Kurokouchi: Episode 5

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Another episode, another case, but unlike last episode, our new batch of characters changes the game. Kurokouchi has a plan like he always does, but even he can’t predict this ending.

December 1968

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A wanted poster is made based on the testimony of the bank employees. The police officer goes to see the culprit and assures that the photo is a fake. However, if he gets caught, then it endangers their organization. He puts a bottle of cyanide and a letter on the table, saying they’ve told his father everything and he’ll have to commit suicide.

November 14, 2013

Human remains are found in the middle of a forest along with an empty duralumin case. It’s determined to be a murder, as blood is found on the case and the skull has a dent matching the case. Seike gets excited since the same type of case was used in the 300 million yen robbery, but the victim has only been dead for ten years, deflating her hopes.

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The remains are identified as Haitani Ryuji’s, a freelance journalist that disappeared ten years ago. Haitani was well known for extorting money by threatening to expose scandals, so he probably had a number of enemies. Before disappearing, he said he was going to receive 50 million yen.

The case contained that money and was stolen around the same time Haitani disappeared by Takamiya Kenta, a member of the Akaba-gumi gang. Takamiya turned himself in and went to jail for ten years. Unfortunately, he’s just been released from jail so it will be hard to find him. On top of that, Takamiya had a frequent visitor, a certain detective we all know.

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When Seike asks about why Kurokouchi’s been associating with Takamiya, he says that Haitani was murdered by someone else. He had been visiting Takamiya, trying to figure out who he gave the money to, but Takamiya refused to talk, insisting that he spent all the money. Kurokouchi found him after he was released and informed him that he was the main suspect in Haitani’s murder, and though Takamiya said he was innocent, he still wouldn’t reveal the real perpetrator.

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He’s done all he can with Takamiya, so he tells Seike to find out who he was working for while he gets close to Echigo Yatoro, the prosecutor in charge of Sawatari’s case. Echigo seems like a pretty straight-laced guy, declining to give Kurokouchi any information on Sawatari’s case, at least until he mentions the popular IT tech, Ayakawa Shinnouske. When Echigo was part of the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office, he was investigating Ayakawa for window-dressing accounts, but backed off at the last minute because Ayakawa offered him 50 million yen. That’s the rumor anyway. Kurokouchi adds that Takamiya was released that morning, but Echigo doesn’t bite and leaves.

So, let’s put the dots together. Though we don’t know how Takamiya and Ayakawa are connected, the former obviously gave that money to Ayakawa, who gave it to Echigo to hide the window-dressing. The murderer is obviously the person Haitani was blackmailing, so the question is, did he have dirt on Ayakawa or Echigo?

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 Seike wants to know what he plans to do to Echigo after finding the murderer. He pulls out the 500 yen bill from Sawatari and asks if she’s not curious about the SFA. The only person capable of getting any information at the moment is Echigo, so he plans to blackmail him once he finds the murderer.

Echigo contacts Ayakawa, telling him not to meet Takamiya. Little does Echigo know that he’s being tailed by Sawatari’s guard.

Echigo’s interrogation with Sawatari is going no where as the latter refuses to confess and asks that the handgun be re-evaluated. Echigo takes the request and rips it, but Sawatari isn’t bothered.

I guess Seike’s good for something as she finds out that Ayakawa is known for raping prostitutes and grew up in the same orphanage as Takamiya. Though all the clues point towards Ayakawa, there’s still no hard evidence and he’s a private advisor to the prime minister. Besides that, why would he force his friend to steal money that someone of his status could easily come up with?

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 Kurokouchi runs into Takahashi, Yakushiji’s friend from Public Security, and he takes him to the dock where Yakushiji died. Takahashi does seem sad to hear of Yakushiji’s death and Kurokouchi asks if Yakushiji told him anything before he died. Takahashi does remember hearing something about an association, but he can’t recall any details.

They’re interrupted by a call from Seike, who informs him about the problem with arresting Ayakawa, but Kurokouchi has something planned for tomorrow and tells her not to worry. Takahashi was very attentive to Kurokouchi and Seike’s conversation, but he doesn’t ask any questions. As he leaves with Kurokouchi, we see that someone is watching them. Kurokouchi’s not the only one though; Chief Ushii is keeping an unusually close eye on Seike.

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Takamiya has been trying to contact Ayakawa, but he’s ignoring him. Takamiya’s had no trouble tracking him, but he seems afraid of talking to him directly. Kurokouchi and Seike find him and he asks if the reason Takamiya’s not confronting him is because he’s afraid his little brother betrayed him. Now we see that when Ayakawa asked Takamiya to steal the money, he lied, saying that Haitani was blackmailing because of Takamiya and his connection to the yakuza. Ouch, so you really didn’t know anything did you?

 Kurokouchi asks for Takamiya to testify he gave the money to Ayakawa, but he remains loyal and says Ayakawa could spend the money how he wanted. Seeing that he won’t budge, Kurokouchi decides to show Takamiya the real reason Ayakawa was being blackmailed.

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They bust into the room Ayakawa’s staying in where they find a half-naked Ayakawa and a woman, beaten and tied to the bed frame, begging for help. Ayakawa tries to explain, but Kurokouchi shoves him against the door. He says he’ll show him what real pain is, whipping out his cane, but Takamiya stops him.

