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
Episode 3 of Absolute Zero – Special Investigation Unit or Zettai Reido – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Sousa or 絶対零度～未解決事件 (2010) takes us back to 2002 with the fourth killing of a woman with long dark hair by the so-called God of Death. Come forward eight years and a new body is discovered that may be connected to the previous four. Initially, the police have a suspect. A man was seen running away from the place where the body was found and it seems he was stalking the victim. However, when the cold case unit compare the cases, the latest body doesn’t quite fit the signature, but the knot used to tie the victim is the same and the first body was found on the same day in April eight years ago. Yuki Fukazawa (Tomomi Maruyama) and Ryoko Takamine (Sayaka Yamaguchi) were both part of the team that worked on the original case although they did not meet at that time. Izumi Sakuragi (Aya Ueto) and Keigo Tsukamoto (Hiroyuki Miyasako) meet with the father of one of the earlier victims. His marriage has now broken down because he blamed his wife for not responding to their daughter’s request for a lift from the railway station. If mother and daughter had met, she would probably have survived. When the unit contacts the team responsible for the current murder investigation, there’s an immediate jurisdictional turf war and the old wounds from eight years ago come back for Takumi Kurata (Tetta Sugimoto) who lost a competition for a senior post to the man currently in charge. Hideo Nagashima (Kinya Kitaoji) does his best to keep the peace between the warring units. Sae Omori (Hiromi Kitagawa) and Sho Takebayashi (Ryo Kimura) are going over the old forensic evidence and find grains of sand on the rope under in the four cases. Sand is also found at the scene of the new killing which suggests they may be chasing the wrong man.
The case-note evidence from the initial investigation shows the first victim left home after an argument about whether she should marry. A few days later, she was dead. Izumi Sakuragi walks the ground after the victim attended a planning session for their wedding. She also walks the ground after another victim attended a gallery showing and discovers the victims were likely to have ended up at the same park. Checking back through the camera of that victim shows photographs she took in this place. By a somewhat ingenious route, this leads to the killer. What makes the episode interesting that the the families of the initial four victims come to the office of the cold case unit to thank them for listening and eventually capturing the killer.
Episode 4 takes us back to 1999, where a group of four school kids, members of the astronomy club, are both celebrating and fearing the end of the world in one of the many ways predicted by Nostradamus. In 2010, someone sends a skeleton to the cold case unit. It’s a man who has been dead eleven years with head wounds suggesting murder. The dental records give an identity as a science teacher, aged forty-one. Because it was only a missing person’s case, there’s little or no evidence to start off the contemporary investigation. That sends the team out to find the astronomy club members who were apparently the last people to see their teacher alive. It turns out one of these four sent the skeleton but, one hour before the police can get to him for an interview, he “falls” from the fire escape at his apartment block and it’s 50/50 whether he will recover from the coma. So the big question is why this group of four, who were such great friends in middle school, should now appear to be so distant. Hideo Nagashima and Izumi Sakuragi discuss what happens to friendships when people leave school. She admits to having lost touch with all her friends since she became a detective. Her focus is on matters of immediate interest. Is that what happened to this group of four? That they all separated to do their own thing and never saw each other again?
The dynamic of the plot is one of the tried-and-tested ideas but the precise way in which this works out does show a slight variation on the theme. The meeting between Izumi Sakuragi and the woman played by Naoya Shimizu at the end is a wonderful moment in complete contrast to the rest of the series so far. Up to this point, the general feeling of the series has been of the cold case team arriving at a situation in which justice is seen to be done. It’s not that they bask in self-congratulation that they have done a good job, but there’s a sense they have justified the existence of the unit as a means of resetting the emotional clock on past crimes. That’s definitely not what happens here. Indeed, in many ways, there’s a whole new clock now ticking as a result of this investigation. It’s good to see the scriptwriters producing balance in outcomes.
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 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) 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.