It looks like episodes of HERO 2014 are longer than just the normal hour block. I didn’t make a note of it in the first episode because premieres are often extended beyond the standard time slot, but this second episode is also longer – 57 minutes of program time, so probably an hour and twenty minutes to an hour and a half with commercials. I’m not complaining, though – as long as they can keep the pace up, the more entertainment the better.

This episode begins with the chief (Matsushige Yutaka) valiantly trying to assign cases to each prosecutor. However, they seem to just decide for themselves – all except Kiryuu (Kimura Takuya), who gets the leftover. The last two cases are sexual assaults where the offender gropes the victim, and Baba Reiko (Yoshida Yo) takes the repeat offender, leaving Kiryuu with the rich offender.

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As is often the case in Hero, there’s a focus on how justice differs for people from different classes. Kiryuu takes particular pleasure in making sure the rich guy doesn’t get away with things just because he can afford lawyers. So, how will he ensure this guy pays for his crime?

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Katsumata doesn’t deny that he grabbed a woman named Miyahara from behind, for which he was arrested. Fortunately, Miyahara fought back and was able to disable him until a nearby police officer could help. Katsumata still bears a bruise on his face and a pain in his ribs thanks to Miyahara’s efforts.

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He says he just spontaneously lost control – possibly because of stress – and he didn’t say much more than that before his lawyer arrived. Sakurai Jotaro is every bit the slick lawyer – really the perfect image of a pro (in contrast to, you know, Kiryuu). Since his client Katsumata doesn’t have any prior offenses and is not a flight risk, Sakurai asks that he be released rather than detained. He also wants to talk to the victim about a settlement.

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Asagi (Kitagawa Keiko) is openly hostile to Sakurai, but then Sakurai pulls out a cellphone recording of the police interrogation of Katsumata and uses it to prod for a release. In the process, he also demeans Asagi, noting that she’s just an assistant who shouldn’t interfere.

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Meanwhile, the destitute defendant on the other sexual assault case is definitely being held, and he discovers that his court-appointed defense attorney isn’t really going to help. In fact, the attorney falls asleep during their first meeting. So far, wealth is having its impact on justice.

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Asagi complains to the other assistants about how Sakurai treated her as if she was part of an underclass . . .

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. . . and when they tell her that they are part of an underclass, and a call to the police to get information on the case leads to a denial on the same grounds, Asagi ends up in a foul mood.

She speaks very formally – even reverentially – to Kiryuu. It doesn’t take him long to figure out what’s wrong.

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In response, he points out that he’s hardly lofty and certainly doesn’t treat her the way lawyer Sakurai did. She wonders whether he’s some sort of Toudai graduate/overachieving prodigy, but he points out that he didn’t even pass high school.

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They meet with the victim, who says she absolutely can’t forgive Katsumata. She seems a bit rattled, but she does kickboxing, which was how she was able to defend herself, so she at least has that method of self-defense and that boost to her self-confidence.

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Kiryuu and Asagi visit the crime scene and talk to the officer who was on-duty during the incident – the one who apprehended Katsumata. Here, they find out that Katsumata’s bag was on a distant table. The police officer fancifully thinks that it few off, but there’s no way it could have traveled that far. Besides, what are the chances it would land on a table?

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The incident took place in a camera blind spot, so there was no recording. Hmm . . . rather convenient for the culprit. Seems like the evidence is already pointing to premeditation instead of a spontaneous loss of control (as if that’s a reasonable statement in the first place – if anyone has that little self-control, they should probably be sent to some sort of clinic).

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There’s some minor stuff about the cases of Tamura (Sugimoto Tetta) and Uno (Hamada Gaku) in this episode, but those are purely sideshow. Reiko’s parallel sexual assault case, though, is covered more thoroughl.

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Having failed to secure security camera evidence from the police herself, Asagi gets Kiryuu to press the issue and to mobilize the police on the task.

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Speaking of side shows, the other three assistants go on a group date.

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This can only turn out badly.

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Uno asks Asagi out for a drink and suggests that she switch prosecutors and work with him instead. He’d have better luck just asking her out on a date.

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We get an interesting scene the next day as the entire crew piles into the elevator together.

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Lawyer Sakurai is waiting for Kiryuu – to tell him that the victim has settled and has already accepted the payment for compensation. That means she’s dropping the charges.

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But how can that be after she was so adamant about making sure Katsumata paid for his transgression?

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Kiryuu and Asagi visit her to find out. In the process, they learn that she hasn’t gone for kickboxing and doesn’t feel safe going out. But why? She seemed rattled but otherwise fine earlier.

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The answer is that in making the settlement offer, Sakurai pointed out that he was prepared to counter-charge her because his client suffered severe rib injuries as a result of her kick. Even though it’s not true, Sakurai said that they could sue her for going beyond self-defense.

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In other words, they threatened her into accepting the settlement. Most importantly, though, Sakurai negated her ability to use kickboxing as a method of self-defense, so it’s no surprise she’s now unwilling to go out.

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Kiryuu’s next stop is to see Sakurai. Really, he just wants to accuse Sakurai of playing underhanded tricks – this scene doesn’t advance the case much otherwise. It does get Asagi even more riled up, though.

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So, can Kiryuu figure out how to pin this one on Katsumata even when the victim wants the charges dropped?

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Will the answer come to someone at the infamous bar?

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Or will it be another visit to the crime scene, except at the time of day that the event actually occurred?

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The resolution this time was a bit lacking – rather circumstantial. That could have been solved, though, if only the resolution phase hadn’t been fleshed out a bit more. Then again, this isn’t a mystery series, and doesn’t have to follow those rules.

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The pace of the episode was fairly slow this time, but then at the end the part where they put everything together left some holes in the picture. For instance, I’m still not sure exactly what was up with Reiko’s case.

One saving grace was the characterization, which helped move things along even when the actual plot was going slowly. As expected, the acting was excellent and the characters dynamic.

The case itself was relevant and tapped a number of different social issues, so the episode was good in that respect. I appreciated the approach taken.

I don’t think it was possible to play along in this one, unlike the first episode. The question was not the crime or the criminal, but whether it was possible to prove there was more to it, and the key piece of that was from the person who recognized Katsumata, and we weren’t allowed to hear the information from her before the start of the resolution. Hopefully future episodes will give us more of a chance to engage with the case.