Moriarty The Patriot is a manga and anime series that reimagines the works of Arthur Conan Doyle with Moriarty (and not Sherlock Holmes) as the protagonist. Moriarty is still the world’s only (and best) consulting criminal, and the show delves into his backstory and provides a rationale for his seemingly evil actions.
For starters, Moriarty refers not to one person but to Albert James Moriarty and the two orphan brothers who are taken in by the aristocratic Moriarty household. Yet, except for Albert, the other family members of the noble household share a dislike for the common orphans who carefully observe the injustice and corruption all around them. At this time, the British Empire is at its peak, the corrupt nobility holds all the reins of power, while average citizens can do little to improve the quality of their lives. Albert and the orphans are united by their hatred for the aristocrats, and together they hatch daring schemes to plunge the city of London into crime and expose the misdeeds of the rich.
Moriarty thus becomes a Robin Hood-like figure, stealing from the rich to help the poor- an anti-hero fighting for equality and just causes- using very questionable means. Halfway through the first season, we are finally introduced to Sherlock, and the intellectual camaraderie he shares with Moriarty is brilliantly portrayed. The banter between Sherlock and Watson is also vaguely reminiscent of BBC Sherlock, but the anime is a marked improvement upon the live-action adaptation. In fact, Irene Adler also makes an appearance and her character arc and gender politics are better handled here.
Image via YouTube trailer
While Sherlock Holmes stories and their adaptations have always fallen under the detective genre, the anime adds a quirky twist by framing most of the episodes from Moriarty’s perspective. Instead of delving into who committed the crime, the show asks important questions about why the crime had to be committed in the first place.
The depth and complexity of Moriarty’s back-story are to be particularly noted, along with the way the show bravely tackles the theme of class inequality and grey moral conundrums. Sherlock isn’t a hero although he’s still a skilled detective, and Moriarty isn’t a madman, but a calculated schemer who makes the viewers realize that the real villain isn’t one person, but rather the corrupt system itself. With an engaging and thrilling storyline and incredible characterization, Moriarty the Patriot is a wonderful and refreshing addition to the Sherlock Holmes mythos, and deeply relevant for our times.
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