Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) Episodes 1 and 2
Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) is a Japanese version of the American series of Cold Case where Izumi Sakuragi (Aya Ueto), a young female investigator, is part of a unit called in to review cases which happened many years ago. In the first episode, we start off on New Year’s Eve, 1999 with a woman coming late to a bar to celebrate the midnight hour with two colleagues from work. We then see her being shot. Switching forward to 2010, Izumi Sakuragi has spent the night in the office going over dead files for fun. She’s been in the unit for three months, but her seniors don’t allow her to do anything other than observe and take notes. We then get a quick introduction to the rest of the team: Ryoko Takamine (Sayaka Yamaguchi) is an older and more experienced female officer, Keigo Tsukamoto (Hiroyuki Miyasako) and Yuki Fukazawa (Tomomi Maruyama) are relatively experienced young officers, Shintaro Shiraishi (Takeo Nakahara) is the older man with a good memory for facts who was passed over for promotion as team leader. This role went to his then junior, Takumi Kurata (Tetta Sugimoto) which produces some strain in the relationship. The overall boss of the unit is Hideo Nagashima (Kinya Kitaoji). In the forensic science department, we have Sae Omori (Hiromi Kitagawa) and Sho Takebayashi (Ryo Kimura). When the decomposed body from the first case of the Millennium is unearthed, it falls to the team to take over the investigation. The original killing was tied into a large embezzlement case. The case is presented as if the three girls were responsible and disappeared with the money, but the boyfriend of the dead girl is now a suspect because, not so long after the New Year, he received sufficient money to pay off his debts and start a new business. It looks like he was in on the theft or was paid off by one of the three women. The branch manager of the bank where they worked is also probably hiding something.
Thematically, we’re in conventional territory where the two younger men in the unit disparage both the rookie and the well-established woman who had a failure as a profiler. Needless to say, both women are perceptive and ignoring their views slows down the investigation. Hideo Nagashima is mentoring the rookie, giving her puzzles to solve and advice based on baseball. Ryoko Takamine gives Izumi Sakuragi her first chance to conduct an interview. It’s the mother of one of the three girls who went missing. It’s revealing because the police treated her missing daughter as guilty when they investigated ten years earlier, so coming back ten years later finds a rather bitter woman who’s had to live with the accusation unresolved all this time. This gives Izumi Sakuragi and Hideo Nagashima the chance to consider the real purpose of the cold case unit. Ostensibly, it may just be detectives reopening an old case, but if they solve it, there can be closure for those who have been left hanging over the years. So this is not just about justice for the victims, it’s also about giving those left behind the chance to move on. Although the initial set-up is something of a cliché, this episode has an emotional heart and does offer a quite interesting overview of police procedure.
Back in 1995, just about the time of the Sarin gas attack, a young woman who was a medical student, is brought into the A&E Department with stab wounds from which she dies. Because police resources were focused on the terrorist attack, the investigation into this murder was limited. Now we come forward to 2010 and some local government officials are clearing out the house of an old bag-woman when they find a blood-stained knife. It’s wrapped in an American newspaper and there’s the pollen of both a red and yellow rose on it. The analysis of the blood reopens the case. At the time, the boyfriend was suspected, but there was no untainted evidence to show he’d done it. He had messed up the crime scene. His girlfriend was dying so he moved everything and picked her up to get her to the hospital. With the fifteen year statute of limitations about to expire, there’s only a week left to solve the case. The ex-boyfriend is now married to one of the nurses at the hospital and runs a flower shop. They sell flowers wrapped in English newspapers.
Also of interest is a man who’s now a famous surgeon. Naturally he’s refusing all co-operation in the reopened case although he later relents and hands over the case notes from the patients being treated at the time. Another man who worked at the hospital says the original investigation stalled because no-one wanted to damage the reputation of the hospital by passing on stories potentially damaging to the hospital’s reputation. Indeed, it appears the murder victim may have suspected an incident of medical malpractice and been silenced before she could make trouble. The victim and her boyfriend were a mismatched couple. She was a resident and likely to become a top doctor. He was working in a flower shop. But he could make her smile when she was sad. In fact she was often quite sad because her attention to detail made her very unpopular with the nurses. Taking the case in context, Izumi Sakuragi worries the investigation may destroy the current marriage between the suspected ex-boyfriend and his wife. She has to make up her mind how far to push the case. In the end, she concludes she can’t forgive the murderer no matter how many people may be hurt. In this case, her method for working out what happened is nicely judged as a piece of fiction — I doubt it would work in the real world. And she ends up making some friends among an unexpected group of people. It’s all part of her learning curve. Put all this together and this is an auspicious pair of episodes with which to open the series.
For a review of other episodes, see:
Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) Episodes 3 and 4
Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) Episodes 5 and 6
Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) Episodes 7 to 9
Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) Episodes 10 and 11.