Kurokouchi: Episode 1

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December 10, 1968, Fuchu City, Tokyo

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It’s a rainy day when a police officer pulls over a bank car, stating that one of the branches have been bombed and this vehicle is suspected of carrying dynamite. As he inspects the car, he throws a flare underneath and everyone scrambles out when they see the smoke. The fake police officer smiles before getting in the car and driving off with the 300 million yen.

In voiceover: “Who is good, who is evil, we would soon find out that we ourselves had to make that judgment individually. To this day, the 300-million-yen robbery remains unsolved.”

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Fast-forward to October 8, 2013 in Yokohama. Our hero, Kurokouchi Keita (Nagase Tomoya) goes to see Goda Bungo, a prefectural assemblyman. Goda is sweating bullets and for good reason, he’s beaten his girlfriend, Akamatsu Rina, to death. Kurokouchi is unperturbed by the scene before him, nonchalantly asking Goda for details as he cleans up the scene. Goda found out she was cheating on him and his anger got the best of him. Kurokouchi asks if he’s ever killed anyone else, but the fact that Goda seems to be so distressed confirms that this is the first.

Kurokochi sweeps the room of any trace of Goda before throwing the girl’s jewelry and clothes around the room, making it look like a robbery. Goda moves to leave, but Kurokochi asks where the slush fund is. Goda freezes and Kurokouchi asks if he really thought he was going to clean up his mess for free.

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Seike Mashiro (Gouriki Ayame) is the new assistant inspector of Kanagawa’s First Division. She’s assigned to Rina’s case on her first day. She has a fantastic memory, comparing similar cases from the last ten years to this one. She’s also not afraid to say what’s on her mind; while everyone thinks it’s a robbery, Seike thinks that since she was raped and beaten, whoever murdered Rina must’ve held a grudge.

Rina worked as a hostess at a club that was frequented by higher-ups and politicians. The officers groan when they find out she was involved with Goda, who is close with the prefectural governor.

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Seike prepares to enter the crime scene but is stopped by the arrival of Kurokouchi. He plays dumb, asking if something happened and saying he has business with Rina. Seike tries to stop him from entering, but he flashes his badge, revealing that he works in the second division which deals with political crimes.

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He acts surprised when Seike informs him that Rina’s been murdered. He waltzes right into the room, nothing protecting his hands or feet and starts looking around the crime scene. He does damage control, finding an empty safe and saying that the robber must’ve come for Goda’s slush fund. He provides an alibi for Goda as well, lying that he met up with Goda while he was with Rina the night before and that he had been with Goda until dawn.

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The first and second division decide to cooperate on this case since a politician is involved. Thanks to Kurokouchi’s handiwork, there isn’t any evidence incriminating Goda. However, there’s no way to corroborate Goda’s alibi, as no one has been able to reach him all day, though Kurokouchi insists that he went home normally that morning. The case will be treated as a robbery, but a team is assembled to look for Goda, just in case.

The Headquarters Chief pulls aside Seike and asks her to form a unit with Kurokouchi. They suspect that Kurokouchi isn’t telling everything he knows (he’s not exactly being subtle, is he?) and want Seike to secretly investigate him. The second division knows all about political scandals, so if an officer plays his cards right, they can get whatever they want if they keep quiet. It’s an open secret that Kurokouchi knows the most about these scandals and frequently accepts bribes to keep quiet.

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Kurokouchi is reluctant to look for Goda with Seike, who isn’t very tactful about finding out more about him. She bluntly asks why he’s staying in such a nice hotel, who gave him his nice car, and if he knows where Goda is. He manages to evade by making a few stops while on their hunt.

He visits several politicians that give him suspicious boxes of fruit, delaying the search for Goda. When Seike points out that he’s stalling, he tells her that he still has to do his job and look into election violations, especially with the gubernatorial election coming up. Though the official head of the prefectural police is the headquarters chief, the prefectural governor oversees all of their activities, so they’re under his thumb. Currently, the incumbent Sawatari Kazunari (Watabe Atsuro) is the shoo-in for governor. Unless something bad happens.

Speaking of which, Governor Sawatari hears about Goda and decides that they need to look for him.

