J-Drama Special – 4 Shimai Tantei Dan (4 Sisters Detective Agency)

We will close off this little detour into Japanese drama by finally looking at a show that neither stars Aya Ueto, nor is it a Manga adaptation.

Based on a popular novel, 4 Simai Tantei Dan is about the four400px-4STD-banner Sasamto sisters.  Their father is an archaologist (the Mother has passed away), and well to put it bluntly, every time he goes away, they get involved with a murder case.  Which they then solve – or rather the youngest daughter Yuriko (Kaho) solves, sometimes assisted by her sisters, sometimes not.

Added to the mix are the local police, and a bond forms between Yoriko and the youngest Detective (Hisashi Yoshizawa [Ace Wo Nerae!]).

The four sisters are all quite different:

  • Yoriko is a schoolgirl who whilst very focussed, has a problem reading Japanese Kanji
  • Mari (Noriko Nakagoshi), the oldest sister, is a Flight Attendant, who is desperate to find a man.
  • Tamami (Yui Ichikawa) is obsessed with earning money, and seems to hold down numerous jobs.
  • Ayako (Kato Natsuki [Attack No. 1]), is a little bit ditzy, and i the most likeable of the bunch.

Now, I really liked this show, but to be brutally honest, it is vastly inferior to the other 3 shows I have looked at.  It looks fantastic, and each episode moves along at a brisk pace.  The mysteries are hardly the most complex, and they are pretty standard fare for this type of mystery show.  I guess you could equate it to “Monk” rather than “Columbo”

The show also has a bizarre balance – most of the characters are wildly comically caricatures, which can get a little annoying, especially as Koho and Hisashi Yoshizawa seem to be playing the show pretty straight.  Top of the annoying charts are the Aunt and her rather bizarre boyfriend, which are frankly a disturbing pair, although the local Police are close up there.

The other problem is that the show is so centred around Yoriko, that the other sisters get pretty short shrift.  We rarely get to see them all together, and even worse, I was delighted to see Naoto Takenaka as the father, only to find his involvement extremely limited.

Koho is the star of the show, and actually manages to squeeze a lot from her frankly quite thinly drawn character.  By about episode 6, you also will be whispering “Case Closed” at the end of each show.

I feel as though I am really giving the show a  bad review.  It seriously is utterly charming, it is just that it does not quite hang together, and it wastes so much of the excellent cast it has strung together.  At a mere 9 episodes is is certainly worth a few hours of your time.  But you know it could have been so much better.

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