Detective Yugami – 刑事ゆがみ : First Impressions + Ep1 Review [Japanese Drama]

Detective Yugami - Episode 1 Review

Based on the manga series “Keiji Yugami” by Iura Hideo, Detective Yugami is the live-action TV series from Fuji TV starring Asano Tadanobu and Kamiki Ryunosuke as an oddball pair of detectives.

Asano is Yugami Yukimasa, a detective who ignores conventional investigative procedures in order to uncover the truth.

Fuji TV’s description of the drama is below:

In a society in which justice is awfully subjective, and the possibility of finding the truth is so complicated, detective Yukimasa Yugami simply chases after facts of various cases. For Yukimasa, it doesn’t matter if the case he’s dealing with involves a minister of the government, a local teacher trusted by everyone in the town or even a serial killer. After all, as they’re all just people, they may all be considered a possible suspect. Yukimasa will casually approach potential suspects and talk to them in order to attain new information which may assist him in his investigations. All he is looking for are the facts. So, he feels that there is no point in following the rules, nor trying to read the atmospheres of the environment he’s in. [read ]

His junior partner, Hanyu Torao (Kamiki Ryunosuke), is upstanding and decent to the core, the exact opposite of Yugami. Their clash of principles and investigative style and methodology somehow compliment each other, thus cases are solved.

Detective Superintendent Kanno Rikka (Inamori Izumi) initiated the pairing, knowing in full Yugami’s reputation as a rebel, yet a genius when it comes to solving cases. After all, they started as rookies together.


Detective Yugami - Episode 1 screenshots


Episode One features molesters, scammers, and vigilantes – connected altogether via a single piece of a puzzle. A young woman is killed – her body is found sprawled on a footbridge near her apartment. In the course of their investigation, Yugami and Hanyu uncovered an incident involving the victim and her friend confronting a man, whom they accused as a molester. Is he the killer?

First Impressions: Welcome back to the sights and sounds of Tokyo! If you’re familiar with investigative drama in Japan (and anywhere in general), then you know that the ‘procedural’ aspect of most Tv detective series is always assumed to have a ‘personal’ dynamics. In this case, we have a somehow ‘rotten’ detective who likes to do things his way and a relatively young and naive junior partner who like things done under the law – no shortcuts, no hanky panky.

These personal dynamics made the show lively and fun. The fact that we have one of Japan’s iconic actors in Asano Tadanobu makes my argument for the show moot and academic. Kamiki Ryunosuke is no small-time actor, to begin with. Thus, what we have are two excellent performers who won’t resort to scene-stealing because they know how to complement each other. Ryunosuke’s straight-arrow character is made fun by Tadanobu’s jaded Yugami, but the respect is there and Hanyu knows it. The critical yet funny big dog, small dog relationship between them shows why they can work together and not necessarily agree all the time – an essential ingredient of checks and balances.

Episode One also features Sugisaki Hana, an excellent young actress herself, who has proven to be a level above most of her peers. Her interaction with Kamiki is delightful. She works as a staff in the railway, taking care of passengers. She’s passionate about her work – would spend extra hours to do things she could have done the next day. In a sense, she’s devoutly loyal to her work.

In this drama, what could have been a budding romance turned into something else, and that’s all I have to say about them.


Detective Yugami - Episode 1 screenshots

Episode 1 Rating - Detective Yugami

Aside from the personal dynamics between Asano, Kamiki, the supporting cast and their guest stars, there’s plenty of positives:

  1. Cases incidental (“Shut up old man, or I will cut your carrot!”) to the major investigation inject humor as needed – a respite to the tension that builds up as a result of the crime and the circumstances of the murder(s) and the interrogation of the suspects;
  2. There is a slow build-up to the development of the characters. We are ‘teased’ to the many possibilities of their personal histories and how (and when) it will be revealed. There is a deliberate intention for the piecemeal revelation and it gives the drama more substance. There’s also the presence of the mysterious Yamamoto Mizuki – is she just a researcher employed by Yugami? 
  3. Thankfully, there is currently no indication of over-the-top acting;
  4. The procedural parts are pretty straightforward. While this is only Episode One, imagination is not yet stretched as in the case of other drama where the writers are trying so hard to convince people that the earth is not round and that people can fly;
  5. The soundtrack is groovy-funky cool and will not distract you from watching the drama.

A 4 out of 5 stars may appear conservative as I am known to give generous ratings, but I want to make sure this is not a fluke and that the next episodes will not bore us to death with rehash and re-tellings. 


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