Posted by: cis | October 8, 2008

Drama Recaps: Maou Episode Three

Hi there! This would have taken a little less time to write, only I had to move in the middle of it. But now we’re all settled down there’s a possibility these might come a little more frequently. A very small possibility, but a possibility nonetheless.

Previous recaps: episode one, episode two


The story so far: the DEVIL’S FACE is NARUSE’S FACE; Serizawa’s photo is on a red-lit darkroom wall cos he’s being targeted. Serizawa, who is a maverick police detective who just doesn’t know whan to stop, suspects that there’s a murderer on the loose who’s informing him through tarot cards of deaths about to take place. Likely victims: Serizawa’s friends and family, not the most likeable bunch. One tarot card came with a quote from Goethe’s Faust, which we’re translating as

How all things weave themselves into the whole,

Each living and working in the others!

Presumably this signifies that everything is connected – and, like Faust, someone’s got their eye on the macrocosm of it all.
Why is this all happening? Cos Serizawa stabbed another kid when he was in middle school, though he did get off on a charge of justified self-defence. Also, he stepped on the kid’s harmonica, running away, which is almost as bad as the killing part, because that harmonica symbolises his youthful DREAMS and INNOCENCE. Naruse, the Angel Lawyer, is connected to the dead kid (it’s his brother Hideo) and he’s got something to do with the tarot cards. Also, he’s evil. Psychic Librarian Shiori had a vision of a teddybear and a gun, and a teddybear and tarot card were sent to Serizawa’s loan shark friend Yōsuke. Serizawa ran to intercept him before he died, but no avail, because one deeply-in-debt Ms Shinitani thought Yōsuke had kidnapped her daughter as collateral. She aimed at him– gosh, a gun. Serizawa and his underappreciated fellow detective (who went to university and has a ridiculous haircut and, ps, is a woman) ran in to Yōsuke’s office to find a strange smell and Yōsuke on the verge of death; and then no longer breathing. Naruse hung out with Shiori in her local church, and then found Ms Shinitani’s missing daughter, Sora, crying outside. I guess this establishes an alibi.

This all takes about a minute on television. I apologise for my prolixity.

START:

Little Sora is crying, cos she’s lost: Naruse displays how good he is with children. She betrays no sign of recognising him: did he not give her the teddy bear in the last episode? Were we not shown his face? Anyway: he asks for name, where she came from, etc: she is Shinitani Sora, she came from the playground, with big brother. Her actual big brother? Then who?

Serizawa’s running! Beside a gurney this time. Can you translate ‘しっかりしろ’ as ‘hold on’? Only I don’t think ‘pull yourself together’ would be appropriate in this context, given Yōsuke is looking very pale and possibly not breathing.

Naruse staaaaares at Sora, who staaaaaaares back. Then she turns to Shiori and says ‘…I dunno [who he was]’. Shiori’s understandably disturbed: Naruse says ‘well, do you know where your house is?’ and strokes her hair, pleasedly. creep.y.

CPR is not working on Yōsuke: time of death is called. Serizawa shoulders his way in and starts up the chest compressions again, but they pretty soon deteriorate into just hitting Yōsuke and demanding he wake up. Not going to happen, mate.

“That’s a cute teddybear,” Shiori says to Sora, in the back of Naruse’s car, as the soundtrack goes ”ting! . “Who did you get it from?” Sora just hugs it.
“Was the playground fun?” Naruse asks, and I would be lying if I pretended to understand her answer completely. She was a magician in a haunted house? Naruse smiles and turns the stereo on: ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ (innocence, youthful dreaming). He and Shiori are magicians, he says, so they’ll definitely be able to get her back to her mum. Aw. It’s barely even a lie. Shiori tries to engage her attention again, but Sora only has eyes for Naruse – who, as the orchestration and a quick sideways flick of his eyes remind us, is eeeeeevil.

Sora can’t understand why her mum isn’t at home: Naruse looks at his watch, and then away, and as if on cue Ms Shinitani is walking back, exhausted. Touching reunion.

But Sora’s still holding that teddybear, which reminds Ms Shinitani immediately of its twin lying in Yōsuke’s office, herself aiming the gun at his face. Soundtrack says: panic.

“Seems she was at the playground, with a stranger,” Naruse says, and introduces himself. He’s a lawyer. Ain’t that convenient.

