It is going to be a busy sleuthing winter this 2012 with all manner of detectives (eight if we count Aibou and Kasouken no Onna which are running for two consecutive seasons). From the bumbling countryside detectives investigating wasabi field murders to North Asian snoops hunting an unknown enemy hell bent on sabotage.
Leaping into this fray is Fuji TV’s Strawberry Night, an adaptation of Honda Tetsuya’s best-selling mystery novel about Assistant Inspector Himekawa Reiko of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s First Investigative Division. The only female team leader in the division, she has cracked baffling cases and risen through the ranks with unusual speed even though she is not on the career track.
Takeuchi Yuko who plays Himekawa describes her character as “strong-willed and tough but not ruthless”. “Reiko has many scenes where she barks at her team ‘Don’t think you can make a fool of me!’ and I used tremendous energy. I played my role with the sentiment that even a female can persevere so that I would not lose out to all my male co-stars and drag the production down.”
Nishijima Hidetoshi stars as Kikuta Kazuo, one of the idiosyncratic subordinates of Team Himekawa who has a romantic interest in her. “Himekawa is a princess to Kikuta so even though he is a step behind her, he will protect her with his own life when there’s danger.” He jokes that he lacks sleep because he had watched Strawberry Night against his better judgment after receiving the final version of the DVD three days ago. Nishijima had plunged right into Strawberry Night after Boku to Star no 99-nichi which has been performing dismally in television ratings as well as viewer reviews.
Strawberry Night will be broadcast every Tuesday at 9.00 p.m. from 10 January.
I am loathe to say that the reaction of audiences to Boku to Star no 99-nichi is justified because I think that an actor of Nishijima Hidetoshi’s calibre deserves better. But the potential of the drama was spoiled almost from the very start by shallow characters, weak storyline and dialogue as well as silliness that the network tried to pass off as comedy, while I hoped against hope that the stars would somehow align and make it a sweet, fluffy romantic drama. May he have a better time in Strawberry Night! That said, I’m only pinning my hopes on Shokuzai for the winter season.