Gallery Fake is a 2005 anime that started airing January 8th that year. Based on a manga by Fujihiko Hosono (Gu Gu Ganmo, Judge, Bio Hunter), it follows the gallery owner and art dealer Reiji Fujita and his assistant Sara Halifa.
While dealing with art rather than antiques, there’s an element of 80’s BBC favourite Lovejoy, as Reiji is a charming rogue and the stories frequently have an element of crime to them.
This episode features the pair heading to New York, where they run into Reiji’s love interest / nemesis, Sayoko Mitamura of the Takada Museum. She has a history with Reiji and suspects him of producing forgeries and selling the real art work on the black market.
While in New York, Reiji offers to act as broker to an old friend in an auction for Monet’s Wheatstacks. The story acts as an introduction to auction procedure for the viewer, while simultaneously establishing the events that led to Reiji being on the outs from the MET.
The way Reiji is able to get the money to pay for the Wheatstacks remains somewhat morally ambiguous. At the start of episode he convinces some gangsters the Van Gogh they brought him into appraise was a fake. Now, the viewer has to ask did he lie to the gangsters, to get a real Van Gogh? Or did he take a fake off their hands and then sell it as the real thing?
At this point in the series, Akira Nishimori (Battle Spirits) is directing the series, but that changes after 12 episodes. And the production studio changes after 25… I’ve never seen that far into the show, so curious if it gets better or worse at that point.
The main negative in this episode is the animation is not going to set the world on fire, but it does interesting things with transitions to keep what is a very talky / sitty / standy / staring-at-paintings-y story visually interesting.
What elevates it most is the music from Face 2 fAKE. If you enjoy anime evoking 70s movie & television jazz and funk scores, this is one of a couple great post-Cowboy Bebop soundtracks from 2005.
Again, no idea if it keeps it up, let’s see if I can finish this show 15 years after the fact?