He says he’ll confess what really happened ten years ago, so Kurokouchi can back off. Takamiya looks at Ayakawa and disappointedly tells him he has to wipe his own ass and adds that he meant a lot to him. Kurokouchi tells Seike to contact first division and to take the woman and Takamiya to the station. He’ll stay here with Ayakawa to preserve the crime scene.

After they leave, Kurokouchi checks to make sure they’re definitely gone before setting up the camera on his phone and proposing a deal to Ayakawa. There’s always an ulterior motive with you, isn’t there?

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When Ayakawa goes to the station, he says that Haitani’s death was an accident. The two fought each other and Haitani slipped and hit his head on the case. It’s a flimsy story, but there were no witnesses and considering Ayakawa’s status, he may only be charged with involuntary manslaughter. However, it doesn’t escape their attention that Ayakawa sounds like he’s rehearsed this.

Kurokouchi goes to see Echigo and shows him a video of Ayakawa testifying that he bribed Echigo with 50 million yen to cover up the window-dressing. Kurokouchi says he won’t go public with the video if Echigo gets to the bottom of the Sakura Fubuki Association.

Surprisingly, Echigo doesn’t even have to ask any questions the next time he meets Sawatari; he’ll tell him everything, but this stays between them, no recordings allowed. The SFA was formed by police officers and former officers. The police are built on order and uphold the peace of the nation. However, if those within the organization are found committing crimes, the police lose all authority and the nation would fall into chaos. But the police are human, so they will make mistakes. In order to cover them, the SFA will even use illegal methods as long as it’s never discovered. He says all unsolved cases remain that way for a reason, to protect the people and the nation. Identifying the perpetrators would ruin the dignity of the nation.

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Forty-five years ago, the police promptly identified the robber in the 300 million yen case, but there was a problem. He was the son of an officer, so the police decided to cover it up. The bigger problem was disposing of the 300 million yen. The Public Security Bureau and the group of police officers determined a use for the money and the SFA was formed.

Echigo doesn’t understand why he’s telling him all of this. Sawatari says they’re alike and he reveals he knows about the bribe Echigo received ten years ago. He’ll make sure that Echigo’s involvement with Ayakawa doesn’t get out as long as he has the evidence in his case re-evaluated. In the meantime, he’ll take care of Kurokouchi.

I have no idea why Kurokouchi hasn’t picked up on the fact that Takahashi is not someone he should trust, as he goes out without a second thought when Takahashi calls him out for a drink. Takahashi enters a van outside Kurokouchi’s apartment and the cameras inside tell us he’s the one that’s been watching Kurokouchi. Ahhhhhhh! I knew you couldn’t trust him!

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The guy already in the van asks if they’re going to implement their plan now and Takahashi says that’s why he called him out. He mentions how Kurokouchi has been staring at the photo montage and asks if the perpetrator committed suicide. Takahashi vaguely confirms it and there’s a flashback to that day. The robber’s dad entered his room, taking the cyanide out of his son’s hand and loosening the cap. We get a small shot of Takahashi, making me wonder how much he knows about what happened forty-five years ago.

As Kurokouchi leaves, passing the surveillance van, a bicyclist rides past, pulling out a gun and aiming at him. All noise stops as the bicyclist shoots, stows the gun away, and rides on. Kurokouchi puts his hand to his stomach and we see blood before he collapses. Kurokouchi: “Did Sawatari do this too?”

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A lone tear falls from Kurokouchi’s eye as he struggles to breathe, a pool of blood surrounding him.

Thoughts: Thank God this didn’t happen in the last episode or else I’d probably be throwing my laptop out the window. Since episode three, I never questioned if Sawatari was going to take out Kurokouchi, but when. He has more resources and people on his side; no matter how smart Kurokouchi is, he couldn’t compete. Yet the moment where the bicyclist pulls out his gun is shocking because it’s so simple and quick. After all the pushing and pulling, and watching and waiting, Sawatari takes out Kurokouchi like he’s nothing.

Kurokouchi is a morally ambiguous show, sticking to the idea that the ends justify the means. There are no one clear-cut good or evil characters, people do what they have to do to get results. One need look no further than our hero; Kurokouchi has indirectly caused the deaths of two innocent people, as well as murdered two others, yet because he did it to take down something worse than he is, it has been overlooked (for now). That being said, I can see a little bit of sense in the warped logic of the SFA; for the greater good, they uphold the dignity of an institution that is supposed to symbolize justice to maintain order, no matter what the costs. However, the mere existence of the SFA encourages these offenses as these officers and politicians never suffer any consequences. It’s covered up and it makes them think they can get away with it again. I don’t believe punishment always prevents crime, but it sure as hell will make people think twice before committing one.  The SFA has made the police above the law they’re supposed to uphold, invalidating the ends justifying the means because at this point, you’re doing more harm than good.

Knowing what the SFA stands for now, it will be interesting to watch Kurokouchi fight them going forward. He’s not the type of person to have a moral conundrum, but he is the type of person that always plays a situation to his advantage and the destruction of the SFA, and subsequently the police force, would not be in his favor. Well, I guess I should deal with one problem at a time and hope he overcomes getting shot first, yeah?

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