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Saturday, April 20, 2024

"Akai Meiro" drama, episode ten 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 never happened but in the fifth episode did learn that Masato isn't the true father of Akiko, who is? The answer to that is in the bio of the final character.

 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 nine 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.

 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?

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.

 Way back in the first recap said my goal was to have 6-8 of these posts written up by April 11th and then would begin publishing them. Wanted to get well ahead of myself as this is a 26 episode story so didn't want to have long gaps between the pair of recaps. Have smashed that goal to smithereens as the date is April 4th and am up to the tenth episode so may begin publishing sooner than expected, got so far ahead of the pace as this has been one superb show to date and have become hooked on it! That previous episode had quite a cliffhanger as Masato is now being blackmailed, he was ordered to bring five million yen to a park for this creep or else the secret of Akiko would be revealed. But the blackmailer never appeared but later told Masato to instead deposit the money into one of his accounts. My thinking at the time was if Masato did that how would this man have access to the money? Well guess what.... this blackmailing was never brought up in this show!!!!!!! WHY WOULD THAT BE???? Seemed like it would be such an important part of this murder mystery and was it just forgotten about by the writers? So wonder if Masato did pay off this blackmailer and hopefully what took place will be explained in a future episode though this one for today had many more twists to the story.

 The lead detective's name investigating the murder of Masato's wife Taeko is named Sakazaki, he works for the Setagaya precinct though the killing took place at a Kawasaki motel. The prosecutor and Masato's best friend Yanagida let Sakazaki know that a culprit from a 1959 Kyoto killing has resurfaced in Tokyo, the statue of limitations to nab this man named Egami is only three months away. So Sakazaki has enlisted the help of a detective who originally worked on the case, his name is Imanishi. The pair questioned Masato about Egami, if he's never met this killer how does he know about him? Masato replied he had seen his photo in a recent magazine but that didn't satisfy the detectives, what is Masato not revealing and could Egami have known Taeko? To that of course Masato answered NO but we don't know yet if this man Egami had been trying to blackmail Taeko for after all he is the birth father of Akiko. Who the detectives wanted to also interview but Masato firmly put his foot down on that request, he's terrified that Akiko may discover him and Taeko aren't her birth parents. There have been some odd calls to Masato's house, as he told Akiko sternly above if there is a weird call to hang up immediately and Masato is really been under some intense pressure lately.

 A character who is key to the story and who I really like a lot is Masato's best friend, the elite prosecutor Yanagida.. But we only saw him in one scene this show and Masato was telling him how talented Akiko has become at painting, she's thinking of going to an art college. Artistic talent is often hereditary, Masato and his wife had no talents in that field which is another thing that's bothering Masato. If he's so worried about Akiko's safety and how she might discover the secret of her birth parents Yanagida suggested she get police protection but Yanagida refused that, then Akiko would know something very dangerous/mysterious was in the air. At Towa University Masato's newish assistant Kyoko is also worried so much about Masato, she now knows of Egami but not the fact(yet!) he's the father of Akiko. We didn't see much of her in this show either or at least until the end, Masato always has the most screen time but had even more in this show. Later on that day at his neighborhood shop Snack Village Masato did bump into Jun who had been arrested twice for the of murder of Taeko but he had nothing to do with her killing. Masato thanked Jun for picking up the painting Akiko had dropped a few days before, thought she had kept that a secret and Jun doesn't appear to hold a current grudge against Masato.

 In the top screenshots above the pair of investigators paid a visit to Yukiko's house, also in the scene was her husband Hidehiko who we don't see often. We did learn a bit about Egami's past in this scene, also the next one. When he was living in Kyoto during the late 1950's Egami was a very talented artist and designer who had worked at Yukiko's family's textile shop. But Egami was fired in 1959 and it was probably because he began to date Yukiko though she denied knowing the man so this interview also went nowhere for the detectives. However Hidehiko knows his wife well, he saw how she tensed up when seeing a photo of Egami and did she date him all those years ago? Yukiko denied that also and told her husband perhaps it'd be better if they got divorced though had no good reasons for that request. Hidehiko has had some suspicions that his wife may be having an affair with Masato, of course that's not so but also Hidehiko has no idea that Yukiko is the mother of Akiko! Listening to this conversation from around the corner was her brother Jun, he has no place to stay so was spending a few nights at the house. Jun was furious with Hidehiko, so much that he decked the man with an uppercut and stormed out of the house!

