Home > TV and anime > Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 6 to end

Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 6 to end

With the cover-up in full-swing over the subversion of the Public Welfare Department’s officer played by Omori Nao, the Mishou team decide they will do their best to save the little girl who’s life is being held hostage. As she lapses into fever and is taken into hospital, Toma Saya (Toda Erika) deduces the home of this unfortunate family may have been searched. With the consent of his wife played by Nishihara Aki, they repeat the search but find nothing. However, when they follow the wife to the hospital and search her bag, they find a library card. It seems the wife returned a book to the library. When they find it, there’s a list of all the specialised humans known to the Public Welfare Department hidden inside the binding. While Toma and Nonomura Kotaro (Ryu Raita) puzzle over who might have compiled the list, Assistant Inspector Sebumi Takeru (Kase Ryo) talks with Dr Unno Ryota (Yasuda Ken) at the Police Hospital. After looking at photographs, they identify the man who supposedly can induce diseases but, on investigation, it appears he committed suicide three weeks earlier. Reaching an impasse, Toma goes to eat and is joined by Chii Satoshi (Shirota Yu). He’s been on the fringes of Toma’s life during the series, routinely wandering into the place where she soaks up food on an industrial scale to ask how she is. He’s one of these slightly diffident characters who seems to dote on Toma from a distance.

Kase Ryo and Toda Erika at the ready

 

The search for the person who can transmit disease leads to two highly significant developments. Shimura Misuzu (Fukuda Saki) develops a talent. If she touches others, she has a vision about that person which she can capture in drawings. When she touches Toma, she confirms a high-level reasoning ability but that she’s an “empty woman”. In due course, Toma has a telephone discussion with the “talent” who can cause disease. He claims he used it only in self-defence. He alleges the government is tracking down and eliminating all next generation talents and he was morally right in defending himself. In a sense, he’s arguing that his own genes turned him into a monster. No-one holding average moral values would ever want to be able to develop the power to maim or kill others in this way. Such talents are only considered socially useful or desirable in a military culture. Since Japan is now constitutionally pacifist, the only justification for his power is as a defence for himself and others with non-standard abilities.

 

Now the hospital tells Shimura Misuzu it will turn off the life support keeping her brother alive. This provokes Toma and Sebumi back into action. With Dr Unno having saved the little girl’s life using his superior surgical skills, they realise this man’s only hope is to resume their search for someone with healing powers. If they can find Reizei Toshiaki (Tanaka Tetsushi), the clairvoyant from the first episode who has been kept hidden by Tsuda Sukehiro (Shiina Kippei), they can ask him when the person with the ability to cure diseases will appear. The scriptwriters encourage them in the right direction through a nicely ironic twist of circumstances that separates the lascivious Nonomura from his young lady and brings Satori (Mano Erina), a psychic manipulator, into the game. With her skills, she tracks Reizei down and, after shooting the detective guarding him, she drives the clairvoyant away. Toma now hypothesises that international groups may be competing with each other to recruit the people with the most useful skills. Whichever group controls the most talent will control the world (or at least a big chunk of it). As an example, suppose a person has the ability to manipulate minds. He or she might erase old memories and/or create new ones. This could be used to destabilise relationships between states. Given the current friction over the resources under the South China Sea, it would be easy to convince several hundred trained engineers from Vietnam and the Philippines to travel to China and cause chaos in terrorist infrastructure sabotage. The capture of the Cinderella-like Satori is magnificently silly. I suppose there has to be a weakness and all credit to the scriptwriters for devising it. . . it’s really silly but fun. It also has a bearing on explaining why Toma eats so much.