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Kurokouchi meets Hashimoto Shunji, another assembly member and informs him about Goda’s disappearance, making Hashimoto strangely fidgety. Kurokouchi doesn’t give too many details and asks if Sawatari still plans to run for governor with Goda missing. Kurokouchi accepts a box from Hashimoto, who asks that he contact him as soon as Goda is found.

Seike finally realizes that the fruit boxes Kurokouchi has been receiving are actually bribes and, having caught Hashimoto and Kurokouchi’s exchange on camera, is going to turn him in. In order to stop her, he promises to tell her who really killed Rina.

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He takes her to the hotel where he’s keeping a bound and gagged Goda. He admits that Goda called him for help after he killed Rina. When she asks why, Kurokouchi says it’s part of being in the second division; if needed, he can be a bodyguard in order to get to a politician’s slush fund. She realizes that Kurokouchi got rid of Goda’s evidence and asks what he plans to gain from it. When he evades, she threatens to call again, but he snatches her phone, saying he’ll tell her everything.

Eight years ago, the Toyama family was murdered, but no culprit was found. He suspects that Sawatari killed them, but the only way to get any evidence is through Goda. Until eight years ago, Goda, as well as Hashimoto, were Sawatari’s secretaries. He hands her a picture of the funeral of the Toyama family and it triggers the details of the case. He points out that one of the people paying their respects was Sawatari.

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The husband, Toyama Soji, was a web designer, and worked on Sawatari’s web page. However, Toyama looked through the company e-mails and found something Sawatari wanted to hide. Kurokouchi hands her a picture of Kanemoto Mami, a high school student that was murdered that same year. Her cause of death was strangulation and is also unsolved.

Two days before she died, Kanemoto met a politician at a hotel, more than likely Sawatari. He’s sure that Hashimoto and Goda are deeply connected to the murders and thought that he could get information from Goda by hiding Rina’s murder. Temporarily of course, he still plans to turn Goda in.

Kurokouchi has gotten so caught up in his story that he almost doesn’t notice Seike trying to sneak her phone back. She says this isn’t something he can handle alone and he reminds her that Sawatari has control over the prefectural police; he can’t trust other officers. He asks if she never heard anything from her father about people reporting to politicians and says he died ten years ago. He asks how he died, but cuts her off before she can answer.

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His point is that he can’t arrest the incumbent governor without getting Goda to talk. That way Sawatari will pull out of the race and he can arrest him. Seike obviously feels conflicted about his methods and even when he hands back her phone, she asks if he really thinks she’ll trust someone who accepts bribes. He simply tells her to verify it herself before walking off.

Seike goes to the investigation meeting, but an order from the higher-ups has changed first division’s plan. Since Goda’s missing and there’s insufficient evidence against him, they’ve abandoned looking for him and will focus on finding Rina’s other lover instead. It’s definitely fishy and Seike can’t shake Kurokouchi’s words about there being an enemy among them.

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She heads to the forensics division and meets Sawa Machiko (Kashii Yu). She’s looking for any evidence that didn’t get included in the investigation file for the Toyama case. I have no idea if Sawa’s a lesbian or if she’s just naturally flirtatious as she strokes Seike’s hair and blows in her ear. I’ll just assume this will be an ongoing gag since Seike doesn’t push her away despite being uncomfortable. Sawa explains that the killer used a silence and though told the higher-ups that it must be a professional if they’re using such equipment, they were ignored.

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Kurokouchi returns to his little apartment which has a wall dedicated to surveillance cameras and of course, the revenge wall. His eyes land on a picture of the fake police officer from the 300-million-yen case and he wonders if that’s what the man really looks like. The camera pans out to show that someone has put cameras in Kurokouchi’s apartment, though we don’t see who. Hmm, interesting.

Sawatari is participating in a traffic safety event at an elementary school when Kurokouchi shows up. Sawatari’s starting to freak me out with his benevolent smile all the time. He doesn’t seem surprised at all to see Kurokouchi and is aware that he’s watching him. Kurokouchi takes the mic and asks if Sawatari is seeking a third term. The crowd enthusiastically cheers him on and Kurokouchi comments that with no strong rival, he’d have no trouble becoming governor again.

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He puts the mic down and lowers his voice before saying that he heard a shocking story about Sawatari from Goda. Sawatari’s face grows worried for a second, but he can’t risk his image in front of the crowd so he remains silent. Kurokouchi tells him to avoid any trouble before walking off. A student presents Sawatari with an envelope from Kurokouchi. We don’t see the contents, but the look on Sawatari’s face is enough to confirm it isn’t good.

