As anyone who reads my J-drama reviews knows, there are two kinds of detective dramas that are almost guaranteed to be a hit with me. You either have the straight-man cop and their somewhat off-kilter consultant or you have the detective with some kind of weird twist. Fukuie Keibuho no Aisatsu, or Greetings from Assistant Inspector Fukuie, falls solidly into the latter. This 11-episode series ran from January 14 – March 25, 2014 on Fuji TV, Tuesdays at 9pm.
This series was based on the novel of the same name by Takahiro Ookura, published in June 2006 by Sogen Crime Club. There was a movie, also by the same name, released in 2009 and this series was a followup.
The series details the career of an assistant investigator named Fukuie, who is widely disliked in her department because of her unorthodox investigatory techniques and her dogged determination. In a lot of ways, she reminds me of Columbo, especially her habit of coming back for one more question. Fukuie’s boss, Inspector Ishimatsu, sees something greater in her and tolerates her unorthodox ways because she closes a lot of cases.
To be honest, this wasn’t one of my favorites because Fukuie’s quirk, and these detectives always have some kind of quirk, is that she’s annoying. All of the cases are very similar. She shows up, often in violation of orders, immediately recognizes who the bad guy is, even if there’s no reason to think there’s ever a case, and she badgers that person or persons into confessing their crime. It seems like she just stumbles onto the right person instinctively and never lets go, even when it seems that she’s wrong. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just gets annoying when the same formula is followed over and over for 11 episodes. I never really felt that she was clever, just that she was persistent. I don’t blame that on the actress, I thought she portrayed the character very well, it’s more a problem with the writing.
One confusing touch is that at the beginning of every episode, they detail some figure from history, the story of which figures into the episode in some way, often only tangentially. Originally, I thought these historical nods might play a bigger part, I kept waiting for these characters to be brought up in the episodes but they never were. It would have made for a better series had they utilized these stories in some way, or just gotten rid of them entirely, it’s like having a medical diagnosis at the beginning of the episode and never talking about medicine again.
So let’s look at our cast. Dan Rei plays Fukuie, our oddball investigator. She hasn’t been around that long and, looking over her filmography, she seems to be in more serious and historical dramas than I typically watch, which is why I hadn’t heard of her before. Still, because I liked her here, I’d certainly follow her to similar shows in the future. Inagaki Goro, who plays Inspector Ishimatsu, has been in at least one show that I’ve liked and reviewed like Triangle. Finally, Emoto Tokio, who plays Forensics Official Nioka, who has a crush on Fukuie, showed up in Minna! ESPer Dayo! And hey, his father is Emoto Akira, who was in Wild Life, and his brother is Emoto Tasuku, who was in Saigo no Bansan, so I guess they keep it in the family. I guess this is what happens when the majority of your cast is young.
Honestly, as much as this series seems right up my alley, it isn’t all that I thought it should be. The elements are there, I don’t think they used them very well and that’s a shame because it should have been a much better, more interesting show. Sorry, but being annoyingly persistent is not a quirky character trait. Maybe I should go back and find the 2009 movie and see if they did it better there.