 Since his second release from jail for the false murder charge Jun has had nowhere to live plus hasn't been able to get any construction jobs though that may be by choice. When this series began it was late September 1974, it's now early in December and it doesn't get all that chilly in Tokyo as many scenes are set outside. It's a Sunday and Akiko is out at Kasuga Park with her unnamed friend practicing painting landscapes. She's becoming quite good but a passerby said she could use some tips to make her painting look even better, that man is in some screenshots above and below. Of all people it happened to be Akiko's real birth father Egami so he does know he has a daughter! Though he did kill a woman fifteen years ago Egami is a very talented artist, he did give Akiko some solid suggestions and all in all acted like a decent person. While that was taking place Jun paid a visit to Masato's house, he even asked if he could spend the night for he had nowhere else to go! Masato was naturally a bit leery about that but the pair did discuss Egaami, both are on the hunt for him so why don't Jun, Kyoko and Masato team up to find him? To that offer Masato was also a bit leery but he's not having much success working solo, Jun admitted he's not sure why he wants to find Egami so badly but when he does he may know the answer then.

 Jun did ask where was Akiko as it was a Sunday, Masato then remembered she went to the park to paint but she's an hour late coming home, the time was about 2:45 pm. Jun remained at the house while Masato dashed to the park to find Akiko, she was nowhere to be found but did find one of her paint brushes on the ground.... could she have been kidnapped???? Masato is usually so composed and level headed but with all that's been happening in his life is beginning to jump to conclusions, Akiko wasn't kidnapped but she easily could have been. Instead she had left the park with Egami and the pair did have a very pleasant conversation though he revealed so little about himself. But he did note that Akiko showed much potential as a painter, if the pair should ever meet up again he'd like to continue teaching her. By now it was early evening, being December meant it was already dark plus it was chilly. So for a farewell gift Akiko gave Egami her scarf that she had knitted, he was touched by her kindness and ambled away. During this scene Egami did seem to be a decent man, he had been in the past but things got out of hand when he had lost his job working at Yukiko's family's fabric shop. It is true Egami did kill a woman during a robbery in 1959 but have a strong feeling it was purely accidental, sure more about the crime will be revealed in future shows.

 Masato never did find Akiko at the park and rushed home to call Yukiko, perhaps she had taken Akiko to her house? No she didn't and being in a frantic state Masato told Yukiko that Akiko may have been kidnapped! Of course not and listening secretly to the conversation was her husband Hidehiko, he's now sure that Yukiko is having an affair with Masato! But during the call who should pop out from the kitchen than Akiko, Masato looked at her in amazement and hung up the phone. From the living room Jun said she had called and he went to escort her home, Akiko is safe and sound but Masato was more furious than ever with his daughter. So much that for the first time ever he slapped Akiko and that stunned her to no end, also stunned was Masato who told Jun then that he had to leave the house. Masato did apologize for his actions and Akiko seemed to take it in stride, she hadn't been a responsible person and could understand why she was slapped. As Jun was leaving he noticed a man outside the house, he gave chase but it being dark the man disappeared. But when Jun went back to the house in the mailbox he noticed a note that had been stuck in it, the bottom screenshot above. For the second time someone had put a note saying Masato isn't he true father of Akiko, Jun kept the note and more on it very soon. In the house Akiko did tell her father about the man she met, it's true he was a stranger but such a nice person too. Of course Masato wondered if it was Egami and Akiko asked could the man have any connection to her mother's murder?

 This is setting a record for the longest recap of this series, didn't seem it while watching the episode but so much did take place. After leaving Masato's house Jun headed to Kyoko's apartment, he asked if she could step outside for a talk and surprised she didn't invite Jun in as I thought a romantic encounter may take place! Jun showed Kyoko the note about Masato not being Akiko's birth father, putting together all the clues they've discovered the pair have correctly deduced that Jun's sister Yukiko is the true mother of Akiko! But odds are close to nil that the father is Masato, Jun was positive the two never had an affair fifteen years ago. So could that mean Egami is the father of Akiko, that we viewers know is true but what can the pair do with their discovery? At that moment Jun realized that Akiko is his niece, is that why's felt the urge to protect her? **** I also began to wonder more about Egami during the second half of the show, for some reason it doesn't seem he could have had anything to do with Taeko's murder. Don't think he was nowhere near Masato's house when that second note was left in the mailbox, just a a feeling I have about his possible innocence. 

 The following day Masato met up once again with Yukiko and showed her the painting Akiko had done in the park. Egami had added a few lines on it to show Akiko how certain things are done, Yukiko knows Egami's style of painting and said it was definitely him who had met up with Akiko at the park. Yukiko then pleaded once again for Masato to let her see Akiko, perhaps it'd be for the best if she began to raise her herself! Of course to that Masato gave a firm NO and that ended that scene as Yukiko just won't give up her dream of getting Akiko back. The final scene took place back at Towa University, Kyoko did meet with Masato but didn't reveal to him any of her and Jun's discoveries. The show ended with Masato giving a class lecture with the main topic being why do we pay so much attention to the crimes a criminal has done but not the suffering of the victims? That's a topic that hasn't changed in fifty years and Masato was right with his thoughts as that brings us to the end of this long recap but did need to go into more details about things, next pair will once again be in three days.

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