In the hospital, Serizawa stands over Yōsuke’s body, and lays a hand on his cheek. There’s a flashback: I sort of feel like it would be sadder if there weren’t. Not that Loan Shark was particularly unpleasant, just: a moment without busy images and dramatic music would be a little more touching than scenes we saw just an episode ago. “Sorry,” he says. “Sorry.”

“Now, don’t you be going off with any more people you don’t know,” Naruse tells Sora. “Mr Lawyer–” Ms Shinitani starts, but there’s the landlady with her bike, and whatever she was going to say is going to go unsaid.

Shiori is still perturbed about the teddybear from her vision turning up in Sora’s hands.

Loan Shark Yōsuke died from illness, not murder: he already had asthma, and there were no obstructions in his throat. No physical wounds, no signs of poisoning. Serizawa’s understandably unimpressed and has to be restrained by University Graduate.

OPENING CREDITS!! I really wish Johnny’s groups would rediscover the art of harmony: all this unison singing really gets to me after a while. At least Arashi only have five members, I suppose. It’s infinitely worse when there are eight poorly-blended voices on the same vocal line.

kono sponsaa to teikyō de etc.

Naruse and Shiori are walking back to the café together: but didn’t they take Sora back to her ma’s in his car? Anyway, walking. Is something up with Shiori? Well– that teddybear… oh, nothing. I see, they’re walking because all of Shiori’s awkward attempts to keep her ~*psychic abilities*~ a secret must happen while walking. Oh, look, they’ve arrived: would Naruse like a coffee? Well, it’s late– so, no. But Shiori has something else to say! She loves ‘Over the Rainbow’ (youthful dreaming, innocence) too. Naruse’s overjoyed to hear that. It’s his very favourite song. Goodnight, goodnight.

Serizawa and University Graduate are back at the police station: muted manly condolences all round. But Serizawa’s got more important things on his mind. Tarot card, express delivery from Amano: it’s the same MO as respected lawyer Kumada’s murder. It’s a murder foretold. Univerity Graduate asks: what’s the teddybear about? Well, Shiori saw it in a vision. It was sent with the card. Serizawa’s return to INARTICULATE RAGE is interrupted by a telephone call.

And it’s Shiori: that teddybear she saw in the vision? She’s seen it in reality. Where? Where indeed.

In a parked car in an empty car-park, under cover of night, Yon-sama glasses’d secretary (alternately, ‘Kasai’) and the boss’ wife are necking, carefully. Is it all right to have snuck out of the hotel? It’s all right because it’s her. They stop canoodling again when his phone rings: there’s a palpable sense of relief. I would really enjoy this adultery plot if it looked like either of them were particularly into it. They seem pretty comfortable playing house together and all, but they’re rubbish at feigning sexual attraction.

It’s Serizawa on the phone, to remind us that Yōsuke’s been murdered and that murderer is aiming at all Serizawa’s friends and relations, so Kasai should keep an eye out for express deliveries. When Kasai gets off the phone he has a bit of a ‘why!!’ moment – quietly – and the adulterous wife comforts him, and they do kind of look like… friends. Just… not sex friends.

Off the phone, Serizawa’s knocking on Ms Shinitani’s door. It’s late at night: the landlady ain’t happy with the noise. Oh, oh, he’s a police officer — she thought he was that loan shark. Loan shark? he asks, the faint light of eureka behind his eyes.

Annnnnnd Serizawa’s back at the hotel, saying: she was probably Loan Shark’s murderer. We see Shinitani fleeing, daughter with teddybear of doom in her arms. There’s someone else behind it all, though, Serizawa says. Big Brother is impressed by this information; Bad Dye Job Dad is not. Big Brother apologises, because he’s supremely weak-willed.

Bad Dye Job Dad says: first you terrorise me with stories about how I’m going to be murdered, and now you bring up your ridiculous death-foretold backseat-murderer theory? Give it up, sonny boy.

Poor unloved Serizawa takes solace the only way he knows: in running. He runs and runs around the hotel, flashing his card and asking after Ms Shinitani, and eventually strikes something approaching gold. The supervisor she asked for a loan lets him know that Shinitani received an express delivery. Finally, something approaching a solid reason to accuse her!

Back at the station, Serizawa shouts a lot. AMANO manipulated SHINITANI into killing YŌSUKE, okay, even if he appears to have died from natural causes. IT’S STILL MURDER. You don’t need a gun to commit MURDER. The Chief sends University Graduate and Unnamed Male Detective off after Ms Shinitani, but keeps Serizawa behind for a word.

