The topic for this episode of Aiba Manabu (相葉マナブ) was security technology/methods (防犯技術 – bouhan gijutsu). With Aiba-kun tasked to investigate how Japan keeps life peaceful, the music right before he meets his team members for the episode is sort of reminiscent of A no Arashi.

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This time, he’s working with Cunning Takeyama-san and Sawabe Yuu-san. Sawabe-san has been in all but one of the Aiba Manabu so far (the previous one), so I’m starting to think of him as Aiba-kun’s sidekick.

As they’re taking a look at a scale model of a neighborhood, trying to think like a burglar . . .

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. . . they’re completely taken by surprise by a woman who jumps right into the topic without introducing herself. Aiba-kun prompts her for an introduction, which she finally gives them, but I’m just going to refer to her as the safety advisor. She’s sure enthusiastic about the topic.

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She proceeds to explain various things about burglary, including the fact that there’s a burglary every four minutes, but also that Japan has the fourth lowest trespassing rate in the world in terms of damages. I have to point out the fine print at the bottom of the graphic, though – they only had statistics from 30 countries, and this information is from 2004-2005. Why the heck did they use such dated information when I know for a fact that much better crimes statistics are easily available?

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The countries with the lowest rates probably haven’t changed too much, though. Ahead of Japan were Sweden, Spain, and Finland, while right behind were Austria, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Poland. If they didn’t only have thirty countries, I bet the tiny countries like Monaco and the like would have topped the list.

Back to the neighborhood diorama, they talked about where a burglar would strike. Cunning Takeyama-san proved to be cunning indeed, noting which streets were more vulnerable based on the likelihood that passers-by would notice.

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There are four other points, and I’ll leave them out since this seems like a game that viewers can play along. The camera does a good job capturing the diorama, and the graphics explain the points well enough that you can understand the answers even if you don’t understand Japanese.

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After that segment, they turn to the actual technology and methods, beginning with apartment building security systems and tips on how to stay safe.

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She makes some surprising points about the peephole in the door – what they call the door scope – which can be used against a resident. Apparently, there are counter-scopes that can use the peephole to look inside the house. Judging from the result, though, I can’t imagine what someone would think to gain from looking in.

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Then they went out to a test house. The first thing they noticed was the nameplate in the doorway that said that this was the Okane household (which is funny because okane, written with different kanji, means money). The nameplate also listed the names of the individual family members. I’m not sure how common this is – we don’t have nameplates like that at all outside houses in the U.S. – but I think it’s ludicrous to announce exactly who lives in a house. As the expert pointed out, burglars can count, and as soon as they see the listed family members leave, the house is ready for the thieving.

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As an added point, the member of the family most likely not to be listed is the youngest member, so the burglar might invade with that most vulnerable member still at home. How horrible.

The next point was silly – the habit of keeping keys under planters or carpets – as well as the maker’s mark on keys . . .

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. . . but the one after that was gold – potential burglars leave marks at houses to remind themselves of occupant details. I’m not sure I’d trust the mark-to-meaning correspondence table they showed – especially after they showed data from 2005 and knowing that burglars probably have to change their methods frequently.

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After that, they went to more complicated security systems by using a VTR. It included face recognition, laser sensors, security robots, and all the sorts of things you’d expect from a caper movie.

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Okay, I think it’s pretty clear that this was a fantastic episode in terms of information, though it was way short on activity. Aiba-kun and his two helpers really ended up doing very little – less than in any episode of this series so far.

In short, I really appreciate the show for the knowledge presented, and it was worthwhile on that score, but it was low on fun. There was a saving grace a couple of minutes from the end, when they had Aiba-kun try to sneak while walking on a special material and they tested a capture net, but I wish they had devoted more time to stuff like that instead of confining it to the last two minutes.

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