As if I don’t have enough to watch, I went looking for what some people considered the “best” detective J-dramas and came across this series from 2005. Since it was available and sounded interesting, I grabbed it and after having it sit in my massive “to watch” list for a while, finally got into it. It’s about the granddaughter of an incredibly rich man who becomes a police detective at a station that considers her a rich little girl, but this girl has some skills.
It might be an older series but we can’t let that stop us as we look at this 10-episode series called Fugoh Keiji.
Fugoh Keiji, also known as “The Millionaire Detective”, tells the story of Kanbe Miwako, the granddaughter of super-rich Kanbe Kikuemon, as she takes her first steps into the world of crime. She is placed at a male-dominated police station where her upper-class attitudes and complete disconnect from the real world often gets her criticized by her co-workers. However, she has a very good eye for solving crimes, even if her methods are unusual.
It’s those unusual methods that really never grabbed me in this series. Her ideas always require absurd amounts of money, something the police obviously cannot fund, but her grandfather can. His largely unexplained past apparently involved a lot of criminal and other questionable activity to account for his riches and now that Miwako is a detective, he wants to pay his dues to society by using all of his money to fund her investigations. Of course, the police are less than thrilled by all of this but realize that they cannot close cases unless she throws tons of money around. Now this may not be a bad hook for the series, if she evolved over the course of the episodes into being a good detective without needing to buy her way to victory but she never does. Every single episode involves throwing millions of yen at the problem and all of her co-workers complaining about it. It never changes, she never evolves, it gets old fast.
The other plot point that comes along pretty early on is that her grandmother (I think, it’s never really explained) is convinced she’s only being a detective because she’s fallen in love with someone on the force. Apparently, a woman can’t actually want to be a cop without some love interest involved. Miwako starts to think about it and thinks she’s fallen in love with a handsome investigator, even though he has never once given her any reason to think that he’s interested in her. By the end of the story, it’s revealed that he’s the big bad guy and this really has no impact whatsoever on Miwako. It was a pointless plot thread that fizzled out and shouldn’t have been included in the first place.
The cast isn’t bad, I think they all did the best they could with what they were given to work with. Fukada Kyoko stars as Miwako. She’s been in a couple of movies like Ring 2 and Yatterman, plus guest starred on Galileo, but she seems to prefer more romantic roles than detective ones. Her grandfather was played by Natsuyagi Isao. He died in 2013, but he had been in Meitantei no Okite, Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo and Aibou 5. Then there was Suzuki Kazuma, who played Saruwatari Tetsuya. He’s been in Kagi no Kakatta Heya, MR. BRAIN and Tantei Gakuen Q.
I wrote in another recent J-drama review about tropes, how you can use them to spoof a genre. They do not do so here, although almost every episode is constructed the same way. Miwako bids farewell to her grandparents, who both gush that she’s such an important crime fighter and are afraid that something bad might happen to her. She goes to work where the mystery of the week is revealed, nobody has any good ideas until she speaks up, “Can I say something for a moment”, in which she outlines an outrageously expensive plan for solving the crime. The police reluctantly agree. She asks her grandfather for his support over dinner and he’s only too happy to give his money to buy his forgiveness for his past crimes. The plan goes awry, Miwako ends up in danger (how someone with absolutely no physical skills can be a detective, I don’t know) and she is rescued and the case closed. Her chauffeur comes along and takes her away, amidst the cries of her coworkers that she hasn’t been dismissed yet. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There was a second series in 2006 but I’m not going to go looking for it, this series just didn’t impress me at all. It could have, we could have seen Miwako grow and change, we could have seen her grandfather earn his redemption, we just didn’t. It was an interesting premise, it just didn’t have an interesting outcome.