The hit locked-room mystery series Kagi no Kakatta Heya (鍵のかかった部屋) is back with a special a year and a half after its original run. Since they were clearly patient with it, I hope this special is the tour de force that this drama deserves. They have a whole two hours of program time to impress us.
It starts with security expert Enomoto Kei (Ohno Satoshi) setting the atmosphere of the episode, as he did during the main run of the series . . .
. . . and then they give us a run-through of the key points from the original series, including the character intros. That was a good move – I don’t like it when specials presume that the viewer watched the original series, especially when it’s been more than a season. This is was a fine and efficient recap (that happened to capture the most famous moments of the original drama) . . .
. . . and a reminder of how Enomoto made his exit from the lives of lawyers Serizawa Gou (Sato Koichi) and Aoto Junko (Toda Erika) under suspicious circumstances, potentially getting away with quite a haul.
Catching up to the present, we see Serizawa doing quite well for himself, wrapping up what looks like a big day in court.
Despite things going smoothly, Serizawa still thinks about Enomoto and the interesting times they had together. Though he protests to Aoto that Enomoto and the locked room cases were just a bother that got in the way of his work, Aoto can see through that. Forestalling an anti-detective rant from Serizawa, she reminds him that he has an appointment with a person named Fujibayashi at two and advises him to leave early because of the traffic.
Turns out there wasn’t much traffic, though, and Serizawa gets there fifty minutes early. After checking that no one is home yet but seeing a mysterious figure in the trees nearby . . .
. . . he ends up falling asleep in his car until he’s woken up by Okamura (Kuroki Hitomi), who is related to Fujibayashi. And by related, I mean Fujibayashi’s heir. I think you know where this is going.
They find Fujibayashi dead with a bloody golf club next to him (so unless someone was being creative, I think we have the murder weapon), but it’s not a locked room – there was clearly a break-in through the window.
The policeman who had a semi-rivalry with Serizawa in the main series, Kouno Mitsuo (Ukaji Takashi), is back and on this murder case. He’s obviously bemused to see Serizawa on the scene of yet another murder, and wonders where Enomoto might be (with that loot).
Serizawa tells Kouno about the mysterious figure in the woods, and that he was acting as the middle man for Fujibayashi, who was arranging to donate his late wife’s art collection to a museum. The collection is worth one billion yen (around $10 million), and that’s definitely enough motive for murder. But if it was being donated to the museum for free, who would have a motive to kill Fujibayashi?
Well, that would be his heir, Okamura, right? And is it just a coincidence that she tells Serizawa that Fujibayashi called her the day before he died to tell her that he no longer wanted to donate the collection? And that he didn’t tell anyone else?
Just in case it’s not clear, we get an inheritance chart . . .
. . . and Serizawa tells Kouno that he’s suspicious of Okamura. Well, that clinches it, right? That must mean she’s not guilty of anything. After all, Enomoto hasn’t even shown up and she’s already the prime suspect.
While all that’s going on, Aoto is checking out a locked room mystery brought to the office by an old man who suffered a heart attack but was rescued by an unknown individual. That is, it’s not a locked room murder – it’s a locked room rescue, and the old man wants to thank his benefactor by naming him in his will. The trick is that the room was definitely locked when the heart attack struck, so how did the mystery person get in to administer first aid?
The likely ‘suspect’ in this particular situation is the custodian of the building, Kohiyama (Okada Yoshinori), who also brought the old man to the Serizawa office.
Since Kohiyama is really the only possibility (no other suspects have been introduced), the only question is how he did it. Thankfully, he hired Enomoto to put security cameras in the building. Once Aoto bumps into Enomoto and tells him everything about this side-case, the security expert quickly figures it out . . .
. . . and concludes that Kohiyama was desperately trying to clean off his fingerprints.
But why would he do that? I’m not going to go into the details of this side-case because the explanation is quite enjoyable . . .
. . . but I do have to say that Kohiyama left his fingerprints in a different place entirely – at the Fujibayashi house after he broke in with the intention to rob the place! Once there, he found Fujibayashi dead and unwittingly left fingerprints at the crime scene in his panic. Hearing about the reputation of the Serizawa office for solving these kinds of mysteries, he puts himself at their mercy in the hope that they can clear him of the murder. He turns himself in to the police for breaking-and-entering with the intent to commit robbery.
Well, with Enomoto now on the case, that shouldn’t be any problem, right? And before Kohiyama broke in, it was a locked room, so now it’s the only type of mystery Enomoto takes an interest in.
You might notice a patch on Serizawa’s face. That’s there because he got pushed down a flight of stairs – apparently by the same mysterious figure that he had seen in the woods. So, he justifiably feels like his life is in danger because he was a possible witness to the murder. Does Enomoto showing up make him feel better or worse?
Actually, he seems more interested in getting Enomoto to admit that he took the loot at the end of the last episode.
