This special is the latest installment of the Case Files of Young Kindaichi (金田一少年の事件簿), a drama series based on a manga and anime with more than a decade of history and three other notable actors playing the lead role. This will be the second time Kindaichi is played by Yamada Ryosuke-kun. The first time, the 2013 special, was . . . not so good. The plot was sloppy and incredible, the method of the crime unworkable, and Kindaichi was often goofy at inappropriate times. I think, though, that all of those complaints and more were probably heard by the producers, so hopefully this time we won’t see any of those flaws.

I also look forward to seeing the three leads – Yamada-kun, Arioka Daiki-kun as Saki Ryuji, and Kawaguchi Haruna-san as Nanase Miyuki settling down into their roles. Kawaguchi-san in particular didn’t get much of a chance in the 2013 special, and last year both Yamada-kun and Arioka-kun handled an overabundance of comic relief but were underwhelming when it came to conveying the gravitas of a murder mystery.

It’s taken me a while to get to this special because subtitles have not been forthcoming and, to this point, I still haven’t found any English subtitles. I hope that’s just an internet searching fail on my part. Anyway, what I did have was the YYeTs version with the Japanese subtitles, and since I had some faith that this would be a decent show, I decided to jot down the words I didn’t know and look them up. On the bright side, this drama has introduced me to over three hundred new Japanese phrases, some of which I’ll share with you during the course of this article. The downside is that it took me about the time I usually take to review at least five drama episodes to get through it. Oh, and my Japanese is still horrible. So, was it worth the effort?

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I have to say that seeing Kindaichi pretending that his head had been severed and placed on a desk . . . actually, I didn’t take much away from that. It was the sort of silly thing that often begins a Kindaichi episode. It’s only when people start dying that I want to see a bit more seriousness.

There’s a lot of exposition up-front from Saki and Miyuki. Miyuki is telling Kindaichi’s severed head about the Prison Gate Prep School (獄門予備校 – gokumon yobikou), and Kindaichi is basically making fun of the name of the school by pretending that he’s been beheaded and his head is about to be mounted on a pike in front of the prison (打ち首獄門 – uchikubi gokumon – a standard practice in the Edo period). Miyuki is totally unperturbed and drones on, reading from a pamphlet about how the main school is based in Taiwan and how the past results are excellent. Saki joins in, saying that he attended the previous year, and that the Taiwan school and Japan school have a combined summer boarding house/training camp (合同夏合宿 – goudou natsu gasshuku). Miyuki reads from the pamphlet that the camp guarantees a boost to participant’s test scores (偏差値 – hensachi – literally standard deviation score) or your money back!

If you haven’t already gotten the picture, Miyuki and Saki are plotting to drag Kindaichi to this summer camp because his scores . . . well, they need a boost. I really like Miyuki and Saki in this scene.

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They visit the prep school, but what they find there is much more up Kindaichi’s alley than academics. Outside the building, they discover posters for the summer camp in Malaysia, but inside they hear a girl scream and discover a dead body up the stairs from her.

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