In good form, episode 9 of Priceless (プライスレス) ended on the climax of the series. This is the last episode of the drama, so if you haven’t watched the rest of it yet, or at least know what’s happened, you don’t want to read the rest of this review. This is too good a series to risk spoiling.

Now, about that climax. After being treated like cogs in a machine by the management of Miracle Electronics, the employees of the company decided to leave their resignations on their desk en masse, and they all end up at the doorstep of Happiness Thermoses – Kindaichi (Kimura Takuya)’s company. Actually, they don’t end up at the office of the company (which Happiness might not still have the use of after the patent issue in the last episode), but in front of Grandma Marioka’s house – all of them.

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Kindaichi, Nikaido (Karina), and Moai (Nakai Kiichi) retreat back inside to digest this unexpected turn of events.

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Meanwhile, it’s very lonely at Miracle Electronics, now that there are only two people at work:

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Kindaichi’s girlfriend (now technically former girlfriend) Yoko (Renbutsu Misako) is still rooting for him, and is excited by the news of the mass defection.

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But Happiness can’t just absorb such a huge staff. It still only has one product – and that one is halted pending the patent dispute. Moai goes over to Miracle to sort things out just as company president Toichiro (Fujiki Naohito) steps out, headed to Kindaichi.

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It’s a long walk for Toichiro, as he recalls every jab his pride has taken leading up to this colossal downfall.

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What will happen when Moai faces the only remaining Toichiro-loyalist – the Director?

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Left with no choice, Kindaichi starts taking down everyone’s names, while Nikaido gets staff photographs.

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When Toichiro finally reaches Kindaichi, he sits stunned in the midst of the thermos boxes. I guess they still use their room as a distribution center?

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And here, Toichiro finally confesses that Kindaichi was supposed to be company president, and Toichiro himself usurped the position against his father’s (the previous president’s) will.

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And when Kindaichi wonders why the president would pass over his own son, Toichiro reveals that they’re brothers.

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What they don’t really talk about is how Toichiro even went so far as to blow up Kindaichi’s apartment, but Kindaichi ultimately concludes that the whole thing is just a case of sibling rivalry, and not such a big deal.

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Toichiro stays at the Marioka House, leading to some changes in the sleeping arrangements.

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The next morning, he’s nowhere to be found . . .

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. . . and the three Happiness executives are taking over Miracle.

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Kindaichi meets with his former benefactor Hirose (Kusakari Masao), who isn’t hot on the idea. You see, Miracle’s brand has been totally tarnished by Toichiro’s activities and the employee defection. Meanwhile, Happiness doesn’t have the patent right to continue everything under its own name.

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Among the factory and store managers, the sentiment is basically the same, and the representatives of the firm can’t seem to convince them to do business with Miracle.

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Moai checks out Miracle’s patents, and finds out something interesting.

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Ultimately, the team figures it out over beer . . .

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. . . and after a more comfortable night’s sleep . . .

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. . . they deploy with their better argument ready.

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And Kindaichi finally straightens out his identity with the product reviewer (Kagawa Teruyuki).

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So, the resolution seems to be shaping up. But what about Toichiro? Kindaichi meets the disillusioned executive in the park where Kindaichi had once sought refuge after being fired.

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I’ll leave how the brothers work things out for your enjoyment.

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Despite a positive view on the series as a whole, I didn’t have a particularly high opinion on this episode. The initial issue about the name of the company followed by the way they overcame that obstacle followed in the theme of the series, but wasn’t very interesting. The real issue with the episode was that I wasn’t entirely sold on Toichiro’s contrition. All he seemed to do was mimic Kindaichi’s struggles (living in the park) and the way he dealt with people (learning their names, sincere apologies, etc.). But he is not Kindaichi, so I would have expected that he should experience something else – something that would correct the void in his life that led him to be so nasty in the first place. In other words, the solution didn’t seem to address the cause. The episode left me wondering whether he might lapse back into old ways.

Other than that, the series on the whole was excellent. It not only had a tight plot and sharp characterizations, but also featured a definite theme about the value of people. There were a couple of slow transition episodes which had to happen to set things up, but otherwise the show kept things moving at a fast pace, leaving few dull moments.

The acting was, of course, phenomenal. Kimura-san was playing a character meant for him – the same charismatic everyman personality that he has pulled off so often before. I think the real applause should be given to Karina-san for her portrayal of Nikaido, a character with a lot more subtlety and complexity. Kindaichi’s antics wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting to watch if they hadn’t been bounced off of Nikaido throughout the drama. Both Nakai-san as Moai and Renbutsu-san as Yoko deserve nods for their supporting roles.

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed/will enjoy this series.

Thanks to Rollins at D-Addicts for his effort in subtitling this entire drama, making it accessible to English speakers everywhere.