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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

"Akai Meiro" drama, episode eight of 26 recap


 Air Dates: October 4, 1974 until March 28, 1975... Friday nights at 9:00 pm on TBS/Daiei
There's 26 episodes that are 46 minutes in length, this series is also known as Red Maze
 Once again the subs were done by GEO9875, fifth series I've recapped by them. This is the first of a long running RED series, there were a few more dramas and some TV specials.
The average rating for the drama was 18.9% with a high of 22.7%.

Main Cast: Thanks again to GEO9875 for doing the subs for this series, another classic that has been revived. This could prove to be a challenge for me and may write up 6-8 recaps before publishing any. The recent series I finished "Abunai Deka" had 51 episodes but all were stand alone stories. This drama is one long 26 episode story so don't want to have long gaps between the recaps, every now and again do need a break so that's where the challenge will be. Am writing most of this up after viewing two shows, know there will be much editing to the character's bios and a few new ones may have to be added in. But I am looking forward to this series and it has started off strongly, except for a pair of Sentai shows this is the oldest drama I've viewed. 

 This drama has such a strong cast, so many were stars at the time or became one. Ken Utsui is the older man above, he sadly died ten years ago but what a terrific actor he was. Playing his wife who died early on was Akiko Koyama, she'll be turning ninety this year and have seen her in so many older films, she was so classy and attractive. Momoe Yamaguchi needs no intro as she may be the most popular Idol in the history of Japan, recommend reading up on her. Yusaku Matsuda died at the age of forty in 1989, he was a star actor but could be known more for being the father of two current popular actors Ryuhei and Shota Matsuda. Some others in the main cast are also known, will talk about a few of them in future posts. Below on the left is Takeo who was killed at the end of the first episode, on the right is her old friend Yukiho and could that conversation be the key behind everything that will take place?

 Ken Utsui as Masato Yuki.... A psychiatrist who has just returned to Japan after spending three years in NYC as a college lecturer/professor about the minds of criminals. In Tokyo Masato works at Towa Medical University Hospital, he's the leader of a new section called Laboratory of Criminal Psychology and Medicine. Masato's wife was Takeo who was murdered early on, he's the father of the next character Akiko. He seems to be a calm and collected individual but does Masato have a secret past, such as did he have an affair with Yukiko? That is still unknown but in the fifth episode did learn that Masato isn't the true father of Akiko, who is?

 Momoe Yamaguchi as Akiko Yuki.... Masato's fifteen year old daughter who is a freshman in high school. She's also the daughter of the following woman and a major question is if Akiko is truly Taeko's daughter, will be doing much editing for this character.

 Akiko Koyama as Taeko Yuki.... Though she was murdered at the end of the first episode still have her in this section as Taeko is so important to the story. We will be seeing her in flashbacks as the main story is finding out who was her killer? While Masato was in America a huge question is was Taeko having an affair, she acted so secretly upon his return. Another puzzle for now is if Taeko is the birth mother of Akiko? No and that was revealed in the fourth episode but Taeko had raised her since birth.

Yusaki Matsuda as Jun Tsuzuki.... Jun is 26 in age and is currently unemployed, he had been a construction worker. He's the younger brother of the below woman, something unknown(for now) happened in Jun's past which has made him so dour and unsociable. At the end of the second episode he was arrested for the murder of Taeko but personally think he's innocent. In March 1971 his then girlfriend Fujiko had been raped and murdered by a middle aged man. Masato had done the evaluation on this man who he deemed unfit to stand trial which would be Jun's motive if he is the actual killer of Taeko.

Aiko Nagayama as Yukiko Sakurai.... Jun's older sister who is married but it seems to be a loveless marriage. Yukiko also has a few mysteries surrounding her, one is did she have an affair with Masato before he went to America three years ago? She had grown up with Taeko but the pair did drift apart, because of the affair? Or perhaps something else such as I'm thinking that Yukiko is the birth mother of Akiko!!!! The two women hold a very dark secret and have for fifteen years, that happens to be the age of Akiko! **** In episode five it was revealed Yukiko is the true mother of Akiko, the father's name is Egami who killed someone fifteen years ago and is still on the lam.

Ryoko Nakano as Kyoko Sonoda.... New clinical psychologist in Masato's criminal unit. Kyoko seems to be such a nosy woman but also very competent at her work, she is very attractive and wonder if she has set her eyes upon her leader Masato? Yes she does which many have noticed though not Masato, Kyoko had attended a university in Germany.

 Makoto Sato as Yusaku Yanagida.... Prosecutor who is also Masato's lawyer, advisor and his best friend. The pair have known each other for decades and Yanagida seems to be a real decent man who is also trying to solve the mystery of Taeko's murder, that's him on the left below. He too once had the hots for Taeko but lost out to Masato though it never affected their friendship.

Masaya Takahashi as Professor Oyama.... He's Masato's superior at the university and don't know much about him to to date but he doesn't seem to like Masato and may not be trustworthy. That's Oyama on the right below, he cares more about the college's image than his own staff. In the fifth show some anger had arisen with the university staff because of Masato doing the evaluation of Jun, in a surprise Oyama has his back and will stand up for him.

