**I was refraining from posting this because I’m still waiting for HD version of this drama to be available. As of now, only the chinese subbed version is out. I prefer my files to be raw and clean. But I guess an early review will not hurt because I have so much to share and discuss!
**Announcement: I’ve decided to give a shot at subbing this drama. My cousin will assist me for parts I’m not too sure. As we all know, WOWOW dramas don’t provide Japanese soft subs like other channels do, so I have to rely solely on my listening. Yes, chinese subs are available but I can’t read Chinese (despite being one myself). This is where my cousin (who studies Mandarin) comes into the picture. So once I get hold of the proper raw version, I’ll finalize the timing, quality check and release it.
Finally! The only remaining drama I was anticipating this season.
It was worth the wait.
The opening scene was just so PERFECT I couldn’t find any other better way to kick start a suspense drama like this. It sent chills down my spine already in the first minute! That scene of slow stirring of cement/mortar and then a shot of a man’s bloody face gasping for air, followed by the pouring of mortar straight into his mouth. I literally felt myself choking too as I watched that guy’s entire face slowly covered by the sticky mortar. Eewww!
This short intro scene of our first murder victim succeeded in setting the mood and yes, I’m already creeped out. Like for real.
Then we cut to a scene of Toko’s father. She asked him what he was thinking about, so he said he had several unresolved cases. Toko, still young at the time replied she would become a police when she grow up instead of a bride (child’s innocent thoughts) and solve the cases for him. Then Toko’s father fell down to the floor, bloody stomach and suddenly, Toko woke up in the middle of the night. A nightmare.
Her phone was ringing. There had been a case at Shinbashi and she was to prepare for staying over at the station. So she started packing.
I love how the camera didn’t show her face but just the suitcase and her hands putting things into her luggage. And the subtlety of her movements especially the part where she was having second thoughts on whether to bring the tiny pouch (which I believe might be cosmetics related?). The scene was brief but I really liked the way the director shot this. Sorry for talking about stuffs like these out of the blue but sometimes, I just get very interested in how some scenes were shot.
Her mother stood nearby and joked “Going for a vacation at this hour?” She knew her daughter had to leave for a case and got the taxi ready. She said her father would use delivery service for the huge luggage and only bring the smaller ones.
Before leaving, Toko went to her father’s altar and borrowed her father’s watch, a memento. (thanks to a fellow Twitter member who recognized the brand and make, the watch is a vintage Seiko UFO 6138 automatic chronograph watch).
Her mother asked Toko not to push herself too much. Toko replied, it’s something she has to do.
At the crime scene, they were dealing with a victim covered with mortar. It was pointed out that the hardness of the mortar below the neck was different from the one on the head.
There was a mark on the chest too as if a layer was peeled off. Toko’s senior and also mentor, Takano showed pictures of stuffs he took with camera. Apparently a chair from the floor upstairs had cement leftovers on the legs.
Sorry for interrupting with unrelated screencap but the fact that she was the only one taking notes reminded me of the scene in Mother Game where she did the exact same thing lol.
Toko then moved closer to the corpse to get a better look until Takano pulled her back. She almost stepped on an important evidence site. After apologizing, she crouched and saw the site she almost disturbed. She then voiced that it looked like the chair’s leftover marks.
When everyone else turned to her, surprised by the sudden remark, she apologized again for mumbling something inappropriate. But the older officer told her to continue. She tried to explain that the chair might have been there earlier for sitting but then she failed to reason further.
(I’ve read spoilers from Japanese readers and it seems that the case happened for 5 days. So I’m thinking they will follow the pattern of one day per episode, which just fits WOWOW drama perfectly)
What they could come up with for now was that the victim might have been hardened first below neck but still alive. The murderer was probably trying to question the victim for something before killing him off. They found an exhibition strip too at the site.
What information they obtained so far:
-Results from questionings, around 4pm yesterday, a white van-like vehicle was witnessed in front of the building. The vehicle soon disappeared. No info on the plate number.
-Crime lab predicted the victim was still alive just before the call from the person who found the corpse. The cause of death was from suffocation by mortar.
-The exhibition strip was for the Large Pompei Exhibition that was held at Ueno earlier this year.
During the conference, suddenly, a phone call came asking to speak to a police officer. This next scene was shot quite well too, accompanied by that unsettling music at the background as the robotic voice of the criminal echoed in the phone.
I like how the criminal didn’t waste time to provoke the officer, plus he knew the police was lying about his name. He kept asking for his name and the police kept saying ‘Satou’ until the criminal told him he’d hang up if he was using an alias instead of his real name. The police then said ‘Hayase’ but the criminal wasn’t convinced and said he hate it when people lied to him so he asked to change.
The criminal then asked for a female cop.
Lolz when he asked for a female cop, everybody was turning to the back, like to the very back at the female officers (desk job types) when there’s basically Toko right in front. Even she turned to the back. I guess this showed how they don’t think much of her status in the team.
Toko’s first response really showed her rookieness, in fact, she added the line ‘yoroshiku onegaishimasu’. This made the criminal laughed. He asked for her name, how it was written and her birthday as well. He implied from her being an Aquarius that she wasn’t cut out to be a cop. This pushed Toko to her edge a bit and asked him in return, his reason for calling. In order to lengthen the call, Toko quickly offered to reason Toremi’s action of peeling off the mortar from the chest of the victim. She explained that it was because something important was accidentally left buried under the mortar. So when he realized it, he peeled it off to retrive that something. After hearing this, Toremi laughed and complimented her excellent theory.
He warned that they still have no idea what true tragedy is.
He hung up.
Basically after the conference, Takano and Toko went to the university for more forensic details. After hearing that mortar was forced into the victim’s mouth/throat, Toko threw up several times, while Takano was just sipping his juice outside. Senpai vs kouhai difference.
