Monsters is a comedic mystery series starring Katori Shingo-san and Yamashita Tomohisa-kun as police detectives. Young detective Saionji Kousuke (Yamashita) has to keep tabs on the more eccentric Hiratsuka Heihachi (Katori), and find evidence of Hiratsuka’s wrongdoing while Hiratsuka uses methods both ethical and otherwise to solve cases.

We begin with Saionji’s girlfriend (played by Yanagihara Kanako) seeing an interaction between Saionji and another woman and apparently misinterpreting it.

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Saionji notices, and decides that the best way to make it up to her is to propose that they get married. To ensure the success of this plan, he tries to book a particular table that reputedly brings that kind of fortune.

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Unfortunately, when trying to make the arrangements, he finds out that the places is all booked up – he’ll have to wait for someone to cancel.

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In the lobby, people are preparing for a major cooking competition between traditional chef Maruoka Ryuujiro and experimental chef Shijo Atsuhiko.

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I get a bit worried when people seem to be pitting science against tradition, making tradition seem well-grounded while science is flashy and rebellious (leather jacket and all) when the opposite is usually true. But, that’s more of an American battle than a Japanese one, so I didn’t think they were going to push that line too far here.

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Saionji bumps into Hiratsuka – literally:

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The head judge for the competition is Ogawara Rokuro, who is the only one who knows the theme for the cook-off – the main ingredient that Maruoka and Shijo will have to use. Ogawara seems to be good friends with Maruoka already, which makes sense since Maruoka has been the cooking champion for many years now.

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Clearly, Hiratsuka already sees this as a situation where a murder is bound to occur.

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Later, we see Maruoka at his own place receiving a call from Ogawara’s wife, who thinks something has happened to her husband.

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They arrive at Ogawara’s Cooking Academy . . .

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. . . and find Ogawara murdered.

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The police arrive on the scene and Kaneda (Endo Kenichi) wisely takes note of the scent on Ogawara’s cell phone.

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Hiratsuka is even more interested in the taste of the food and the bin of sour cream sitting beside the stove:

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Ogawara’s wife present the police with a threatening letter that her husband had recently received.

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They also find Shijo’s bracelet on the crime scene, which means he absolutely cannot be the culprit.

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When Hiratsuka finds a piece of writing that seems to attack Shijo’s methods (according to Maruoka, though his explanation of it is a bit faulty), that basically clinches it. There’s no way Shijo is the murderer.

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Naturally, this means that the police will arrest Shijo, and treat him as the primary suspect:

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Which only leaves one possibility – Maruoka has to be the murderer. Now, it’s just a matter of method and motive.

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Oddly, we already have the majority of the clues – the sour cream, the scent on the cell phone, and the timing.

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As Hiratsuka and Saionji question Maruoka, the likely murderer plays coy and doesn’t seem to give much away when Hiratsuka asks him to cook the same dish that was left at the murder scene.

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The labs come back with the result for the scent on the cell phone, so Saionji gets the task of finding out where the plant in question grows:

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I’m not going to go any further in describing the investigation, and there was very little of interest otherwise. Except at the end where we get the resolution of the situation between Saionji and his girlfriend, as well as a little scene between Kaneda and the chief, there wasn’t any character development in the episode, nor any revelations about Hiratsuka.

The case was boring. We knew the culprit and, on the whole, the nature of the case and the arc of the investigation was too similar to the past two episodes. In episode three, we had two mystery writers competing over a prize, just as we have two cooks competing here. There, too, a third character was killed, one writer became the lead suspect for the police, and the other was Hiratsuka’s target. Episode four had two doctors competing for a position, both trying to undermine the other. And just like in this episode, the person murdered was the one with the power to decide their fates.

The writers are proving themselves extremely lazy in this series, attempting to get by with minor variations on the same basic story. It’s almost as if they haven’t really read many mysteries before attempting to write these. Just the simple expedient of having more than one suspect would be a big improvement. Having more than one murder, or another side crime that appears to have nothing to do with the case, but actually does, is also fair.

Most important of all, though, I at least hope that the next episode does not have anything to do with professional competition, since the past three – and possibly the past four episodes since episode two was about a political campaign between two individuals – have been about exactly that. Even if the whole series is about the professional world (and I don’t know if that was supposed to be part of the premise), there are other ways to construct the mystery than to have two suspects who are in direct competition with each other.

To date, none of the actual mysteries has risen to the level of the one in the first episode, even though they’ve made more time for it by cutting out most of the goofy comedy.