“You’re off the case.”

FINALLY. Isn’t Serizawa in way too deep in this thing, anyway? His family and friends are involved! If everyone agrees on Serizawa’s theory that this case is allllll about him, why on earth would they keep him on? Wouldn’t they try keeping him out for at least a little while, just to see if the murders stop when Serizawa isn’t supposed to be the one investigating it? Or because it’s distinctly unprofessional? I mean, clearly Serizawa has to stay on the case for the sake of the plot, but it’s nice to see a little acknowledgement of the fact that this really shouldn’t be happening in a well-ordered police department.

The Chief says, look in a mirror: your eyes aren’t those of a policeman. You’re not behaving like a policeman, you’re not acting like a policeman, and an investigation is not revenge. It’s possible that Serizawa takes this in– but then he grabs the bagged teddy-bear off the desk and runs off.

Red red darkroom of doom: the slow progress of Naruse’s back.

Outside the darkened Psychic Café, Serizawa stands: alone, in the rain, teddybear in hand. Dude, forget tampering with the chain of evidence, surely the ~*psychic memories*~ associated with the object are going to get tainted by your emotional state? He looks in a mirror – well, a window – and presumably recognises that his eyes are somehow off, though his nose is perfect as ever.

Shiori opens the door – black and white striped shapeless dress over pedal-pushers – and looks concerned, as one should. Serizawa asks if the teddy-bear is the same as the one the girl was carrying

Anyway: yes, Sora-chan had such a teddybear. That was all he wanted to ask. He tosses the bear into his car and stands there looking at-a-loss and very wet.

Poor Shiori no doubt didn’t ask for a drenched detective standing out the front of her house, but she’s worried all the same, and brings her umbrella over to hold over him. At that small sign of concern, Serizawa starts to spill over, words and tears: childhood friend, so close to achieving his dream, Serizawa’s fault. Serizawa’s fault because he thought it would be someone else targeted. He drops to his knees and cries in the rain beside his car like Gary Barlow in the ‘Back For Good’ video. (well, kind of)

“It’s not your fault,” Shiori says, crouched down and holding her umbrella over him, as a soprano flutters somewhere on the soundtrack. His eyes meet hers, wide and guilty-looking. I go back and erase the paragraph I wrote about how recognising people’s emotions from their eyes seemed like nonsense to me.

The… reflection of a teddy-bear in a puddle? Oh, and there’s Ohno Satoshi’s eeeeeevil face, drenched in red light just in case we hadn’t worked out it was his eeeeeevil face rather than just his normal face. He’s checking out the wall of retribution; he’s magic-markering Loan Shark Yōsuke off the list. And then his eyes shift, and– dudes, Shiori is on the wall, too. Aw, man.

Shiori’s doing her morning tarot, in an even more flowery blous-y smock than usual. I guess it’s better than checking your horoscope in the Metro? Jingle of the door, and she looks up: slow steps, so you’d guess Naruse, but she hasn’t started smiling yet.

Serizawa’s sitting in an interrogation room at the station: University Graduate’s brought him something to eat. She exposits that he’s neither ate nor slept. You wouldn’t guess it, because his face looks much as usual: kind of twisted up funny while he listens to her. Did they not have the budget to put even a little shadow under his eyes? We get a nice shot of University Graduate’s hair, which is cut in this odd lopsided way, longer on one side than the other and way too much at the front. Is it supposed to signify that she’s a modern woman? A little bit asymmetrical but not too much? Went to university and won’t talk politely to her fellow detective, but still defers to his impulse decisions and brings him food like a good woman should?

She walks off, satisfied, but is stopped in the door by his phone ringing. It’s Shiori. She’s received an express delivery. Duuuuuuuuuudes. It’s from– you know who it’s from.

Zips out the door so fast Uni Grad can’t get an ‘eh?’ out in time.

Serizawa’s the one to open it. Red envelope, tarot card. maybe Amano’s just cutting out the middleman, since Shiori’s going to be the one interpreting it anyway.

The Empress card. The empress is Demeter, apparently. Shiori does her thing, and the summer-lightning crackle says: harmonica, stamped on; schoolboy running down school corridor; school, weathercock outside the window. Again, Serizawa looks like he might possibly be taking something in– but then Café Owner pops down and points out that Shiori’s late for work. Serizawa’ll give her a lift, because… he doesn’t want anyone else to be hurt because of him? Mate, she’s only late for work. Or– wait, you mean something might happen to her on the way. Got it.

