Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tender Hearted


"Let's dance. This is also part of the job"
"Detective Story"

My backlog on video material is in general not as bad as my games and books backlog, but there are always exceptions: today's topic had been waiting for... four years now?

Rich heiress Arai Naomi is to move to the United States in a week, and her guardian has hired private detective Tsuchiyama Shuuichi to act as her bodyguard in her last week in Japan. Naomi naturally is not happy with someone watching over her every step, but she slowly starts to get interested in the stoic, yet nice Tsuchiyama. One day, Tsuchiyama's ex-wife Sachiko appears in a panic, saying her lover was murdered in a hotel bathroom, even though nobody else had entered the couple's hotel room. Her lover had some very shady connections, and because it seems like only Sachiko could have commited the murder, both police and gansters try to get their hands on her (for different reasons). After helping Sachiko hide, Tsuchiyama and Naomi try to figure out who managed to murder the lover in a locked hotel room in the 1983 film Tantei Monogatari ("Detective Story").

Tantei Monogatari (1983) stars Yakushimaru Hiroko and Matsuda Yuusaku and should not be confused with the same-titled 1979 TV series Tantei Monogatari ("Detective Story"), also starring Matsuda Yuusaku. This movie was based on a story by Akagawa Jirou which was apparently written with Yakushimaru Hiroko as the lead in mind, who was a popular idol-singer-actress at the time (she would also play the lead in a film of Natsuki Shizuko's W no Higeki the next year). Tantei Monogatari was quite succesful; its earnings ranked second in 1983.

As it's an idol movie, Tantei Monogatari's focus lies not in its mystery plot, but in the love story between the stoic Tsuchiyama and the unexperienced, but lively Naomi. There's the attracted odd couple angle to this movie, of course, which is accentuated by the difference in length between the two lead actors. It's pretty fun to see the banter and the way the two act around each other, and while it's nothing less than a cheesy love story, I guess I shouldn't expect much more of an idol-centred movie.

The locked room murder is basically an extra. It's almost confusing why a fairly simple love story is saddled with an impossible murder story of all things: you'd think a 'simple' murder plot would have suited the atmosphere better than a locked room murder. The solution to the murder is extremely simple, but I did like how the direct hints leading to the murderer were placed in the story. And as I am writing this, I realize there's actually an inversed impossible disappearance mystery there too, as Tsuchiyama, Naomi and Sachiko have to get out of an observed apartment complex unseen at one point in the story, but again, the solution is among the most basic you could imagine. The impossible sitations in this movie all just play second fiddle to the love story's main.

Nothing to like here? Well, Matsuda Yuusaku is definitely a great actor. Yep. And I love the eighties vibe of the movie. And the theme song, Tantei Monogatari sung by Yakushimaru Hiroko is actually quite nice. But yeah, I'd never go the trouble of actually recommending anyone to watch. Tantei Monogatari. Of course, unless you're a big Matsuda Yuusaku and / or Yakushimaru Hiroko fan.

I am actually not sure why I bothered to write a review about this movie... Ah well. It is, in a way, a fairly famous Japanese detective movie.

Original Japanese title(s): 『探偵物語』


  1. I just want to know: What does Gosho Aoyama says about "Lisbeth Sanders" in the latest Detective Conan volume?

    I'm just curious because I haven't read any of the Millenium books yet

    1. I too haven't read any of the books. Here's what Aoyama said about her:

      "This time I'll introduce Lisbeth Salander, who is unique even compared to other female detectives. She's twenty-four, but looks no older than fourteen with her slim build. She wears her hair very short, has nose and eyebrow piercings and has a tattoo of a dragon on her back. She's bad at communication and anti-social... she doesn't seem like anything special, but you'll regret it if you look down on her. She's skilled in gathering information and can even find things out about people they themselves don't remember anymore. She's also excellent at hacking. She can instantly get a hold on any picture, any text through her eidetic memory. And her extraordinary insight...even the most complex puzzles are nothing more than things in a see-through box to her. By the way, her writer Stieg Larsson slept very little and only ate junk food, which might have been the reason he died so young... I need to watch out too! (laugh). My recommendation is Millenium 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

    2. Thank you so much!