Priceless (プライスレス) stars Kimura Takuya-san (木村拓哉) as Kindaichi Fumio, a salary man who suddenly finds himself with everything taken from him – mostly at the whim of his bosses but also somewhat due to bad luck – and on the street without a penny. How does this happen? That, and what becomes of him immediately after his doomsday, is the subject of this episode.

The show begins at the bedside of a dying man – the founder of the Miracle Thermos company, Oyashiki Iwao (Nakamura Atsuo). With him are a number of men in suits, including his son, Toichiro (Fujiki Naohito).

Iwao has a private word with Toichiro, saying something that makes Toichiro’s eyes grow wide with surprise . . .

. . . and after Iwao dies, the managing director wants to ask Toichiro about the new company president,  but Toichiro asks about Kindaichi. Does that mean Iwao had named Kindaichi company president?

The scene turns to Kindaichi at work, as he calms panicked assistant Enomoto (Fujigaya Taisuke) – they’re late for a business meeting, and have to humble themselves to make it up to a potential customer.

Kindaichi clearly knows how to lure customers in – knowing that this particular meeting was with a fishing fanatic, he had stayed up late at night to prepare a lure (literally).

But the assessment from the director speaking to Toichiro is less flattering.

So we’re getting two conflicting views about Kindaichi. One thing is certain, though – he’s a baseball fan. So much so that he paid 140,000 yen (about $1750) on a player’s uniform. That’s not trivial, since it was a trait old Iwao shared. It also means that Kindaichi is short money this month.

Despite that, he still treats Enomoto to a soda.

The director continues to explain why Kindaichi is worthless. Turns out, it’s because he hasn’t risen through the ranks despite being with the company for a long time and despite charisma. Because Kindaichi lacks ambition, he’s considered worthless.

The director adds that Kindaichi is more excited about playing on the company baseball team than with work.

Then, by chance, Kindaichi enters the elevator with Toichiro and the manager, allowing Toichiro to see Kindaichi’s behavior first-hand.

This doesn’t seem to make Toichiro any more favorable towards him.

In a scene reminiscent of anime, we meet Moai Kengo (Nakai Kiichi), whose single salient trait is that nobody notices that he’s there.

As Kindaichi walks out, Toichiro makes the announcement about his father’s passing. He claims that his father’s dying wish was that Toichiro should take over the company. Why do we get the feeling that this is a lie, and that it was going to go to Kindaichi instead? Well, Iwao should have known his son better than that, and instead have announced it loudly instead of to Toichiro alone. As it was, Iwao basically condemned Kindaichi.

We get to see Kindaichi with his girlfriend Yoko (Renbutsu Misako). I wonder how this relationship will turn out once he’s a bum on the streets?

Saying goodnight to Yoko, Kindaichi spots a pair of kids – Marioka Kanta (Maeda Oshiro) and Marioka Ryota (Tanaka Kanau) – who put on an act to get some money from him. Instead of giving then just the 300 yen they ask for, though, he gives them 500.

He feels good about it, but it leaves him short of cash.

The next morning, the 100 yen coin he needed for the parking meter slips and falls into a grate. He decides it’ll be all right.

Entering the office, he doesn’t receive the customary greetings and it looks like everyone is shunning him.

Basically, he is accused of stealing a USB drive with company secrets. Of course, we know that this is all a plot by Toichiro to get rid of him, but events move so fast that he has no way of protecting himself against being framed. The whole company has already been turned against him, and he’s immediately dismissed.

He gets Moai on his side, and Moai tries to stick up for him, but his superiors threaten to fire him, too, so he has to back down.

A crowd of employees seems to gather specifically to murmur accusations against Kindaichi and to draw him into a fight that will get him into further trouble. He falls for it.

Released and given his belongings, he heads back home, but before he gets there . . .

Now, how did that happen? Don’t tell me Toichiro’s that vindictive (just to be clear, he is). Anyway, cue the title sequence!

