• Janaki Tulshibagwale (She/Her)

Moriarty the Patriot: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes meet Anime, what could go wrong?

The tale is as old as time. A game of chicken between the eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes, and his worthy opponent, the ever so elusive James Moriarty

If you have ever been intrigued by the many forms of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this anime is for you.

A very brief history of the main character

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes made their way into pop culture in many forms. The books that started it all, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were considered popular literature in the late 1880s. After the books amassed a large number of readers and ardent followers, they had to be seen on screen. The first Sherlock Holmes movie was produced in 1900. Shortly after, the novels were adapted into a series format that was more suited to the narrative style and gave us the iconic image of the famous detective. Clad in a long billowing overcoat, a deerstalker, and the signature pipe hanging from his lips.

Over the centuries since the stories first came out, the image of the detective has changed according to his surroundings. In the BBC series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, we saw Sherlock like any other man in the 2010s. He wasn’t an old-timey icon anymore. He used cellphones and laptops like everyone else, took a taxi from time to time, and used nicotine patches. He became relatable. But the character never lost the charm and intrigue that was always attached to it. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is probably the most discussed characterization of the detective. Maybe it is because it blew up on Tumblr or maybe it was because the fans never got a season 5 and still want closure.

What's new with the anime version?

Directed by Kazuya Nomura and licensed by Funimation, Yuukoku no Moriarty (Japanese for Moriarty the Patriot) is based on the manga written by Ryosuke Takeuchi and illustrated by Hikaru Miyoshi. All the stories are based on the original works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and have all the same characters and stories. So why watch it?

Honestly, it is all in the name. Watch it for Moriarty. It is his story.

In almost all the adaptations, we see the world from Sherlock’s point of view. We try and get an insight into the genius detective’s psyche by looking at things the way he does. His ways are certainly not meant to be idealized, his actions always being in the murky greys between right and wrong. But it is certainly fun to see what motivates this strangely built man and how he goes about his job as a ‘consulting detective’.

Moriarty the Patriot, is obviously, not about Sherlock. It is about the origin story of the antagonist, William James Moriarty and how he went from being an orphan on the street to a powerful ‘Lord of Crime’. But what is most interesting about his story, is his motivation.

Villains are always criticized for their actions. But stories about what motivated the villains to carry out those actions are always rooted in trauma from their past lives before they assume the persona of a villain or an antagonist. Moriarty the Patriot gives us that origin story.

England was wrought with stratification and corrupt nobility in the late 1800s. The rich exploited the poor, treated them miserably and built their lives on the backs of those they thought to be disposable. A young Moriarty was a victim of this stratification. Vowing to end the rule of the Lords and Nobles through the only thing that seemed fair: crime.

But in his eyes, it wasn’t a crime if the person who was on the receiving end of it already had blood on their hands. It was punishment. So it was okay for him to right the wrongs by slowly eliminating the nobility. As a child, William's merit was understood by Albert James Moriarty, a young noble fed up with the ways of his kind, who later adopted William and Louis (his younger brother) and they then form the Moriarty crime syndicate. Together, they would take down the nobility. Together they would create equality in this unequal world. By whatever means. The anime gives you this insight into Moriarty’s intentions right at the beginning, leaving you teetering on the moral compass when Sherlock comes into the story. This marks an excellent way of storytelling.

A look into the character sketches

When Sherlock first makes his appearance, he is seen in stark contrast to Moriarty’s sombre demeanour. He is a bit jumpy, all-over-the-place and a bit of a showoff. He knows his skills but is thrilled to see Moriarty as an exciting match for his talents rather than an opponent. Even though Sherlock tends to overpower the scene, just because he is Sherlock Holmes, the viewer can’t miss the omnipresence of Moriarty. The viewer is drawn into this constant lingering of Moriarty’s presence along with Sherlock as both the viewer and Holmes spiral into a web of confusion that is not easy to get out of.

Moriarty becomes the "patriot" because he aids commoners in taking down the nobility. In the truest sense, he becomes the faceless force that drives the urge for a revolution, and a break from the rule of the noble class. He has his own ideas of justice and they might be a bit twisted, but they sure do the trick. Because none of the characters in this show can tell right from wrong, and the whole justice system is a bit skewed. This is largely relatable in 2021 because we see not much has changed.

Sherlock needs Moriarty simply as a stimulus, and Moriarty knows this. They both know the power they hold over each other and in society, and they are always seen acting accordingly. For the most part, they stay in character because that is expected of them. Even those closest to Moriarty and Holmes, always expect them to act a certain way, but in reality, both Holmes and Moriarty are just acting on each other’s actions. Trying to figure out the other while planning ahead. This intense contest of wits, and the number of ways in which it constantly plays out, is what gets the viewer hooked to the anime.

Additional nuggets and final thoughts

The anime also allows the viewer to take in the arcs of the side characters without much hesitation. The time given to each side character is just enough and aids the plot perfectly.

Moriarty the Patriot becomes a must-watch because it brings the old classic back into our lives with angles and arcs we have never seen before. Even though they are William James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes, they are worried about rent, about getting enough sleep, and most importantly about being perceived.

The time in which the story is set is rounded beautifully, setting a constant reminder about the reason that drives Moriarty to do what he does. Why he chooses to become a Lord himself, but a Lord of Crime. Till the very end, it has you on your toes, guessing when the final problem would be solved.


The author is an average 20-year-old with an above average need to fixate on things and write about them.

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