Detective Story: A Spunky Crime Story

Directed by Kichitaro Negishi
Produced by Haruki Kadokawa
Written by Toshio Kamada and Jiro Akagawa
Cast: Hiroko Yakushimaru, Yûsaku Matsuda, Risa Akikawa, Chu Arai, Hyôe Enoki, Susumu Fujita, and Kyôko Kishida
A rich college student set to leave for America is embroiled in a murder case after she becomes involved with a private investigator hired by her distant father.

Based on a novel, Detective Story with no shock to no one is a murder mystery. Funny enough, the mystery is kept dormant until a 20 or 30 minutes into the movie. When it finally appears, it feels as if the events of another film are suddenly barraging in because the difference in tone is so striking. Detective Story goes from a teen drama to a crime drama so suddenly. The opening segment isn’t put to waste. It establishes the dynamic between Naomi Arai and Shuichi Tsujiyama, and moreover the characters conflicts of both.

Naomi Arai is a young woman on the threshold of maturity though youthful appearance makes her look like she hasn’t even finished Middle School yet. Naomi is at a pivotal moment in her life, so wonders what it to be an adult. She is an ever precocious girl that’s willing to explore her unexplored sexual side, but even that can’t hide her innocence. Sex is actually ever-present in this movie from the many affairs here to the central murder story that happens just after sex. Sex, needless to say, is on everyone minds here!

The iconic Japanese star Yusaku Matsuda plays Shuichi Tsujiyama. This is the first instance I have watched Yusaku Matsuda in action though I’m not familiar with his work, I know that he is known for a ”tough guy” persona from the pictures I’ve seen of him. Ironically, Shuichi is far from a tough guy, Shuichi is a more of a meek down on his luck detective who isn’t too far away from embarrassing situations. Though people may expect a more active character from someone like Shuichi, the core story ultimately belongs to Naomi, so it works. Besides the mystery, the movie’s main narrative focus is on Naomi and Shuichi’s relationship.

A relationship, one might say has ”unique” qualities to it. The age gap between the two many will find really disconcerting. This creepiness is probably more due to Naomi’s very youthful appearance. Seriously, she does look like a Middle Schooler, but the movie did mentioned she is an adult. So, still, that isn’t probably enough for everyone to avoid the uncomfortable overtones.

There is a nice bit of maturity to how the story handles the whole relationship. It is treated with a lot of subtlety and never mentioned in an overly goofy way. The story behind the murder mystery is executed well. It’s never obvious who the true culprit is, so the sense of mystery is never down. The constant feeling of mystery with the odd relationship does make the movie at least entertaining to watch. The story moves at a slow pace although the slowness does create a relaxed mood for the story to unfold. Detective Story works well for what it sets out to do. But, unfortunately for what it does do may unsettle some.

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