The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011): Episodes 3 and 4
The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011) episodes 3 and 4 see us reprise the basic set-up with some nice stop-frame sequences to show Reiko Hosho (Keiko Kitagawa), our heiress as a child, riding a lion and dining with the President of the United States (no relationship implied between the two kings of their respective jungles). This time, she’s called out on a Sunday. Such inconsiderate murderers. Why can’t they restrict their killing to ordinary working days during the week? Fortunately, Kageyama (Sho Sakurai) is able to offer comfort and consolation. This only lasts until she sees the body. He’s lying with his head in a pool of blood wearing only his underpants. It seems someone hit him over the head and then undressed him. There’s no sign of his clothes and there are carpet fibres on his forehead. Better still, he’s a congressman and a rising star of the democratic party, investigating possible corruption on Capitol Hill. This suggests the murder was to keep him quiet. The killing took place in a hotel room which he had on a yearly contract. The safe he had installed has been opened and is empty. As against that, he appears to have been a womaniser which could have produced dangerous jealousy. The reveal is actually rather neat if somewhat long-drawn-out. The use of the cardboard cutout action figure is nicely appropriate and the logic of how there seemed to be two murderers is rather elegant. The explanation for the carpet fibres is typically Japanese and the significance of the trip to the beach is an outstanding deduction. Put all this together and you have to feel sorry for the murderer. Indeed, the way the plot is designed, the intention is to give our heiress/butler pair a chance to discuss how infidelity might be inadvertently disclosed. The final frames of the episode leave us with a rerun of the early line — that all a man need do to hide the fact he’s dating several women is to habitually avoid using their names and only refer to them as “you” as in “I love you” and so on. It leaves so much unsaid between Reiko Hosho and Kageyama.
This leads to a really pleasing opening section to episode 4 as Reiko Hosho accepts an invitation to her friend’s wedding. Except, when you come down to it, her friend is doing the wrong thing by marrying before the top heiress. This shows disloyalty from someone so low down on the heiress ranking order. What makes it so much worse is that Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri (Kippei Shiina), the noveau riche detective, also turns up as a guest. This is the first time the dunce has had a chance to identify the heiress. To throw him off the scent, Kageyama must therefore give a false name to his mistress and act as escort to her in the reception. The theory is that their act as a couple will deter the detective. Unfortunately, the challenge of a rival merely encourages him. This leaves us wanting a crime and it turns out to be a locked room mystery. The bride is attacked in her bedroom. There’s a long fall to the ground underneath the bedroom window and no sign anyone recklessly attempted the jump. Going the other way courtesy of a rope and hook is too athletic an exercise for any of the guests at the wedding. So it has to be someone who can manage the mechanics of locking the door.
Appropriately enough, as the first one through the door, Reiko Hosho is immediately suspect because she could have falsely claimed it was locked and only pretended to use the key to open it. She was jealous of her friend’s marriage and so has motive. As nutty detective in chief, Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri takes change of the case and is unable to come up with any other explanation. The idiot is going to arrest Reiko Hosho who’s only fault is to use her brain cells only some of the time. Fortunately, Kageyama knows whodunnit. The only problem is how to prove it. However, it ultimately proves quite easy because the situation requires the commission of a second crime. When our pair disrupts this crime, the truth must come out. Again the answer proves rather sad. No matter what the culture, this is an entirely human reaction to a very difficult situation.
We even get quite a long discussion of the true nature of the relationship between a butler and his mistress which is fascinating. The ground rules as laid out by our hero are a route to sadness but, in the world of the rich, it would be difficult for there to be any other system of behaviour. I’m reminded of the tragedy in the British Royalty when Princess Margaret told her family she proposed to marry beneath herself. When rank and status are so important, there have to be rules about such things and both sides of the equation have to understand the purpose of the rules and so accept them. All this is, of course, window dressing for what’s obviously intended to be a struggle for both our heroes to avoid the “love trap”. Her family would never agree and she knows it. As to the plot, the significance of the family butler not wearing his glasses is a very pleasing touch. The result is a slightly better episode because it avoids rerunning the formula of the argument before dinner, then the reveal when she has consumed something delicious. Being set entirely in the bride’s family home doing double duty for the wedding and reception, it gives us a chance to see everyone in a slightly more natural setting. This is not to say the episode is without flaws. That no-one comments when our heroine adopts a false name to throw off Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri is a surprising lapse from a team that usually gets the details right. The failure to disapprove Kageyama attending the wedding is more complicated. He’s recognised as a butler but the prospective mother-in-law understands a crisis must have forced this breach of protocol. Without asking the reason, she turns a blind eye.
For reviews of the other episodes, see:
The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011) Episodes 1 and 2
The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011): Episodes 5 and 6
The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011): Episodes 7 and 8
The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011): Episodes 9 and 10.