21 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Death of the Tutor and Daughter of 20 Faces

Fair warning: This post has spoilers for Daughter of 20 Faces. In fact, I spoil pretty much the entire anime in this post. However, I realise that restricting my audience to merely people who have seen Daughter of 20 Faces is an incredibly small readership, so I’ll add that the anime isn’t particularly good. The point I make is a rather intelligent one too, in my totally biased opinion, and you don’t want to cheat yourself out of a perfectly good post now, do you?

Crash course: Daughter of 20 Faces is a Bones anime from spring 2008, so it’s far from an old anime. It’s recent enough for even me to have watched it while it was airing, although that’s probably more of a sign of my gradual movement away from being a newbie than anything. The story was about a girl called Chieko who was freed from her horrible life with her evil stepmother by a band of thieves led by the charismatic 20 Faces. The band became Chieko’s surrogate family, with 20 Faces become a father figure to her. He taught Chieko tricks of the trade along with many other lessons about humanity and morals and so on. Chieko was a pretty talented thief in her own right even at a young age, many suggesting she would succeed 20 Faces to be the new leader. She became the ‘daughter of 20 faces’ so to say. That is, until shit got real in episode 6. I can’t quite remember the exact details, but basically 20 Faces rescued Chieko and disappeared off on a burning train, presumably to have died.

This is the Death of the Tutor, a pretty standard trope in any mode of story-telling. Everything from Star Wars to Madoka Magica does this. The reason it happens is to allow for further development of the main character. They learn the life lessons from the tutor but they can’t move on while they live in the shadow of said tutor. The Death of the Tutor shocks them out of that sense of security and forces them to develop themselves. This is exactly what happens in Daughter of 20 Faces. Chieko’s development went from talented child under her evil stepmother to finally having the freedom and guidance to train these talents of her. Getting 20 Faces out the picture forced Chieko to develop further. There was some moping but she then went on to form the ‘detective girls’ with some friends, starting down the road of a perhaps more law-abiding version of 20 Faces gang of thieves. They discover a bigger plot is going on, Chieko and co. start to uncover the mystery until about episode 12 where the fatal happens.

20 Faces comes back.

And with that, the story dies.

Chieko reverts back to how she was before episode 6. Her development is aborted. She’s back to relying on 20 Faces for guidance, unable to tackle these problems herself. The ‘plot’ continues, but the plot was never particularly good to begin with. It was a vague mystical science thing where water can blow up, scary scientists plot world domination and plot holes are as regular as a panty flash in Rosario to Vampire. The real appeal of the anime lay in the development of Chieko’s character, which until now had been done brilliantly. That ended with 20 Faces return. She wasn’t capable of developing further.The author didn’t have the balls to kill off 20 Faces, but in bringing him back, he succeeded in killing his very own story.

The Death of the Tutor seems like a tired trope, but watching Daughter of 20 Faces brought to light how important it truly is.

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20 Comments

  1. Posted February 18, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Well, Death of a Tutor doesn’t strike me as a tired trope, but I guess I haven’t spotted it so much. Now that I’m aware of it, I’ll probably be more keen at recognizing it.

    Pretty much agree with you about 20 Faces. I mean, it was an OK anime, but it could have been much better. It drove me up the wall in the latter episodes how 20 Faces kept cheating death. It was like the boy crying wolf. Every time 20 Faces faced some sort of lethal danger, the scenes carried no tension, because you knew he’d be alright, and the writers would pull something out of their ass to bring him back in a couple of episodes time.

    Never really bothered to think about how him coming back effected Chieko’s development. I kinda got sick of Hirano Aya saying “ojisan” all the time.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      It’s not a tired trope because it’s a damn fine trope. Well, at least, I haven’t seen it done poorly yet apart from Legend of the Galactic Heroes

  2. luffyluffy
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Aya Hirano can’t sing for shit.

    Mami was a great tutor, she just got ahead of herself, that’s all.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      She can’t face her problems anymore

  3. Posted February 19, 2011 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    I liked the manga the Detective Girls wrote of themselves. It was self-deprecating and really clever. Why wasn’t the rest of the series like that?

    I think it’s funny that if you actually took to heart 20 Faces’ motto, “Watch, listen, and think for yourself,” you would’ve realized the series wasn’t very good.

    • Posted February 19, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      The series does have some shining episode, but yes mostly has been a disappointment. Too slow with progress and boring characters…

  4. Posted February 19, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I thought the audience was to expect the gradual return of 20 Faces. The anime itself was something akin to GOSICK, the story didn’t matter, character development didn’t matter, it was about me and Chiko playing together in her sandbox.

  5. Posted February 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Daughter of 20 Faces doesn’t sound particularly good when you realize that Chieko stops developing once her mentor returns and regresses to her old self.

    Personally, I’d like to think I’m a much better thief than my mentor and that’s without him having to be dead.

  6. Posted February 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    hmm, im kinda intrigued to check this out, but the “return of mentor” thing sounds pretty lame. that’s not supposed to happen! unless they pulled a batman and had 20 faces come back as the new villain behind the regular villain. i cant think of another instance where a supposed “mentor” came back to life somehow.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      OK, that would have been awesome if they did that. 20 Faces the villain all along. Shame the author had such a hard on for the character they created

      • half_an_eye
        Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Scamp, I agree with what you said except I do have to point out that part of the reason the author seemed so attached to Twenty Faces was because he DIDN’T create that character. It was based on a character from the famous author Edogawa Rampo. It’s not an excuse, but I think it might be a good explanation.

      • Posted February 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        great works were meant to be reconstructed and re-imagined!

      • Scamp
        Posted February 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        That’s a pretty good explanation actually. Not an excuse, but it does certainly explain why the author was so unwilling to change the character or kill him off

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    The one problem I have with this post is the following: Chiko does not develop as a character at any point in the show. With or without mentor she’s the same all the way through. The only thing that changes in the show is the surrounding cast and the location.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Ah now, she did change in character when they started the Detective Girls thing. She was becoming a leader in her own right

      • Anonymous
        Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:05 am | Permalink

        During those episodes she didn’t become a leader, nor did anyone actually lead the Detective Girls. In those episodes Chiko made a friend (only friend around her age in the show), and they had fun together.
        At the start of the show she was a silent loner with a knack for solving problems and at the end she was still that, only now she did not suffer an abusive caretaker and had a friend. I’ll concede that they hinted at her personality developing, but nothing of that sort actually occurred.

  8. Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I watched this with my one younger sister and we stopped watching it with only 2 episodes left; we just couldn’t stand watching it anymore. When I want a laugh from that sister all I have to say is – “Hey, let’s finish up 20 Faces, it wasn’t that bad,” – and she still fines this hilarious.

    Bones really is the best second-rate anime studio.

    I would have liked it if Daughter of 20 Faces stayed a show about the daring adventures of the gentlemen thief, similar in feel to Lupin the Third. Actually, I’d really just like to see a quality re-boot of Lupin.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      I dropped 20 Faces about 2 episodes before the end as well. I wonder what did happen in the end anyway?

      Me and my sister had a similar thing for 12 Kingdoms. It became a study motivation. I don’t feel like studying, maybe I’ll watch anime. Wait, I’m currently watching 12 Kingdoms? Welp, getting out those study books

  9. OHEMGEE
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    It certainly says something when you can successfully persuade me to read a post spoiling an entire anime that I’ve never watched and that may in fact have been on my watchlist XD
    Ah, but it was a good read. And a good heads up for dropping this >>

  10. Havieru-X
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I actually liked this show

    Unfortunalely I did watched it ’til the end and believe me when I say you’re better without it.

    It had a good catchy start even so..

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