They make their farewells out the front of the library, and I’m feeling a distinct lack of Naruse recently. Oh, wait, I’m not any more! There he goes, walking his slow decisive way, away from the library. He’s greeted: he bows, domo’s a greeting, and makes a polite grimace that implies that actually he doesn”t have the time for this. But I do, Naruse! I’ve missed your face.

Serizawa’s all “oh do you know Shinitani? because she’s the one who killed my friend,” and Naruse’s all “my condolences, ironic platitude ironic platitude, but do you know you just… totally blurted out details of a case in the middle of the street, again?” Or maybe it was me who said that. Then Serizawa does his whole ‘i am def going to catch this murderer’ thing and lopes off, twisty-faced but a little closer to satisfied. Naruse is left to stare through the window at Psychic Librarian Shiori. There’s some twinkly piano and some flashbacking: look at her smile! listen to how high-pitched she gets when she’s nervous! she totally fancies you! surely you can’t want to hurt her!

He does look a little conflicted, bless him. Oh, Naruse, I really have missed your moon face. You may not have the Emperor Augustus’ nose but your expressions are so much more interesting.

Serizawa’s back at the office, reporting to the chief. This time, maybe Shiori’s being targeted. Or maybe – just a thought – Amano was letting you know that he’s on to your use of ~*psychic imaging*~ through the lovely medium of a flowery-bloused librarian.

“We have to protect Shiori,” the Chief says, “go quickly,” and hands him a photo of Shinitani and daughter. wait wait it was only yesterday evening you were pointing out that Serizawa’s no use as a detective because he’s too close to the case. And now you’re letting him on back because… he’s close to the case? Whattttt. And where did you get the photo from?

Scene change: Woman-beater Sōda is bowling cheerfully along the street like a man who presumably hasn’t heard that his Loan Shark friend is dead yet – or maybe that wouldn’t stop him? Still: he looks inside a bookshop and sees a poorly-dressed man (upon whom the camera lingered in a past episode). It’s someone called Yamano-chan! Sōda goes up and grabs at his shoulder because, you know, that’s polite.

It’s been such a long time: since middle-school! It’s always middle school. Yamano’s still as dorky-looking as he was back then! And he’s clutching his bag strap like he would rather be anywhere else than next to Sōda. So, I suspect, would I. He tries to muscle out of the way but, well, no muscles. Plus, Sōda’s pretty skilled at hanging on to people who don’t want him there. As Yamano’s trying to get away, Sōda finds that he’s carrying a manuscript belonging to one Kōsen publishing company, for whom he presumably works.

Big Brother’s wife has dropped in at the office in the Serizawa hotel to serve tea and cake for her husband and her tertium quid. Presumably she enjoys the awkwardness? She makes eyes at Kasai in the least convincing manner I have ever seen on TV. I have no doubt that if this adultery subplot was in the Korean original, it worked really well there. Korean dramas are really quite good at portraying adults having mature relationships. But it’s… it’s not one of Japanese dramas’ strong points. Ah, you may ask, but what are? Right now I’m really not sure.

Well, they’re good at making Sōda dislikeable, that’s one. He has only to turn up at the door and I’m tense with irritation. Kasai wants him to go away, since boss and boss’ wife are both there: Sōda, one suspects, never does what Kasai asks. He wants to talk to the boss! He’s going to talk to the boss! ‘sup, Big Brother, it’s been a while. Giz a job.

The wife is pressed against the wall, out of Sōda’s sight: Kasai runs around, hiding evidence of her existence: the photo of boss and wife on the desk. They should really be playing this one for laughs.

“Don’t be absurd,” Kasai says, but Sōda lounges and cranes his neck with luxurious ease. “Absurd, I guess,” he says. And the Bad Dye Job is in the room! Kasai greets Serizawa’s dad with his usual flippancy.

“We’re working,” Dad says, and gives him some money. “Go home.” It’s about ten man, so, five hundred pounds. That’s… that’s quite a lot of money to have just lying loose in your jacket breast pocket. Didn’t dad have a wallet in the previous episode? Continuity, guys. Big Brother is not happy, though probably not because of the continuity question.

“Oh, that wasn’t what I came for,” Sōda says, cheerfully, like the lying liar he is. “Excuse me,” and breezes on out.

