One of the main reasons why I decided to do reviews of the new Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO ("The Young Kindaichi Case Files NEO") TV live-action series was because it would allow me to discuss older stories in the series that I hadn't reviewed yet. At least, that was my intention, but this week's episode and that of next are based on stories I've already reviewed...
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
Hajime, grandson of the great detective Kindaichi Kousuke, and his childhood friend Miyuki miss the last bus back from an entertainment park, but manage to get into a different bus. A bus that offers knock-out gas as a special service to its clients. Hajime, Miyuki and the other people in the bus find themselves in a strange white room the next time they wake up, each of them wearing a strange mask. A strange voice from a TV tells them that they are all guests of the Game Mansion and the only way to escape from the mansion is by playing games. Fun games like quizzes (and if you don't solve them in time, you die), and wire puzzles (and if you don't solve them in time, you die). Anyway, games and death. Can Hajime and Miyuki escape the mansion and stop the Game Master?
The second episode of Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo NEO is based on 2011's Game no Yakata Satsujin Jiken, which I already reviewed back at the time of the original release (read that review for more thoughts about the story). This episode is a fairly faithful adaptation and I think that my feelings for the story haven't changed much. The series often features closed circle situations (the first episode of NEO not, strangely enough), but the more exciting and 'structured' (sequential games) Saw-esque set-up does give Game no Yakata Satsujin Jiken something to set itself apart from the rest of the series (note: I have never seen a Saw film). And despite the horror-esque first half of the story, it's still a classical murder mystery, and I can still appreciate how the hints are hidden within the sadistic games. I also think this story made for a good TV adaptation: it was originally a short long story, so it fits perfectly within one hour (nothing of importance was lost from the original story) and the more dynamic plot also fitted the medium good, I think. I probably enjoyed the story better as TV adaptation, than the original comic version.
I do have to say I was kinda disappointed at how easy the story has been made. I can appreciate the scriptwriters added one scene, which serves as a crucial hint (this scene was not present in the original story and actually made it slightly unfair), but the way it is added to the plot is incredibly crude. In fact, whereas I kinda liked how the first episode gave emphasis on important scenes by 'framing' them in special borders saying "how done it", it's gone too far already in the second episode, I think. They are literally saying "THIS IS IMPORTANT AND JUST TO SHOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS, WE FRAMED THE SCENE". I don't mind if they do want the viewer to pay attention to certain scenes (for example, the discovery of the crime scene), but doing close-ups on every single thing that is important sucks away the fun of trying to deduce the case yourself.
It took me kinda long to associate this story with real-life escape-the-room games that have become quite popular the last few years. I have never played one of them, so I am not completely sure how they go, but from what I understand, you go around (in real-life) in rooms and stuff, solving puzzles and quizzes, gathering 'evidence' and eventually 'solve' a case / ecsape from the room / whatever the goal of the game is. Several of these games have been held in Japan with a Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo theme the last few years (and also of Conan and Gyakuten Saiban, to name a few more). These games allow the participant to actively take on the role of a detective in real-life, so it's kinda funny to see that Game Yakata no Satsujin renders the escape-the-room device back to a passive medium.
Next episode is based on the novel The Murder Case of Will-'o'-the-Wisp Island, which I have already reviewed too. Let's see how a revisit to that story turns out!
Original Japanese title(s): 『金田一少年の事件簿Ｎ』 サブタイトル 「 ゲームの館殺人事件」