Home > TV and anime > The Negotiator or Koshonin or 交渉人 (2008) — episodes 5 to 8

The Negotiator or Koshonin or 交渉人 (2008) — episodes 5 to 8

Continuing this review of The Negotiator or Koshonin or 交渉人 (2008), the next case involves a kidnapping except there’s another nice inversion of expectation due to the failure of both Reiko Usagi (Ryoko Yonekura) and Seiichiro Kizaki (Toshio Kakei) to ask the right questions when they first arrive in the home of the missing person. They then compound this error by failing to search the house. So, although they suspect something is not quite right, they miss the real scenario. Although it does turn out all right in the end, it’s uncharacteristically due to luck rather than good judgement. However, Reiko Usagi does seize the moment following the emergence of a more successful working relationship, to ask Seiichiro Kizaki (Takanori Jinnai) about one of their cases five years ago. Ah ha. It’s the case involving Kyosuke Mariya (Yuu Shirota), the psychopath and, guess what, one of the Team died during this operation. Now we have the agenda. In the meantime, another newcomer to the Team Yusuke Amari (Sousuke Takaoka) has been acting like a stalker and now ferrets out that, five years ago, Reiko Usagi adopted her current name.

Ryoko Yonekura and Yuu Shirota playing out their roles in the prison context

The series now pivots in approach. Up to this point, the focus has been on the individual cases, showing us the understanding emerging between Reiko Usagi and Keigo Kirisawa. We now have the events of five years ago as the focus. Kyosuke Mariya (Yuu Shirota) starts the ball rolling by sending a “love letter” to the old members of his gang. They escaped more serious punishment from the criminal justice system because they were all juveniles. Then one is stabbed to death. This prompts Reiko Usagi to compare notes with Mikio Kudoh (Masato Ibu) a journalist who’s had an obsessional interest in the case. We now get twin narrative tracks as Reiko Usagi runs her own investigation, and various members of the Team and relevant senior officers decide which side of the fence they are on.

Takanori Jinnai so wanting to do the right thing

What makes this interesting to an outsider is that the death of one of the Team members has so completely blighted the reputation of those involved. They are acknowledged as the experts in saving lives, yet all it takes is one death and, even five years later, they live under a cloud. Institutionally, this is hardly the best way to keep the morale of employees high. Indeed, it’s not typical of the style of management for which Japan is justly famous. In the business world, managers aim to create a sense of harmony not this dysfunctional atmosphere. For reasons that only become clear as we near the end, there are too many bodies buried for that to happen. The guilt felt by Keigo Kirisawa is powerful and made worse because he’s never been completely clear about the detail of what happened. For him and the other officers it’s coming down to a simple decision. Are they career officers who will keep their heads down or are they righteous, prepared to stand up and establish the truth of what happened?

Kakei Toshio, second-in-command negotiator

Rather than spoil the enjoyment of you watching it, I will reserve my comments to a more general level. Although I think I have the bones of the backstory all worked out, the actual delivery is deeply confusing. I really don’t understand why Chief Shizuo Takabayashi (Ren Osugi) would appoint Reiko Usagi to the Team knowing who she was. From his point of view, it would have been better to let the sleeping dogs lie. The only explanation I have is that he wanted to set her up for dismissal from the police force, but there were so many better and easier ways to do that. Anyway, having made this decision, it’s understandable he would ask Yusuke Amari to keep an eye on Reiko Usagi’s movements. I’m also uncertain whether the gun that Kyosuke Mariya takes from Yusuke Amari is the gun from the original shooting. Finally, it’s just silly the police don’t surround the ski lodge and so allow the two to escape into the woods.

Overall, The Negotiator or Koshonin or 交渉人 is one of the more enjoyable Japanese police shows. Reiko Usagi’s determination to study and improve is genuinely impressive both in her regular meetings with the psychopath and in her study of lions in the zoo. She also mellows toward her sister when the latter announces her intention of settling down with a man. She even has a moment to dance with young girls in the park. But it’s her ability to analyse what’s going on around her and make positive deductions that make her really interesting. Others might see this as a woman’s intuition, but what she says is more usually a logical interpretation of what she’s seen and heard. On its own, it explains why the Team finally accept her as an equal, despite the pervasive culture of sexism. I can also understand why the production company would want to transfer this character’s continuing story to the big screen.

For the review of the first four episodes, see The Negotiator or Koshonin or 交渉人 (2008) — episodes 1 to 4.

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