It was inevitable: Moriarty the Patriot, one of the anime series getting the most buzz this season, introduced their version of Sherlock Holmes, and lo and behold, he looks like the Benedict Cumberbatch version! Moriarty the Patriot is adapted from a popular manga series that's already a form of Sherlock Holmes fanfic. It tells the origin story of the young James Moriarty as an antihero who sets out to destroy the corrupt British class system by launching a criminal conspiracy to turn Victorian London into a hive of crime and villainy. It's interestingly subversive to turn Moriarty into an ideological class warrior.
But the most subversive – and funny – twist the series brings is to make Moriarty and his merry band a bunch of bishonen, ie pretty young boys. They all look pretty and androgynous with luxuriously wavy hair and sultry eyes, exactly what teenage female fans dream about. And of course, the series' version of Sherlock Holmes is no different, and he is so obviously inspired by Cumberbatch in Sherlock.
Sherlock Holmes has always enjoyed a worldwide fan following, but Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' modern-day reimagining for the BBC started a whole new kind of fandom for the character. Sherlock awakened a young female following for the character because of the way Cumberbatch portrayed him. Aloof, emotionally unavailable yet secretly caring and compassionate, he's really Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy and Wuthering Heights' Heathcliffe mashed and blended into the character of Sherlock Holmes. And of course, he has androgynous features and wavy hair. That's catnip to teenage girls, especially in Asia. Sherlock has already been adapted into a manga series in Japan, published in the West by Titan Books. It's drawn by the pseudonymous artist JAY, previously known for drawing Boy's Love manga. Moriarty the Patriot is really the next logical step in that evolution of the Sherlock Holmes fanfic subgenre.
By Vol. 2 of Moriarty the Patriot (out in January 2021) and episode 6 of the anime, Sherlock Holmes is introduced as a somewhat anachronistic cocky Cockney hipster with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. The series wastes no time setting them on the path to becoming archenemies, but what the female fans really want is to see the pretty boys kiss. That never happens in the series, of course, but the subtext is always there. The Sherlock-Moriarty conflict carries a Boys Love subtext for the entirety of the series. The creators are all very aware of it and play it to the hilt without ever stepping over that line.
You'll have to read the slashfic section of AO3 to get gratification. It's fun to think that there are literally millions of fans worldwide that yearn for that, especially when the traditional versions of Sherlock and Moriarty are as craggy older men who are definitely not pretty or Bishonen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would probably be spinning in his grave like the tip of a dentist drill, and that's a hilarious image to have in the mind. Moriarty the Patriot is now streaming on Funimation.