 Here's a few others of the cast who we see now and again though don't have huge roles.

Goro Oshi as Goro Murai.... Owner of the snack bar seen often and Jun's best friend. Goro is also good friends with Misaki who visits his snack bar often and we do see him briefly in each episode. Misaki is a photographer and though not knowing Masato seems to dislike him immensely.

Goro Tarumi as Hidehiko Sakurai.... Yukiko's husband and owns a clothing factory.

Isao Tamagawa as Sakazaki.... Lead detective for Taeko's murder case.

Toshiaki Nishizawa as Masaru Egami.... We first learned of him at the end of the fifth episode. Over fifteen years ago he had been dating Yukiko in Kyoto and had gotten her pregnant. In March 1959 Egami had robbed and murdered a woman, since then he's been on the lam but is the.... true father of Akiko!!!! Many who knew of Egami thought he was dead but has now resurfaced in Tokyo, why as the statue of limitations ends in less than four months and could be have been involved in Taeko's murder?

Previous recaps.... May be difficult to read many of them but if you've been following the story there would be no need. However much does happen in each show so don't have the time to explain everything that has taken place up until this point, some of the above is very informative but reading a few of these would definitely help.

 That's how the last episode ended, Masato and his daughter Akiko were discussing the unknown diary that Taeko had kept. Both had found and read quite a bit of it, in it she was quite flattering to her husband and daughter though of course most know that Taeko isn't the true birth mother of Akiko. Also in the diary which was never discussed in this show were phone calls Taeko had received from a mystery man who had been threatening her. Taeko only referred to his man as A and could he be a key to her murder? Who knows at this point and as we go along there really is no prime suspect, it may no longer be Jun and you'll read why in this recap. On a side note sure most recall who Aya Ueto is, when she was in her teens she looked so much like Momoe and guess you could call that a compliment. Her character of Akiko has been key to the story, least about her birth though her role hasn't been all that important or large but have a feeling that may be changing. 

 Though Jun was arrested for the second time two episodes ago for the murder of Taeko the once strong case against him is weakening. The top few screenshots are how this show began, with Masato talking to his best friend Yanagida who also happens to be the prosecutor on the case against Jun. The main reason for Jun being arrested again was that his work helmet had been found not too far away from the Kawasaki motel where Taeko was murdered. The helmet had her blood and hair on it, Yanagida thought it was just way too convenient how it was found many days after the incident. To Yanagida he feels Jun is being framed for this murder, that's a theory which Masato has been thinking too for a few episodes. At first Yanagida thought Jun was covering for his older sister Yukuko and he just might be but said that was not the case. So the problem is if Jun is in the clear would could have killed Taeko and why? Masato felt his wife was slain by the murderer Egami who we rarely saw once again but he is so key to the story. Masato always has some solid hunches but it takes Yanagida's prosecutor skills to guide Masato along the right path.
 Egami is wanted for a 1959 murder that took place in Kyoto, the stature of limitations expires in four months so why would Egami take such a chance on getting caught after all this time? Plus what motive could Egami have, it is true he's the real father of Masato's fifteen year old daughter Akiko but the real birth mother Yukiko said Egami knew nothing of her being pregnant fifteen years ago, has he stumbled upon the secret? This was a longish scene and Yanagida ended it by asking Masato why not just tell Akiko the truth about her past, that he and Taeko aren't her real parents. There is no way Masato ever wants to see Akiko learn the truth, he'll do anything to prevent that but have a feeling sooner or later she will find out. At Towa University Masato and Kyoko's new Criminal Psych Lab has been put on ice for a while because of the uproar from the staff about Masato examining Jun. So his superior Oyama has put Masato back in the classroom for a while to teach about criminal psychology and he is a master at it. Kyoko sat in on the class and met up with Oyama after, he made a comment about her getting much closer to Masato which others have noticed too, Oyama said to forget what he mentioned but that won't be the end of his suspicions about the two.

 In the top screenshot above the man in the middle is Goro, he owns the Snack Village shop and seems like a decent chap. Who doesn't seem all that decent is the man on his right, Misaki who he's good friends with but Misaki appears to be such a creep. Intentionally he banged into Akiko as she was passing by the shop heading home from the grocery store. Misaki was so apologetic about the incident and even offered to carry the groceries home for her, Goro was quite leery of his friend's intentions. At Akiko's house Misaki did get a bit too close for comfort and that did make Akiko a tad frightened, luckily a call from Goro telling Misaki to leave saved the day. Misaki seems to have such a crush on Akiko though is at least ten years older, then again wonder if he's thinking about using her to get back at her father Masato? Anything is possible and it has been nice seeing so many changes to the main storylines, check out the third and fourth screenshots above. The third was from the last episode when Kyoko said to herself she was planning on helping Masato secretly with his investigation into Taeko's murder. In that last episode Kyoko had received a call to back away from Masato or else she would meet the same fate as Taeko!