After that, he continues to walk around with his belongings. He eventually gets a call from Enomoto – apparently, there’s a rumor that he committed suicide through the gas explosion in his apartment.

Just as he’s asking Enomoto if he can stay at Enomoto’s apartment, he contrives to lose his phone.

This . . . was a bit hard to credit. He tries to use a phone booth to call Enomoto, but he doesn’t remember the number correctly, and loses that coin in the process.

Once again, he sees the guy collecting cans pass by, as an ominous sign of where he’s headed.

I think the situation is basically set, so I’m not going to go through every step of his descent (especially his dire need of a beer and later a cigarette). He ends up camping for the night under a tree in a park with other homeless people.

A homeless guy takes pity on him, and hands him some cardboard as a blanket, saying that they don’t need him dying there. Turns out cardboard can really warm you up.

I love the overhead shots as he sleeps and wakes up.

Back at the office, we get more insight into another character – Nikaido Saya (Karina), who’s in accounting, collects figurines, and spends her lunches trading.

Kindaichi decides to smoke a cigarette left half-smoken in an ashtray by someone else, and while he does, he sees the Marioka brothers pulling their normal trick to get 300 yen from passersby.

He tries to get his 500 yen back from them . . .

. . . but ends up telling his story. Before he can demand his money back again, his stomach growls.

They take him to get some free food – the equivalent of a soup kitchen in the park.

Afterward, he helps them with their work – harvesting some plants. He’s not very good at it, though, because he doesn’t know which ones are good.

They sneak him into a kids’ soccer team locker room to get a shower. He’s a bit slow at this point, though, not catching onto their sense of urgency.

He cluelessly wonders if there’s a place they can get free beer.

Actually, they take him to Grandma’s place. Grandma (Natsuki Mari) lets him stay at her place – a boarding house for people in a similar situation (the standard price is 500 yen – a definite bargain for a roof over your head in Tokyo).

In the office, it looks like Nikaido has stumbled onto something in the finances – a trip that Kindaichi made to Osaka on the day he supposedly stole the USB drive. For now, she thinks that the trip was a fake.

Back at Grandma’s place, Kindaichi wonders what Ryota is looking for in the park late at night. Turns out it’s a bulldozer that his father had given him. Kindaichi has a similar attachment to a signed baseball. So . . . does this mean he’ll help them find it?

I think I’ve done enough summary on this one – I’ll leave the remaining third of the episode to your enjoyment. Will he help Ryota get that bulldozer? Will he get suspicious about how he ended up in this state, or will Nikaido get suspicious on his behalf? Well, his main struggle for the rest of the episode is: can he find a way to afford the 500 yen price to stay at Grandma’s place for another night?

The interesting scenes keep piling up, though, as Kindaichi tries everything to get some coins, including checking the change tray at vending machines, picking them out of fountains, *gasp!* trying to pick one out from the donations at a temple. Surely this can’t be the way he makes his 500 yen, right?

This was a great episode. Honestly, one of the reasons I was slow to pick up the series was because I had a feeling that all I could say was “everything about it is wonderful.” And . . . well, I decided to go ahead and say it anyway.

The role of Kindaichi is one that Kimura-san is naturally meant for – it suits him perfectly. Even at his most charismatic, he has an everyman sense about him that makes it easy to relate to what he’s going through. It’s always very easy to see things through his eyes.

The supporting cast is without fault so far – especially Nakai-san as Moai. It’ll be nice to see what they do with the characters of Nikaido and Enomoto. It’s a bit weird that girlfriend Yoko hasn’t been involved in his descent, but I guess they weren’t that close yet. There are signs that she’ll have a part to play in the future, though.

This was an extended first episode – an extra half hour – and they made use of all the time. There were no wasted scenes. The tricky part of the story in this episode was depicting Kindaichi adapting to his new poverty, and that was handled with perfect smoothness.

So, no worries. Thanks to Rollins for the excellent subtitles.

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