Joker: Yurusarezaru Sousakan is a detective drama that delves deeply into the concepts of society, justice and injustice. It ran in 2010 and stared Masato Sakai as the reserved Kazuyoshi Date. Mild-mannered detective Kazuyoshi Date is known around the Kanagawa Prefecture Police Force as “Buddha” or “saint” due to his constant pleasant demeanor even to the most violent of criminals. But when the justice system fails and those criminals walk free, Kazuyoshi Date drops his nice guy act and becomes a brutal punisher unleashing his wrath upon them. This show was pretty awesome and I have very few complaints after getting through it. One aspect that is very original is that even though this is the first season the way the story unfolds you would think it was the second or third. While each episode does tell a single story about an individual criminal, you get tons of back story about Date and you learn what he went through when he was young that made him such a cold person meanwhile an overarching story also develops about an investigation into the disappearances of violent criminals. Each of these three layers works great together that creates a story with more depth than I have seen in awhile.
The basic premise of each episode begins with Date his friend a crime scene investigator Kenij Kudo played by Ryo Nishikido and his partner detective Asuka Miyagi played by Anne Watanabe investigating a new crime scene. The crimes are pretty ranged with serial killers, arson, murders so there is a lot of variety. The investigation usually goes pretty well and a suspect is found but a legal loophole generally crops up to protect the accused from any prosecution. After letting them go Date slips away and attempts to bring his justice to the criminal. Honestly the investigations are pretty intriguing and the cases are never open and closed. The motives and the perpetrator in each episode are unpredictable and it leads to a good mystery. The acting is pretty top notch from Ryo and Anne and I loved their characters and their development from just side characters to main characters very much. I enjoyed the character Buddha Date quite a bit and I think the internal debate as to whether or not what he does is “right” is interesting, But the presentation by Masato for Date is kind of hit and miss. Sometimes his reserved characterization plays really well but it’s kind of hard to identify with such an emotionless character I was kind of disappointed because he is such a fantastic actor in “The Climber’s High”. He is awesome though during the chilling scenes where he lays down his punishment.
There is so much back story in this show and every time it pops up it adds more and more layers to the story. You learn what made Date such a two sided person, and you get to learn about past cases date had with his old investigative team (one of which was Aska’s older brother) and a mystery slowly unravels around his death 8 years before the series is set and the other quit being a detective for being a journalist. I really liked the flash back scenes for each character because with each new piece of information you gain a better understanding of the characters. The show really picks up when the investigation into Dates victims falls to his ex partner the journalist and she begins to get closer and closer to the truth. The most interesting part of the show is defiantly this aspect where Date has to protect his hidden life and it’s interesting to see his niceness clash with his ruthlessness.
Every episode of this show is fully engaging with great cliffhangers and I have to give this a high priority to any J-drama lover. I really don’t want to go into details, which is why this review has been slightly vague, but take my word for it; this show is a wild ride. Every character is very well done and the show has zero filler, which is rare in itself. This show is a rare gem and is completely different than any other “cop” TV show I have ever seen.