So to start off, I think a lot of people’s criticisms of the show as a whole, and especially of the ending, revolve around the inconsistencies in the cons themselves. While this is valid, I think the important thing to understand is that most con stories take the logistics of the con extremely seriously, and pride themselves on appearing clever and “tricking” the viewer. While this can be satisfying at first, it offers an entertainment value that is different compared to what a show like this is trying to offer. The enjoyment of something like Catch Me if You Can, Oceans 11, American Hustle or The Usual Suspects hinges on fooling the audience, and this can be difficult to achieve, but these are considered some of the best examples of it. The issue that comes up in other lesser con movies, is that the audience expects to be fooled, and so any attempts at trickery need to be anticipated multiple times by the writer, where they usually try to implement double/triple/quadruple crosses. This is where a lot of inconsistencies in con movies come from, and why they can be easy to pick apart and therefore dismiss. This is because if they don’t execute what they are trying to do perfectly, they fail completely. Great Pretender is no exception to the failings of the con/heist genre, there are plenty of loopholes and inconsistencies to point out, and as common criticism is that all the heists are “too easy” to see coming. The difference is, that what it is attempting is not to fool the audience. Don’t think less of yourself if you didn’t “see it all coming”, in fact I would say you were participating in the show as intended if that is the case, but if you really paid attention fully it’s fairly easy to predict the outcomes and “twists”. The reason being that this is a love letter to heist films and con stories more than it is a true blue mind blowing con show in it of itself. It’s meant to be something that you sit back and enjoy the energy and environment reminiscent of that era in Hollywood, through the lens of the anime medium. It seeks to combine eastern and western film making tropes into a marriage of style that can appeal to both eastern and western audiences. It manages to be exactly what you expect, and provide something fresh and new at the same time. This comes from a focus on the comedy and character development over the intricacies of the heist itself. If the characters or style of the show were not enough to appeal to you, or you were analyzing and picking apart the details of the heist, you might not have enjoyed the show as much. That’s totally fine, I’m not saying the show is perfect, and expectations play a big role in enjoyment, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the creators intent with the series, and respect what they were trying to achieve over what they didn’t focus on. (You wouldn’t judge a Slice of Life for not having plot for example.) The creators know and expect that the audience is fully aware of the genre they are watching, and they seek to provide you the tools to figure it out for yourself rather than try to trick you. It's the difference between the fulfillment of an Agatha Christie mystery, where information is hidden from the reader, and the reveal of “whodunit” comes with a lot of missing information that recontextualizes previous knowledge, and a Sherlock Holmes story, where all the information is given to the viewer piece meal, and the satisfaction comes when Sherlock himself pieces all that information together in a way that reveals the truth. All the information is there in a Arthur Conan Doyle story for you to solve yourself, the difference is that most of the time you are no Sherlock Holmes. Great Pretender is a Sherlock Holmes style heist show. It gives you everything you need to figure it out for yourself for the most part, and the joy comes in proving yourself right, rather than being proven wrong. It's the difference between fulfillment and subversion. Ultimately, the show is not trying all that hard to be clever as long as it remains charming. Now to address some of the inconsistencies themselves within the show. The biggest complaints come in the final arc, so I’ll focus my justifications on that as I feel it has the most problematic moral resolution, and is the most complicated and least explained of the heists. A primary concern I’ve heard is offering the villains of the previous arc a redemption. While this can be problematic on the surface, it fits well with the messages the show is trying to convey. When you think about it in a grander sense, each of the three represents a criminal activity that is of the essence of Con-men. Selling bulk drugs to rich folks in LA, falsely appraising paintings sold to rich folks, cheating at gambling with rich folks. All of them might have seemed dastardly at the time, but compared to human trafficking it's nothing. They are essentially all just a breath away from being con men themselves, and nowhere near real villains. Logistically, the show doesn't bother to explain how they came into the fold with Edamura after prison, but this kind of stuff doesn't bother me in a heist show. I can sweat the details, it's the themes and motivations that need to pan out. The point of redeeming them goes along with a big message of the show; that you need to pay for your mistakes properly and honorably. They can do that a lot better working for Laurant's group than in a jail cell or back at their old haunts. After all, the con-artist group themselves are self-admitted criminals, the difference is that they have good intentions, Edamura himself even goes off on Laurant for as much multiple times. This brings us to motivation. It makes sense from a motivational point of view because those three literally have no other better option than working for Edamura. They can get back at Laurant for swindling them, and make back what they lost due to the prior cons and then some. Movie-Director stooge says as much at the end "we're barely breaking even". It might seem kooky and silly, but I think that’s because it’s supposed to be. The show is almost begging you to roll your eyes at it, and expects you to do so with a smile. Perhaps the larger concern is the inconsistencies related to Edamura’s mental mindset going into the last con. