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Hajimemashite minna san....welcome to my site on my fave Japanese Pop Culture likes such as dramas, movies, magazine scans, promo events etc. Mainly concentrate on my faves...Risa Watanabe... Kyoko Saito... Yui Kobayashi....Miyuki Watanabe.... Nene Shida.... if you're a fan at all of any of them then you've come to the right place(!) but many others are featured here besides them. Do mainly quick reviews on things I've watched, try to make the reviews brief, quick to read through with not too many spoilers, just whether they're good or bad and why I thought so plus whether you may find them enjoyable. Many, many screenshots are included from everything I've watched plus any video trailers if they're available. Hope you find something that interests you, don't hesitate to comment, arigato gozaimasu!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

"Akai Meiro" drama, episode four 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?

 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.... Through two episodes he's quite an enigma. 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. 

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!

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?

 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.

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

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

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.

 Bit of a sluggish first five minutes but then the pace picked way up, by the end more may have taken place than in any previous episode. Did notice this series is on YT but the quality of the videos is so-so at best plus they're not subbed. So if what I've been writing has interested you do check out the GEO9875 site for this drama and there are some more oldies there I may view in the future. No rush as many are 40+ years old and the state of current dramas really pales in comparison to these older shows, let's get to today's second recap where the evaluation of Taeko's suspected killer is about to begin, I'm still not 100% convinced Jun was her murderer. **** The most key things that took place are a few of these mysteries were explained and they could be considered to be bombshells!

 Though it was his wife Taeko Yuki that was murdered in a motel room it will be her husband Masato Yuki who will be doing the psychiatric evaluation on Jun Tsuzuki. That was requested by Jun's lawyer who was hired by his sister Yukiko's husband, it does sound odd he was requested and Masato could have refused but didn't. One reason could be his pride which was mentioned later on, it could also be because Masato wants to know the full truth on why Taeko was slain. This first testing opened the show and it was that sluggish scene mentioned. Masato didn't ask any probing questions about the murder, neither did his new assistant Kyoko Sonoda. So this first examination really didn't go anywhere but we did see Jun is very skilled at getting under the skin of others. There are some screenshots above of the testing, you will see that Jun told Masato that he seduced his wife and the pair made love endlessly!

 Masato is usually a man who can keep his emotions under control, he did then and to me most of those snide remarks from Jun were false and he was just trying to rile Masato. There will be two more testing sessions that will be done in this episode, will get to them later. While that was going on visiting Masato's house to have a chat with him was Jun's older sister Yukiko Sakurai, we met her husband for the first time in the last show but didn't see him in this one. However Masato was still with Jun at the Setagaya police station, his fifteen year old daughter Akiko was there to greet Yukiko. Akiko does like this woman a lot as she had been friends with her mother Taeko for over twenty years but to me the pair had drifted apart. Who doesn't like Yukiko all that much is Masato, when he returned home he told Yukiko never to come around again and to only meet him at his office at Towa University. Yukiko has a secret that is very key to this story, Masato knows what it is and doesn't want Akiko to ever hear the details. Masato wouldn't reveal to Akiko why he doesn't care for Yukiko but later told Akiko that it's her brother Jun who has confessed to killing her mother Taeko which stunned Akiko.

 No dates have been said since the beginning of the first episode which was around September 25, 1974. In this show it was revealed that Taeko's slaying took place on October 4th, why don't we say it's about ten days later. As you can see in the top screenshot Jun is still going through much testing and he just can't see the point of it. For this latest session Kyoko met Jun alone, via her tests she's figured that Jun has an IQ of 85. She quickly told Masato of her findings and an IQ between 70 to 84 means a borderline mental disability but to all including myself Jun does seem to be intelligent and perhaps he was making himself look less smart. During these tests Jun would often have a 3-5 second flashback of him playing Soccer and he was quite good, more on that coming up. There is another person who can't understand why Masato is giving Jun a complete psychological exam and that's his superior/mentor at Towa University, Oyama who is the older man in the middle screenshots. He doesn't get a lot of screen time but I haven't liked this man from the first second, he's more concerned with the school and hospital's image than his own employees.

