Home > TV and anime > Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 1 to 5

Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 1 to 5

One of the more interesting technical problems for mystery writers to solve is how to capture in a single image, the long periods a detective may spend looking at the ceiling deep in thought. For, let’s be honest, if the puzzle is sufficiently complicated, even the most celebrated of thinkers will need time to mull over all the available information before announcing whodunnit. Arthur Conan Doyle started the ball rolling with Sherlock Holmes smoking three pipes or zoning out on cocaine while playing the violin badly. More realistically, Hercule Poirot looks for the solution to the problems merely by exercising his little grey cells but, for television purposes, he’s sometimes shown building towers using playing cards. It’s demonstrating the notion that just as we meticulously look after our appearance and obsessively have a place in which to set each of our possessions, we need to put our thoughts in order to solve problems. Similarly, Nero Wolfe potters around his rooftop conservatory bringing order to the chaos of nature through his cultivation of orchids. When it comes to postmodern scientists as detectives, Japanese television offers us Galileo who, when he feels the urge to solve the problem to hand, vomits obscure mathematical formulae over every available surface surrounding him until he has his Eureka/QED moment — the cleaning bills must be phenomenal. Since no observer can understand what he writes, the symbolism for supermassive thinking power is perfect. He’s beyond ordinary. He’s a genius.

Toda Erika looking her best

 

Now here comes a new detective. Meet the magnificently eccentric Toma Saya (Toda Erika) who wanders around with her left arm in a sling (it’s not clear how, if at all, she was injured except it may be as a result of a motorcycle accident and possible fire), towing a case on wheels like a bag lady. If ever there was an epitome of gauche, she would be it. Since she eats spicy food in prodigious quantities and is no respecter of personal space, she often has people reeling away from her as garlic halitosis precedes her like a gas cloud. Yet, when the moment comes, we have the perfect image of deconstruction and reconstruction — Michel Foucault would have approved. When she has excavated all the facts, she writes down what she thinks are the most salient, tears up all the pages and throws the pieces into the air like confetti. As her eyes flicker over all the parts of letters, she reviews and reconstructs those letters into a narrative that explains how the crimes were committed. It may sound rather cheesy, but it’s actually effective as a visual parenthetical moment to separate the investigative collection of facts from the formal denouement of arrest and explanation.

Kase Ryo wondering why he’s still alive

 

What makes Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010) particularly interesting is the balance between classic police procedural and science fiction. The human brain is not properly understood but what seems to be clear is that even where you have an individual operating at full powers of concentration, only about 10% of the brain appears to be working. This raises the question of what the remaining 90% is for. This series answers the question by assuming individuals are evolving and developing new skills by using more of their brains than usual. Within government, there’s a group monitoring human behaviour among these next generation humans. More by accident than design, there’s a small police team called the Mishou, whose job it is to investigate crimes for which there’s no rational explanation. The superpowered are, of course, a threat to the status quo because they may abuse their skills to rise to unwarranted positions of power. It would not be convenient to leave control of this problem to people of ordinary ability. They would be outclassed. Within government, some new generation members judge whether the emerging individuals should be allowed to live. Outside government, there’s at least one superbeing who’s interested in keeping order among the ranks of the talented. For the record, he’s called Ninomae Juichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke).

Kamiki Ryunosuke taking his time

 

Assistant Inspector Sebumi Takeru (Kase Ryo) is a straight-laced officer who, even though not in any way at fault, is transferred to the Mishou. He and Shimura Yusaku were members of a SWAT team in pursuit of an armed gang. Entering a warehouse, Shimura suddenly turns and aims his automatic at the rest of the team but, when he fires, the bullets somehow bend back and he shoots himself. This inexplicable event is swept under the carpet. Shimura is now in a coma in a hospital dedicated to the treatment of injured police officers. When Shimura Misuzu (Fukuda Saki) touches her brother’s body, she sees visions of people with super abilities. The resentful Sebumi knows the reputation of the Michou as the dead-end department and confirms his worst fears when he meets the affably incompetent Nonomura Kotaro (Ryu Raita) whose interests in leadership are subordinated to a distinctly unhealthy interest in young women.

