[My thoughts on B: the Beginning. Warning for some spoilers, though I don’t think it would make a difference…]
B the Beginning knows how to make a solid beginning. It has been a long time since a first episode hooked me this much. It opens with a brutal hunt, where a couple of perverse villains play catch with their unfortunate prey, before they are delivered justice from above (literally!) in the form of our winged hero, Koku. He enters like a flash of lightning, kills with deadly precision and vanishes into the night, leaving nothing more than his trademark sign – a jagged ‘B’. The rest of the episode follows with a game of chase, with a Sherlock-level detective, a high-speed-high-stakes race through the city, and a threat to national security. The entire thing culminates in a slick battle on the roof of a speeding train, while unveiling a dangerous underground unit with the potential to seriously damage the country. At the end, ambiguous and dramatic monologues are made, setting expectations for the rest of the show. Yes, that was just the first episode, and regrettably, that was the best episode.
You see, there was a lot of potential in the story at that point. I was quite excited to see something new and thrilling. Alas, B ended up being a mashup of almost every single story that I’ve ever seen. It’s like the story couldn’t decide what it was.
Let’s get into that point; the show is a motley mash-up of far too many ideas. We have a protagonist, who has dimly defined powers, who fights a secretive and private organisation of bad people with equally dimly defined powers. And that’s another thing right there: an evil organisation with connections to authority, formed from the usual load of experimentation on children by some bright guy who decided to play God. Then we have a dull and contrived puppy love, wormed into a flashback. And we have serial killings, and a merry band of detectives who are, by and large, clueless about a great many things. One of these many things turns out to be the number of psychopaths that have been unleashed in their country, waiting to add to the already unhealthy crime rate. Then we have our Sherlock who is destined to solve the mysteries that the rest of his team struggle with. And naturally, because a 12-episode story shouldn’t be any simpler, he has his own backstory, involving more killings which his sister was also an unfortunate part of. And underpinning the entire plot, there’s a legend about… some powered-up creatures (which was exactly what the whole science experiment was about).
I had to wonder, at what point does a story become too much story? Why does it work for some stories (One Piece, for instance) but feel really exhausting for others? And if this is only the ‘beginning’, I wonder what the sequels, if any, would entail. Giant monsters that have been residing deep in the bowels of the kingdom? A war with aliens? I think almost anything is possible at this point.
A big part of the problem was the pacing. With too many things going on and only 12 episodes to squeeze everything into, it felt very rushed. Things were a bit of a blur, like looking out of a window of a moving train, with occasional actions or conversations that stood out like landmarks so we knew roughly where we were headed. It wasn’t too memorable either; the thing about using so many frequently used ideas was that nothing really felt authentic or meaningful.
I think this is one story that could have used a longer run. Not just because it would have given the plot some room to breathe but because we could have gotten a bit more out of the characters. I did actually like most of the good guys. The bad guys were usual brand of boring but the good guys were, if not new or unique, at least somewhat fun to watch. I liked Koku, the mysterious Killer B, and his double life. He has a very calm presence when he’s not an airborne killing machine so I would have liked to see more of him playing the role of a “normal person”. It would also have made the character matter more to the audience. I also liked it when Keith Flick, the Sherlock, was trying to figure out the motives and the identity of Killer B. Lily was another neat character, and I’ve always loved energetic and cheerful people so I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of her either. I really don’t have anything else positive to say about this show though.
Overall, it’s a solid B. I would probably watch any sequels that they churn out, seeing as I’m not about to drop my Netflix subscription anytime soon. Since this is B: The Beginning, I’m guessing there’s going to be more. I do hope “B: The Middle” and “B: The End” remember to slow down for the audience. Given that the first season has covered so much ground, there’s really no need to rush anymore.