By the way, Kohiyama was not the mysterious figure Serizawa saw – he was wearing a different jacket.
The trio pay a visit to the scene of the crime with Enomoto already suspecting someone other than Okamura. I’m not going to go into the details of the case and theories (and there are a ton of them – it was a really rich situation) – you can only get those by watching.
Okamura wonders why her uncle suddenly decided not to donate the art, and since that’s a very good question, they decide to pay the museum a visit to see what’s up with the person in charge there – museum director Hiramatsu (Sano Shiro).
Frankly, Sato-san tends to play very dubious characters, so I expect that anyone watching would immediately start to suspect him. But is that just the casting director messing with us? Hiramatsu’s reaction when they tell him that Fujibayashi had decided not to give away the collection was clearly hostile to the idea. He tells them that it’s too late to back out from the donation, which is a tough claim to maintain. We also find out that Hiramatsu was out of the museum during the time the murder likely occurred.
There’s another suspect at the museum – artist Inaba Toru (Fujiki Naohito) who specializes in illusions. That sounds like promising ground, and Enomoto is clearly interested in his work.
After Serizawa gets threatened over the phone by someone (presumably the mysterious figure) and Aoto updates Kohiyama.
Uh-oh – I think we’ve seen this pose from Enomoto before:
Does he already have the answer? But we’re only halfway into the program!
Oh wait, not to worry – there’s been another murder. They find Hiramatsu dead!
He apparently left a suicide note typed on his computer, and since it was a locked room, the police take it as a suicide.
But you know that’s not good enough for Enomoto.
So, who killed who? There are four possible suspects for the murder of Fujibayashi – Kohiyama, Okamura, Hiramatsu, and Inaba. Of those, the Enomoto team is actively defending Kohiyama and Enomoto himself has discounted Okamura, leaving only two suspects.
Of those two suspects for the Fujibayashi murder, only one of them could have committed the Hiramatsu murder. So, the question now is how Inaba did it, why he did it, and whether he also did the Fujibayashi murder.
Enomoto has already figured out the method of the Fujibayashi murder, with it being surprisingly simple though difficult to pull off.
The rest of the show is all about gathering the remaining facts about the remaining questions, including who pushed Serizawa down the stairs and why. Since I’ve already outlined the situation and put forward the questions, I’ll quit with the summary here, leave the rest for your enjoyment, and turn to assessing how this mystery was executed.
There were a few brilliant moments in the show – the first scene between Enomoto and Serizawa and then the scene where Aoto enters Enomoto’s lair specifically.
I rather enjoyed how much trouble Serizawa seemed to get into. It added an interesting dimension of combined danger and humor and gave him something to do.
There were actually three mysteries in the episode – the light mystery at the start with Kohiyama, the mid-level mystery with Fujibayashi’s murder, and then finally the top mystery with Hiramatsu’s murder. As with the main series, the issue was not who did it – that was generally obvious – but how they did it and why. In all three mysteries, I felt the motive was decent, with the Fujibayashi murder being the most difficult to swallow. Actually, the cleverest motive was in the first case with Kohiyama’s criminal activity.
But with a locked room mystery, the real trick is the method. Here, the light mystery was easy to understand and ingenious. The mid-level mystery was a ham-handed trick, but somewhat realistic despite how time-consuming it was. The final mystery featured some interesting intricacies, yet unlike the other two, I’m still not sure it covered all the stated facts. It might have – it’ll take me some time to sort that out because it was rather a complicated setup. I don’t want to mention the specific doubt I have about it because it will give too much away. Regardless, I thought that the clever intricacies were enough to make up for any minor gaps.
The fact that we got three distinct locked-room situations made this episode flow a lot better than I thought it would – I was worried that they’d try to drag a single incident out for two hours, which would have been horrendous. Pacing was very good considering the length, and it felt like a proper feature.
The highlight of the episode (aside from the working out of theories) was the interplay between the three main characters – Serizawa, Aoto, and Enomoto. As usual, Serizawa took the comedic lead and Sato Koichi-san was brilliant as usual. Aoto was quite expressive, as you might be able to tell from the screenshots, and that was to Toda-san’s credit. She also repeatedly offered credible ideas about how the crimes could have been pulled off. We found out more about Enomoto’s character than we ever did in the series – in fact, we found out exactly what I had expected they’d slowly build up in the series but never did. That made Enomoto a slightly more dynamic character than he was in the original series, as did the way he reacted to Aoto’s ideas.
The supporting cast was also top-notch – filled with familiar faces boasting tons of noteworthy experience.
So the only caveat I have is that the resolution of the final mystery might not be entirely satisfying, though they certainly made a good try of it. It was a near miss at worst. Compared to the tone and pacing of the original drama, I thought this special was a clear improvement, and certainly showed some effort to do things right.