異常犯罪捜査官・藤堂比奈子 (ON ~ Ijou Hanzai Sousakan Todo Hinako Ep.1)

Based on the novel of the same title, written by Naito Ryo, ON Ijou Hanzai Sousakan Todo Hinako begins with an apparent dream sequence where our main character walks in on a bloody crime scene of a young girl with an upper body so horribly slashed, hands and feet both nailed on the floor and mouth full of candies. Hinako wakes up to the sound of the alarm, picks up her canned shichimi lucky charm and opens the door to face the world with her mask ON.

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Haru plays rookie detective, Todou Hinako, who graduated top of her class in the police academy and has the ability to memorize names and events of cold cases for the past ten years. She may not have had a lot of experience on the field but her knowledge makes her a useful addition to the team.  She puts this Seven Spice powder on literally everything she eats (including desserts), she recommends a maid cafe as a place for conversation and she owns a notebook filled with doodles because she says she remembers things illustrated more than when they’re written. So, yes she has her own quirks, but the most noticeable and disturbing part is the glint in her eyes and her involuntary smile when it comes to her morbid fascination with crimes.

From the get-go, the drama managed to introduce the lead who’s dark and aberrant but can fit in the society as if owning a switch that allows her to turn her emotionally cold personality ON and OFF at will. I like that she exerts effort to establish normal social relations in spite of her natural lack of empathy and innate psychopathic tendencies. This trope usually gives either an anti-social or an overbearing character but often tolerated because they’re a genius and extremely helpful in solving mysterious cases. An example is Tatsuya Fujiwara’s Akagi Samon, an eccentric hikikomori forensic expert character in ST. Another one is Takumi Saito’s Himura Hideo, a criminologist who is similar to Todou in terms of getting enraptured by crime scenes and being too curious about a murderer’s mind that he often imagines himself in the shoes of the criminal.

Todou Hinako puts on an amiable rookie face but she isn’t completely fake or deceitful because it is normal for people to establish a certain workplace image that’s different from their real personality. Todou genuinely cares for the people around her, it’s just that her inner curiosity over horrendous murder cases gets the better of her. And her tough douchey senpai, Shoji, calls her out for that.

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I was surprised to see Kanjani Eight’s Yokoyama Yuu as Yasuhisa Shoji. Running, being pursued by men in suits; I thought he’s going to be the usual funny-bad boy-oddball type of character but it turns out he’s a serious, albeit short-tempered, member of the same investigative squad. He is running after the bad guys, not away from them. And when he catches them, he can’t help but get violent. I’m having a hard time taking him seriously though. Kanjani members are known to be funny sweethearts and his acting here looks a bit awkward and forced, plus his lips are protruding at times when they’re not supposed to.

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Stealing the spotlight is one of my favorite actors, Hayashi Kento. You see he can do outright violent cray or subtle mysterious dorky cray as easy as one-two-three. In this show, it’s the latter. I’m curious to see what kind of person Nakajima Tamotsu is. Coincidentally (or not?), his ‘fluorescent light baby’ video suggestion revealed the perpetrator of the crime that led to the death of Todou’s best friend. He’s the most compelling supporting character for now (probably even more intriguing than the leads since Shoji’s violent outbursts have a predictable back story).

Kaname Jun works in the same department as Todou. Tall, good looking and overreacting over a slight burn that doesn’t even hurt, I suppose he’s meant to provide a bit of comic relief and a slight romance angle but it just doesn’t work because clearly Todou is more interested with corpses. Atsuro Watabe has been in several police dramas so his parental role in this one isn’t something new. The team speaks highly of Mieko Harada’s Professor Taeko Ishigami but aside from the Death Goddess nickname and the piles of cigar butts around her office, I couldn’t see a distinct trait that makes her more appealing than the usual smart doctor characters.

Though the crime scenes are bloodier than expected, it seems that the series will focus on the psychology behind the act. More than just solving the crimes, Todou gets more elated when she figures out the killer’s motives. I just can’t pinpoint yet whether it’s Haru’s acting or the way Todou’s character was written but as a lead, she is quite bland compared to Himura Hideo or even Oguri Shun’s Ango Ishikawa in Border.  The 90-minute pilot episode is lacking in some areas but still quite engaging overall thanks to the thought-provoking cases and Hayashi Kento’s convincing portrayal of an incisive but shady character.

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