Ando Lloyd (安堂ロイド〜A.I. knows LOVE?〜) may be a genuine sci-fi drama (the first I will get a chance to review) or it might devolve into a pretty basic love story as the title suggests. Kimura Takuya-san generally doesn’t let me down, and we’ve got an interesting supporting cast. Among those who have appeared in previous reviews, there’s Kiritani Kenta-san (Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 2013), Kiritani Mirei-san (a Himitsu no Arashi episode), Endo Kenichi-san (MONSTERS), Honda Tsubasa-san (GTO, Piece), and of course Jesse-kun (I’ve covered all five full dramas he’s been in). And we’ll probably see other familiar faces, as well.
At the beginning of the episode, we see Kimura Takuya-san lying dead on a bed with feathers flying above him. A mysterious figure materializes beside him.
Then, the scene changes, taking us back 21 hours, with a very-much-alive Matsushima Reiji (Kimura Takuya) pondering physics equations. I know enough to tell you that those are legitimate General Relativity equations that float around in this scene – the right equations for someone who is investigating wormholes to be thinking about.
All the equations he then writes on the board are legit, too, so someone at least bothered to pick up a book on the subject and copy the equations from it.
In front of a rather empty class at Tokyo Imperial University, he bores them with lame jokes if the stuff he has on the board hasn’t already put them to sleep.
We get a brief glimpse at three of his students – an enthusiastic Edogawa Tomu (Jesse), and less thrilled Kuriyama Kaoru (Yamamoto Mizuki) and Kurata Tomoharu (Ikeda Dai). They are sitting next to Reiji’s sister, Nanase (Oshima Yuko).
Back at the Matsushima Lab, Reiji explains why what he’s eating is a perfect meal. I think he might want to stick to physics and leave nutrition alone. But I guess it’s understandable that he’s excited about it – his beautiful girlfriend Ando Asahi (Shibasaki Kou) made it for him.
Looking on his computer, Reiji discovers that another scientist has been murdered, then calmly states to his sister that he’s the next target. He’s totally relaxed when saying this . . . so what gives? All he really tells us is that it’s something to do with his theory, and he has to find a way to protect Asahi.
As Reiji rushes out, Nanase checks his desk and sees a homicide calendar listing all the targets. I had to laugh, because the first one on the list was Ivan Asimov (a reference to Isaac Asimov) and the second was Ray Heinlein (a reference to Robert A. Heinlein). There was also a Wells (for H.G. Wells), a Verne (for Jules Verne) and a Clarke (for Arthur C. Clarke) on the list. So, someone wants me to believe that this is going to be a decent science-fiction story. Are they just trying to mess with me?
We encounter Reiji’s girlfriend Asahi next, just as Reiji calls her at her workplace. Reiji tells her he’s going to be murdered in about 2 hours and 13 minutes, and she’s going to be killed, too, if they don’t do something about it.
Well, she got into a relationship with him, so presumably she’s used to this sort of thing right? As if. She informs him that his jokes are never funny, but it looks like she’s taking him seriously.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually get to tell her his plan to save her.
Then she gets a call on her cell phone from . . . Reiji. He asks if she just got a weird call and says that someone has been making prank calls with his voice. She sees through it, though, because Reiji doesn’t have her cell phone number (odd, but in this case convenient – did Reiji deliberately avoid getting her number anticipating this?).
We actually get to see the person at the other end of the line, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Despite these disturbing developments, Asahi continues with her planned meeting, where she faces the press and other concerned parties about her internet company’s tech security lapses. Her approach to this meeting was a tad questionable, but I’ll gloss over it.
Endo Kenichi-san plays the role which he so often seems to get – that of a cop. His name here is Ashimo Isaku, and he’s investigating the murders. He has the same homicide list that was on Reiji’s desk, which includes Reiji and Asahi at the bottom. You’d think with a list like that they could do a better job of protecting people, but not if the assailants are from 2113 – a hundred years into the future. If you’re thinking Terminator, by the way, you are totally not alone.