Afterwards, they went to the museum and found the Pompeii pictures. If you read about the history of the volcanic eruption back in 79 AD, they basically referred to those. So now they realized that the criminal might have visited this exhibition and got his idea from the form of the Pompeii victims.
Back at the conference at night, they shared information. Toko was scolded for speaking in soft voice by another senior from another department when she was was explaining what they found out so far.
After the meeting, Takano brought her to see that senior and initially apologized for his incompetent junior. But later on, he hinted on that senior’s inability to be promoted. And yet, Toko was promoted into the 1st Division despite her ‘lack of experience and merit’.
I find it interesting one of the members likes to check the forum for ideas from amateur detectives. One of the forumers said the reason he used mortar to kill could be a warning. A warning for another person who might understand the message. With that, Takano suspects the criminal might act again.
Later that night, a message came for Kisaragi from Toremi. He asked to search around the shrubbery outside the station they were staying now. So Takano went out with her and found an envelope filled with photographs of the victim.
Toko thought Toremi might still be nearby and went off to search for him as Takano yelled for her to stop. Toko did find Toremi, or at least, someone who fits the details from witnesses.
Back at the station, Takano reported the situation to the rest and Toko described what she could observe about Toremi’s appearance as well as the wagon’s number.
At another place that night, another man was caught by Toremi and tortured.
I forgot to mention the final scene when he swung it down…the director opted not to show us what happened but shifted to a glimpse of blood splattering (in slow-mo) on the cement liquid. I friggin LOVE this.
Opening and ending scenes were executed well.
I’d highly recommend using a headphone and watch it at night with lights off for maximum experience (the disturbing background music will then serve it’s purpose).
Episode 1 ends
I’ve seen so many rookie cop dramas and they’re basically almost always divided into 2 extreme patterns – genius rookie cop with special abilities or a cowardly one who seems more like a burden than assisting.
Thankfully, our protagonist Toko is a mixture of both. She’s very much in the grey area so you don’t feel like she’s being classified into either pattern. Strictly speaking, she may seem like she belongs to the ‘coward useless cop’ at first glance, but not quite actually. It’s more of ‘lacking confidence’ in her own abilities. She has nightmares about her deceased father and stands out like a sore thumb among her already experienced team members. She may stutter sometimes and can’t finish her reasoning or theories when asked by her seniors.
She also says sorry way too much as pointed out by Takano, her buddy and mentor. I lost count of how many times she uttered ‘Sorry’ in this entire first episode, I just know it was A LOT. However despite all these rookie traits, she still shows her capabilities when the situation asks for it. For example, during the phone call with Toremi, the theory of him peeling off the mortar just came across her mind right there and then. She later described that when she’s in panic mode, she seems to think better. Her teammate later pointed out usually it’s the opposite for others. So she’s not all useless. She just doesn’t realize her own abilities yet.
So this is where Takano comes in. He’s basically the mentor who advices her, what she did wrong or right. The calm and logical partner. He’s a man of few words, he speaks right to the point, doesn’t beat around the bush. He’s someone you can trust. Despite his initial reluctance to guide Toko, he sticks with his job and feels responsible for Toko. I love this conbi already.
Their interaction is worth observing. I noticed several interesting points. Toko would wait for Takano’s ‘green light’ before voicing out (could be seen in the meeting when they were asked to report on their findings and Takano remained silent) Toko glanced at him expecting him to take the lead but when he just stayed static, only then she stood up to report. Another scene could be seen at the museum during that short awkward silence. Another nice scene was the one in the car right after the phone call from Toremi. Toko asked Takano how was her performance during the call. Her expression showed how much she cared for Takano’s acknowledgement. It’s a very subtle gesture but it’s endearing to watch.
That said, I’m happy so far with how the cast carried their roles respectively. Of course especially Kimura Fumino and Aoki Munetaka. I can understand now why Fumino mentioned that the hardest part for her was to express Toko’s swaying emotions. It wasn’t easy. The fluctuating reactions can be quite frustrating to handle when you don’t have a core to hold on to. Toko’s a cop and she’s supposed to be strong but also a woman so she may show girly reactions at times (Fumino even went as far as to mention that among all her roles, this is her most girly character). For now, I think she did quite fine portraying Toko. Aoki Munetaka as Takano is a pleasure. I can’t imagine this guy was the same one who acted as Sagara in Rurouni Kenshin. When I think of the gap between that and his character here now, I just smiled.
Oh yes, let’s not forget the criminal. We won’t know how he looks like yet but even with just that egoistic altered voice during the meeting, I’m already on the edge of my seat, heart pounding. Love it when he provokes the cops.
As with any WOWOW dramas, the one thing I know I won’t be disappointed with is the cinematography and direction. The way they shoot most of the scenes are great, very much like watching an actual movie. The vibe is just different from watching dramas from the other channels. There’s a level of quality they adhere to. Speaking of vibe, damn…the first minute was excellent. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s just so disturbing and they didn’t waste any time to serve you those dishes first. Great move. I’m sold. Even though it means I have to endure more sinister scenes in later episodes, I hope they continue serving us these.
Can I compliment the background music as well? They’re so fitting, especially that phone call scene during the meeting. That was amazing. Just like how the criminal’s voice sounded like, the whole ambience was menacingly suspenseful.
Strictly speaking, I do have one huge problem. Toko shouldn’t have screamed at the mysterious person she saw down the bridge when she went off searching for Toremi alone. At that point, anyone would be a suspect, no? Plus when he fits the description, shouldn’t she go down first and follow him instead of giving away herself in the first place. But okay, there won’t be anymore show left if she came into contact with him this early. So some teasing is inevitable.
PREVIEW FOR NEXT EPISODE