 In this show Kyoko received another call from this man while she was at the office, the tone was the same but the man also added in to stay away from digging up info on Egami and that was the first Kyoko had heard of that name. While that was happening Masato was meeting up with Yukiko, she too wants to see Egami disappear and like Masato is scared to death that he's learned he's the real father of Akiko. Perhaps Yukiko had dated the killer at one time but that was over fifteen years ago, she's now married and has only hatred for this man Egami. The two will team up to nab this man but that's easier said then done, Egami is an expert at hiding as he's been on the lam for fifteen years. But that evening Yukiko did call up Masato, Akiko had answered the phone and how Yukiko yearns to see her true daughter. Masato quickly snatched the phone away and Yukiko had some very important info about Egami. He had called her a short time before, Egami wants to meet Yukiko the next day at noontime at a baseball stadium and it being early November the place would be deserted, much of the call was overheard by Akiko.

 There may be very little action in this series but there's never a dull moment. Masato's #1 goal at this point is to meet up with this thug Egami, one reason is he doesn't want him to reveal any secrets to Akiko if he does know he's the real father. The second and more important reason is that Masato firmly believes Egami had a hand in the death of his wife Taeko, but what motive would Egami have unless he did discover the truth out about Akiko. Masato accompanied Yukiko to the deserted baseball stadium, he hid in the wings so Egami wouldn't see him. Egami did make an appearance but when Masato leapt out the man tore away, he had at least a hundred foot head start. So Masato never did catch up to him but while that was taking place who should show up at the stadium than Akiko! She had overheard some of that conversation between her father and Yukiko, she wondered what was going on? Yukiko did notice Akiko had arrived on the scene, the pair had a very brief chat where Akiko apologized for some of the cruel things she had said to Yukiko a week or so ago. Forget those thoughts said Yukiko, the dangerous Egami was around so she quickly pushed Akiko into a taxi before she was spotted but did tell Masato after what had taken place.

 Once again the two best friends Masato and Yanagida met up with Masato confessing that he had seen Egami. But only for a split second as the man dashed away, he's such a slippery character. Yanagida is still very confused about Egami, why would he be taking such a huge chance on exposing himself with there being less than four months until his statue of limitations ends? Masato had wanted his friend to keep Egami's name under wraps but being a prosecutor Yanagida just couldn't do that, a problem could be if Egami is caught would be reveal the past secrets of Akiko? However off the cuff Yanagida did hear that Egami was working at a building site in Kajiya-cho and perhaps Masato could check that out. Which he did but Egami had quit the day before, he doesn't take the chance of being in one spot for too long. Masato did check out many other construction sites in the area but all were to no avail. Also to no avail was Yanagida's latest interview with Jun who did say he was probably framed but had no clue on who would do that. Jun has been arrested twice for Taeko's murder and guess what..... he's now been released a second time!!!! For after the interview Yanagida was called down to the forensics lab, while it was true Taeko's blood and hair were on Jun's work helmet there was no way it could have been used to bash Taeko over the head. According to the examiner the helmet had been tampered with, no doubt by the person framing Jun so Yanagida had no choice but to release him once again.

 Then again Yanagida and Masato felt sure Jun was being framed for Taeko's murder but now that he's been released there's no prime suspects, except perhaps the elusive Egami. Jun did visit his sister Yukiko after his release, we did learn the main reason for him confessing at first was to throw attention off her. Yukiko had been outside the Kawasaki motel where Taeko was killed, Jun had seen her but as of now the police have no clue about that important fact. What we viewers still don't know is why either one of them was outside that motel?! No clue what Jun is going to do now, he's been evicted from his apartment and can't get any construction jobs due to many thinking he's a killer. While Jun was roaming the streets he happened to run into Akiko and was it the first time they had been face to face? Jun seemed to know who Akiko was but unsure if she knew who Jun was, they stared at each other for twenty seconds and began along again on their merry way. However a car happened to zoom by them and splashed Akiko with dirty water, instead of stopping it sped away. Jun witnessed the entire scene and jumped in front of the car, the punks began to curse Jun out who had the last laugh as she did rough them up a bit. Jun told them they should have apologized to Akiko who was watching this incident, when it was over she gave a bright smile to Jun and headed back home. These two scenes with Jun did reveal he's not the bad person most seem to think he is.

 Only two minutes to go in the show and back at Towa University Masato met up with Kyoko, the last two episodes they haven't had much screen time together. Kyoko told Masato about that second threatening call and that the name of Egami was mentioned, who is this man? To that Masato pleaded with Kyoko to keep that a secret, when the time comes he'll reveal all to her. That mini chat took place outside, watching from his office window was the pair's superior Oyama. Who I mentioned earlier had a suspicion the two may be having an affair, when he viewed the two together think his mind is made up that it is true and how will that soon play out? With ten seconds to go in the show Masato had returned home, you can see in the above bottom screenshot what he found in his mailbox. A note saying Masato is not the true father of Akiko, was this the work of Egami? Good thing Masato found that first instead of Akiko but perhaps this sender was watching from a hidden location. Don't know the answer to either possibility as when I write these up haven't viewed the next episode but have been zooming through these as this is one compelling series! Did write this up at least ten days before it was published and the goal is to have a pair of recaps every three days so getting well ahead of myself. But will change the schedule as even though the next pair of recaps are ready to go will have hem in four days.

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