 It's not that Oyama thought Masato couldn't do an impartial analysis but he also wasn't 100% certain of that. He asked Masato how is this going to look in a court of law if he finds Jun competent enough to stand trial when he may not be, would it be just for revenge? Plus is Masato looking to sway the public and gain some sympathy, that could work but if it backfires this whole case against Jun would be history. Oyama also made a few other points about Masato's involvement which did make sense, he highly suggested Masato resign from this task but for now Masato said he would continue on, least for a little while. Shortly after that encounter Masato met his best friend on the the school's roof, the prosecutor Yanagida. Who did tell Masato the case against Jun isn't that strong and it may not matter how these clinical exams turn out. Most of the evidence is circumstantial and when Jun confessed was he really covering for someone? Yanagida said that may be the line the police will be taking which to him is a bunch of baloney. What Yanagida meant by covering for someone is that the police felt Jun did commit Taeko's murder but was doing it for someone else, she was well liked so who would ever want to kill her? 

 Yanagida said the Setagaya police have even more scenarios, one is that while Masato was in America for three years Taeko began an affair with Jun, why would she do that with him of all men???? When Masato returned Taeko broke it off with Jun who became so enraged it led him to murdering her, that too was another tale that Yanagida didn't think would pass in a court of law. **** Right after that is when some of these mysteries began to be cleared up, two are extremely important. It wasn't a mystery but we did learn during this scene that once upon a time Yanagida had also fancied Taeko, Masato had eyes for her too and in the end run won out over his best friend but there never were any hard feelings. The most key thing we viewers learned was that a suspicion of mine was right on the money as it was revealed that.... Yukiko is the true birth mother of Akiko!!!! When she was born fifteen years ago Yukiko hadn't been married at that point and gave her baby away to her best friend Taeko who had been recently married to Masato. No mention on who the father was and Yukiko hasn't had any children with her present husband, over the last year has she been regretting giving Akiko up? 

 That could be and is perhaps why Yukiko has been trying to get closer to Akiko. Now with Taeko gone Yanagida told Masato to watch out as she may have a claim on the fifteen year old girl, she also may use Akiko as leverage against Masato to keep Jun out of prison! Whew, sure much more will be coming up about that and very important facts were soon discovered about Jun by Masato's new assistant Kyoko. We don't know the name of Goro's snack bar yet but there's at least one scene a show that takes place there, that was Jun's main hangout. Kyoko visited there for the second time and did discover that Jun had a girlfriend but she was killed back in March 1971, it's now October 1974 so 3 1/2 years ago. Kyoko may be too nosy but she is very intelligent and did play detective on getting info about this woman whose name was Fujiko Nakane. She was an OL and had been murdered on the Odakyu Odawara train line in Kyoto back in March 1971. No one knew about that up until now and back then Jun had a bright future. He was 23 at the time and had just graduated from college where he also excelled at soccer, that's why he's had so many flashbacks of the sport. After Fujiko's murder is when Jun's world came crashing down, he was about to begin working at his family's textile factory as a manager but soon quit, since then he's also had a slight speech impediment. 

 This could be the huge break Masato has needed to get through to Jun, he immediately went to work and at first called his sister Yukiko. Who claimed she had never heard of the name Fujiko Nakane which to Masato seemed hard to believe. Masato then brought Kyoko to his archive room where he did have a file on Fujiko, that was because he had given the psychological evaluation to her killer! At the time Jun's name was never brought up so Masato had no clue until now about that era in Jun's life, the next step was to meet with him. Naturally the name of Fujiko was brought up early in the conversation and for the first time Jun did show a lot of spunk. He knew that Masato had interviewed the killer of Fujiko who was a middle aged man named Yamada, besides killing her he had also raped Fujiko. Masato felt this Yamada man had a severe mental condition and couldn't stand trial, this creep got off easy as his only punishment was probation so he never went to prison or a hospital. Hmmmm, so this could be the major motive for Jun if he truly was the person to kill Masato's wife Taeko, as of now even the police aren't aware of this incident from over three years ago.

 Jun was so irate during this questioning but he did have one zinger for Masato, if Yamada was let off so easily shouldn't that be the case for Jun now? Actually Jun became more than a little irate as he began to smash everything in the room, he knocked Masato to the ground and was about to go after Kyoko who was there silently the whole time. But Masato recovered and held Jun off, the police outside the room heard the commotion and soon dragged Jun away. Meanwhile back at Masato's house Akiko was just arriving home from school where she was met by Yukiko. Now that Akiko knows about Jun being her brother she told Yukiko never to come near her or her family again, that's how the episode ended. And what an ending that was as it was the most intense one to date, it was nice to learn such important details about Jun and Akiko though they do raise quite a few more questions. Which will be answered in future shows and though it's only been four episodes am really enjoying this series. Many more screenshots below of the action and the next pair of recaps will be in three days.

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