Or if you’d prefer the English title, Undercover Agent Tokage. Maybe because my expectations were unreasonably high, thus I’m left slightly disappointed with the premiere. On the up side, it has Shota Matsuda, whom I have seen (and swooned) in the Liar Game franchise, hence my excitement to see him venture into something that requires more than thinking from him. The hour was tediously long, spending over 30+ minutes setting up a throng of many characters, leaving the action in the last twenty minutes, and boy was it nice to see our crafty swindler, Akiyama, in action (though he gets punched by someone. ha!)
Funny how I had Toda Erika in the winter, and Shota in the Spring. When are these two going to unite? Drama gods! I’m counting on you!
Episode 1 Thoughts:
Crime rates are on the rise, demanding The Metropolitan Police Department to recruit a number of cop-turned-private detectives into their undercover team. Meet Oribe Toru, whose nickname on the field is Tokage (Shota Matsuda), meaning lizard. He works under a senior mentor, Masahiko Yanagida (Shiro Ito), and the elderly man explains it mildly that he’s called lizard because “wherever he is, he blends into the background,” effectively leaving out the other perilous meaning. Tokage’s offered the job because he’s brilliant, and having a photographic memory is just another quirk.
Two years ago, he retired from the field after a deadly accident and he was blamed for not rescuing his partner when both were dropped in separate crates into the ocean. Flashbacks show us what happened: Tokage’s crate slammed against a rock and broke and he was able to free himself, however, he couldn’t save his partner who was still stuck at the bottom of the sea.
I think I could forgive Tokage had he gone down and tried a second time to save his dying partner. He didn’t even look desperate enough to try. He just gave up after one try and swam to shore. To give the man some credit, he’s taking care of his partner’s son, a little boy named Shota Moteki (Yuma Kimino), now residing with them in the operation building. The place looks daunting and lifeless for a child, to be honest.
Joining the team is Kaori Mochizuki (Misako Renbutsu), an ex-banker who is good-natured and clumsy, but driven to become a cop because she’s searching for someone. This set-up reminds me of Kagi no Kakatta Heya already, aloof man with well-meaning assistant. Do we have a role reversal in any dramas where the man is bumbling instead? But I like her performance so far, plus she’s adorable as heck! Reminds me of this Chinese actress which I can’t place a finger on her name!
The other two prominent cops from the official police force are Shuji Terashima (Masahiro Matsuoka) and Yoko Makihara (Mimura). Both knew about Tokage’s past and hence disapproves the Director’s decision of hiring a cold-hearted man like him to solve cases. Especially, when the first case concerns kids; they believe his strategy might put them in further danger.
First Case: Trading children’s organs. And it’s no work of a small potato either. In order to find a suitable kidney donor for his daughter, Minister Kashiwabara has his secretary, Ikedani, get in contacts with a prolific criminal gang to illegally find a suitable child. The child turns out to a be a little girl from the orphanage. Tokage disguises himself as Ikedani and boards the ferry where these kids are on a goodwill tour. There he meets several famed men, all known for their kindness in helping children adjusting to the life without their parents. *ahem*
As the hour goes by, we learn that the little girl is not on the ferry because she has traded spot with another girl to be adopted by a set of caring parents. With the clock ticking, Tokage needs to find the girl when the ferry docks briefly because without her, the deal with the devil will be canceled and they wouldn’t be able to find the mastermind behind.
Believing that Tokage wouldn’t care about the child’s safety after he hands her over to the said mastermind, Shuji intervenes in the last minute trying to save the girl from his clutch. Desperate to make it back to the ferry in time, Tokage has no choice but to work with Shuji this time around. While he deals with the culprit(s), Shuji stays near the girl, waiting for his chance to attack.
Turns out the real culprit is an assassin believed to have been murdered after his prison release three years ago, Nakao Hideki. Nope. He underwent surgery to have a new face (except those lips) and name, Katayama, currently working in a non-profit organization, Independent Support.
After the culprits have been apprehended, Kaori learns the second meaning to Togake’s alias from Shunji:
“When a lizard is trapped, it’ll tear off its own tail to escape. That guy, too, will abandon his colleagues if he needs to.”
That’s hardly a fair assessment. He tried and it was almost impossible.
Kappy: I think my lukewarm response has to do with the execution of this show. Too many characters stuffed into one long hour of material. I didn’t fully recognize the faces until a second watch. Then again, when the culprits’ identities were released, I wasn’t surprised. For me, a good detective drama needs to have elements of suspense and surprise, continuously keeping us on our toes. And the fun involves the audience’s participation in guessing the bad guys.
Are we to believe the three men on that ferry are good guys? I couldn’t stop giggling when they stand side-by-side facing Tokage, because it’s like a perfect moment for the Evil Council of Evil to gang up on him.
The show lost its emotional beats with me the moment the Minister said he couldn’t donate his own kidney to his daughter because he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his minister tasks. WHAT?!! So you mean to tell me the whole five years that he waited to find a freakin’ donor while his daughter suffers is because of his own selfishness to hold onto his post? Ugh! The messed up part is how we are shown footage of him holding his daughter’s hand throughout the episode, manipulated to think how loving he is as a father. It was a flimsy excuse and I wanted to slap him. Real Hard!
On a brighter note, the characters are entertaining so far, none of them is a pain in the buns yet. 😛