Tanaka Tetsushi predicts his time is up

 

The first episode begins when Reizei Toshiaki (Tanaka Tetsushi), a famous clairvoyant, predicts that a high-profile business man with political aspirations will be killed at a large public event. The conventional police force is unwilling to act on such a speculative warning so it falls to our trio to protect the nominated target. Unfortunately, as predicted, the man dies, but Toma constructs endless models of what happened and discards them until she has the right answer. In a dramatic confrontation with the villain, she and Sebumi are at the mercy of the killer who could crush them like bugs. But a man appears and freezes time. After thought, he saves our dynamic duo by bending the already fired bullets back at the superpowered shooter. Needless to say, the shooter’s more than a little surprised by this turn of events.

 

In the second episode, a man awaiting execution in jail claims to be a clairvoyant and challenges the Mishou to solve a cold case. What happened was that a flower-arranging expert was heard being shot over the telephone. When the police arrived, there was blood, but no sign of a body. This is a particularly ingenious alibi-busting case and it depends on genuinely obscure facts like the frequency bandwidth at which telephones transmit their signals. Although the first episode is fairly predictable, this is genuinely fascinating except, of course, the team doesn’t get the answer completely right. This gives us a chance to see this mystery man again. This time, he neglects to intervene in the execution of the supposed clairvoyant. In fact, this particular criminal just has super hearing and no genuinely supernatural powers. A bit of a faker, you might say.

 

Now we have a different challenge as a person with the ability to take possession of another’s body moves serially from one person named Hayashi Minori to another, while in the meta-narrative, Sebumi is told that a Hand of God can save Shimura and, to prove the point, Sebumi’s arm is healed. The serial possessor case is an interesting variation on a very old plot. It actually works well in this form.

Ryu Raita protecting his assets

 

In the fourth episode, a girl bullied at school, joins a suicide circle but may not have died when an SMS is received. The circle collects seven who hope to die. All drink but one glass contains sleeping pills. When the survivor awakes, he or she becomes the manager who burns all the bodies and returns personal possessions to the families of the other six. The manager then calls the next circle and sets out the glasses. In order to prove whether the girl is dead, they need to find the manager. They travel among the families to find whether one failed to receive personal possessions. When all seven families seem to have received property, Toma registers four names for the next circle. When they attend, the escaping manager is killed while trying to escape. The result is somewhat overplayed as a family tragedy in which the parents failed to understand their children, but it does again show the government’s willingness to intervene and carry off inconvenient next generation humans. As a result, Toma speculates she and Sebumi may simply be erased if they get too far into the mystery.

 

Sebumi meets up with a colleague who retired and contemplates the possibility of giving up the police. Yet he’s held by guilt over the fate of Shimura. In the fifth case, five public welfare detectives have died in suspicious circumstances and, to add insult to injury, their database is hacked by someone using Sebumi’s ID. It has to be the ex-colleague he met. When they go to his home, they find his child has just been diagnosed with an incurable disease. This suggests the health of the child is being held hostage for the detective’s good behaviour. It turns out we’re back to the first episode’s Reizei Toshiaki who’s been held in witness protection by members of the public welfare department. Curiously, these events are producing an unlikely couple in Toma and Sebumi who are transcending personal boundaries and allowing their emotions to play a part in the investigations. Although there are ragged elements to the storytelling where it’s obvious a little padding was necessary to fill out the time allocated, the overall effect is pleasing. The additional sentimentality and explanations of the background to both characters is also enriching the experience. Even Nonomura Koutarou, the placeholder leader of the Mishou department is slowly emerging in a slightly better light. Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo is a winner so far.

 

For the review of the concluding episodes, see: Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 6 to end

 

For a review of the film, see SPEC: Heaven or SPEC Keishichou Kouanbu Kouan Daigoka Mishou Jiken Tokubetsu Taisakugakari Jikenbo Shou (2012)

 

  1. August 5, 2012 at 1:08 am

    This looks right up my ally–unfortunately, it’s unavailable in the US at the moment… I do like well-done Japanese and Korean sci-fi and fantasy. Although the best work of Chinese fantasy I’ve read was by an American; have you read Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart?

    • August 5, 2012 at 1:18 am

      Yes, I read Bridge of Birds when it first came out but there are two other Chinese-related options which merit a look. I like the Inspector Chin books set in an alternate Singapore by Liz Williams — the first in the series are the best — but the outstanding trilogy is by the pseudonymous Daniel Fox. See Dragon in Chains.

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