In Priceless (プライスレス), Kindaichi (Kimura Takuya) is getting more comfortable as his thermos venture gains success. At the start of this episode, we see him playing around with the Marioka boys as he gets settled into his new office.

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There is work to be done, though, especially when an unforeseen equipment failure means thermos production is halted until they can muster the money for a replacement.

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Meanwhile, Nikaido (Karina) has gone AWOL, deciding that she isn’t really needed by Kindaichi.

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Requiring funds, Kindaichi makes an appeal to the person who gave him a good deal before – Hirose Ryoichi (Kusakari Masao), the father of his girlfriend Yoko (Renbutsu Misako).

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He tells them about SE Industries in Vietnam, which is sending a representative to establish a partnership with a Japanese firm. There will be a lot of competition for the contract, but there’s word that the representative, Shin, was interested in Kindaichi’s thermos. Kindaichi jumps at the chance.

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So will Miracle Electronics under the control of Toichiro (Fujiki Naohito). But before that, Toichiro has a proposition to make to Nikaido. He wants her back. Out of all ways to try to undermine Kindaichi, this seems a bit desperate.

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Kindaichi only realizes that Nikaido is gone when he returns to the Marioka house.

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Fortunately, it looks like Nikaido has gotten used to Kindaichi’s taste in food – they bump into each other in line. Unfortunately, Kindaichi is with Yoko, who was tasked by her father to help him prepare for the Vietnamese businessman, which puts Nikaido on the defensive.

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So, instead of him being able to smooth things over with her and bring her back, the encounter pushes her away – into Miracle Electronics.

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As Kindaichi’s company continues to get itself set up . . .

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. . . Toichiro feels like a winner as Nikaido reappears in his office to ask for the job he offered.

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Enomoto (Fujigaya Taisuke) can’t believe Nikaido defected. Despite the things he has been forced to do against Kindaichi, he clearly still admires his old senpai.

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It’s time for action. All interested companies gather at a reception to try to win the favor of SE Industries.

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Of all the attendees, Kindaichi’s company seems to be the least prepared, but that’s hardly a surprise. Kindaichi’s brief interaction with Shin is awkward.

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Just looking at how Kindaichi handles it makes Toichiro smile.

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Our heroes are already in damage control mode as they try to figure out their next move. What would be the proper setting in which to woo Shin?

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Kindaichi thought he felt batting calluses on Shin’s hand when shaking it, so he decided to invite Shin to batting practice:

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It’s quickly apparent, though, that Shin is not experienced in handling a bat at all.

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That said, he seems to get a kick out of it. His calluses are actually from golf, and Toichiro was entirely aware of his love of golf:

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So, the Kindaichi team feel like they’re on their last shot – inviting Shin to lunch. They don’t have a clear idea of where to take him, though.

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Toichiro, of course, pulls some strings and arranges to host Shin at the best restaurant possible.

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Really, this episode was actually about Yoko. Renbutsu-san did a great job portraying Yoko’s inner turmoil as she realizes that Kindaichi has moved beyond her. During the course of the episode, she expresses remarkable thoughtfulness and depth.

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Moai bumps into Nikaido, and unlike Kindaichi, he finally shows some understanding about how Nikaido feels.

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There’s trouble with the meal arrangements . . .

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. . . so Shin suggests that Kindaichi pick the place he thinks best.

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I’ll leave what follows out for your enjoyment, but I just had to include this screencap, which totally reminded me of Harry Potter (minus a scar on the forehead, of course):

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So, does Kindaichi get the deal done with his unconventional ways? What nasty tricks might Toichiro still have up his sleeves to keep Kindaichi from the prize? Will Nikaido come back in this episode, or will it take her longer to realize how silly she’s being? And most importantly, what about Yoko? Suddenly, Kindaichi’s girlfriend has become a fully fleshed-out and admirable character. I hope that she continues to have a piece in this.

This was a great episode, following some less impressive hours where they just had to get the plot ready for this. We got a real head-to-head battle between Kindaichi and Toichiro on two fronts – the Vietnamese contract and Nikaido. Thankfully, this series has avoided any sense that Kindaichi is guaranteed success, so there is some real suspense to these battles. But, considering what he’s already been through, we know that whatever happens, Kindaichi will end up all right.

The series has recovered from its malaise. Let’s see what kind of finale it can muster in the last two episodes.

Thanks to Rollins for continued subtitle support.