Balance: Unlimited is very much the James Bond of anime – and indeed, the similarities are so obvious that I have to assume they’re fully intentional, especially given some of the moments in that (admittedly hella stylish) OP.
It took me a little while to make up my mind about whether I enjoyed this episode or not. On the one hand, Kanbe is, to put it bluntly, a giant douchebag. Everything he is and does is purposefully larger than life, and he has a god-like attitude to go along with it. With his inherent ‘foreignness’, tailored three-piece suit and ostentatious cigars, combined with his apparently exhaustive knowledge of foreign languages and fancy cars (among an array of other subjects, no doubt), AI butler and quite literally unlimited bank balance, I can only imagine that to a Japanese audience, Kanbe couldn’t pass for anything other than unbelievably suave. Of course, he’s also a total asshole, especially compared to his I imagine soon-to-be partner Katou – just your regular overworked and underpaid office worker who, while clearly repulsed by Kanbe’s ways and not in the least shy about saying so, will very likely always end up with the short end of the stick and literally dangling off bridges.
It’s a lot to take in, but luckily, Balance: Unlimited doesn’t look like it’s the type to take itself too seriously. The James Bond-like aspects are overdone almost to the point of parody, yet I definitely wouldn’t call the series lazy or outdated. On the contrary, it’s quick flashes of often very self-aware comedy, mixed with a surprising amount of attention to physical detail, make it slick in a way I just didn’t at all expect going in. I honestly can’t think of another anime title quite like it – purely in terms of tone and general atmosphere, Eden of the East meets Lupin III, maybe? It’s difficult to describe, but absolutely something worth watching if only for the fact that it’s so unique for the medium.
So long as Balance: Unlimited continues to be so ridiculously over-the-top while also refusing to play its tropes completely straight, I think it could be a highly entertaining watch.