Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review of Higashino Keigo Mysteries Ep 1 - Sayonara Coach

I have to admit, I'm watching this drama mainly for the story rather than the star-studded cast lineup. I've always liked to watch Higashino Keigo's novels being made into dramas (although there were some which weren't handled so nicely) so this is a must-watch for me. Then again, I was a bit sceptical about how they could cram each short story into one episode and make it as engaging as a full-length drama which was usually based on an entire novel. The first episode was largely predictable but I liked the twist at the end which added an extra meaning to the title than what was obvious to all.

The episode begins with Nakai Kiichi playing the character of a spirit who stands beside his own corpse and starts to explain how he might have died. I'll call him Mr. Editor for now since there's no mention of his name so far. Mr. Editor stresses that he was a well-loved man and he can't figure out who might have wanted him dead. Just then, his secretary enters the room and discovers Mr. Editor's body. This leads him to wonder if a past affair with his secretary could have prompted her to kill him. As Mr.Editor starts to explain how frightening a spurned woman's wrath can be, this leads us to the main story in this episode.

Mochizuki Naomi (Tanaka Rena) was found dead in the locker room of the archery club of Mizuki Electronics and the police are combing the room for clues. Her coach Ishigami Jun (Karasawa Toshiaki) is being questioned by the police since he's the one who found her body and he has to watch the suicide note Mochizuki left for him in the form of a video tape.In the video recording, Mochizuki recounted how she was tired after trying her best in archery over many years and yet she couldn't fulfill her promise to Ishigami i.e. making it to the Olympics. As such, she felt that she had nothing left in life and had to end her life. Mochizuki repeated the words "sayonara coach" (goodbye coach) at least twice in the video which suggested that the message in the suicide note was meant for Ishigami.

Suzuki Kazuma (Nishioka Tokuma), a police detective, is in charge of this case and is especially interested in why Mochizuki had to go through all that trouble to kill herself (consuming sleeping pills and setting a timer to turn on the electric circuit she attached to her body) and leave the suicide note in a video. He gradually starts to suspect that things between Mochizuki and Ishigami weren't that simple after all and later finds out that Mochizuki had confided in a man who had been stalking her about the fact that she had committed suicide before and Ishigami had saved her then. Ishigami is eager to move on and forget about Mochizuki's death which further arouses Suzuki's suspicion.

In the end, it is revealed that Mochizuki and Ishigami started having an affair from the night he saved her from her first suicide attempt. She became more and more attached to him and was gradually showing signs of mental instability. When Mochizuki went to Ishigami's place and appeared to try to harm his wife (Toda Naho), Ishigami realised that he had to get rid of Mochizuki. He wanted to use the video she made during her first suicide and even persuaded Mochizuki to cut her long hair to match the hairstyle in the old video on the pretext of taking a final photo before Mochizuki retired as an archery athlete. This was when Mochizuki realised that Ishigami had the intention to kill her. However, she went along with his idea which made Ishigami think that his plan was foolproof. Little did he know that Mochizuki had left telltale clues in a new video she took after cutting her hair and wanted Ishigami to be implicated so that she could literally "bring him along to hell" with her death.

Like what I said, I thought it was too obvious from the start that Ishigami was guilty of killing Mochizuki and the only probable reason I could think of was because they were having an affair and he had to dump her. However, the saving grace was that Mochizuki was aware of Ishigami's plans and still went along for the sake of using her life to bring down Ishigami. There was no way Ishigami would leave his wife for her but she was also reluctant to let him get away with it while she suffered the agony of losing her love. That's why Mr.Editor remarked in the opening scene that a spurned woman's wrath is indeed extreme and frightening. Mochizuki was smart enough to make a new video and leave telltale clues that would indicate that there were discrepancies with the crime scene and what's featured in the video. I think fate also played a part in helping her because a spider which had been crawling on her bow in the locker room was featured in the suicide note video and that was the only thing Ishigami needed to see in order to realise that he was outsmarted by his protege. This final twist also added a different meaning to the title of this episode. It not only meant that Mochizuki was saying goodbye to her coach because she was going to die and also referred to the fact that Ishigami could only kiss his happy life goodbye when he was nabbed by the police.

Mr.Editor's presence was probably meant to lighten up the mood but at present, there's really nothing much to talk about with regard to his own murder so I guess some viewers may feel that his presence is redundant. I'm hoping that as he appears in more episodes, the mystery surrounding his death will be enticing and interesting enough to justify his role as navigator in this drama.


duncan said...

good plot summary. the dvd I'm watching has terrible english subtitles, and I needed a bit of explaining to understand the whole plot.

Chiaki said...

Hi Duncan, thank you for leaving your comment. Glad that you found this review useful!