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding if Edamura knew he was participating in human trafficking, and to what extent, and then how quickly he reverts from that self to participate in Laurent’s con at the end. I will say a weakness of the show is that it sacrifices an explanation of this character development in order to have the final heist appear more dramatically interesting, which is something that up until this point the show had done a very good job of NOT doing. Anyway, it is my interpretation that I think Edamura has indeed "gone off the deep end" and that he was truly willing to betray his friends at first in order to get revenge against his father and Laurant. This would make sense considering his descent into sub-human behavior by willingly involving himself in a child trafficking ring. There's something to be said for the look in his eyes when he learns the truth from his dad. After all, from his point of view, he has just been willingly part of a human trafficking organization just because Laurant couldn't be bothered to trust him. The kind of person he is has changed, or so he thinks, his father even says as much that going "undercover" like this can change a person, and the cigarettes are an early foreshadowing of that. I believe his character development is supposed to mirror that of the children that the human traffickers are working to enslave. Essentially he is left with no other option, put there by circumstances beyond his control, by people who don’t care about him and are using him to achieve an end that he has no desire for. This is foreshadowed when he tries to break the kids out for the first time, and the kids don't want to leave because they feel that staying provides a better future prospect than trying to escape. Sometimes a shitty situation that you know is better than a shitty situation that you don’t. This nihilistic viewpoint has been impressed on him through a Stockholm syndrome like relationship with the mob boss lady Akemi. I actually like how the show doesn’t sugar coat Edamura’s actions despite that, and doesn’t try to make us pity him, or see him as a victim, because he truly is the villain now. But again, going back to the main theme of the show which I believe to be redemption and atonement, he is offered an out with the final heist. I chance to make up for his wrongs and become a bad guy that can do good, rather than just a bad guy… aka a Con Man. I think he still hasn't decided how he wants to get back at his father and Laurant until Abby shows up at his doorstep and reminds him of the same lesson about revenge that he taught her in the Singapore arc. Then he concocts his plan involving the three stooges from the previous arcs to get back at Laurent and his father. The things he says in his rant to them are very real, but I think he has realized that making sure these human trafficking organizations are brought down has been a decades-long process, and he has just been a small part of that. Dorothy, his mother, his own traumatic experiences, all would go to waste if he were to actually betray the con artists. He opts for pulling one over on Laurant and his father instead and leaves them an "out" with the blood bag. Up until that point from the con artist's point of view, Edamura just betrayed them. For all they knew, they were the ones who were going to be left on the island. It's at this moment when Edamura bursts out into maniacal laughter because he finally "got one" over on Laurant, and he then finally gets a chance to say what he needed to say to his father, all while not messing up the established plan. Laurant got to have his revenge, the con artists and stooges get paid, and Edamura got to finally show Laurant who's boss, even for just a moment. It supports the thematic through line of redemption while still portraying that redemption as morally grey. It doesn’t make blanket assumptions about good or evil, and it allows the viewer to decide for themselves whether or not the resolution is justifiable. Ultimately the show is a comedy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t explore heavy topics and morality. I think a lot of it’s issues stem from a perception of what the show is trying to achieve, and from a slightly rushed ending that sacrifices dramatic payoff for consistent character through lines. It's unfortunate because I really felt the show was a masterpiece in a lot of ways, but it definitely has its flaws that keep it from reaching that status in my mind. For example, the after credits scene is really unnecessary, and I secretly hope was pushed by the Netflix production team to leave the show open for a sequel rather than an intended conclusion of the show from the start, but who knows. It can be hand waved away as sequel baiting, but it really had no purpose beyond that. Another example is the implied redemption of the mob bossy lady Akemi when she calls her son from the island. I really felt the show missed out on an opportunity to draw a line between who deserves redemption and who doesn’t, because in mine someone like her should burn in hell. But the show stayed true to form, and kept its morally grey stance all the way until the end which I guess is something. Overall this is still one of my favorite anime of the year, and it sets a new bar for anime original productions as a whole, for Netflix, and for WIT as a studio. Hopefully some of my ramblings could help illuminate some of the confusing aspects of the show, thanks for reading!