I'm a big fan of anime from the 80s and 90s (and a little before that such as Speed Racer, Astro Boy, Space Battleship Yamato, and Science Ninja Team Gatchaman), but anime after that does very little for me. One of the things I loved about anime was how fresh and different it was. But over the past two decades it's become so derivative: telling the same stories over and over again with the same characters in the same visual style. There have been very few exceptions to this (Tiger & Bunny comes to mind).
The Great Pretender is a 2020 14-episode conman anime on Netflix. It is rated TV-MA for language and brief nudity and is appropriate for teens and up.
The Characters. The characters are all so different and have so much character and backstory. And as an ensemble, they have chemistry. How did this become the exception and not the rule?
The Visuals. This anime takes a very different approach with very bright and colorful water colored backgrounds similar to Promare. It's a nice change and beautiful to look at.
The Pace. One of my biggest complaints with anime is their strange pace for a Western viewer. This anime is paced much more like a Western television drama or comedy.
The Stories. The writing is so strong from intricate plots to lots of twists to a healthy dose of character development.
Maintain. The first story arc is a masterpiece. The second two are highly entertaining, but don't maintain all the twists and turns the first leads you to expect.
What I Would Like to Have Seen
I wish the second and third stories had maintained as many unexpected twists as the first story.