Seike has been watching from the back and when she asks what Kurokouchi was doing up there, he says in his blasé way “Don’t know.”

They head back to the hotel where Kurokouchi tells Goda about his meeting with Sawatari and that he handed over the pictures he showed Seike before. Of course, Goda hasn’t talked once, but if Sawatari thinks he did, then it’s all over for him. Kurokouchi frees Goda and gives him three options:

1) Go see Sawatari and be killed
2) Go to jail for murdering Rina
3) He’ll help Goda go abroad

He whispers the third one so Seike can’t hear, but Goda still doesn’t budge.

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Seike gets a call from Chief Ushii wondering where they are and she doesn’t know what to say. He tosses her out of the room to talk privately and she says that Rina’s other lover was identified, so they should head back. Kurokouchi looks strangely uneasy at this bit of information as Seike says that she’ll just tell the chief that Goda’s the criminal so there’s no need to investigate the other lover. Before she leaves, he tells her not to reveal where Goda is; he’s sure he’s going to get him to talk.

When he heads back inside, he tells Goda that his time’s up.

It turns out that Rina’s other lover was…

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 Seike’s face just about sums up my feelings. 

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The police demand that she reveals where Kurokouchi is.

They bust into the hotel room to find a lifeless Goda hanging from the ceiling and Kurokouchi nowhere in sight. They leave to look for him, but the Seike hangs back just long enough to see Kurokouchi poke his head out of the room next door. Before she can call for help, Kurokouchi drags her into the room.

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He releases her once they’re locked inside and Seike, understandably freaked out, asks if he killed Goda. He points out that he has no reason to; he needed to get a statement from him. Not that he didn’t get the statement and he hands it over for her to read. Well if you got what you wanted, now I’m really thinking you killed him.

Seike seems to be thinking the same thing as she hesitantly accepts the confession. Besides admitting to aiding and abetting Sawatari’s crimes, he also attached a map so they can find the evidence hidden in his house. Before they leave, Kurokouchi says that Sawatari is a key figure for her too. He doesn’t elaborate though, promising he’ll tell her more next time.

They manage to break into Goda’s house and they find the evidence hidden inside a pillar (Seike objects to Kurokouchi’s destruction of property, in spite of the fact they’re trespassing); it’s the gun and silencer used to kill the Toyamas. Kurokouchi was sure that Goda had it in order to protect himself from Sawatari. It seems strange that Goda would kill himself if he had insurance, but Kurokouchi overrides Seike’s questions by wondering if Sawatari’s fingerprints are on it.

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Seike reminds him that a professional probably did the job and he asks what kind. She guesses wrong twice and he says it must’ve been a police officer, again bringing up her dad and saying that he must know more about it. He starts to ask if her father knows anything about the 1968 case, but the surveillance cameras show that they’re not the only ones looking for the evidence.

They shut off the lights and hide as the two intruders enter the house. Kurokouchi says he’ll jump out and distract them so Seike can save herself. I love how he’s all like, it will be better for society if someone upstanding like her lives, but then he grumbles when she agrees with him. I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to go according to plan.

Sure enough, Kurokouchi strokes her butt, making Seike jump. Her sudden appearance distracts the killers long enough for Kurokouchi to put a bullet through each of their heads. Seike collapses to the ground and we see she’s wet herself.

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Kurokouchi pulls off the masks, revealing Detective Shima and Deputy Chief Goto. They’re part of first division and had delivered the news that Goda would no longer be investigated. He looks at the shocked Seike and is like, “See, I am a good guy!” Unfortunately, he put the glove on the wrong hand so now his fingerprints are all over the gun. Whatever, he’ll figure it out later, at least he got the evidence. Yeah, that’s totally not going to bite you in the ass later.

Seike asks what he plans to do with the bodies and he says they’ll figure it out later. Seike’s looking at him like, “We? You shot them!”, but Kurokouchi takes a picture of her, still in her wet skirt, so she’ll have to follow along.

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They go to see Sawatari (after Seike’s changed clothes) and show him Goda’s testimony as well as the smoking gun. Kurokouchi tells him to confess to everything once he’s arrested and Sawatari asks what he knows about him. The two have a staredown as Kurokouchi says he’s been watching him for a very long time.

