Kurokouchi: Episode 2

I'm just happy to see Kurokouchi in a different suit
                     I’m just happy to see Kurokouchi in a different suit

The first episode did feel a little clunky because there was so much going on and so many questions left unanswered, but besides laying the foundation for the drama, it was also setting up an arc that will play out for the next two episodes, so I can forgive the overload of information. I liked the second episode a lot more than the first one, as we have a more compact story that helps drive the narrative forward and leaves you wondering what will happen next.

Rewinding back to 1968, the man had driven away to a field and checked the cases. The other man with the black umbrella followed after him.

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In present day, someone’s blasting music, disturbing the whole neighborhood, so the police go see what’s going on. The man in question, Hori, is definitely a little weird, coming out wearing a tie-dye shirt, no pants, and a blond wig with a police hat. He pays no heed to the warning, rambling about it being time for duty, but when they try to determine if he’s actually a real officer, he calls for reinforcements. Who else would be on the other line but Kurokouchi and knowing that he’s looking out for this slightly unhinged man sends the officers running.

Sawatari is unwilling to confess, so Hashimoto has been brought in for questioning as well. Hashimoto isn’t eager to talk, afraid that he’ll meet the same fate as Goda. His nerves are so bad that he ends up collapsing and is taken to rest at home.

Goda’s death is being re-investigated after the new prefectural governor Tamiya Hiroshi, receives an anonymous letter stating that Kurokouchi killed Goda. To add more fuel to the fire, the rope marks around Goda’s neck were unnatural, so it’s likely that Goda was murdered.

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Kurokouchi isn’t disturbed by this news at all, though Seike is side-eyeing him suspiciously. He points out that the only person who benefits from Goda’s death is Sawatari and that he doesn’t have the skill to make a murder look like a suicide. He mentions that there’s a contract killer working for a politician in their area. Whenever there’s a scandal, someone involved dies and they’ve all died by hanging.

The killer is a professional; he never leaves any evidence behind and Kurokouchi wonders if he possibly shaves all the hair off his body in order to be thorough. It’s possible that this person killed Goda and may go after Hashimoto.

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Right on cue, Hashimoto comes home to see his wife and son hanging from the ceiling and a hairless, naked Hori waiting for him. Eep. Creepiest way to die ever.

Though there’s no evidence to the contrary, no one thinks Hashimoto’s family committed suicide. On top of that, a policeman was seen patrolling the area that night, but there’s no record of the police being in the neighborhood. They suspect that the killer was masquerading as an officer or worse, an actual officer murdered the Hashimotos.

The marks around the Hashimotos’ necks match those around Goda’s, confirming they were killed by the same person. The headquarters chief, Dojima, decides to head the investigation, ordering that first division find the fake officer.

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I love that whenever Seike goes to find Kurokouchi, he’s always dropping a load of money at a fancy restaurant or a spa. Seike’s still wary of Kurokouchi, but he promises to tell her more about Hori and the cases he’s been involved in. There have been three unsolved cases in the last two years, all connected to politics, where all the victims had the same suspicious markings around their necks.

Seike wonders why Hori poses as a policeman, but Kurokouchi isn’t willing to give out any information for free. It looks like Hori is walking towards them; he’s in uniform and frantically searching for Kurokouchi after someone threatened to call the cops on him. Hori stops as Kurokouchi turns around, but it’s a fake-out. The three aren’t in the same place and Kurokouchi is merely saluting the officers who have been tailing him, thinking he’ll slip something to Seike.

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Kurokouchi tries to make a deal with Seike; if he helps her catch Hori, then she’ll give him details about the case. Naturally, she refuses until Kurokouchi reminds her he still has the picture of her wetting herself. She tells him that the police have seen Hori and Kurokouchi teases, “You leaked.”

Hori gets a text telling him to get out because the police are onto him. We don’t know who it’s from, only that it’s his aniki, which is what he calls Kurokouchi.

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Kurokouchi goes to see Sawatari, saying that if he tells him where the perpetrator and the money is from the 300-million-yen case, he’ll have the charges against him dropped. He pulls out the gun Goda was keeping and asks how much he’ll pay for it. Sawatari asks if this is the weapon he used to kill Goto and Shima. Uh-oh, he knows. Kurokouchi isn’t worried though, after all, he knows Sawatari had Goda and Hashimoto murdered.

The police track down Hori, but by that time, he’s already gone. The only noteworthy evidence is the rope, which matches the grooves found on Hashimoto’s neck. The police that went to see Hori the other day also inform them about the connection between him and Kurokouchi.

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Seike is sneaky enough to lead Kurokouchi to the police station, where he’s arrested for suspicion of conspiring to murder Hashimoto and Goda. He’s a little miffed at Seike’s betrayal, but he does give her a tip: look for a rule.

Strangely, Chief Dojima is sweating a lot when he sees Sawatari still in jai. I wonder what he’s holding over his head.

Kurokouchi’s vague hint bothers Seike so much that she walks out on the division briefing to go to the forensics department. Sawa’s flirty as usual as she shows Seike how Goda and Hashimoto were murdered. It’s a method called carry-the-jizo-on-the-back in which the killer pulls the rope around the victim’s neck and hauls them on their back, pulling the rope and suffocating them. Though she had reported this to the top due to Kurokouchi’s insistence, no one thought it was important.

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Even with Sawa being her usual flirty self, Seike manages to focus enough to figure out Kurokouchi’s hint, though she’s still surprised when Sawa kisses her.

