Thursday, December 10, 2015

Le Triangle d'or

「Nora」(Garnet Crow)

We haven't said goodbye,
But still I will leave here today
Maybe I will come across a wonderful person again one day
I live on a whim and in freedom, I am a stray cat
"Nora" (Garnet Crow)

I usually try to post reviews of TV productions soon after their broadcast and often have to shuffle with my posting schedule because of that. I make an exception for this review though: this particular special was broadcast early this year, but as I only watched some months after that, and because it was related to some other reviews that were already scheduled, I decided to just put this review at the end of the queue, rather than shuffling and puzzling with the schedule.

The first murder happened three years ago. A young girl of eleven was strangled with a tie wrap on June 6th. Exactly one year later, a woman of twenty-two was murdered under the same circumstances. And last year, a female policewoman was too strangled on June 6th. She was thirty-three when she died. 11. 22. 33. All on 6/6. The police still has no clue who is behind the "doubles murders", but the wealthy Odawara Shizue has a suspicion she is going to be next: not ony is she going to turn 44 on June 6th, she also got a threatening letters accompanied with newspaper articles on the "doubles murders". She hires the private detective Horokusa Junpei, one of the tenants in an apartment building she owns, who is to protect her during her birthday party. The operation goes wrong though, and Shizue is found strangled with tie wrap in her study. The problem however is that she was the only person seen to have gone inside the room, which was locked from the inside. Helping Horokusa investigate the case is Cezaimaru Venico, an impoverished heiress of one of the most important families of the past and previous inhabitant of Odawara Shizue's mansion. And so begins her first adventure as a detective in the TV drama Cezaimaru Venico no Jikenbo ~Kureneko no Sankaku~ ("The Case Book of Cezaimaru Venico ~The Triangle on the Black Cat~").

Cezaimaru Venico no Jikenbo ~Kureneko no Sankaku~ is a TV special broadcast in February, 2015, based on Mori Hiroshi's 1999 novel Kuroneko no Sankaku (The Triangle of the Black Cat"), which also bears the English subtitle Delta in the Darkness. The book is also the first novel in his ten-volume V series, starring Cezaimaru Venico. Note that Sezaimaru Beniko would be a more usual spelling of her name: she however prefers the Cezaimaru Venico spelling and it is the V of her name that titled her series the V series.

It might also be interesting to note that the V series is connected to Mori Hiroshi's S&M series (review of the TV drama is here), even though the V series is set probably about a decade (or two) before the S&M series. In fact, most of Mori Hiroshi's series are connected, some more obvious than others. Even the 100 Years series, which is a science-fiction mystery in a future with androids, is set in the same world as the S&M and V series. I've been delving a bit into the S&M series and the sequel G series of late, so I figured I might as well take a look at this special.

And I was quite disappointed. The premise of a The ABC Murders-esque serial murderer, coupled with a locked room, sounds interesting, right? Well, the locked room murder is of the kind that may only be used if the author has thought of a very original and radical variation, because it is one of the most well-known, simple and first things you'd come up with when the words "locked room" are mentioned. It is Locked Room 101 material and no, Mori Hiroshi did not manage to breath new life into it. It's still the same old thing and anyone will probably recognize it for what it is right away (and immediately guess who the murderer is, by the way). The story continues with more death, but again it's the kind of murders we've seen for more than a century.

More emphasis is laid on the describing the motive behind the murder. It is the kind of some-what philosophical talk we also know of the S&M series, which can be quite an opinion-divider. On one hand, it is more interesting than "I needed the money!", but on the other hand, when people start to talk about the beauty of death and murder and stuff, or what it means to be human or start monologues on other philosophical motives for murders, I feel these scenes (and motives) don't always feel as convincing as the author thinks they do.

Also, I find the characters of this story a bit predictable. A large cast of various characters, including scientists, a well-connected heiress and students that work together and all contribute a little to solving the mystery? Yeah, we already saw that in the S&M series. The V series predates the G series, but the G series also features a private detective in an apartment building who hires students as his assistants. Like I mentioned, I've been reading the G series lately, so I had an enormeous feeling of deja vu as I watched this TV special.

Though I have to say: I've seldom seen a middle-aged, divorced woman with a child as a detective protagonist before.

Though still, I wouldn't recommend Cezaimaru Venico no Jikenbo ~Kureneko no Sankaku~. It's a predicatable detective TV special like you can see practically everyday in the afternoon on Japanese TV (based on own experience, I'd say that's not even that big an exaggeration). If you want to see Mori Hiroshi's work on TV, you might as well watch Subete ga F ni Naru.

Original Japanese title(s): 森博嗣(原)『瀬在丸紅子の事件簿~黒猫の三角~』

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