Taking back the confession, Kurokouchi asks who the culprit was in the 300-million-yen robbery. Sawatari only smiles wider and wonders what he’s talking about. Kurokouchi plays along, saying it’s an unsolved case, or perhaps one that the police made unsolved. He asks Sawatari how much that 300 million is worth today and he counters how much does he thinks it’s worth.

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They don’t get anything out of Sawatari and Seike asks why he was asking about the 300 million yen. He remains cryptic as usual, saying that Seike particularly should know all sorts of things about this case.

They’re confronted by the police chief and brought back to headquarters to explain. Naturally, Kurokouchi’s story doesn’t go over well with them, especially since Goda died during the investigation. They ask about his relationship with Rina and he says he only approached her to find out about Goda’s slush fund, but nobody’s really buying that. Even if they overlook all that, they’re hesitant about arresting the prefectural governor. Kurokouchi asks what they would do if he wasn’t governor anymore. As if on cue, someone comes in, announcing that Sawatari has withdrawn from the gubernatorial election.

Sawatari is arrested for his crimes, but he wants to make one call first.

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As they wait outside the governor’s office, Seike shares a hypothesis with Kurokouchi. She thinks that Kurokouchi lied about initially approaching Rina to find out about Goda’s slush fund and finding out about the link between Sawatari and Goda later. She’s certain that he already knew about Goda and Sawatari’s relationship and got involved with Rina so Goda would kill her. In short, he’s responsible for Rina’s murder and Goda’s suicide.

Kurokouchi does his trademark, drawn out “Corrrrect,” but says she’s only half right. He knew about Goda’s violent tendencies, but didn’t count on him going so far as to kill Rina. Still, Seike is uncomfortable with the fact his plan led to someone’s death, so he asks her if there was any other way those two cases could have been solved. She doesn’t have an answer and he says there’s still someone who hasn’t given up.

He looks over at Sawatari who’s exiting with the police. He sees Kurokouchi and smiles. Unfazed, Kurokouchi smiles and waves right back. As the police drive off, Seike asks what he meant when he said Sawatari was a key figure for her. Kurokouchi says that they’re both aiming for the same destination and she realizes he means solving the 300-million-yen robbery.

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She asks if that requires breaking the law and he replies that she’ll have to decide who is good and who is bad. He gets right in her face and says she should think really hard about turning him in or letting him slide. Seike has one last question before he goes: is it okay for an officer to kill someone? Kurokouchi looks surprised and asks not so innocently if he killed anyone.

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Shima and Goto’s deaths niggle at Seike’s conscious, but when she goes to the office to explain what happened, it turns out that Shima, at least, has submitted a request for a leave of absence. Cut to Kurokouchi, burying Shima and Goto’s bodies in the middle of nowhere. He stops and we get a memory of a woman dying in a fire. She must be related to the 300-million-yen robbery as Kurokouchi wonders aloud how they did it. Sawatari is now in holding, but he doesn’t appear worried at all as he has a slight smirk. Going back to the day of the robbery, as the culprit drove away, someone was watching with a black umbrella, though we don’t see his face.

Thoughts: I’ve already said my piece on this episode in my first impressions post, so there’s no point in repeating myself. However, I wasn’t too invested in the 300-million-yen robbery until I found out it actually occurred. It’s an interesting idea to center a drama around a real, unsolved case, and though I am a little worried about getting an ending where all the clues fit together and the mystery is solved, right now I feel like the writer knows where they’re going so I trust that the case will be resolved in a way that makes sense.

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Up until the reveal of Kurokouchi as Rina’s other lover, I didn’t really feel conflicted about him because even though he did some questionable things, he was still the “good guy,” so to speak. It’s the moment where you really start to question how far he’s willing to go to get what he wants. Even if he didn’t plan for Rina to die, the fact that it did happen doesn’t even faze him. The comedy bits don’t completely miss the mark, but it makes everything seem like a game to him so it’s hard to sympathize with his character. Does he have boundaries, rules, or any morals at all? I’m not asking for Kurokouchi to start spouting about justice or revenge, but I’d like to see some flash of humanity or at least make him less cartoonish so I could understand him better.

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