Asagi (Kitagawa Keiko) is not happy with working long hours at the behest of Kuryu (Kimura Takuya), and the latest installment of HERO begins with her getting called by him once again during her off hours.

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A suspect has died in custody and the law requires that a prosecutor should be present during the autopsy, and Kuryu in turn requires Asagi to be present. He probably couldn’t have found a more unpleasant way to force her to work overtime, and it left her feeling sick.

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But the autopsy doesn’t reveal anything suspicious, so everyone just shrugs off the death of the suspect. The victim’s father calls, though, asking when the case will be brought to court, and they have to inform him of the suspect’s death. His reaction is understandably stunned, but also a bit odd.

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For now, though, we turn away from that issue as Kuryu has to deal with the case of Kawanabe Ryoko, who was found to possess a small amount of narcotics and admits to using them.

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She expresses regret, saying she was just trying it out, and promises not to use it again. She is utterly unbelievable, though, and Kuryu looks intensely suspicious about her story. Of course, this is the usual pattern, but we’re all wondering where the suspicion will lead.

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Kuryu decides to arrange a meeting with Ryoko’s brother, hoping that will help him to decide whether to prosecute her to the full extent of the law or to be lenient in this minor first offense (especially since the full extent includes jail time). In particular, he’s curious about Ryoko’s motive for using the drug.

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Asagi is irritated that this meeting means more overtime work and the fact that she has to cancel other plans.

Everything seems to be normal as some of the other guys from the office make their way out at the end of the day . . .

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. . . but then Endo (Yashima Norito) gets approached (to use the mildest term) by the father who wanted that suspect who died in custody prosecuted (Endo was the one who made the call). Considering the suspect is dead, I’m not sure I understand this impulse at all.

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Kuryu and Asagi end up waiting for Ryoko’s brother and when Kuryu asks if Asagi would like to grab a bite to eat afterward she says no, pointing out that they’ve ended up spending fifteen hours a day together. It sure seems like Kuryu likes monopolizing Asagi’s time.

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We don’t see how that meeting with the brother goes. The next morning, all of the assistants seem to be having trouble with the prosecutors they’re attached to – especially Endo, who took the call that Tamura (Sugimoto Tetta) should have handled.

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And actually, the father once again made an appearance to demand a trial, resulting in a strange scene where everyone ran from the guy.

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Kuryu only saw the end of it, with the victim’s father demanding to see a prosecutor. While the other prosecutors just want the guy to go away, Kuryu is now interested in the matter. Looks like Asagi will be working even more overtime.

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There’s a lot of in-office stuff not directly related to the case . . .

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. . . but then we came to Uno (Hamada Gaku) asking if he could get a new assistant. Now, we know he’s had his eye on Asagi, but what are the chances that he’ll actually get what he wants here?

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But right after that, Suetsugu (Kohinata Fumiyo), Uno’s assistant, asks for a switch as well. But he favors going over to Baba Reiko (Yoshida Yo), not Kuryu.

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Everyone else is having compatibility problems, too.

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Asagi is getting increasingly frustrated with her working hours, especially since Kuryu never tells her why they have to interview the people that they do when the case seems cut-and-dry.

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So far, we viewers are similarly frustrated. Since they didn’t show us the interview with the brother, we have no idea if there’s some clue yet, and there’s no reason to think there’s anything odd with the case. Yet.

As everyone assaults him with requests for an assignment change, Kawajiri (Matsushige Yutaka)’s expressions are great. Matsushige-san has the best tension and frustration faces in the business.

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As if one case isn’t enough, Kuryu decides to talk to that father who has been wanting to see a prosecutor, though the father doesn’t realize that Kuryu is a prosecutor (the clothes, of course).

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Kuryu tries to explain the situation, but the father understands all of it – he just wants some better closure.

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Kuryu talks to Tamura about it, saying that the father just wants to know more about the case. Tamura isn’t the most compassionate guy in the office, though (actually, he’s probably the least compassionate), so how will he react?

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Since Ryoko worked as a flight attendant, Kuryu and Asagi head to the airport to meet with her colleagues. Once again, the scene is more about Kuryu and Asagi than the case, and we don’t get any new clues. The scenes are fun, but I’m getting impatient. Some of this could be tightened up.

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Lots of relationship stuff . . .

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. . . and at this rate, Asagi is definitely going to hook up with Kuryu since she doesn’t spend time with anyone else and her other social ties are going to completely wither away.

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Oh, wait – have they figured out something?

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Well, if they found anything out in that scene, we didn’t get told about it. I’m getting irritated about being left in the dark like this. I understand that this episode is more about the relationships than the cases, but I’m way more interested in the cases.

At least the relationship side gets a bit of drama as Kawajiri finally opts to rearrange everyone  – though not the way they wanted to be rearranged. No, Uno did not get paired with Asagi, nor did Suetsugu get Reiko. In his infinite wisdom, Kawajiri thwarted their attempts to get closer to the people they admired.

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This leaves everyone in a pensive mood, and there’s a lot of “why did I get you?” going around.

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But finally we get back to the case of Ryoko. What has Kuryu discovered in this interviews?

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Asagi has a bit of trouble readjusting to the way normal prosecutors do things – they don’t usually have the hands-on approach that Kuryu does.

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Oddly, Tamura seems interested in Kuryu’s way of doing things. Are we going to see some character development here?

The next bit gets way preachy, as Kuryu and Suetsugu combine to instruct Ryoko about the ills of drug use and how dangerous they are. No wonder the writers didn’t bother much with the case – there isn’t one here. This is just a don’t-do-drugs PSA.

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Considering how subtle most of the writing in this series is, I was very disappointed by this unsophisticated approach to delivering this message – just having them say it instead of creating a story to demonstrate it.

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This is a very straightforward “show, don’t tell” situation, and probably the first case of outright bad writing in this series.

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Tamura learns more about Kuryu from Suetsugu, who doesn’t mind the extra work he gets.

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We’ve still got more than a quarter of the episode left, and this is mostly wrapping up the issue of the grieving father and straightening out the assistant rearrangement.

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This was a weak episode – there’s no two ways about it. I’ve already cited some of the issues, but the pacing was painfully slow and there was very little to entice the viewer to keep watching. Neither of the cases was really compelling because there was never any hint of something strange about the situations except for Kuryu’s suspicious looks, and those turned out to be deceptive this time.

There were two positives – the unexpected development of Tamura and Matsushige-san’s expressions. On Tamura, the changes in his character were heavy-handed and could have been handled more smoothly, but at least they happened – otherwise there’s hardly any character development at all except a smidgen from Asagi.

Rearranging the assistants was something that was bound to happen at some point, and apparently the writers decided that it was enough to build an episode out of. Perhaps if this was just forty-minutes program time in a one-hour slot, that would be true thanks to the acting, but the extra seventeen minutes or so were a killer. There wasn’t much drama in this one, and not really much comedy, either. Mystery? None at all.