In Kodomo Keishi (コドモ警視), Marius Yo-kun (マリウス葉) plays Hazama Seishiro, a 36 year-old police investigator who was turned into a child by a gas produced by an organization known as “Red Venus”. This series is a sequel to last spring’s Kodomo Keisatsu, but if it was just that, I probably wouldn’t be reviewing it. You see, Kodomo Keisatsu had some serious flaws. While Kodomo Keishi shares some of those, this first episode was free of most of them, as I will use this review to demonstrate.

The thing is, it doesn’t look like this series is likely to get subtitled. I hope that some intrepid translator team out there will give this series a chance despite how lackluster Kodomo Keisatsu was, but I’m going to go ahead and review it with or without subs, anyway. It will be tricky, though, because it’s even difficult to find the raw versions.

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Instead of centering on events in the actual police force, as Kodomo Keisatsu did, this series focuses on Hazama’s civilian life, in which he has to return to school (or else presumably have to prove to everybody he meets during the daytime that he’s not a truant).

This particular episode focuses on two of his classmates:

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Right from the beginning, it’s clear that there’s something between them, but what?

Hazama is a real investigator with bigger fish to fry,  so he doesn’t seem particularly interested in the doings of his classmates. Classmate Kitabayashi Yumi (Minamino Saki) shows some interest in him, though:

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Outside, we meet the only flaws that continue from Kodomo Keisatsu. You see, the writer of the earlier series insisted on putting a tremendously annoying idiotic pair in every episode. It’s a different pair in this episode, and they’re not quite as irritating, but I’d still prefer it if we could do without this kind of humor.

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They both seem to be after school doctor Takamura Kaori (Shaku Yumiko). Needless to say, she shows decent taste by not reciprocating.

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Also, Hazama shows little tolerance for them, resorting to German to indicate his disdain.

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But one of them has a serious issue to bring up with him. You see, there’s suddenly been a spike in student Miyabe Sachi’s test scores.Sachi used to average twenty points in each class, but suddenly that’s gone up to a hundred. Clearly, there’s something going on.

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The teacher’s not worth helping, and Hazama moves to simply ignore this trivial case, since he’s got plenty more on his mind.

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But then the guy pushes some buttons (I can’t figure out what exactly he said – I don’t even have Japanese subs to work off of here) . . .

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. . . and Hazama gets sucked into the case. The credits roll.

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And this is where I can point out the biggest difference between this episode and what we saw in Kodomo Keisatsu – this was a real case. That is, there is something to solve, and it’s not trivial.

You see, part of the problem with Kodomo Keisatsu is that it was imitating a cop drama, and cop dramas are all about action. But kids can’t do action, so the whole thing turned out to be aimless. It looks like this series is more about school mysteries, which is something a kid can pull off, as Marius-kun is about to show:

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It’s interesting how some of his expressions look convincingly older, almost making the idea that he’s an adult in a child’s body credible:

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While in Kodomo Keisatsu, Suzuki Fuku-kun’s character had little asides with Kichise Michiko-san’s character, Hazama has a similar thing going with Takamura.

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The teacher decides to confront Sachi, retesting her.

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Meanwhile, Takamura confronts Sachi’s likely accomplice, Mori. This is another improvement over the last series, by the way – Kichise-san’s character didn’t seem to have a practical role to play in the main events of any episode, but here Shaku-san playing Takamura does.

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Hazama and Takamura show the method of the cheating to each party, trying to get them to confess.

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But then the teacher goes out to score the new test, and finds that Sachi got a perfect score again.

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So much for Hazama’s initial theory. And really, this is what impressed me most about the episode – that he actually gets it wrong the first time. I like that sort of fallibility – makes things more interesting.

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Hazama decides that he needs a drink, and sure enough, he ends up seeing his cohort Onuma Shigeru (Suzuki Fuku) there.

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They talk things over, but at points it seems like they’re not talking about the same thing. I think Onuma is talking about not seeing the forest for the trees, but when Hazama hears forest (森 – mori), he thinks about his classmate Mori and the school case.

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Ultimately, though, something Onuma says clicks. Back at home, Hazama tries to work it out.

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There’s an obligatory call to Kunimitsu Shin (Katsuji Ryo). Really, this is just to give Katsuji-san some part in all this.

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And after a bit more ruminating . . .

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. . . it’s time for the final reveal.

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Was there really cheating going on? How was that strip of paper supposed to work? What was it that Onuma said that got Hazama on the right track?

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Ah, it’s good to see a series like this go right. I hope they keep it up with the elementary school cases, since there’s every indication that it could work out quite well.

Unlike Kodomo Keisatsu, this series avoided the set pieces which took up a lot of time. The writers were clearly a bit more confident in the flexibility of this cast.

With the focus on just one character, that character could be developed more fully. The characters in Kodomo Keisatsu were two-dimensional and stereotypical. I don’t think that can be easily said about Hazama here. He doesn’t even fit the normal genius detective mold, since his first solution to the case failed.

The one obvious criticism at this point is that Marius-kun can’t deliver the lines in German spontaneously – they always seem forced. Given that, perhaps they should be avoided altogether. Then again, I don’t know that a Japanese audience would even be able to tell that he’s saying those lines awkwardly.

Ultimately, this was just the first episode, and everything will depend on whether they manage to build on this good start, or if we instead see the sort of stagnation that Kodomo Keisatsu also faced. Hopefully, if they keep doing real mysteries, that won’t be a problem.

Oh, and at the end of the episode, Marius-kun and Suzuki-kun made sure to remind everybody about the Kodomo Keisatsu movie:

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