Image from DramaWiki

Watched a detective drama called Shinzanmono (新参者). It consisted of 10 episodes and the drama started with the murder of a shinzanmono (newcomer) to Nihonbashi district. Detective Kaga Kyoichiro (played by Abe Hiroshi) was the lead. He was one of the detectives investigating the case and also a newcomer to the district. Kaga was an eccentric character who liked sweet snacks. Despite solving a few major cases, Kaga remained a lowly district police. The theme of the drama was lies so everybody in the show lied. Kaga would slowly unraveled their lies and find out the truth. The show tried to show that people lied for all kinds of reasons. In fact, Kaga said a couple of times in the show that people lied for three reasons; to protect themselves, to deceive others and to protect someone.

Like many detective dramas, the story opened with the death of Mitsui Mineko, a newcomer who recently moved to the district. Thus nobody knew much about her. Kaga’s job was to trace her movements and interview witnesses while an elderly detective Uesugi Hiroshi worked on the family angle. For the first half of the drama, Kaga interviewed the people of a particular shop in the district who were connected to Mitsui in some way. Each episode was about a particular shop and the people who worked there. Even though there may be a suspicious individual in each shop whose alibi did not match up, it would turn out that his lies had nothing to do with the murder. As Kaga solved the mini mysteries in each shop, he would at the same time, stripped away the lies that prevented people from truly understanding one another. Thus each episode ended happily.

In the second half of the drama, Uesugi was removed from the investigation so Kaga took over the investigation on the family members. The focus moved to Mitsui’s family which was good because I was starting to feel that Kaga took too much time to solve the murder mystery. Even though she died at the beginning of the drama, Mitsui appeared in every episode through flashbacks. Each episode also revealed a little more about Mitsui, the kind of person she was, how other people saw her and her hopes for the future. So in the end, she did not feel like a plot device but as real and as likable as the main characters. I actually felt quite sad that she died and regretful that she did not achieve her dreams. But all was not lost as Kaga traced Mitsui’s movements before she died and figured out what were her plans and finished her tasks on her behalf.

Thus the ending felt bittersweet and I cried at a few episodes. I liked Kaga’s eccentric character and definitely would not mind if there was a sequel. However, the pacing of the story could feel long-winded at times and the investigation felt like it was moving quite slowly. Certain questions were also left unanswered. Nothing to do with the main mystery fortunately but more like some subplots brought up in the drama was not developed and left hanging. For example, it was mentioned a few times by other people in the drama that Kaga did not even visit his father who was dying. However no explanation was given why Kaga did that. Yet it did not seem that Kaga’s relationship with his father was bad as he kept his father’s watch and was shown to visit his grave.

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