Honboshi: Shinri Tokusou Jikenbo or ホンボシ (2011) Episodes 1 and 2
Honboshi: Shinri Tokusou Jikenbo or ホンボシ (2011) brings us a new detective, Kosaku Kirishima (Eichiro Funakoshi), who worked as a doctor, but when a patient of his was charged with a crime, he felt powerless. This feeling grew worse when the patient committed suicide. A few days later, the patient was proved completely innocent. Our hero viewed the suicide as a personal failure. He resigned as a doctor and joined the police, hoping to prevent future miscarriages of justice. Deciding that an unconventional approach might sometimes be the right approach, the senior officers create a special investigation unit with two other people who have shown ability plus Hidetoshi Sanada (Masahiro Takashima) a relatively conventional officer to run the unit. Rinko Tomoe (Nene Otsuka) is poached from the crime scene/forensic science department, while Mamoru Mikoshiba (Renn Kiriyama) was an IT guy who changed careers.
The first episode is both an introduction to the key characters in the newly formed unit plus an engaging mystery. Our hero as a form of agent provocateur comes into the unit with the skills of a kinesiologist, i.e. he’s an expert in the scientific observation of human behaviour. We’re therefore to believe he can tell when someone is being less than truthful or use the interpretation of body language to say something about a person’s emotional state. The story begins with a man stalking and then making a feeble attempt to murder a relatively famous journalist played by Ken Yasuda. The attacker is wrestled to the ground by people in the area but the conventional police conclude this man’s life is in danger and try to persuade him to come under their protection. From the outset, Kosaku Kirishima assumes there’s something wrong about the set-up and, rather in the spirit of Columbo, sets out to provoke the journalist to get a measure of how he reacts in different situations. Needless to say, this comes as something of a shock to Hidetoshi Sanada who constantly finds himself wrong-footed by this maverick. But because he’s prepared to talk and, more importantly, listen to people, Kosaku Kirishima soon has interesting information to try to fit together. In fact, everything does come together rather nicely with Rinko Tomoe coming up with useful insights into where the body might have been before it was dumped, which helps expose a very nice piece of misdirection by the killer. This is beginning to establish the basis of a team and, perhaps against his better judgement, Hidetoshi Sanada agrees to accept the leadership of the unit.
The second episode is another of these mysteries where, once you know the answer, you berate yourself for not thinking of it. It’s so magnificently obvious once you know but masterfully hidden in plain sight from the opening scene onward. The set-up is easy to state. Four mothers have a very difficult relationship because of the difference in their son’s performance at the local kindergarten. On the relevant day, one child is celebrating a birthday so two of the other mothers come round for a party. Early the next morning, the body of the hostess is found dead on the roof of her apartment block. The neighbourhood is abuzz with rumours of a stalker wearing a black hoodie. Not surprisingly, the conventional police set off to identify this man who’s also thought to have been involved in an incident some two months earlier. Kosaku Kirishima can’t understand why the body was left on the roof. In due course, they discover enough evidence to show she was killed in her own apartment but an excellent cleaning job was done. Despite this, the conventional police continue their pursuit of a stalker (now assumed to have cleaning skills). Meanwhile, Kosaku Kirishima is focusing on the kindergarten and gossiping with all the mothers, even trapping Hidetoshi Sanada into paying for cake and coffee to loosen tongues at a local café. As the investigation proceeds, each of the three mothers is caught out in lies but none of them seem to have the opportunity to commit the murder. And there’s still the puzzle of why the body was moved from the apartment to the roof. When it comes, the answer is not unique to Japan but we’re shown different reactions to the problem from people living in this apartment block.
I just have one small niggle. Being brought up in England, I’m familiar with the hunting dog breed called a Pointer. As the name suggests, it’s trained to adopt a static pose pointing towards the desired prey. The human hunter waits with his gun as beaters move forward to startle the prey into the open. The director has Kosaku Kirishima adopt the Pointer approach to his potential prey. Every time he senses something not quite right, he freezes into immobility with his gaze locked on the human as the camera cuts away to shots of eyes looking away, lips thinning, hands being thrust into pockets, and feet shuffling uncomfortably. Hopefully, this heavy-handed signalling of behavioural analysis will become less clunky as the series progresses. As it stands. Honboshi: Shinri Tokusou Jikenbo or ホンボシ makes a good start.
For reviews of the other episodes, see:
Honboshi: Shinri Tokusou Jikenbo or ホンボシ (2011) Episodes 3 to 5
Honboshi: Shinri Tokusou Jikenbo or ホンボシ (2011) Episodes 6 to 8