HBO’s New Japanese Crime Drama Worthy of Its Title

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The HBO Asia original “Miss Sherlock” debuts this Saturday in the U.S.

Yuko Takeuchi stars as a brash, unconventional private eye in the crime drama “Miss Sherlock,” available in the U.S. beginning Saturday. (HBO Asia)

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Arts & Entertainment

By no means would I ever label myself as a connoisseur of detective shows, but I’ll readily admit to a fair amount of gleeful satisfaction when walleyed Columbo turns around and utters his signature line, “Oh, just one more thing…”

The new offering from HBO Asia promises those kinds satisfying “gotcha” moments, and is just offbeat enough to make it stand tall on its own.

“Miss Sherlock,” the new Japanese eight-episode series about a brash, unorthodox Tokyo private investigator, pulls weight not only from the name of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth, but also from giving its protagonist a persona totally incongruent with the norms of her business and culture.

Yuko Takeuchi stars as the self-absorbed, British-born title character, who has been nicknamed Sherlock for initially unrevealed reasons. She lost both her parents at a very early age, and has been emotionally detached from everything and everyone around her ever since.

She has no qualms about setting about an investigation by her own methods, whether that means grabbing sensitive evidence with her bare hands, running into witnesses’ homes with her shoes on, or even peppering a widow with questions while her still-warm deceased husband lies between them on an examination table.

Sherlock’s unwitting and entirely unexpected crime-solving partner is Wato Tachibana, solidly played with swings between shock, disgust and emotion by Shihori Kanjiya. She is a talented medical school grad who has just returned from a volunteer mission in Syria, but has abandoned her desire to be a physician.

Wato-san (get it?) is greeted at the airport by her favorite med school professor, only to have him perish before her eyes, the victim of a frightening internal explosion.

Enter the heavy-handed Sherlock at the request of Police Inspector Reimon (wild-haired Kenichi Takito), and after a local junkie suffers the same fate, the race to solve the mystery is on.

Sharp-eyed fans of Japanese pop music will also recognize Ran Ito, one of the members of the legendary 1970s アイドル group, Candies.

Beyond the strength of its updated iterations of the famous characters, “Miss Sherlock” benefits greatly from a brisk pace and some entirely unexpected dialog. As a viewer, it’s tough to decide at first whether we admire Sherlock or wish she would simply keep quiet – uncertainties that Wato certainly wrestles with.

Co-produced with Hulu in Japan, the eight-part series is HBO’s first Japanese original. It is among several programs from international partners of HBO, and will be available to U.S. subscribers beginning this Saturday, on their flagship network, as well as on demand.

Visit HBOAsia.com for more details.

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