Kamiki Ryunosuke surprised by the early arrival of snow

 

We now need to consider where we are. The morality of these superbeings is being portrayed in some nice shades of grey. While there are the inevitable megalomaniacs, many of the other superhumans are sad if not tragic figures who feel burdened by the abilities they have developed. Ninomae Juichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke) seems to have the ultimate power given that he can move through time at a different rate. Yet there’s something distinctly odd about him — a childlike quality that seems out of tune with the nature of the power. Whereas Shimura Misuzu (Fukuda Saki) already had some artistic skills, she developed the psychometric power as a means of communicating with her brother while he was in a coma. Had it not been for the circumstances and the pressure of her desire, it would probably not have developed. The others also seem to find their ability emerging later in life as a result of events. Reizei Toshiaki was happier when he was a fake clairvoyant. Now he can actually see the possible futures, it’s a curse of helplessness because determinism prevails and produces the most likely future.

Shirota Yu as a possible stalker

 

This leaves me to talk about three elements in the series. There’s a deliberate use of stereotypes that initially suggests humour but the underlying motive is rather different. Nonomura is set up as the incompetent head of a no-hope police department who lusts after at least one young woman in the force. In fact, he’s rather more competent than he seems and, because of his prowess, he collects support from other detectives when the chips are down. His assertion that a new kind of racism is emerging is a sign of a mature intelligence at work. The young woman who panders to his sexual interests proves tough and intelligent, working her way through law school on a part-time basis to break through her personal glass ceiling. Appearances can be deceptive.

 

The second issue surrounds Tsuda Sukehiro. He’s the head of Unit Zero, a secret police unit within the secret police, i.e. the Public Welfare Department. The proposition is that states will, for the most part, follow their own laws when it comes to dealing with crime. In a way, this is understandable public policy. Sovereign states can write whatever laws they want and create justifications for any kind of repression within their territorial boundaries. They want to present the appearance of fairness so naturally publish their laws. Yet this system is problematic because it’s public. Once you publish the laws, that sets the rules for the local game between government and the forces that would destabilise it. If the government changes the rules, it’s admitting that it’s losing the battle. So, to keep face, some governments create secret units who fight the destabilsing forces without regard to the law. A classic example of this was Operation Condor in Argentina which saw large numbers of dissidents secretly rounded up, with many of them being taken for one-way air trips over the Atlantic. If there are no dead bodies, the government finds it easier to deny anything wrongful has happened.

Mano Erina with a Cinderella complex

 

Finally, this series is about identity. Regardless of culture, humans prefer to live by the general rule that we should be true to ourselves. As individuals, we’re taught to value our natural identity. Except this is a myth. We actually prefer conformity and feel threatened by difference. Parents and teachers may encourage us to resist the efforts of others to change us into something we’re not. But the socialisation process is designed to teach us the limits of acceptable behaviour. Failure to conform is punished. In this series, we watch people struggle as their existing identity is threatened and a new identity offered. Some react by prefering the new, fake identity. Nonomura decides he would like to remain this incompetent nonentity during the final years before he retires. Others resist or fight to go back to being the individuals they were. So Toma acknowledges the extent of her difference. She could conform in her behaviour, but then she would not be who she is. When he first meets her, Sebumi is quite aggressive in his attempts to force her to change. His militaristic training has predisposed him to relate to the world in black and white terms. Yet, over time, he sees this is not quite who he is. He may be forged out of iron determination but, if he applies his own heat, he can bend when the situation calls for it. I suppose, in the end, you start off with what your genes give you and, when you emerge from the formal socialisation process, you’re free to decide if you’re going to remain the person the schools and authority figures shaped, or whether there’s a real you that should be allowed a place in the world. Overall, Keizoku 2—SPEC is an above-average Japanese series that thinks coherently about some issues of real contemporary importance. Racism is a continuing social problem and, if climate change encourages more population migration, better developed societies will struggle to absorb the economic refugees. Shows like this force us to confront how we relate to those who are different and to question how far a state should go in defending the status quo.

 

For the review of the first episodes, see Keizoku 2—SPEC Keishichou kouanbu kouan daigoka mishou jiken tokubetsu taisakugakari jikenbo (2010): Episodes 1 to 5.

 

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

 

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