When Takahashi Erika, a former spy for the Intelligence and Research Office, retires from the job to marry a man who has a young son, she thought she had left the spy business behind, but when a former associate comes to “ask” her to take part in his new detective business, she has to balance her happily married life with her secret spy life and try to take care of both her family and her clients at the same time.
The series, which aired in 2011, is made up of 13 half-hour episodes. In each, the detective agency takes on a case and Erika has to employ her super secret spy skills to infiltrate various organizations to search for clues, making sure she’s home in time to take care of her husband and step-son, Koutarou. But what happens when her husband is about to discover her secret and her boss just might be a traitor? Well, that’s why we watch the series, isn’t it?
The series stars Kuriama Chiaki, probably best known as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill, but she’s also been in movies like Ju-On, Battle Royale and in the series Ataru. Sugimoto Tetta plays Tokuka Soichi, Erika’s boss, has been in such things as Mr. Brain and some of the recent Security Police specials. Toshihide Tonesaku plays Erika’s clueless husband, Ryousuke, and has been in such shows as Ataru, Lucky Seven and Iru Sosa 2.
Now the mysteries themselves aren’t bad, even though they have to wrap things up in a half-hour, it’s just the surrounding story that is so utterly unbelievable. Erika’s husband is a complete and total wimp, even after he becomes suspicious of Erika vanishing all the time, he’s utterly apologetic for daring to doubt her. And what of Erika? She’s got to be the worst liar in history, she keeps making blatantly ridiculous excuses for where she’s going while she’s being a spy and can’t understand why everyone can see right through them. It makes me wonder what she told her husband about her past, why she can’t just borrow something from that story instead of the endless pretend meetings with her step-son’s kindergarten mothers. There was never a doubt that the husband would suspect her, it was only why it took him so blasted long! Besides, it seems like Erika simply started existing when she met her husband, the kid asks her for pictures before she met them and she can’t produce any. So she was a spy 100% of her time, her entire life? She had no friends? She had no life outside of the spy biz? It just left me shaking my head. The whole suspicion thing was totally contrived, I have no idea why she didn’t just tell him early on what he found out at the end, that she had a part-time job. Wow, problem solved! It was so dumb.
Even the final mystery, that Erika’s boss might be a spy, selling secrets to the enemy, was pretty weak, we knew he didn’t do it and it was even pretty obvious early on who did. After that, it was just a kidnapping plot to get through and everyone is home free. Most of it was telegraphed well in advance, which makes this series a bit less than satisfying for a hard-core mystery fan like me.
That doesn’t make it bad, the acting is top notch most of the time, although as I said, Ryousuke is a pretty dead fish and one of the biggest wimps I’ve seen in a J-drama in a while. It just wasn’t one of those shows that dragged me back to keep watching, that probably explains why it took a couple of weeks to get through all 13 episodes. I just kept finding other things that looked more interesting.
There is a lot of action and it’s generally well choreographed and that is one saving grace of Himitsu Chouhouin Erika. I just wish there had been more to it and more compelling story to wrap around the episodic cases. For that reason, Himitsu Chouhouin Erika gets: