Ever since it popped up on Netflix, I’ve wanted to watch this anime, mostly since it seemed different than others, being about cons and crime. I watched the series in 2 sittings, and there’s a reason for that, which I will explain after a short review of the plot.
We follow Makoto Edamura, a con man from Japan who frauds people in order to take their wallet and other valuables, together with his friend Kudo. One day, they try to scam the wrong person though. Thinking that he’s a tourist in Japan, they scam a guy out of his wallet, but when going back to their place to inspect the goods, they realize that they’re the ones who’ve been tricked. The guy is named Laurent, and is a French con man that is targeting bigger fish than just random tourists. So big, that we’re talking millions of dollars, and he wants to hire Edamura for his next project.
That project is based on selling drugs to the mafia, and Edamura has to play the part of the scientist who creates the product. This is of course way out of his league, but with the help of Laurent and his crew, Edamura gets into the role and even outperforms himself. That is until he meets a female FBI agent who is tracking down the illegal actions of the mafia, and wants to put them away for good. She pressures Edamura into cooperating with her and the police, and the boy plays along, not knowing that the woman is not who she’s claiming to be…
Now, the series is kind of split into 2 halves, where the first half wasn’t good at all. That’s also why I watched it in 2 sittings, because I simply wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. I like a good con movie, but the first half of Great Pretender just doesn’t tell a good con story. Why? The story goes in various directions at the same time, no one’s to be trusted, and everything happens so fast that it gets boring and annoying. It’s not until this part of the series is over, that Great Pretender starts to shine.
The second half focuses a lot more on the main characters, which is something I understand wouldn’t have been possible for the first half, because we needed to know nothing about them in order to get infiltrated in their big con. But I would very much have liked for the first half to be skipped, and then going directly to the character stories, since they all seem a lot more focused and believable. I could actually sit down and enjoy the second half, but it took me about a week to assemble the strength of going back to watch what I thought was a horrible train wreck of a story. And I actually only did it to complete the series before Food Wars season 2 hit the streaming service.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the second half, and of course it ends on a cliffhanger, so I take it Netflix has a second season in store for us, where we get to know more about why Laurent is such an asshole. So I kind of do recommend the series, although not the first half, but it’s just something that one needs to get over with. The only thing I miss in the series is a worthy adversary for the con crew, as no one’s opposing them at all. I want a Tom Hanks to my Leonardo DiCaprio! Then again, I’m afraid that such a character would just turn the story into a mess again, sadly.