Brutus’ Heart or Brutus no Shinzo or ブルータスの心臓 (2011)
Brutus’ Heart or Brutus no Shinzo or ブルータスの心臓 (2011) is the second of three made-for-television film adaptations of novels by Keigo Higashino and it starts off in a way that’s startlingly good. We begin two years before the main action with the death of an employee of MM Heavy Industries caused by the apparent malfunction of an industrial robot — he was going to marry Yumie Nakamori (Ai Kato) who continues to work for the company. Coming up to date, Takuya Suenaga (Tatsuya Fujiwara), Atsushi Hashimoto (Koji Ookura) and Naoki Nishina (Yoshihiko Hakamada) are being celebrated for their successful development of Brutus, an advanced robot developed by Takuya Suenaga. It is not only his pride and joy, it’s also critical to the future financial success of MM Heavy Industries. Toshiki Nishina (Morio Kazama), the CEO, is trying to encourage his daughter, Hoshiko Nashina (Sei Ashina), to marry Takuya Suenaga to keep him loyal to the company. Unfortunately, she has no intention of being a pawn in her father’s game and shrugs off Takuya Suenaga. This suits him because he’s having what he believes to be a secret relationship with Amamiya Yasuko (Rina Uchiyama) who works as Toshiki’s secretary. Unfortunately, she announces that she’s pregnant and that she doesn’t want to marry any of the men currently sleeping with her. She intends to collect cash from whoever the father turns out to be. In due course, it appears she’s also sleeping with both Atsushi Hashimoto and Naoki Nishina. If any of this becomes public, the careers of all three men will be finished so they decide to kill her.
Naoki Nishina devises a complex plan so that each of the three men will appear to have an alibi for the relevant time. The idea is that she will be killed in Osaka and then transported to Tokyo by the other two in relays. As required by this plan, Amamiya Yasuko goes to Osaka where Naoki Nishina is waiting. Following the plan, Takuya Suenaga collects the van containing a body. But when he’s handing it over to Atsushi Hashimoto, they discover they are moving the body of Naoki Nishina and not the expected Amamiya Yasuko. Since they both have alibis for what’s assumed to be the relevant time of death, they deliver the body to Naoki Nishina’s home and return to their expected places. In due course, it appears that none of the three men could be the father of the expected child, and that Naoki Nishina was an amateur magician who could do card tricks. Since the allocation of roles in his plan depended on people picking cards, it seems probable he manipulated the two into joining the plan and allocated their roles. But what’s not clear is who the father of Amamiya Yasuko’s child is and whether he killed Naoki Nishina. It seems unlikely Amamiya Yasuko killed Naoki Nishina because she would be less likely to know where to leave the body for Takuya Suenaga to collect. And even if she did know, why should she follow the plan designed for her death?
Like all human societies, Japan has class distinctions. The most significant is between the so-called elite and the rest of those who work. The people who distinguish themselves in the education system earn the right to go to the best universities where they are taught by the best teachers Japan can provide. Once they graduate, those with the top marks walk into the top jobs where they are venerated. In social and financial terms, they move in different circles. There’s only one point at which the worlds of the elite and the worker overlap. The robot never tires and never makes a mistake. It is the epitome of perfection to the elite, but feared by the workers because it makes them redundant. So if a robot had been used as a murder weapon, the elite at that time would probably have covered it up. Such an abuse is unthinkable. But two years later, another member of the elite might become aware of this abuse and be interested to discover who had subverted the programing of the machine. So, on the face of it, we’ve got an initial murder which may be connected in some way to the second. There’s also a major cover-up by MM Heavy Industries to preserve their reputation for infallible robot design. At a slightly lower level, there may be a form of extortion plot by Amamiya Yasuko to get three (or more) men to pay towards the cost of delivering and bringing up her baby.
This is all a great set-up but, as we come closer to the end, it becomes obvious who the original killer must have been. Under normal circumstances, this would not have been a problem. The fact we can all see who committed the original crime does not distort the plot. But in this case, there’s been significant attrition and not many people are left standing. The climax is therefore very poor melodrama as we get accusations traded and admissions made. Unfortunately, although we do get to know who the father of Amamiya Yasuko’s child is, the show grinds unexpectedly to a halt just as I was waiting for the detectives to come in to try working out exactly what happened and what, if anything, should be done about it. By my reckoning, this adaptation finished between ten and fifteen minutes before it should. The result is distinctly frustrating because quite a lot of what happens is somewhat obscure. So Brutus’ Heart or Brutus no Shinzo is worth watching for the first two-thirds, but be prepared for disappointment as it comes to the end. Perhaps the novel is better.
For other work based on Keigo Higashino’s writing, see:
11 Moji no Satsujin or 11文字の殺人 (2011)
Bunshin or 分身 (2012)
Galileo or Garireo or ガリレオ
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 1 and 2
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 3 and 4
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 5 and 6
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 7, 8 and 9
Galileo 2 or ガリレオ (第2期) (2013) episodes 10 and 11
Galileo: The Sacrifice of Suspect X or Yôgisha X no kenshin (2008)
Midsummer Formula or Manatsu no Houteishiki or 真夏の方程式 (2013)
The Murder in Kairotei or Kairoutei Satsujin Jiken or 回廊亭殺人事件 (2011)
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 1 to 4
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 5 to 8
Naniwa Junior Detectives or Naniwa Shonen Tanteida or 浪花少年探偵団 (2012) episodes 9 to 12
Platinum Data or プラチナデータ (2013)
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 1 to 5
Thursday Theatre Keigo Higashino Mystery or 東野圭吾ミステリーズ (2012) episodes 6 to 11
White Night or Baekyahaeng or 백야행 : 하얀 어둠 속을 걷다 (2009)
The Wings of the Kirin or Kirin no Tsubasa: Gekijoban Shinzanmono or 麒麟の翼 ～劇場版・新参者～ (2012)
For a Galileo novel, see Salvation of a Saint.