The After Dinner Mysteries or Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de or 推理要在晚餐后 (2011): Episodes 5 and 6
Episode 5 gives us the earth-shattering news Kageyama (Sho Sakurai), our intellectually superior butler, is a fan of manga while Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri (Kippei Shiina), our dimwitted detective, is now infatuated with our less than successful heiress cum detective, Reiko Hosho (Keiko Kitagawa), in her alternate persona of Ms Shao Rei from Hong Kong. Obviously the infatuated only see what their heart desires, i.e. lots of money on marrying the mysterious heiress from Hong Kong rather than the attractive woman in front of them. So now we get the introduction to the murder, this time committed in the Kunitachi Shrine, an act of sacrilege. The victim is an unknown woman, stabbed through the chest with a small knife. She has no handbag or handphone — no means of identifying her. The “brains” of the outfit sees this as a robbery gone wrong whereas our heroine speculates the killer took the handphone because it would contain evidence they knew each other.
So now we get into evidence collection where it immediately appears the victim is the author of a famous manga which has scenes set in the Shrine. Curiously, she’s been unable to finish the series leaving fans somewhat frustrated. The artist is the first and only suspect, but he seems to have a completely airtight alibi. The episode therefore has two themes. The first is the means of deconstructing the alibi which is pleasing in its own right. The second is the reason why such a good alibi came into being. This is a beautiful inversion of expectation. Although the precise circumstances of the death are easy to reconstruct given the brief prologue scene, the explanation for everyone’s motives is masterful making this episode a cut above the average. It may flirt with sentimentality, but it’s a remarkably practical way of achieving the desired end and, by any standards, worthy of being included in any hit manga (or a television detective series, of course).
Hotfoot into episode 6 sees our detective late in arriving at the scene of another death. This time the body of a woman is rather tastefully laid out in the greenhouse of another of these properties inhabited by the rich. But before we get into the detail of it, the brainless one has been checking into the background of the “object of his desires” and has discovered no-one named Shao Rei has come into the country recently. It seems being a detective does come with some perks (if only he actually knew what to do with them).
Now into the death in the rose garden (which looks rather beautiful, as does the corpse — but no-one would dare say anything so disrespectful of the dead). The victim is Takahara Kyoko, an ex-hostess who’s been living in the manor for about a month. It then occurs to the detectives that this death scene is a rerun of “The Curse of the Red Rose” — one of the seven unsolved mysteries of the area. We then get the usual supernatural tropes paraded before us to make fun of the dimwitted detective who’s gullible enough to believe an ancient curse can affect people today. The deductions surrounding the cat are wonderful and, to my shame, completely unexpected. Flashbacks to recall relevant statements really can be humiliating at times like this. Although this is nowhere near as successful as episode 5, it nevertheless maintains a good standard with the reasoning pleasingly specific to identify which of the three suspects must be the guilty one. The less satisfying element is the explanation of the motive which depends on such a fleeting moment, no viewer could have caught it. That said, it’s a good clue if one of the oldest motives in the book.
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 3 and 4
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.