Once Upon a Crime is a Japanese live-action rendition of the novel Akazukin, Tabi no Tochu de Shitai to Deau by Aito Aoyagi. It takes you into the world of fairy tales where multiple characters from different stories interact.
We follow Little Red Riding Hood, who runs into Cinderella and the two attend the infamous ball after being magically dressed up by two witches. Things take a curious turn when Red Riding Hood finds herself investigating a murder.
Once Upon a Crime opens in a fairy tale world where physical beauty is considered the optimal standard of acceptance. We are introduced to Little Red Riding Hood, who runs into Cinderella.
As she observes Cinderella, Red Riding Hood uses her immaculate observation skills and instincts to confirm that the girl is being bullied by her stepmother, Isabella, and stepsisters, Anne and Margot.
Cinderella confesses that since she is ugly, she is treated like vermin by her family and made to wear hand-me-down clothes. At this opportune moment, Barbara the Witch shows up and offers to dress both girls up with magic so they can attend the ball at the Royal Palace.
What was supposed to be a positive change of fortune for Cinderella turns into a chaotic event as the Royal hairdresser, Mr. Hans is found murdered, and everyone is a suspect.
Red Riding Hood gets on the case and uses her powers of observation and deduction to solve it.
Once Upon a Crime features great performances concerning the film’s requirements. The characters aren’t deep or have complex backstories as the base of the plot is children’s fairy tales.
Kanna Hashimoto and Yûko Araki lead the ensemble as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella respectively. The former has the most screen time and does well to play a quirky yet brilliant detective.
Araki as Cinderella is timid and innocent. She sticks to the character’s brief despite the heavy twist associated with her in the film. The rest of the cast is eccentric yet ordinary. They display quirky traits that make the film fun but do not contribute much to the narrative.
Once Upon a Crime is visually stunning. The fairy tale world looks beautiful as the CGI and VFX steal the show. The costumes look immaculate and the sets are meticulously crafted.
The film introduces familiar characters and stories but puts unexpected spins on them. The climax is a welcome change and is not predictable.
Despite it being a quirky comedy, the murder mystery is quite intriguing and keeps you guessing.
The theme song Time Machine by Japanese pop band Sekai no Owari is another feather in the film’s cap.
On the not-so-good side of things, Once Upon a Crime can feel slow at times. Even though the climax is superb, it stretches for far too long. This is surprising since the film only clocks in at just 107 minutes.
The comedy in this film is a miss. The jokes feel forced and sometimes crass. Furthermore, the film tries to implement certain comedic anime tropes that look out of place in live-action.
Apart from its silly jokes and a slightly draggy narrative, Once Upon a Crime is a fun watch. With great visuals, apt performances, and unexpected twists, it is sure to leave you on a high.
Once Upon a Crime