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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

"Akai Meiro" drama, episode three 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?

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.

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.

 Sure there won't be any filler to this series as there hasn't been any yet but 26 episodes does seem like quite a few for a murder case. Been zipping right along with this drama though you wouldn't know that, wrote this up on March 26th but you probably won't be reading this until three weeks later. The goal was to have 6-8 of these recaps written up before I began to publish them but with a bit of luck may be able to get to ten. Not much more to muse about this show but did just add in three new minor characters plus the previous recaps. Think most episodes will have a thrilling conclusion, the second show did as it ended with the police arresting the prime suspect for the murder of Taeko Yuki!

 In the top and bottom two screenshots is Yusaku Yanagida who seems to me to be the most level headed and dependable person in this drama. He's a prosecutor, also Masato Yuki's lawyer and best friend, Yanagida had put the pressure on the Setagaya precinct to find Taeko's killer and fast! Which they did as Yanagida reported to Masato in that top screenshot, the man arrested was Jun Tsuzuki. Masato does know him as Jun is the younger brother of Yukiko, she's an enigma and did Masato once have an affair with her? Jun is even more of an enigma, he holds such a grudge against Masato and perhaps his entire family but why for now is unknown. The young girl above is Akiko, the fifteen year old daughter of Masato and perhaps the most popular J-Pop Idol in the history of Japan! Akiko is going through such a rough period, it doesn't help that she's a young teen whose emotions change with the wind but add in that her mother was just murdered and she's suffering badly. Right above her father Masato was asking Yanagida about that, is he missing/lacking something with being a father?

 Akiko had overheard a bit of that call from Yanagida, she mumbled above even catching the killer won't bring her mother back and she wants to see the culprit killed too! That was said in the last episode and it did startle Masato who is still very suspicious of his wife Taeko's activities. After not seeing her for three years because of being in America could she have begun an affair? If so was she at that motel where her murder took place with this man and Akiko can't believe her father is having those kinds of thoughts, more on them later. Also will have more about Jun later on, at the Setagaya precinct he's been keeping his lips sealed and is really frustrating the two detectives on this case. Even as Yanagida told Masato the case at this point against Jun is very weak, they did find his gloves outside the motel in Kawasaki but there's very little concrete evidence to go on.... for now.

 Jun's sister Yukiko did visit Masato at his office to discuss Jun, is she Masato's ex-lover, friend, mother of Akiko or something else? I am very curious about what Yukiko's relationship has been with Masato, she did grow up with his deceased wife Taeko but the pair did drift apart. Masato didn't have much to say to Yukiko, he's not a detective so he has no clue if Jun is innocent or not which I feel Masato truly believes. Masato needed to return to work, so far we've only seen him and his new assistant Kyoko Sonoda interview one criminal in three shows but that may be changing. As said a few times already Kyoko is a very prying woman, especially when it come to the affairs of Masato and she followed Yukiko when she left Masato. Her destination was Jun's apartment, she was going to feed his new goldfish but by then all had died. Kyoko entered the shabby apartment and the pair did have a brief chat with Yukiko claiming Kyoko thinks her brother is guilty of killing Taeko. 'Not so' replied Kyoko who thinks he's innocent though never gave any reasons for that. Yukiko does have an unknown heart condition, she had a minor attack during this scene and was rushed home by Kyoko, for the first time we met Yukiko's husband Hidehiko Sakurai who I don't think will be a major character.

 There doesn't appear to be much love between the two and Hidehiko does seem to be much older. But deep down he does care a bit for his wife as he suggested Yukiko check into a hospital for her condition and don't think she will. Hidehiko did meet briefly with Kyoko to thank her for helping Yukiko and he did tell her about her heart problems but being a criminal psychologist what could Kyoko do? Hidehiko seems to own some sort of clothing factory and he didn't make an impressive impression upon Kyoko. Meanwhile at the Setagaya precinct Jun is still getting grilled endlessly by the pair of detectives, Jun isn't saying much of anything but there is now more evidence against him. Though it's not a full time gig Jun will work on occasion at a subway construction site, the day of Taeko's murder he did go into work at 2:00 pm which was a rarity. But Jun left soon after and never did work, right after his departure is when a white sedan was stolen in the vicinity and was the car found at the motel Taeko was killed at. Plus outside the motel were work gloves someone dropped, wouldn't think Jun would be so careless and the gloves had soil from the subway site, to all of that Jun never gave much of a response.