At the urging of coworker Hoshi Shinzo (Kiritani Kenta), Asahi dashes out after her meeting to figure out what happen to Reiji.
A flashback shows us that Asahi met Reiji when she was playing Shogi online, getting frustrated by the defeats. Shinzo noticed and told her that the player “BalletMechanic” was Professor Matsushima Reiji, and everything took off from there.
We get to see then actually meeting. As you can guess, it’s amusingly awkward.
It’s just a shame that they were playing Shogi instead of Go (I’m a Go player myself).
Well, whatever the game, once it turns into love, it’s something else entirely.
And when Reiji proposes marriage and Asahi accepts . . . .
Okay, enough of those mushy memories – back to the present (give or take 21 hours).
Reiji encounters the person (or thing?) who’s supposed to kill him, but he’s more excited and thrilled than upset, because it somehow shows that his theory is correct.
However, when she suggests that he can die happy, he disagrees, saying that he has to protect Asahi. He says he came to change the future, despite the fact that he’s scheduled to die in 45 minutes (and 16 seconds).
Well, I won’t tell you how he plans to do that, but the beginning of the show already suggested how this will end.
But even while what was supposed to happen to Reiji happens, he expresses confidence that he can keep Asahi safe.
For now, though, Asahi is left with the knowledge that her love is dead and that she’s likely next for no apparent reason.
Isaku knows that Reiji had a plan – one that somehow must have involved his own death – but has no idea yet what it was.
Isaku also meets a superior who seems ready to explain away the whole situation and declare the case closed – a superior who Isaku is meeting for the first time. Isaku is apparently a famous detective, and I don’t think he’ll let them cover what’s really going on up.
We find out a bit more about that ‘superior’ after Isaku leaves.
Nanase urges Asahi to go to the police for protection, but Asahi doesn’t think that the police will take the homicide list and her place on it seriously (of course, she doesn’t know about the one guy who would).
She also feels as if Reiji is still somehow alive, and that he’d never give up.
Unable to sleep, Asahi shares some more memories of Reiji with us:
He basically recreated his research lab at home in order to spend more time with her. Fortunately, theoretical physics is heavy on the books and computer programs, and relatively light on the stuff that bubbles and explodes.
All these flashback scenes are designed to sell us on the relationship between Reiji and Asahi, and they succeed – the pair looks like an entirely sweet couple, and the chemistry is fairly good.
I’m not going to say anything more about what happens in the episode, since it’s all spoilers past this point.
It’s pretty striking how many characters we’ve already got running around.
I don’t get the feeling that there’s much room for the three students we met earlier, but they’re on the relationship chart, so they must play some part.
There’s plenty of fun in this episode already, though.
There are a bunch of things I love about this drama in its first hour. First of all, the science-fiction element is in full-force. Kimura-san and Shibasaki-san did a good job of getting the audience on the side of their characters – critical in this type of personal peril story. I was especially impressed by the way Asahi wanted to seek revenge for Reiji’s death, and how brave she was – it gave me much more respect for the character.
Tension was also maximized throughout the episode so that there was no problem with pacing.
The best part, though? When the whole thing went totally crazy in the last twelve minutes. This had a lot to do with the introduction of the Mysterious Beauty (Kiritani Mirei) and Sapuri (Honda Tsubasa). Both of them were totally over-the-top, and whether they can keep that from getting too annoying will play a large part in determining whether this is a good series. So far, it wasn’t too bad, and that means the two crazy characters successfully contributed some color and humor to the proceedings.
So, I have some hope for the series – might even be enthusiastic about it – but I can’t tell from this episode where they’re going to go with it. This episode was purely setup – getting all the pieces into the right places and explaining what needs to be explained right away. There was more action than I’ve ever seen in a drama (they must have spent a ton on this), but I’m not one to automatically think action=entertainment. If you like action, then this is already a can’t-miss series.