This episode of HERO 2014 opens with Kawajiri (Matsushige Yutaka), the head of the prosecutor’s office, getting an offer for a new job that would pay more.

At the same time, the prosecutors have received their health exams (I guess these are required for government work?), and they find out that his cholesterol is double what it was last year. Sounds like he could do with a change of employment – it might be a matter of survival at this rate.

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Meanwhile, Asagi (Kitagawa Keiko) is lamenting her own results, which have worsened since the previous year. She blames it on the long hours Kuryu (Kimura Takuya) makes her work. I expect Kawajiri could also blame some of his health issue on Kuryu, given the way his face has been scrunching ever since Kuryu joined the office.

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Kawajiri tries very hard to maintain an even keel, keeping his face completely neutral as he begins to face complaints from the prosecutors about the workload. He gradually fails, though.

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His face gets fully contorted with Kuryu, of course. I can’t imagine this is good for his blood pressure.

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Asagi is even more adamant that they should reduce their workload because of the increase in her body fat.

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But that left the question of who should do the case that Asagi refused to allow Kuryu to take, and both of them turned to Kawajiri.

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Just the hint of the possibility that the chief will take on a case brings everyone out. They all want to see how he does with it. Heck, so do I.

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Eventually, Kawajiri bends to popular demand, and since Kuryu is going to be out investigating his own case, Kawajiri gets to use Kuryu’s office. The case involves the accused Komota stealing the bag of a man named Kawakita.

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Except for Kuryu and Asagi, everyone else is eavesdropping:

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And just a minute ago they were complaining about the workload.

Anyway, there’s video that shows Komota running with the bag in question, and he has the nerve to claim that he was trying to return the bag. Komota says that the real culprit forced the bag on him. The prosecutors think that this apparent falsehood will lead Kawajiri to blow his top (I think they’re just waiting for a vein in his forehead to explode), but instead he takes the statement calmly.

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Does Kawajiri really believe this kid?

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The rest of the prosecutors have a dim assessment of his style, seeing it as outdated and not forceful enough. Kawajiri eavesdrops on their comments in dismay. But then some of them wonder whether this soft approach is actually part of a greater plan. Good question. Suetsugu (Kohinata Fumiyo) is absolutely certain that there’s nothing more to Kawajiri than this, though, and Kawajiri’s face while hearing all of this leads me to think that he’s right.

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A little girl shows up as a witness to the bag-snatching . . .

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. . . and Kawajiri seems completely unprepared for this.

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On the bright side, his soft approach with the presumed culprit should also work well here (better than his normal shouting, at least), but is he perhaps too stiff and formal to talk to young Reina?

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It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if Reina was ready to talk, but she seems to be holding back, as if she feels guilty about something.

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Kawajiri tries to be more kid-friendly, but his smile is totally creepy.

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So yeah, that doesn’t work. That scene was hilarious by the way – either the funniest or one of the funniest in the series so far – and completely driven by Kawajiri’s expressions.

For his case, Kuryu is busy learning bridge engineering so that he can prove a company did shoddy work. I think maybe seeking specialist testimony would have been a better move here. The idea that anyone can learn enough about engineering in such a short amount of time to demonstrate that a bridge was built to low standards is an insult to engineers.

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As Reina leaves Kawajiri’s questioning, having contributed nothing, Kuryu sees the expression on her face and deduces there’s something going on.

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Meanwhile, Kawajiri is now getting a reputation for being useless at questioning people. He couldn’t back Komoto into a corner in the first interview and couldn’t get even a whispered answer from a little girl like Reina.

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There’s one more witness – a seven year-old boy – and Kawajiri makes a house call to see him. Endo (Yashima Norito) is his assistant this time.

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They’re dressed very casually. Will Kawajiri manage to pull of a more approachable and child-friendly manner this time?

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The way all the kids are reluctant to talk suggests that the culprit threatened them.

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Somehow, I don’t think Endo’s shirt, hat, and goofy manner are going to help.

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And it gets worse – the next witness is a five year-old!

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It’s interesting how the focus in this episode has been firmly focused on Kawajiri – Kuryu has gotten very little time so far.

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Kawajiri laments his situation as Baba (Yoshida Yo) and Tamura (Sugimoto Tetta) bicker beside him.

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Asagi and Kawajiri head to a kindergarten to speak to the last available witness . . .

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. . . but while Kawajiri does better than on any of his previous tries . . .

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. . . things go horribly awry.

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This last incident leads Kawajiri to seriously consider quitting not only the case, but his job.

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Kuryu and Asagi bring him to their favorite haunt for a bite to eat and over his meal he tells them about his background.

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He has no intention of taking that lawyer job his friend offered at the start of the show, by the way – if he quits this job, he plans to be out of the profession entirely.

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While Kuryu continues to investigate his own case, is there any way he can help the Chief regain some confidence?

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And what are a flock of kids doing in the prosecutor’s offices?

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This was an excellent and very funny episode. Matsushige-san has done an excellent job playing Kawajiri right from the start, and he really got a chance to shine in this one, as his character goes through a full range of development.

The case itself was as mundane as could be imagined, but it was interesting to see what could go wrong if a prosecutor struggles with a case. The fact that the witnesses were all kids made the case unique, but it was ultimately the fact that Kawajiri was the prosecutor on the case that made the difference.

I’d like to see some more intricate cases from this series, though. I seem to recall those in the original series, but my memory’s hazy. While the episodes will remain character-driven, some compelling investigations and surprising twists wouldn’t hurt.