When I rented this drama, I did not know much about it other that it was about the police and there was a sequel. Since there was a sequel, I thought that the show would not be too bad.
Zettai Reido is a Japanese drama serial about a team investigating cold cases. The lead character was Sakuragi Izumi (played by Ueto Aya) who was a cheerful, simple-minded girl. She was a new addition to the Special Investigations Office. The other members of the team were more senior and experienced members who formerly worked in other units in the Metropolitan Police Department. Each of the senior members had their own expertise which they used to solve the cold cases. Some worked on the evidence while others were better at psychological profiling. As Sakuragi was a rookie, she had not special skills and was usually delegated to mundane tasks like taking notes of the interviews. However as the series progressed, she began to develop her own area of expertise with some guidance from the head of the unit, Nagashima Hideo (played by Kitaoji Kinya).
Most of the cases were only one episode long although there were two or three cases that took up two episodes. Personally I felt that the two-episode cases were a little long and draggy. Some of the cases were quite interesting but because these were cold cases, it always felt a bit sad as you already know that nothing would bring the victim back. Maybe also due to the fact that these were cold cases, there wasn’t a sense of urgency except in two or three of the cases.
I liked that even though Sakuragi was the lead character, she was not a “super rookie” where she was always right and even better than her more experienced seniors. This often happened when the lead character was a rookie and then somehow the rookie suddenly become the best investigator in the team. I had seen this happened many times in US dramas so it was a pleasant surprise when Sakuragi was shown to be the weakest investigator in the team. Sometimes she was so slow in connecting the clues that her seniors could not help commenting “Are you sure you are an detective?” Even when Sakuragi developed her unique skill in investigating cold cases, she did not take away the spotlight from the rest of the team. It still felt like the solving a case was due to efforts of every member of the team and not just solely based on Sakuragi’s discoveries.
Zettai Reido 2
Zettai Reido 2 took place some time after the first series. It was mentioned by various characters that sometime before the start of the show, a team member, Tsukamoto Keigo (played by Miyasako Hiroyuki) died during a investigation. I wasn’t bothered by Tsukamoto’s death as he was my least favorite character. The team was reorganized and many of the original team members moved on to different units, although they still appeared occasionally. The new team had several new members and seemed to have a bigger manpower and budget. Instead of investigating cold cases, the new team was now in charge of cases where investigations have to be done covertly. Due to various factors, they could not openly investigate the crimes so the investigation had to be done undercover.
It felt strange that the story sort of did a 180° turn and the team was now investigating current cases instead of old ones. But because the cases were ongoing, there was more at stake and the stories felt more exciting. I felt that in general, the cases were better written and more suspenseful than the first series. Once again, most of the cases were only an episode long except for a couple that spanned two episodes and the last case which spanned three episodes. There was also an overarching storyline about a mastermind behind the scenes. In the last case, the master villain was revealed and the team managed to reach a closure on Tsukamoto’s murder. But because the last case was three episodes long, there were times when it felt a bit boring.
In the beginning of Zettai Reido 2, Sakuragi remained troubled by Tsukamoto’s death. As a result, her character felt more depressed and not as cheery as before. However, she soon overcame this setback and started to be happier. Sakuragi was assigned a mentor, Takigawa Shinjiro (played by Kiritani Kenta), who was highly skilled in detective work. Takigawa was tasked by Nagashima to train Sakuragi and he took his job seriously. Throughout the series, Takigawa would assign Sakuragi exercises to improve her detective and mental skills as well as telling her what kinds of food were good for the brain. I felt that it was a pity that Sakuragi’s unique skill which she developed in the first series, no longer played a part in the second series. However, it was interesting to see her take on undercover roles. Sakuragi still remained a very weak investigator in the beginning and it felt satisfying to see her grow and improve as the series progressed. In the ending, Sakuragi was shown to be training a new addition to the team, much to the amusement of her team members.