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Friday, April 26, 2024

"Akai Meiro" drama, episode fourteen 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. Which hasn't happened yet through ten shows but her role is becoming slightly more important.

 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. Jun was arrested again in the sixth episode for Taeko's murder but near the end of episode eight was released. The key bit of evidence had been his work helmet but according to the Forensics Unit it had been tampered with and who is trying to frame Jun?

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. No longer as in episode ten Oyama will now be the leader of Masato's criminal lab and will take all of the credit!

 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 combo clothing factory and store. They had been in Yukiko's family for decades but had fallen upon hard times, Hidehiko has worked hard to make it profitable again.

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? By the end of the eleventh show is doesn't appear so but it also seems as though an unknown man is trying to protect Egami from the police and Masato.

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.


 Ryoko Nakano who plays Kyoko(above) in this drama was quite an attractive woman. Though this show aired over fifty years ago she looks better than most women I post about and in 1978 won an award for having the best lips of any Japanese actress! Before I publish a post double check everything for errors and I find many! But by doing that have noticed how much this drama has changed in fourteen episodes, for the first eight episodes the main story was trying to find the killer of Taeko. But then the main theme turned to keeping the secret of Akiko's birth parents under wraps but I preferred the murder angle. In this episode most secrets of Akiko are now known to all and the second half of this show seemed like Taeko's murder will now become the focus of this series again which I hope happens. You can read all about those things in this recap and am now fairly sure of the time period. When the last episode ended thought it was around January 5th but early on in this episode it was mentioned it was a few days before New Year's so the show began off we'll say on December 28, 1974 and by the end it was about January 4th, off course 1975.

 Sure you read the above recap so don't have to go into all that much detail on how it ended. There was a Christmas/New Year's party thrown for Akiko at the Snack Village shop which turned out to be a disaster for Akiko received a bouquet of flowers with a note saying Taeko wasn't her real mother! Akiko fled the shop in tears and ran to a nearby park and had been followed by her father Masato. There Akiko asked who her real mother was and received no answer from Masato, she quickly ran home and locked herself in her bedroom. Arriving at Masato's house was his trusty assistant from Towa University Kyoko, plenty of screenshots of her above and there's still been no romance between the two! Masato said he had no clue on what to say to his daughter, Kyoko told him not to worry as she knows what to do and for a while Kyoko had been telling Masato to let Akiko know the truth about her past. Which Masato has never done as he wanted the secret kept under wraps for eternity but it's too late for that. Kyoko talked to Akiko through her closed bedroom door and did admit that Taeko wasn't her birth mother but it was Yukiko Sakurai, Akiko had a string inkling that was the case.

 However Akiko felt her father had an affair with Yukiko in 1958/9 but that was far from the truth, he may not have even known about Yukiko way back then. Here's where it got tricky for Kyoko but she is quick witted, Akiko wanted to know who her real father was but Kyoko couldn't let her know it was Egami. Akiko has never heard of him, least not yet, he's still on the lam for a 1959 murder and Kyoko didn't want to reveal that fact. So she quickly made up a story of her true father being a sailor and had perished in the South Seas before Akiko was born, you could hear the violins playing(!) and though far fetched Akiko seemed to believe it. So for now Akiko is partially satisfied with her past and why her mother Yukiko had to give her away to Masato and Taeko. But later Kyoko was telling Masato about the conversation, while that sailor story worked at the time what's going to happen in the future as the truth would probably be revealed. Masato said not to worry about that at all, he was impressed with that story and told Kyoko whatever happens in the future will be his responsibility. 

 Even though most of the main characters now know about Akiko's past it still remained the focus of this show but towards the end the murder of Taeko was brought up again. We haven't been seeing much of the prosecutor and Masato's best friend Yanagida in the past few shows. He had just one scene in this episode which was the second screenshot above, he told Masato he quickly needs to break down this 'wall' that has now developed between him and Akiko, the sooner the better. So later on Masato did ask Akiko about wearing a kimono that her mother Taeko had planned to give her for New Year's hoping that would break the ice. It didn't work at all, Akiko was in tears when she saw the kimono and fled away so Masato is at a loss on how to regain the trust of his daughter. It's finally New Year's Day and Kyoko did ask Jun if he wanted to go out, in Japan that's a huge day for so many. But nothing much happened on this 'date', Kyoko did look smashing in a kimono but admitted she hated them. Also hating them is Jun and he said probably because his family had owned a textile factory and shop. 

