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Anime Review: 'Great Pretender' (2020)

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Official "Great Pretender" artwork from their Twitter page.

Official "Great Pretender" artwork from their Twitter page.

Quick Info

  • Director: Hiro Kaburagi
  • Distributor: Netflix
  • Released: August 20th, 2020
  • Runtime: 575 minutes
  • Availability: Streaming exclusively on Netflix in Japanese, English, French, Spanish, and German


Story Summary

Great Pretender (2020) is an anime about a confidence man named Makoto "Edamame" Edamura, he’s a con man who scams the elderly. One day, he tries to con a mysterious foreigner, only to have the tables turned on him and have his money stolen instead.

Makoto is then dragged off to Hollywood, California, and he is asked to join a group of confidence men and women, who only prey on other criminals. He joins up and the Confidence group proceeds to scam various criminals out of their money.

The Concept Isn’t New but It’s Fun

The concept of criminals targeting other criminals isn’t a new idea. It’s been done in many pieces of fiction before, but the concept of Great Pretender is entertaining because of the quirky cast of characters for both the Confidence group and their marks.

I enjoyed this story because of the characters, even though this genre of the story isn’t something I normally watch. While scrolling through Netflix the summary caught my eye so I decided to give Great Pretender (2020) a chance.

I was pleasantly surprised by the story and the characters so, despite my lack of interest in the crime genre, I enjoy this anime.

Great Pretender - Official Trailer (English Dub) | Netflix

Makoto confronts Laurent after being conned by him.

Makoto confronts Laurent after being conned by him.

Wit Studio Did an Amazing Job With the Animation

Wit Studio is the animation studio behind the animation for Great Pretender (2020), it was one of the reasons they didn’t animate Attack on Titan Season 4, which upset fans of Attack on Titan, and they gave low ratings for Great Pretender (2020) on MyAnimeList because Wit Studio did this anime instead of Attack on Titan, which is a very stupid reason to give a series a low rating because it has nothing to do with the quality of Great Pretender (2020).

The artwork done by Wit Studio for Great Pretender is lovely and vibrant. The colors used in the anime make it stand out in viewers minds’ because the anime uses colors to make the characters and backgrounds stand out in a stylized way that is unique to the anime.

The animation is also very fluid and the animation sequences look really nice. Whether it’s an exciting car chase, an airplane race, or a quiet heartwarming moment in a character’s backstory, everything looks fantastic.

Studio Wit did amazing work for Great Pretender (2020), and it really shows, because it’s one of Netflix’s better-looking anime since when it comes to Netflix exclusive anime, sometimes they look fantastic, like Violet Evergarden (2018), B: The Beginning (2018), or Devilman Crybaby (2018), or they can look atrocious like Dragon’s Dgoma (2020), fortunately, Great Pretender falls into the former category of visually stunning anime that are exclusive to Netflix.

Whether you watch anime on a regular basis or you’re just starting to watch anime, Great Pretender is a visual feast that you’ll enjoy if you love watching animation or if you’re trying to see what people love about anime, this anime is worth the watch for both the story and the visuals.

Audio and Subtitles

Audio:Subtitles:

Japanese (Original)

English

Japanese (Audio Description)

French

English (Reviewed)

German

French

Spanish

German

Simplified Chinese

Spanish

Traditional Chinese

The English Dub Is Fantastic and This Anime Has Fun With Foreign Languages

The English dub for Great Pretender is quite stunning. It surprised me a lot because of how the first episode begins when you select the English dub as your audio choice because most of the first episode is still in its original Japanese language before it switches to English in the middle of the episode.

There are also scenes where characters will speak in other languages, such as French and Chinese and they will have French and Chinese audio for those scenes, which flavors the anime with something unique that you usually don’t see in many anime besides characters speaking in very bad English or another foreign language.

Alan Lee did a great job voicing Makoto "Edamame" Edamura. I enjoyed his voice work and he did a fantastic job portraying all the character’s conflicting emotions and I liked his voice work in this role.

Aaron Phillips did a great job portraying the charismatic con man Laurent Thierry and made his character sound very charming and amicable. He did a great job in this role portraying the leader of this likable and fun group of con men and women.

Kausar Mohammed is amazing as Abigail “Abbie” Jones, and I hope to hear her do more anime voice work in the future. She gave a great vocal performance for this character and I liked her work a lot. I enjoyed that they’ve hired someone who has great voice talent while keeping the character’s ethnicity authentic too.

Laura Post did a great job as Cynthia Moore and I think she was great in this role. She was funny during the drunk bits and serious when she needed to be.

Karen Hule did an excellent job voicing Kim Shi-won, she played the cool old con lady and I enjoyed her voice work. Her character was interesting to watch and listen to because of how much she contributes to the plot despite not being the main character, she’s a great supporting character and her voice actress did a great job in the role.