Kasai apologises: Bad Dye Job mutters about how the dregs of society will always be the dregs. Also, Kasai should choose his friends better in future. But– nakama! Kasai’s stuck with Sōda until one or both of them die, that’s how it works. The friends you choose in middle school, like the mistakes you make, are things you can’t get rid of. Isn’t that the message of this drama?

Serizawa’s asking after the Shinitanis in toy shops. It’s nice to see him go off on a wrong tangent for once, rather than mysteriously guessing right on the first try all the bleedin’ time.

Univerity Graduate rings. Nothing particularly revealing in the house, but she did hear something odd from the landlady: Shinitani’s rent, which she’s been defaulting on, got paid today, half a year’s worth all at once. Her rent? Yeah, and by Naruse. That dude gets everywhere.

Serizawa headlongs away. Behind him pokes out a little head: it’s poorly-dressed Yamano. He is so excited he can’t make his face stay still.

Serizawa arrives at Naruse’s office, not at all out of breath. All that running clearly must be paying off. Is Naruse in? Oh, he’s mid-interview – indeed, there’s a woman sniffling, loudly enough to be heard through the door. Serizawa’s a maverick! He doesn’t care for your clients’ privacy! He bursts right in! …and of course it’s Ms Shinitani. Who doesn’t look like she’s been crying at all.

Would Ms Shinitani like to come along to the station for questioning? PS this isn’t really a question.

“Let’s go,” Naruse says. Serizawa looks startled! The soundtrack goes whooosh! Breakbeat panic! Why is this supposed to be surprising? He’s a lawyer. She’s in his office. What else is he going to say.

Just this: “I”ll defend you.”

They’re in the interrogation room and Serizawa is, no surprises, being totally unprofessional. Yes, address her as ‘anta’! Yes, use your Loan Shark’s given name and not his surname! Oh for heaven’s sake just get out of the room before you get done for police brutality. Naruse tells her not to worry and just to tell the nice detective the truth. So she does:

Her daughter went missing. Perviously, Loan Shark had threatened to take her daughter away if she didn’t pay up, and so she thought he was behind it.

DON’T LIE!!, says Serizawa. Oh, shut up. The Chief asks why the loan shark died, then, and Naruse nods a go-ahead. From her bag, she withdraws… a gun? Except it’s made of plastic. It’s a tear gas spray. In the shape of a gun. Whattttt.

It came in an express delivery from someone she didn’t know. Logically, she pocketed it.

Aha! says Serizawa. So you took it, knowing of Yōsuke’s asthma, in order to force an asthma attack and kill him with it!! (whaaaaaaaaat)

…No. She had no intention of killing him.

Then why did she take it to his office? (Actually, Serizawa shouts it, but I’m bored of writing in all caps.) (get out of the room, Serizawa)

She was worried: she thought, if something happened to her, she could protect herself with it. All she could think of was getting her daughter back.

Yōsuke wasn’t the type to kidnap children!! (get Serizawa out of the room, Chief.)

Naruse chooses this moment to intervene, in his calm and infuriating way: calm down, he says. Did you really know everything about Loan Shark? Everyone has a hidden side to them. My dramatic irony alarm bells are going off all over the place.

Serizawa sits down and we resume the interrogation: Ms Shinitani went to Loan Shark’s office. They argued: she saw the teddy-bear that looked just like the one her daughter had been given by a stranger. So she assumed that it must have been Loan Shark who stole her daughter away. She took the fake gun out of her handbag, aimed it. Where’s my daughter? she asked.

it was patently obvious that it was a fake: he pulled at it, said “don’t threaten me with a toy”. In the struggle, she sprayed tear gas at him. He collapsed, choking: she grabbed her bag and ran.

Does Serizawa understand? It was just an accident. Justified self-defence. Oh, Naruse, it’s always justified self-defence with you.

Serizawa looks angry: Naruse looks bland.

In the detectives’ office, University Graduate brings back the fingerprint results on the tear gas toy. The victim’s fingerprints are clearly present. They’re not going to be able to make a case out of this. Serizawa slams the table with both fists but, for once, keeps his mouth shut.

Outside the station, Ms Shinitani thanks Naruse for his help. Oh, all Naruse did was prove the truth. Serizawa runs out to ruin everyone’s good mood. The truth isn’t proven yet, he says: not until whoever manipulated Ms Shinitani has been caught will the truth even be known.

So catch him, Naruse says. That’s your job, isn’t it, detective?

