The Last Cop is a remake of the German television series Der letzte Bulle written by Robert Dannenberg and Stefan Scheich. This is the first drama produced by both Nippon TV (terrestrial) and Hulu Japan.
It stars Toshiaki Karasawa as Kyogoku Kosuke, a detective who has just miraculously woken up from a 30 year coma. Originally, the story mostly hinged on him but the Japanese version turned it into more of a buddy cop series as Kyogoku-san gets paired with young genki colleague, Mochizuki Ryota played by Masataka Kubota. Another thing they altered is the duration of the main character’s time in coma. In the original one, he woke up after 17 years but the Japanese version made some adjustments to match the country’s Bubble Age from 30 years ago. There weren’t any smartphones then but it was a time when real estate and stock market prices were greatly inflated.
It may seem complicated to have a German show remade into Japanese considering cultural differences and local audience’s preference but the formula for a buddy cop is simple: Get two contrasting personalities work together to solve a crime. Besides,this isn’t something new in Japan. The origin of this genre is said to be from Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, a police procedural film noir released in 1949. Although the formula seems simple, the results may still vary. It totally depends on the actors’ chemistry as well as the intensity of their external conflicts. Unfortunately, I think The Last Cop fell short on the latter. Toshiaka Karasawa and Masataka Kubota have good chemistry but the cases that they try to solve aren’t exactly mysterious and compelling. The revelation of the main villain is similar and even more disappointing than Kaito Yamaneko’s. A betrayal only means something when it comes from a character we’ve grown to like so much. That’s not the case with the traitor in this series. Meh. ~
The Last Cop is based on a 2010 drama but the humor makes me feel like I’m watching something from the late 90s. For someone who has lived in the Showa era to suddenly wake up in Heisei as if he time traveled, a fish out of water storyline will definitely induce laughter. His jocular banter with his work partner will also be worth watching. Or so I thought. The show has all the elements of a potentially outstanding buddy cop dramedy but somehow, it fell flat due to the tacky CG, exaggerated acting and cheesy monologues. There were also some pop culture references but some of the supporting cast members fail on delivery. The serious side of the show such as Kyogoku’s complicated family was dealt with cringe worthy overacting during the awkward dinner.
Since Kyogoku was about the same age as Ryota when he fell into a coma, he still has the immature early 20s traits underneath his middle age appearance. So I was expecting their bromance to be somehow similar to Tokyo Dogs but this feels like a bland version of Bitter Blood instead. Without the whole coma incident, Kyogoku-san and Ryota’s relationship is just like father and son, Gentle and Junior (Atsuro Watabe and Sato Takeru). But The Last Cop lacks some development on its main duo. I don’t exactly understand why Ryota trusts Kyogoku. He said he simply felt like Kyogoku is someone he wants to follow. I think it should have been the other way around. Kyogoku should’ve learned some self-control from Ryota. He has just gotten his second life back and he has just seen his family again, he really shouldn’t be doing things as recklessly as he did when he was in his 20s. Kyogoku runs around chasing Kagura on his own when he could’ve relied more on Ryota. I know he is just protecting his partner but Ryota is more capable than he looks. And unlike Bitter Blood, the other members of the Yokohama-based task force of The Last Cop don’t have any distinct personalities that make them memorable.
Overall, The Last Cop is still an entertaining show. Its just that, its weaknesses are obvious when you’ve seen funnier cop buddy series before. The best thing about it for me is Masataka Kubota’s facial expressions. I always sound biased in favor of Kubota (because I am!) but it’s very clear how he controls his performance to make the other characters shine. He’s a cinnamon roll who makes Kyogoku look more dependable, and the way he was acting adorkable/derpy around Yui, he makes Nozomi Sasaki look even more beautiful than she already is.
Aside from Kubota’s ability to draw the audience, I think Ryota has the characteristics of an interesting protagonist. He is cute, cheerful, geeky, tech-savvy and surprisingly strong when he gets serious. See the difference between Kyogoku’s earlier CG-fied action scenes and Ryota’s action scenes in the finale. He could have easily turned this into his show if he hadn’t been holding back the entire time. I was hoping for a spin-off focusing on Ryota but NTV thinks differently as they have decided to have The Last Cop return for a second season.
In spite of my earlier gripes about the show, I’m still quite excited to see more of Kyogoku and Ryota’s antics. I hope the writers will take advantage of this time to develop the characters (especially the antagonist) and make up for whatever is lacking in its first season.