This Week in Tokyo Pop Culture | Sep 6: Life Lessons and Kyoto Animation’s Triumphant Return

We might be over the worst of Japan’s blazing summer but things have only started to heat up in Tokyo pop culture. This last week has been absolutely rife with new arrivals to the small and big screens so let’s take a look at a few of them:

Hunting Scammers & Frauds with Passion & Zeal

Sagideka (also known as Swindle Detective or Heron Detective) is NHK’s new police procedural that premiered on August 31. It stars Fumino Kimura as Karen Imamiya, a detective who investigates scams and fraud, which are a growing problem in Japan most often targeting the country’s elderly population. Sagideka emphasizes the human aspect of its stories, which elevates them above just a police show. This is additionally helped by Imamiya herself who despises fraudsters with all her being and pursues them with the passion and zeal of a true believer in justice. This is actually something we haven’t see in a while. In fact, similar shows in the past like Scams (2019) or The Confidence Man JP (2018) seemed to be almost glamorizing white-collar crime. Despite its basic story, Sagideka has enough drama, high emotions, and interesting characters to make it a worthwhile watch.

In that regard, the show is somewhat similar to the new MBS/TBS show REALFAKE, which premiered in early September. Once again, the setup for the story is very simple: a person goes missing and the culprit is someone among their group of friends and coworkers. It’s a familiar plot but because it takes place in the world of music, it opens itself up to really interesting storylines in a notoriously hardcore Japanese business where, in real life, singer Minami Minegishi (of AKB48) had her hair shaved off as punishment for spending the night in a boyband member’s apartment. Hopefully, REAL⇔FAKE will try to tap into that world to become more than just another run-of-the-mill mystery show.

AI, Killer Androids and Adult Responsibility

Premiering on September 1, Kamen Rider Zero-One is the first Kamen Rider show of the current Reiwa era, but its eyes are firmly set on the future. It takes place in a world that’s similar to ours but which also includes HumaGears: androids with artificial intelligence, some of which get hacked by a terrorist organization and turned into vicious killing machines. Now it’s the job of Aruto Hiden to forget about his dreams of becoming a comedian and accept the role as chairman of the company that created the robots, as well as the augmented fighter Kamen Rider Zero-One. Interestingly, the new Kamen Rider premiered right around the time as the Nippon TV show with a similar premise: Papa Hajimemashita.

On the surface, Kamen Rider Zero-One and Papa Hajimemashita (~ “I became a father”) couldn’t seem more different but they are ultimately all about responsibility. The latter tells the story of Kotaro (Mario Kuroba) who takes in Hina (Hirara Hayasaka), the daughter of distant relatives after they’d died in an accident. He then raises her together with his two friends while running a café that was also left to him. Judging by the first episode, Papa Hajimemashita will live or die on the strength of the colorful, quirky characters that the show introduces as it goes on, but the core theme of suddenly having your life turned upside down is sure to resonate with many viewers.

Kyoto Animation is Back

Barely 1.5 months after the devastating arson attack against their studio that cost 35 people their lives, Kyoto Animation is back with the release of their new feature film Violet Evergarden Side Story: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll. A spin-off of the KyoAni anime Violet Evergarden (a story about a ghostwriter for people unable to properly express their emotions in writing) the film was released on September 6. Unlike the series it’s based on, the absolutely gorgeous-looking film seems to be smaller in scale while also upping the emotional tone with hard-hitting themes of overcoming feelings of despair, which frankly feels more than appropriate.

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