Ahh, it’s a bait too far, and Serizawa’s off again. Shout shout shout, shake shake shake. Two people have been killed! If Naruse’s clients avoid trial then he thinks everything’s fine! Is that justice?!

What’s your version of justice, then? Naruse asks. Everyone’s idea of justice is different. And he goes, and takes Ms Shinitani with him. Smugly.

Are we in the church? There’s a Maria-sama statue, and Psychic Orphan Shiori is carrying a little futon, with which she covers up little Sora. Sora’s just fallen asleep, she tells Naruse and Ms Shinitani as they enter. Naruse informs Shiori that they’ve been able to settle it at justified self-defence. Oh, that’s good!, Shiori says.

It’s not good, says Ms Shinitani. What’s she going to say to Sora? Such a nice girl, the daughter of a murderer, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

You’re not a murderer, Naruse says, it was justified self-defence. But Ms Shinitani disagrees: the law can say what it likes, but it doesn’t change the fact that she killed a person. She’s grateful to Naruse; but she can’t forgive what happened. She despises the person who made her kill someone.

Naruse’s throat works: he could be feeling remorse or just feeling sympathetic.

A little later, the sound of sopranos: Shiori is in church, in a pew, praying. Naruse comes by and watches her pray– you know, even at my most religious, the thought of people watching me pray still filled me with a mortal terror. It’s just creepy. Also it makes you worry that you’re praying just for the sake of people watching, which is something the Bible is fairly roundly against.

“Is something up?” he asks. Has he been here at all? Everything is up.

“It might be my fault,” Shiori answers, like a good Catholic girl. Up until now, she’s kept quiet, but… and, looking at the floor, she explains her ~*psychic abilities*~ which, we may have forgotten, consist of reading afterimages associated with objects related to a crime. She’s worried that her readings led the police to get confused and protect the wrong person, and therefore led to Loan Shark’s death, to Ms Shinitani becoming a murderer.

“My priest said that such a strange power was a treasure given me by God,” she says. Is that normal? I can’t help feeling that a priest, even a priest of wtf catholicism, might not be overly sanguine about ~*psychic powers*~. Even in the magical realist world in which psychic powers exist. Also, while I’m at it, I don’t believe they look particularly kindly on the tarot. They’re not even that fond of divination by Bible, time-honoured Christian tradition though it is.

Right, back to suspension of disbelief. “I always though it was too,” Shiori half-whispers, “but. But it’s not from God, is it. It must be an evil power, from the devil.” See, that’s what I’d expect a priest to say – well, more along the line of a wicked delusion, but. Naruse looks sad: pity? remorse?

Shiori apologises, because crying in front of people is unforgivably rude. She feels like she’s a tool of the devil, like the devil is inside her. Naruse, in that slightly embarrassed manner of someone who’s not all that good with crying, gives her a handkerchief. It’s black. Oh, Naruse, you utter goth.

If Shiori is the devil, he says, then the world is nothing but devils. That’s… not actually very comforting? He knows where the devil is: the devil is in another place.

(that other place is his darkroom)

Ms Shinitani and Sora are walking back home, presumably on the same night. Serizawa’s lying in wait: he’s got something he’d like to ask Sora. What sort of man was she with, in the playground? She doesn’t remember. Sulkily. And then Ms Shinitani sweeps her child up into her arms. Give it up, she says. going so far as to ask the child–

See, maybe if Serizawa had had any skills at interrogation, that might have gone even a little well. Or maybe not. As Ms Shinitani unlocks the door, Sora looks over her shoulder and sees a figure out, in the distance, to whom she waves. She makes a peace sign: the figure makes a peace sign back. It’s Yamano.

Funny, isn’t it, how similar the names Yamano and Amano sound.

Serizawa hits a tree in frustration. Surely there’s a police gym somewhere with proper punch bags (no, not suspects. the other kind of punch bag.). He falls to his knees and apologises to Yōsuke. Apologise to the tree, man!

Summer day scene! A girl, holding a basketball, wanders along, into a yard. Sharp intake of breath, stare of horror. And with a gasp Shiori wakes up. She even wears peasant blouses in bed (blue gingham). Her tarot cards are scattered on the table: she picks the Empress/Demeter card up again.

And continues looking at it at the café’s bar, now dressed for work (white blouse with ruffly sleeves, hugely loose yellow sleeveless dress over it). Serizawa bursts in with a jangle of the door, but this time she actually called him over. She’s thought of something – a reason why the Empress card was sent to her. The card has the detail of daffodils, signifying the voices of the dead: it was sent to her, to identify her as the advocate for the dead.

