Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de
Review by David Cirone
Rich and beautiful heiress to the international Hosho group, Reiko (played by Keiko Kitagawa) has started a new life as a rookie detective. She thinks it’s a secret from her family and her attentive butler Kageyama (Sho Sakurai), but Kageyama easily sees through her ruse and goes so far as to help her solve her first case: The Woman Who Died With Her Boots On. Reiko has exhausted every lead and come up empty, and she’s even more frustrated by the overbearing behavior of her superior, the flashy and flirtatious Detective Kazamatsuri. Kageyama listens to her story and shamelessly points out that she’s missed the most obvious solution to the murder. But he’ll only tell her the answer after she’s finished her elegantly-prepared meal.
DIALOGUE IS SERVED
A large part of the episode takes place in the living-room or dining-room of Reiko’s mansion. Detective shows always have the “explanation” section (See Matlock, Colombo, Murder She Wrote) but Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de smartly breaks this up with split-camera angles, freeze-frame POVs, and quick cuts. The variety isn’t just on the visual end: Kitagawa’s performance hints at much more depth to Reiko than her pouting and rich-girl manners, and Sakurai adds loads of comic finesse to what could have been a one-note role.
STYLE, STYLE, AND MORE STYLE
The comic-book visual direction balances perfectly against the upper-class society properness and heavy dialogue, going all out with bright colors, page-frames, thought balloons, and animations. The scene where Reiko literally throws the word “Fired” at Kageyama is comedy gold.
Kippei Shiina as Kazamatsuri is fantastic in this premiere episode. His larger-than life intensity is just a step or two away from Ace Ventura, and the unanswered question of why he became a detective (he’s rich, too) is the mystery I’m looking forward to. Listen for Dreams Come True playing from his car stereo as he speeds away in his silver convertible.
Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (The After Dinner Mysteries) is currently playing on UTB Hollywood in Southern California.