 That man in the top screenshot is named Goro, finally learned his name in this episode. While not an important character there are many scenes at the snack bar he owns, Masato and his wife used to be frequent visitors. After leaving Yukiko's house Kyoko went to the snack bar and began to ask more questions about Jun, Masato and his family. Goro is Jun's best friend and asked why does Kyoko keep prying into other people's affairs which she never answered fully. Also making a comment about prying which you can see above was Masato, Kyoko had told him that she had visited Yukiko and the snack bar. Masato wasn't irate but you could tell he wasn't happy with Kyoko playing 'detective' but work interrupted that conversation. However work was also interrupted for Masato as he had received a call from Yanagida who was at the Setagaya police station, Masato's daughter Akiko was there and had almost been run over by a car! It was only about 1:00 pm and why wasn't Akiko at school? Since her mother died Akiko has been shunned by her friends and everyone keeps whispering when she's around, about her or whether her mother Taeko was having an affair?

 Akiko couldn't take that treatment so left school, not to go home but to roam the streets. Unknown to her she was being followed by a woman in a white car, it was Yukiko and is she keeping tabs on Akiko for she's Yukiko's real daughter? While Akiko was walking down a narrow street a car did come zooming by and if Akiko didn't dive away she would have been history. We just saw a split second of this car and to me it looked like a bluish color, not the car Yukiko was driving but not 100% sure of that. A police officer was nearby, when Akiko wouldn't give any answers to his questions she was brought down to the Setagaya station. Where the prosecutor Yanagida happened to be, he called his best friend Masato who rushed down with Kyoko. Akiko was still silent and for the first time we did see Masato get a bit angry with anyone, he usually is a master of keeping his emotions under control. That shocked his best fiend Yanagida who suggested he just bring Akiko home, nothing more could be done about the incident. At home Masato did apologize to Akiko and perhaps the strain of everything is even catching up with him. In another shock Akiko too has been wondering about her mother Taeko, she's like her father now where she's thinking could her mother possibly been having an affair? Even if that happened Masato did say they should still cherish her memory and just think of Taeko's many positives.

 Think every episode will have an intense ending, this one did and that conversation between Masato and Akiko was broken up by a phone call. It was from the prosecutor Yanagida, he told Masato that Jun had fully confessed to the murder of Taeko!!!! That shocked all including his sister Yukiko, that's her in the third screenshot above. Though the pair don't appear to be that much in love her husband Hidehiko said he had hired a lawyer to represent Jun, that was a surprise to Yukiko. But just because Jun did confess that doesn't mean things went smoothly, actually the opposite took place. There were many details Jun couldn't tell the detectives about the crime that only the true killer should know about. For instance what did he hit Taeko on the back of the head with? After some stammering Jun replied that it was an iron vase, that wasn't found in the motel room so what happened to it? Once again Jun's answer was 'I don't know', many other questions weren't answered properly so the police are thinking is Jun's confession on the up and up, is he lying, protecting someone such as his sister or was there another reason for this confession?

Sure that the prosecutor and Masato's best friend Yanagida would be leading the court case against Jun, he's a bit upset that this case may not be able to go much further which he let Masato know about. There is another possibility and that's of Jun not being fit to stand trial, he certainly seems sane to me and the police but his new lawyer is demanding that Jun have a psychological exam which he was entitled to. And of all people who should the lawyer pick to lead the testing but.... Masato! That would put him in a no-win situation and Yanagida is fully aware of that. He strongly recommended Masato back off from the case but as the episode came to it's final few seconds Masato said NO, he can remain open minded about testing Jun which will supposedly begin in the next show. So that situation is what ended this fine episode, does seem a bit early in the series for Jun to be accused for murder but we'll see how that works out in the next recap which is the following post and haven't viewed it yet.


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