I… guess that might make sense? I mean, in the magical world of drama where people have psychic powers and murderers use intensely elaborate symbolic MOs in order to persecute one man into death by either confusion or spleen rupture.

While they’re having this conversation, we watch Naruse takes some more lilies to his mother’s grave, and stands up. I can’t read this expression: tender? blank?

Shiori also thinks she’s worked out where that weathercock was: quite near the church. And so they take a drive. We cut between an almost aerial view of the car and Naruse staring down at the view from the cemetery.

Shiori gives directions: Serizawa starts to look uneasy. On either side are students in school uniforms, on their way somewhere. Stop here, she says, and they screech to a halt and clamber out of the car. She says ‘there it is!’ and he looks up, unwillingly. There’s some shoddy jump cuts at the camera closes in on his face. It’s his middle school.

He stumbles forward a little, then steadies his walk to a normal pace – normal, but slow and jerky. Very different from Naruse’s glacial glide. I do like how their characterisation extends to their gait. We cut to him walking through a corridor – wait, is this morning? why is no-one in the school? why is it open so any old random can just walk in of the street? – and he’s still looking lost, worried. The memory of a boy runs past him at a panicked pace; the memory of three cohorts fall into line beside him. He swivels his head, this side and that, as if he can really see them, as if he’s checking they’re there and appalled to find that they are. And then the three walk forward, and in front of him appears their fourth – Serizawa the schoolboy, flanked by his gang, in slow and inescapable pursuit of their prey. The adult Serizawa follows with dragging steps: Shiori appears behind and it’s as if she can see it too. Though, really, you’d think that any school would come with a thick miasma of bullying memories, too busy to tell apart.

Naruse looks down on the world, face of stone.

Serizawa’s still following a memory, out of the school and down to concrete again. He ends up in some sort of workshop, warehouse, round the back, rusting barrels and old steel frames. Close-up of the sweat on his face, the white of his eyes.

How all things weave themselves into the whole–

The dead lawyer Kumada, who got him off on a technicality; the teddybear and the gun that wasn’t; Yōsuke’s asthma attack. The tarot cards: atonement, misdirection, the voices of the dead. Boys, knife, death. Terror, and running away. A broken harmonica. Justified self-defence.

Serizawa falls to his knees, breathing hard and frightened. Shiori walks up behind, and immediately flashes into child-Shiori, holding a basketball. She remembers the place, too.

From his cemetery eyrie, Naruse continues to stare at the city below, face curled into the merest hint of a sneer.

END

dudes, dudes, that was awesome.

next episode: naruse is elliptical, serizawa comes clean about his past to someone, some old creepy dude is old and creepy at both our protagonists, nsruse goes hospital-visiting.

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Responses

  1. yes it was

    how do you do this. i mean… do you write after watching each episode (the style is kinda like live blogging) or you have already watched a couple of episode in advance. sorry. i’m just curious :P

  2. seriously: i keep getting annoyed at plot ridiculousness, overuse of flashback, ikuta toma’s shouty breakdowns, etc, but sometimes this drama is just fantastic.

    How do I do this: I have seen some but not quite all of Maou already (i tend to wander away in the middle of dramas and come back for the final two episodes, because i’m an awful person), and then I sit down with an episode in vlc and type type type frantically. And pause a lot to appreciate Ohno’s face, or maybe to work out what the bejesus they were actually saying in that bit. So it’s liveblogging but I’m pretty much fully spoilered (oops).

  3. also: hi!

  4. This mechanism of stacking what looks like fairly unrelated nonsense all on top of each other until it all falls down on Serizawa screaming “self-justified defence” is pretty well-planned of Naruse! I suppose the darkroom helps you concentrate.

    I look forward to the Clothes Show post of Shiori’s varying blouses.

  5. YES: I think my favourite thing about japanese MYSTERY dramas is how every crime is a Heath Robinson device of implausible omniscience. You sit there and think ‘but but but what if he hadn’t got on that one train? what if there was a power cut? who would think this up‘ (ans: a manga writer with nowt better to do).

    the clothes show post might be put on hold while i re-download the previous episodes i had to delete due to file-management idiocy. ^^;;

  6. I have plenty of photos from POTATO magazine which can hold us over on graphics posts for a while – I hear you on the file management idiocy though. *laughs hollowly*


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