Great Pretender: Pulling Back the Final Curtain – Series Review

Movie Bunker Score:

Great Pretender

Network: Fuji TVGenre: AnimationSeasons: 2Episodes: 27

Supposedly Japan's greatest swindler, Makoto Edamura gets more than he bargained for when he tries to con Laurent Thierry, a real world-class crook.

The Flaws and Disappointments of Great Pretender’s Finale

This final arc made us think that there should really be a caper flick version of Ronald Knox’ 10 Commandments (of detective fiction). It’s not unique to Great Pretender, but the best stories avoid playing tricks with the audience, manufacturing results based on elements the viewer couldn’t possibly be aware of. While Great Pretender is considered a good series, it falls short of greatness in this aspect.

An Absurd Ending

Before we dive into the ending, we should note that this post will contain spoilers. The conclusion of Great Pretender was absolutely ludicrous, even by caper flick standards. From a thematic standpoint, it left much to be desired. The structure of the finale, with the big con occurring in the penultimate episode, resulted in lost emotional momentum. The explanation itself was silly, involving drugs, a fake skyscraper on a desert island, and other absurdities. While such elements may be expected in this genre, it still detracted from the overall experience.

The Neglected Character Questions

One of the major disappointments of the ending was its failure to address the significant character questions that were raised throughout the series. The only moment of true emotional honesty came when Makoto staged his fake double-cross on Laurent. However, this moment was not given the respect it deserved in the overall narrative.

Makoto’s betrayal of Akemi and Ishigami, for example, was brushed aside without allowing him to wrestle with the emotional dilemma it presented. These characters, despite their involvement in human trafficking, were shown to have a sense of loyalty and became parental figures in Makoto’s life. Their resolution was reduced to a platitude about deciding their own future, missing an opportunity for deeper exploration.

A Lack of Consequences

The story fails to judge Laurent or hold him accountable for his actions, particularly his treatment of Makoto. While Laurent’s character is complex, the simplistic resolutions provided by the series do not measure up to the deeper issues previously established. Addressing these issues would have required substantial effort but would have elevated Great Pretender to greater heights.

Looking Ahead and Potential for a Sequel

The “Wizard of Far East” arc, despite having a few standout episodes, ended up being the weakest for many viewers. It attempted to accomplish too much without excelling in most aspects. Nevertheless, even the weakest episodes of Great Pretender surpass many other anime series. Though it fell short of its full potential, it still stands as one of the best anime of 2020.

With regards to future prospects, Netflix, the series’ producer, has shown a willingness to produce sequels. Great Pretender achieved considerable success, particularly in Japan, making a second season a possibility. Despite mixed feelings about the conclusion, many viewers, including ourselves, would welcome a continuation. The collaboration between Netflix and anime production offers an opportunity to break free from the constraints of the traditional production committee system, which often stifles creativity.

The Role of Netflix in Anime Production

Netflix’s involvement in anime brings a fresh perspective to the industry. By providing an alternative path to production that bypasses the traditional committee system, it opens doors for more creative freedom. While Netflix’s track record in anime distribution has been mixed, it has the potential to facilitate the production of shows that fall outside the narrow niches often supported by production committees.

The next step in this evolution is ensuring that the financial support provided by Netflix reaches the animators themselves, allowing them to thrive. This can only occur through further development and strengthening of the relationship between Netflix and the anime industry.


In conclusion, the finale of Great Pretender may have had its flaws and disappointments, but it is still a series that deserves recognition. It serves as a testament to the possibilities that arise when innovative platforms like Netflix collaborate with the anime industry. While it falls short in certain aspects, it remains a standout among Netflix-produced anime series.