 That factory and shop in name is now owned by Jun's sister Yukiko, the real mother of Akiko. But it's Yukiko's husband Hidehiko who manages everything, he didn't marry Yukiko for the money for at the time the factory was losing money but Hidehiko brought it back to profitability. The strain of everything had really been affecting Yukiko, at the end of the last show she was whisked away to the town of Hakone by Jun to recover. Four days later Yukiko returned home and had a very informative talk with her husband Hidehiko. Yukiko did tell her husband he was right about one thing, it is true she had a daughter almost sixteen years ago and it's.... Akiko! That Hidehiko didn't know plus he presumed the child she borne was Masato's but that was an error. Yukiko told him the father's name was Masaru Egami, he worked for the family textile company but was fired when he began to date Yukiko. Without a job Egami took to being a criminal, during one robbery it all went wrong so that's how he ended up murdering a woman back in 1959. Yukiko wants so badly to live with Akiko, if Hidehiko will grant her a divorce she'll sign the company over to him! Which is an act Hidehiko doesn't want to see happen, he thought what can be done to reunite his wife and Akiko?

 A less than sober Hidehiko arrived at Masato's house that night for a serious chat, bet most men in Japan during the New Year break are also much less than sober! Hidehiko admitted to Masato he was wrong about his thoughts of him and his wife having an affair but the main topic he said is about Akiko. With Yukiko being her real mother it's only natural that Akiko should come and live at Hidehiko's house, wonder what the laws were at the time about a situation such as this? Of course Masato turned down that suggestion, he'll never give up Akiko without a fight but did say one very wise statement. In about two weeks Akiko will be hitting the age of sixteen, she should be able to make her own decisions about the major things in life so Masato said let's have Akiko decide where to live which Hidehiko seemed to agree with. Which Masato brought up with Akiko right after Hidehiko left, her answer did surprise him. For Akiko stood thinking for a few seconds and replied she would have to think things over first! That stunned Masato who figured Akiko would have said she didn't need to decide anything, Masato was her father and always would be! So a dazed Masato left the house to mull things over, he ended up at his school Towa University which is closed for the holidays. 

 But Masato was able to enter through one open door, probably left open by the cleaning crew. He went to his classroom and was berating himself for letting the situation get out of control, why didn't he know his daughter Akiko better? Masato was about to head back home when he passed a door at the school which was locked but there was a man there rapping on the window. This scene is in the above screenshots, to Masato's shock the man was Egami who wanted to have a brief talk. It was hard through a closed door but Egami had only a few seconds, he told Masato he had nothing to do with his wife's murder. But did know who did though just as he was about to reveal the identity there was a sharp noise on a nearby stairwell, a man had tailed Egami to the school and he was a sitting duck talking with Masato. So Egami fled away, by the time Masato reached the open door and went outside Egami was nowhere to be found. But there was another man outside, not the Mysterious Man chasing Egami but Jun!!!! Who told Masato he had been tailing Egami which was why he was on the scene but some doubts crept into my mind. Jun claimed he didn't see this other man following Egami and how could that be? To me it seemed a bit odd that Jun was there and why hadn't he cornered Egami before this, more puzzling thoughts for the endless list of them.

 Jun did tell Masato leave Egami to him which Masato agreed to, Jun has had better success than him at finding the man plus Masato does have Akiko to worry about. While that had been going on Akiko had paid a visit to Yukiko's house, needless to say she was stunned but in a good way for did that mean Akiko wanted to live with her?. Akiko told Yukiko she needed to 'test herself' but didn't tell her real mother why. We viewers know why as after what Akiko told her father about needing time to make a decision about where to live this was a test to find out if she did want to live with her real mother. Akiko is about two weeks shy of turning sixteen in age but she's grown up quite a bit in three months. She realized just because Masato and Taeko aren't her birth parents doesn't mean they're not her true parents if that makes sense. Both have loved and cared for Akiko for so long, not being with Masato would break her heart so during this brief encounter Akiko decided she would always live with Masato but didn't come out and tell Yukiko that.

 On her way home Akiko stopped at Kyoko's apartment, I'm kind of wondering why doesn't Masato have his eyes on Kyoko for to me she'd make for an excellent new wife and mother for Akiko. At first thought Akiko was going to ask to spend the night but instead it was to ask Kyoko to help her fit into Taeko's kimono that was mentioned early on. When Masato retuned home from that brief encounter with Egami he was taken back when he looked at a radiant Akiko which you can see above. Masato did thank Kyoko who soon left, as I said why isn't he noticing her so much more? This turned out to be the first happy ending to an episode but there were still ten seconds to go. In those ten seconds the phone rang, it's happened quite often at the end of a show and every time it's been bad news so will the next show open up with Masato answering the phone? Don't know as I haven't viewed that episode yet, the next pair of recaps will be in four days and have been maintaining a regular schedule.


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