All in all, the English dub cast is great and what I love is that it’s genuine in its diverse voice casting and everything about the English dub is fantastic. All the vocal performances sound natural and I think it’s an outstanding English dub, considering that many English dubs on Netflix range from really bad to really amazing, fortunately, Great Pretender’s English dub is one of the outstanding English dubs they have for a great anime on their streaming

Great Pretender Ending

Yutaka Yamada’s Soundtrack Is Exciting and Memorable

The soundtrack for Great Pretender is fantastic. It draws a lot from Jazz music and it is bombastic and exciting for the intense scenes and heartwarming for the emotional scenes.

The Jazz reminded me of the classic anime Cowboy Bebop from 1998, borrowing from that style of music and I really enjoyed the soundtrack.

I also enjoyed the insert songs that they used in the anime such as "Someday" by YVY feat. Emari. There are a lot of other insert songs that are also nice but this one stood out the most for the insert songs.

The opening song is "G.P." by Yutaka Yamada, and it’s a great jazz opening that reminds me of “Tank” by the Seatbelts from Cowboy Bebop. It’s really upbeat and high-energy and it gets you pumped to watch the episodes.

The ending is “The Great Pretender” by The Platters, but it’s the cover version done by the legendary Freddie Mercury from the band Queen from his solo album. I was very surprised to hear a cover version from the late singer but then I remembered that Netflix ears billions so they’d have the money to buy the rights to use the song for the ending. It’s a very nice ending sequence that features Freddie Mercury’s cats in a way and its’ really nice to look at and listen to.

Overall, I found the soundtrack to be very well done and memorable and it was an amazing soundtrack that suits this outstanding anime.

The Plot Does Keep You Guessing

The plot keeps you guessing as to how some of the cases will end but if you’re smart you’ll notice how Team Confidence takes down their targets and notice how it’s repeated throughout the arcs but you’ll be guessing for the first few cases at least.

If you’re not as observant you might not notice some of the tricks the team uses but it is fun if you can’t figure out what’s real and what’s fake.

Team Confidence with their target, a film producer/drug dealer.

Team Confidence with their target, a film producer/drug dealer.

Reader Poll

The Characters Tend to Use the Same Gimmick in Their Heists

The observant viewers will notice that there’s a pattern of tricks that Team Confidence uses during most arcs that can become boring if you figure out what the gimmick is and since they used it in multiple arcs it can get stale for some viewers.

It didn’t bother me that much but I can see some of the viewers getting bored of the series because they will be able to predict how the heist will be pulled off, and I can understand how bored you’d be if you knew how everything was going to go in the story.

Parental Warning

This series is rated TV-MA for language, violence, and nudity, while there isn’t sexual content actually shown, people are shown naked in the first and second season and there’s also an arc about human trafficking in the last arc of the series.

Team Confidence's targets, Sam and Clark Ibrahim.

Team Confidence's targets, Sam and Clark Ibrahim.

The Story Is Great but It’s Not My Favorite

Great Pretender (2020) is a stunning anime with spectacular visuals, a fun story, a great voice cast, and soundtrack. It’s got a lot going for it and is an entertaining anime that Netflix subscribers will enjoy. It’s also a unique outing that does have some predictability with it that might turn off some watchers.

I enjoyed this anime a lot, but it’s not quite on my must-buy list for me personally, but it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re old enough and mature enough to handle the adult content

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Great story, characters, and world-building

If you discover the gimmick of the heists you can predict them

Great animation and artwork

If you find it predictable you'll be bored

Great English dub

 

Great soundtrack

If you’re looking for a new anime to watch, I do recommend Great Pretender (2020) because it is very well done and it is a lot of fun, but you do have to be a mature viewer to catch the nuance of the situations the characters find themselves caught up in.

— ReViewMeMedia

My Grade: B+

Great Pretender (2020) is a stellar anime for a mature audience that I enjoyed, but I don’t feel like I have to have it in my anime collection. It is a very well-done anime with great production values and an interesting story.

It has a lot of great things going for it, but it can be very predictable if you know what to look for when it comes to how the heists are pulled off. It is very unpredictable for people who aren’t able to figure out the gimmicks so it can be entertaining for some and boring for others.

If you’re looking for a new anime to watch, I do recommend Great Pretender (2020) because it is very well done and it is a lot of fun, but you do have to be a mature viewer to catch the nuance of the situations the characters find themselves caught up in.

I did enjoy the anime but it’s not the most amazing anime I’ve seen, but it was amazing when it came to the production values of the anime itself. The writing could be better when it comes to some plot elements but it’s not bad. It’s just a little cliché at times.

It is worth watching if you have a Netflix account and I enjoyed it. I do hope they continue the series. Netflix did call the parts seasons, but they’re split up in the weirdest way so I just don’t call it season 1 and 2. It is worth your time but not necessarily your money when it’s released on blu-ray unless Wit Studio is your favorite anime studio.

I do think it was worth my time to watch it because I enjoyed it a lot, it’s just not an anime that I feel I have to own for my anime collection.

My Rating

© 2021 ReViewMeMedia

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