Is anyone ele surprised that Seike is the only female in her division?
Is anyone ele surprised that Seike is the only female in her division?

vlcsnap-2013-12-03-11h02m58s162At the next briefing, Seike points out that there have been murders similar to Hashimoto and Goda’s since eight years ago and that it occurs in a different area every three years. Government officials switch positions every three years, so it’s possible that this hitman is working for one of their own. Her superiors feel uneasy that she’s making such a bold statement with no evidence, but something is better than nothing and an internal investigation is ordered to find out who’s backing Hori. vlcsnap-2013-12-03-11h03m54s213vlcsnap-2013-12-03-11h04m36s115

Kurokouchi congratulates Seike on figuring out his hint. Since it looks like Hori will be caught soon, he decides he doesn’t need to hide anymore. Wait, you were arrested on purpose? Seike realizes he set the whole thing up starting with the anonymous letter to the governor. Kurokouchi is Sawatari’s next logical target since he exposed the murders from eight years ago, so he incriminated himself for protection.

Kurokouchi knew Hori was the murderer, but he lacked evidence and needed more information on who was behind Hori. He warns Seike that she’s in the same position as he is since she knows so much and tells her to be careful.

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Hori has received a new order: take out Seike. He visits her house that night, pretending to make rounds, and Seike, who apparently wasn’t listening when Kurokouchi told her to be careful, lets him in. It only takes a second for Seike to realize she’s in danger as Hori strips and pulls out the rope, but she’s too late as he pulls it around her neck and hoists her on his back. She struggles, unable to break free as Hori taunts her when he sees someone else has entered.

Kurokouchi says he’s here to arrest him and Hori realizes he’s been set up. He takes out Hori easily and Seike, who’s still gasping for breath, asks why he didn’t show up sooner. He says it wouldn’t do them any good if they didn’t catch him in the act.

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They turn Hori in, clearing Kurokouchi of suspicion. There’s a strange look on Hori’s face when Chief Dojima arrives, almost like he’s sad, but it quickly turns to anger when the chief mocks him, saying he’s a no-good murderer and his parents would probably be disappointed. Hori has an unusually visceral reaction to his words and charges at him. The other officers stop him, but Hori manages to get a gun and points it, not at Chief Dojima, but Seike. Kurokouchi jumps in front of her and a gun goes off, but it wasn’t Hori’s.

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The camera pans around to show Chief Dojima pointing a gun at Hori who collapses, dead. When Kurokouchi looks at Dojima, he says he had no choice. He thanks him, but tells Seike that it’s not over yet.

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They go to see Chief Dojima about Hori, who feigns ignorance about the killer, but when Kurokouchi lays out Hori’s life story, he can’t hide how much it affects him. Hori was Dojima’s son, Takeshi. He wanted to be a police officer like his dad, but failed the exam. He ended up fighting with his dad and ran away from home; they had been separated for almost ten years.

Though Hori got riled up by Dojima’s words, he had pointed the gun at Seike instead of his father. Kurokouchi says it must have been because it was the first time his father ever asked something of him and he wanted to do it no matter what. He wanted his father to acknowledge him, even if it meant going to jail.

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Dojima confesses that he didn’t know what happened to Hori until the day Goda died. Hori had called him, telling him how he had been following him for the last eight years, but Dojima had never realized it. He called again when he killed the Hashimotos. When Dojima realized that Seike was getting close to the truth, he ordered Hori to kill her and he admits that he took on the case because of the anonymous letter Kurokouchi sent to the governor.

Seike gets angry, thinking he did it to protect his son, but Dojima isn’t that fatherly. He did shoot his son after all. He wanted Seike out of the way so his relationship to Hori wouldn’t be exposed. It wouldn’t look good for the headquarters chief to be the father of a murderer.

Dojima asks if they’re going to arrest him, and while Seike’s ready to slap cuffs on him, Kurokouchi would rather make a deal. If he can prove that Sawatari ordered Goda and Hashimoto’s deaths, he’ll let this pass. When Dojima asks why he’s so obsessed with him, Kurokouchi brings up the 300-million-yen robbery and Dojima’s reaction proves he knows something.

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Unfortunately, Seike isn’t willing to let this go any further and is about to call headquarters. Kurokouchi stops her, explaining that this will help solve the 300-million-yen-robbery and involves her father as well. Before he can go into any more detail though, they hear something fall. They look over to where Dojima was, but he’s gone. They look over the bridge and see him lying in the road, dead.

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A distraught Seike asks if this was also part of his plan. Kurokouchi, just as shocked, says this must be how Sawatari wanted things to go.

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With everyone that could speak against Sawatari dead and a lack of evidence, Sawatari’s allowed to go free. He has a little press conference once he’s released and drops the bomb that Kurokouchi has something to do with the missing Goto and Shima. Yeah, I was sure that was coming back to get you. For once, Kurokouchi seems worried and he wonders if he’ll end up dead like everyone else that’s gotten involved with Sawatari.

On that rainy day in 1968, the man with the black umbrella gets in a police car.

Thoughts: Sawatari is really showing that he’s someone not to be messed with. He was able to kill three people while in a jail cell, imagine what he’ll do now that he’s free to walk around. It will be interesting to watch Kurokouchi find a way out of this one.

I like that we had the relationship between Hori and Chief Dojima working as the main story for this episode, but it never tried to detract from what’s really important, that is, the fight between Kurokouchi and Sawatari. Kurokouchi isn’t about running around trying to fix people’s problems; he’s out to take down Sawatari so we don’t have time to dwell on the emotional backlash from the fallout between Hori and Dojima. That isn’t to say that the only purpose behind the story is to drive Kurokouchi and Sawatari’s feud, and I think I did like this episode more than the first because it had a more emotional story at its center, but I’m relieved there’s no ranting on about how Dojima should be brought to justice, or how he’s a terrible father, or even how misled Hori was. No one’s trying to shove a sob story down the audience’s throat and make us feel sad or righteously angry about it because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. We’re left to feel how we want about Dojima and Hori and move right along.

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