while not overstepping the bounds of the mystery genre too much.
While there is nothing in this show to give unconditional applause to, overall J.C. Staff produced a well designed series. Alice is clearly the character the most attention has gone into design, which drawing from the source material from the light novel sees her wearing for the most part pyjamas with a teddy bear pattern on them which alongside her child-like stature and appearance complements her more childish personality well in stark contrast to her often more serious and logical side as well as the overall tone of the show. The other characters are less unique in design but are still amply detailed and animated. The environment designs are also nicely done.
Music / Voice Acting
The main opening sequence for Heaven’s Memo Pad “Kawaru Mirai” by Choucho brings across a rather enjoyable musical backing and even better animation. The ending sequence “Asunaro” by Kenichi Suzumura is less prominent than the opening sequence but doesn’t fall in many of the simplicity traps other series do when it comes to their ending sequences. The music backing for the show itself was also quite strong and complemented the events of the different cases well.
In terms of the English voice casting I found myself enjoying some characters more than others. I have really enjoyed Hilary Haag in a number of roles however while she shines in other roles as Alice I thought her performance was hit and miss – although not really a deal breaker if you decide to watch the English dub by any means. Blake Shepard however did quite a solid performance at the series protagonist Narumi. Other highlight voice roles include Brittney Karbowski as Ayaka Shinozaki, Illich Guardiola as The Fourth, Leraldo Anzaldua as Satoshi Teraoka and Shelley Calene-Black as Min. While I only sampled the Japanese voice track intermittently, this also features a rather strong voice cast.
While there were few extra on-disc goodies included with the North American release of Heaven’s Memo Pad (Clean Opening and Ending Sequences), Siren Visual chose to not carry them across and by the measure omitting the Extras menu entirely. I would have liked to have seen the clean opening sequence at the very least included, or heck even one of their slipcases which they stopped actively including late last year.
Overall while there are a few aspects that keep Heaven’s Memo Pad from being a great anime series, what is presented is still worth a watch given some interesting and occasionally darker than usual cases for the NEET Detective Agency. Siren Visual’s release of Heaven’s Memo Pad was most probably overshadowed by releases of Tiger & Bunny and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 during the month, but despite the lack of extras and slipcase (I would love to see them bring slipcases back in style), production values of the DVD’s themselves were of their usual standard.