The brilliance of Kazoku Game (家族ゲーム) at this point lies in the fact that I really don’t know whether tutor Yoshimoto Kouya (Sakurai Sho) is trying to redeem himself by helping this family or just playing a sick game that will ultimately wreck an already weak household unless he can be stopped, as Shinichi (Kamiki Ryunosuke) believes. Either way, Yoshimoto is crazy, but the entire plot hinges on whether he’s crazy good or crazy bad.
The past couple of episodes, we’ve been getting introductions from the point of view of one of the characters, and this time Shigeyuki (Uragami Seishuu) is doing the narration. He explains the inferiority complex he developed because he was overshadowed by his brilliant older brother, and how that led him to be withdrawn in school and become a target for bullying.
Then he speaks glowingly about the change that occurred thanks to Yoshimoto’s influence, but still wonders whether Yoshimoto is simply manipulating him for amusement.
It looks like he has a friend now, though.
Breaking away from Shigeyuki’s narration, we see Shinichi objecting to having Yoshimoto as a tutor while behind Kazushige (Itao Itsuji)’s back, Yoshimoto holds up the incriminating photos of Shinichi to compel him to accept the situation. No one except for Shinichi sees the photos at this point. I loved this scene because of the expressions Sakurai-san and Kamiki-kun played the parts with.
But just getting Shinichi to agree to be tutored by him isn’t enough for Yoshimoto – he wants to move in during the summer holidays!
And as soon as he convinces Kazushige to agree to it, the doorbell rings – the movers have already brought over his stuff.
The situation between Kazushige and Kayoko (Suzuki Honami) is still horrible, but this is the first time he gets seriously angry with him, slamming the counter. She doesn’t shout though – I’m not sure she’s capable of that.
She still seems to take pride in her cooking, at least:
The next day, every time Shinichi turns around, he sees Yoshimoto taking a picture of him.
Shinichi bumps into the guy who tried to hang himself in the last episode after Shinichi rebuffed his call for help and basically told him to do it. Shinichi doesn’t apologize for being so unsympathetic, though. Instead, all he wants is for the guy to say that it wasn’t his fault.
I think this calls for some rough handling from Yoshimoto, don’t you? If ever a young man deserved the sort of lessons Yoshimoto likes to give, it was Shinichi after that scene.
At work, Kazushige finds out something that we knew but he didn’t – he’s never met the real Asami Maika. We know that Tachibana Maki (Kutsuna Shiori) was just impersonating Asami to get close to Kazushige and Yoshimoto.
Speak of the devil, Tachibana helps Shinichi do some further investigation into the history of Yoshimoto. They return to the hospital room where the real Yoshimoto Kouya is in a coma to get the real story from his mother.
The way Yoshimoto tutors Shinichi is totally different from the way he deals with Shigeyuki, and when Shinichi mentions this (in an apparent moment of weakness, Yoshimoto points out that Shinichi specifically told him not to care.
This is definitely a Shinichi-centered episode. Next, he and Tachibana follow up on a tip that the comatose Kouya’s mother had given them.
Shinichi leaves believing he knows who it is that the tutor has killed.
But he doesn’t have evidence yet, so when he sees Yoshimoto having fun at dinner with the rest of the Numata family . . .
. . . all he can do is take out his frustration on his pillow – with the same knife he stabbed Yoshimoto with (or Yoshimoto stabbed himself with) in an earlier episode.
We need to catch up with Kayoko and her stock trading. You see, Kazushige is planning to tap the funds she used for trading for a family vacation, but there’s now a huge gap in the account. To my surprise, the stock she lost money on was not one that Yoshimoto recommended, and on seeing that, he advised her to sell it immediately. That’s absolutely the right advice – she was making the rookie mistake of holding onto it in the hope that it would turn around.
Saying that he feels guilty about leading her down the stock speculation path, he hands her the money to make up the difference in the account. But really, hasn’t he just bought her loyalty? Doesn’t she now own him?
Things are looking up for Shigeyuki, and two of his former bullies decide to break with the pack and join Shigeyuki and Sonoda instead. So, now he’s got even more to thank Yoshimoto for.
As Shinichi gathers the evidence he needs to move against Yoshimoto . . .
. . . how will the family react when he puts the evidence to them?
Yoshimoto also gains some points from Kazushige, offering to look into the Asami issue for him (though not mentioning that he already knows her as Tachibana Maki).
While the two of them are steaming up, though, Shinichi looks through Yoshimoto’s clothes to find the evidence against him – the usb containing all the photos (though this scene seems to neglect the hardcopies of the photos Yoshimoto has already shown). Clearly, he wants to remove the threat of his illicit activities being revealed before he offers his own revelations about Yoshimoto.
You’ll have to watch to find out what happened after that. Honestly, though, this was the least surprising episode of the series as we just got through some things that had to happen. Shinichi was just putting together the picture of Yoshimoto that we had already suspected from the flashbacks we’ve seen.
Despite the lack of huge plot surprises, the episode was still engaging because of the good pacing and, of course, acting. Any Shinichi-focused episode features all the intensity that Kamiki-kun can bring to it, and while he wasn’t quite as extreme as he was a couple of episodes ago (until the very end), he was still great to watch. Sakurai-san did fine work playing off of him in this one, and their combined work made the climactic scene riveting.