Ok, while Nekosdrama is mainly on kdramas, occasionally, we will write something non-k. Cos we find the non-k show interesting enough to talk about. kooriyuki introduced me to this police thriller — a very short one, 5eps, which I think may be too long for its narrative… more about it later.

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Main cast:

  • Kimura Fumino as Kisaragi Toko. A newbie female detective assigned to Tokyo Police Force Homicide Team 1. Her first case has to do with a series of bizarre murders where the perp buries his victims alive in cement.
  • Aoki Munetake as Takano Hideaki. Kisaragi’s partner and senior (or mentor). He is gruff, and aloof towards Kisaragi, having zero tolerance for her “mistakes” and seems annoyed with her constant need to apologise.
  • Furukawa Yuki as Yokoi. He was kidnapped as a child and later seeks revenge against his kidnappers.

Synopsis:

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Kisaragi reports for work in Tokyo under the police force’s homicide team. Previous night, she dreamt about her dad (also a police officer, who died 10 years ago on a case), and he mentioned about being unable to let go of cold cases.

The first case our young lady is assigned to is a gruesome murder where the body of a man is found encased in cement. Forensics point to him being tortured some time before death, and strangely a portion of cement is removed from his chest. Takano also finds a ticket stub to a museum’s exhibition on Pompeii stuck on the roof.

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With no idea who the victim is (no iden was found), the police are at a loss. During their morning briefing, someone calls to report a lead — and the person insists on speaking to a female officer. Kisaragi is appointed. The caller idens himself as “Tremi”. Tremi claims to be the murderer, and says that the victim deserves to die. He leaves a clue to Kisaragi to check out the Pompeii exhibit.

At the museum, Takano and Kisaragi believe that Tremi modeled his killing method on Pompeii’s victims. In same evening, Tremi leaves Kisaragi a package of photos — pictures of the victim’s face before he was covered in cement, and 2 photos of a mound of tomb-like dirt, and a pile of female bones. Kisaragi hazards a guess to her superiors that Tremi probably left an important clue on the victim’s chest area, thus the cement is damaged. However, she doesn’t have an idea what the item is.

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The police identifies the first victim, a man in his 40s who has a heart problem and is now living with his mom. His elder sis informs the police that her younger bro used to have violent tendencies especially when he drinks. Tremi calls again, to inform the police that he has the second victim — who may be still alive, depending on how fast they can find him. The police triangulate the calls to an old, vacated hospital in the suburbs, and find a half cemented victim barely alive. His legs and face have been crushed by massive blows from a hammer.

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Tremi leaves yet another clue for the police — to re-open a kidnapping case 17 years ago. He also demands the police release a media statement claiming that the 2 victims were evil men. Tracing the clue to the 17 year old cold case, Kisaragi finds out that her father was one of the leading detective assigned to the case (a pair of mother and child were kidnapped). Unfortunately, during the ransom handover, Kisaragi’s dad had chased after the kidnapper, but lost him (after receiving a stab in the gut). The kidnapper in anger killed the mother, and dumped the young boy, Yokoi, in a dilapidated building. Yokoi was found and sent home to his dad. Years later, his dad died in a suicide and he was sent to stay with an aunt.

Kisaragi and Takano trace Yokoi (suspected to be Tremi) to his last known address and his high school. His teachers describe him as a quiet, but invisible boy. And his aunt says he has been obsessed with a notebook his dad left him after the suicide. The police thinks that Yokoi’s dad may have followed up on the case after the police closed it, and found out the kidnappers’ identities. One of them may have killed him.

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The manhunt for Yokoi (aka Tremi) is out, but not long after, Yokoi calls the police again, informing them he has the 3rd victim. He tells them that he is holding the victim in the place where the pic of the bones are. Incidentally, it is also the factory where Yokoi and his mum were held. Kisaragi finds evidence of Yokoi’s mum being buried in cement, and someone (likely Yokoi) had dug the body out not long ago. Takano, whose attention was caught by a clock on the wall, wonders why it can still be running when the factory is no longer in operation. Kisaragi screams for the police to run — minutes before the place blows. Thankfully, no officers are hurt.

Kisaragi is sent home to recuperate after a minor injury in the factory explosion…and to her horror, finds Tremi/Yokoi holding her mum hostage. She finally realizes the “3rd victim” Yokoi is talking about is the police. He blames her dad for alerting the kidnappers, leading to the death of his mum. But he also reveals that there was a 3rd person involved in the kidnapping — his own dad.

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When Yokoi was a teenage boy, he discovered the notebook about the kidnapping in his dad’s study. He read with horror on how his dad had been the mastermind behind the kidnapping. In anger, he pushed his dad off the roof. Years later, under the guise of a waiter in a café the police frequent, he learns that Kisaragi (a girl he has seen visiting the café) is the daughter of the same police officer who chased after the kidnapper. Thus, he had set a trap for Kisaragi, in order to avenge his mum.

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Kisaragi manages to escape Yokoi and rescue her mum, before Takano rushes in to help. Takano has correctly guessed that Yokoi probably ripped off the 1st victim’s cement on his chest to hide an AED (emergency defibrillator) scar. And he remembered a convenience store having reported an AED machine stolen a while back. When he saw the CCTV footage, he immediately recognized the man in the hat as Yokoi or the waiter in the café.

After Yokoi’s arrest, the police recover the piles of bones and the cement cast of Yokoi’s mum in a shipping container which Yokoi had rented.

Review:

In terms of narrative, the murders are not extremely innovative. (how many times have i seen perps burying vics in cement, wall, Plaster of Paris? ans: many times…) One thing about Jdoramas though, is they are juz as good (or better) than kdramas at creating a tense-filled atmosphere. Well, at least they don’t mosaic sharp implements or guns. (which i still find duh in kdramas)

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Another difference between Jdoramas’ police thrillers and kdramas’ is their treatment of female officers. Although the female officer in both cultures is kinda sneered at (as expected in a male-dominated environment), kdramas tend to either sideline them or have them “suffer” under their male colleagues. In Ishi though, Kisaragi’s male superiors dote on her in a fatherly way.

In fact, the secondary theme of “Daddy issue” runs throughout Ishi. Kisaragi, who idolizes her dad, loses him when she is in her teens. In replacement, the entire force of male police officers take over the role of parenting her. When she is blaming her dad for interfering with the kidnappers leading to Yokoi mum’s death, her immediate superiors (including the Police Chief, who used to be her dad’s partner), consoled and counseled her. Eventually, her faith in her dad is restored.

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If I need to complain about Ishi, it’s the Daddy Issue portion that really drags and weighs down the show. The actual tension + action arising from the murder case probably can only fill up to 3 eps. And it’s kinda weird that it takes Takano so long to identify Yokoi as the part time waiter in the café. Ok, fine, even though the high school pic of Yokoi is one where his hair virtually covered his features, there’s still no mistaking Yokoi as the waiter guy. Also, Yokoi’s (as Tremi) preferred attire is a fisherman hat, a long trench coat and big sunglasses. Which…is kinda outstanding. So why did it take so long for any one to pinpoint him? Given that his mugshot is publicized over mass media?

Or maybe I’m juz a too-seasoned police thriller fan. [kooriyuki: yup you are =p]

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