"I'm proud of my grandfather, but I am myself!"
"The Young Kindaichi Case Files: The Murderer of the Silver Screen"
Last Saturday, a new live action TV series based on Kindachi Shounen no Jikenbo (The Young Kindaichi Case Files) started. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO features the same cast and production team behind the recent two TV specials (like January's Gokumonjuku Satsujin Jiken), which I liked quite a lot overall. I have been looking forward to this series, so I decided I will try to do reviews on every story as the series is running, like I did with the Detective Conan live action series. My main reason for doing these reviews is because now I have a good excuse to discuss some older Kindaichi Shounen stories, as I seldom do reviews on materials I've already read.
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO
Pre-series TV Special 2 (January 4, 2014: The Prison Gate Cram School Murder Case
Episode 1 (July 19, 2014): The Murderer of the Silver Screen
Episode 2 (July 26, 2014): The Game Mansion Murder Case
Episode 3 & 4 (August 2 & 9, 2014): The Will-o'-the-Wisp Island Murder Case
Episode 5 & 6 (August 16 & 23, 2014): Young Kindaichi's Road to the Final Battle
Episode 7 (September 6, 2014): The Yukikage Village Murder Case
Episode 8 & 9 (September 13 & 20, 2014): The Rosenkreuz Mansion Murder Case
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO ("The Young Kindaichi Case Files NEO") started with a two-hour TV special (ninety minutes without commercials) based on Ginmaku no Satsujinki ("The Murderer of the Silver Screen"). Miyuki is scouted as the lead by genius director Kurasawa for the newest production of the school film club. Kurasawa won a prize with one of his earlier films, The Murderer Scorpion and is convinced his new one will be a hit too, with the help of Miyuki. It is however rumoured that everyone connected to the production of The Murderer Scorpion is doomed to die and behold, indeed film club members start to pop up in a rather murdered state (and wearing the trademark Scorpion mask). Can Kindaichi Hajime, grandson of the great detective Kindaichi Kousuke, protect his best friend Miyuki before she too falls victim to the Scorpion?
The original comic version of Ginmaku no Satsujinki was first released in 1998 and is a pretty minor story within the canon of Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo. When I first read it, I thought it was a rather mediocre story: a lot of the story relies on coincidence, the trick behind the main problem of a double locked room murder is extremely easy to solve because the presentation makes it rather obvious and while most Kindaichi Shounen stories are very formulaistic, I found that Ginmaku no Satsujinki had very little to differentiate itself from other stories, as it had no memorable characters / tricks / setting.
And to be honest, most of my feelings for the mystery plot still holds. I will admit though that for a production meant for TV (i.e. an audiovisual experience), the crucial plot points do really fit the medium and this is strengthened by the film club setting (i.e. showing actual footage). And as I said, it is not a particularly complex story and most viewers do like mysteries they can actually solve from the sofa. But even though I think this is a minor story, I do think it is a great story for the pilot of the new series.
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo has traditionally featured many, many, maaaaany murders involving students, most of them students of Fudou High. And often school clubs form a setting for these stories. So it would make sense to start Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO with a story involving students. And situated in Fudou High. And about a school club. The very first episode of the original TV series and the original animation series, The Seven School Mysteries Murder Case, had the same goals and intentions and as I mentioned in that review, it makes absolute sense in the context of the series. In Ginmaku no Satsujinki, there is also a good part where someone questions whether Hajime isn't feeling any pressure from being the grandson of the famous Kindaichi Kousuke; the answer is classic Hajime and Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO proves that live action Kindaichi Shounen doesn't need any excessive brooding and grandfather traumas any more as featured in the 2001 and 2005 live action productions.
And overall, I think this was a solid pilot for the series. Of course, most of the people involved, including lead Yamada Ryousuke, already had a lot of time to get used to their roles, as the team had already produced two full-length TV specials. Also, stylistically, Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO borrows a lot from the original 1995-1997 TV series, including the wacky Tsutsumi Yukihiko camerawork, a lot of the better known soundtracks (like Mysterious Mallets) and sound effects and even little things like the design of the school uniforms (though technically, NEO has no ties to the original series because there are some small inconsistencies with certain characters).
One new feature they added in the series, compared to the TV specials, is a special close-up shot of evidence which are framed as 'how done it' scenes. During the conclusion, all of these 'how done it' scenes naturally all appear as Hajime explains how the murder was commited. These shots kinda makes the mystery-solving a bit easier, as you are informed very obviously that you saw somethin important, but it does make the game-element of such a TV drama more obvious and fair, I guess. I gotta see more to see if I like it or not.
And random trivia: Kamiki Ryuunosuke guest starred as Kurasawa, but in a distant past, he actually co-starred together with Yamada Ryousuke (Hajime) in the TV drama of Tantei Gakuen Q, which was created by the same writer/artist team behind Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo.
Anyway, great start of the series and I'm looking forward to next week's episode, which will feature an adaptation of The Game Mansion Murder Case. Oh, and if a case is spread over multiple episodes, I will wait with posting a review until the complete story has been broadcast.
Original Japanese title(s): 『金田一少年の事件簿N』 サブタイトル 「銀幕の殺人鬼」