A shirtless man is dragged into someplace by a few masked men. He is definitely there not by his own choice. He’s roughly handled. He’s being dragged by his arms and his legs have been tied together during this transit – secured against movement There’s a hefty piece of tape over his mouth. But his eyes haven’t been covered so he is able to see.
He’s brought to bed-frame and laid on his back and secured with his arms and legs taped down. A sheet of glass is placed on his chest. We can see the terror on his face.
Another masked man approaches. He carries a baseball bat. Without a word, he swings the bat with all his might bringing it down on this bound man. Again and again. The camera pulls back and we see that this event is being watched by a group of about 15-20 people, mostly men with a few women. We only see them briefly. The bat continued its deadly journey again and again.
This is the first couple of minutes and how the Japanese TV Special, Strawberry Night opens. We have just witnessed an execution, an execution clearly not sanctioned by the state. On the other hand maybe it was a thrill-killing, or something like a snuff film – only this was done in front of an audience.
This special aired last fall on November 13th, 2010 and a series will begin in January 2012. The star is the beautiful Yuko Takeuchi. I think she’s irresistible. In this show, and coming series, Yuko plays Inspector Reiko Himekawa who is the only female section chief in the Tenth Homicide Section of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s First Investigative Division.
She is a woman and a female police officer, and in this kind of environment, she’s subject to harassment and the jealousy of her male colleagues as she has swiftly risen through the ranks. Of course the jealousy is misdirected at her because she is truly a superb detective who has solved numerous difficult cases.
One of the most attractive women in the world is being asked to play a tough, no nonsense cop, and she’s going to have to solve this brutal murder. There’s your set up for the Special.
Special or even not so special, this is a made for TV (Japanese TV) movie. ‘Special’ usually refers to an event of this kind. In some places they might be called a ‘pilot’ for a series. Given that we know that this will be a series, the question has been answered.
In this one, Inspector Himekawa must solve the gruesome murder described above. We come to learn that while her immediate staff adores her, she has enemies amongst other lead detectives on other squads, as well as in the bosses who are often called the suits upstairs.
In a crucial meeting to get the ball rolling, Himekawa says that she’s got a theory about why the body was found where it was. The man was killed in one place, and transported, post-portem, to another place. She’s heard out and then her theory is immediately dismissed as invalid.
But she also has friends in the department. So the investigation proceeds despite the awkward start. She has a crew of about five detectives working for her, and she’s called ‘Chief’ by all of them.
They have a group dinner at least a few times a week to rehash what they know, explore possible theories, and as a way to offload the stress,
Takeuchi is marvelous. She’s not so hard-boiled that she can simply laugh off what some of the others toss her way; often she looks disappointed in the reactions of the higher ups – but she has made a promise to fight on, and she does. She does show a soft side too. Plus, she got some personal demons and issues to work through.
But she can stand her ground when necessary, and she can stand up for her crew, protecting them from the unpleasantness that often comes her way from above.
While this particular case has a particularly cruel element to it, and is solved or should I say, Himekawa and staff kind of tumble their way into resolving it, and this resolution was far from satisfying, the fact that there will be a series is very promising.
If you haven’t figured out by now that I not only adore this actress, but I also think this character (Inspector Himekawa) is bold and brave along with beautiful and as such I will certainly be eager to see it.
How could I not? Just look at that promo image up at the top.
The DVD of this Special is available from the California based jpdorama.com It has both English and Chinese subtitles.