Japanese Drama Review: Kagi no Kakatta Heya

kagi no kakatta heya

Ohno is so freakin’ cute in all his little cardigans! Every time I see him in a drama, I get the strong desire to pinch his chubby cheeks…and then I remember he’s nearly 35 years old…

Ratings out of 10:

Acting: 8

Storyline/plot: 8

Plot Development: 7

Characters: 7

Music: 6

Ending: 9

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Acting:

The best actor in this drama, hands down, was Ohno Satoshi, who played one of the leading characters, Enomoto Kei.  Enomoto is a quiet wierdo with a penchant for unlocking any and all types of locks. A character like this has many ways it can be played. Instead of the more eccentric route, Ohno went for the apathetic and largely unemotional route. Arguably, this was the easiest and the most difficult way to act out the character.   It’s the easiest because the character doesn’t need to worry about forming connections to the other characters–he simply only cares and gets excited about locks. It’s also the most difficult way because it’s unrealistic to not show emotion to anything, but showing emotion while portraying a character that perhaps only feels emotion and never communicates it is difficult to get across to the audience. Luckily, Ohno chose the harder route because although it was clear his character had no interest in anything but unlocking things, there were times when (especially in the last two episodes) where his eyes accurately communicated what he was feeling inside, and that’s not an easy thing to do.

I’ve always been a fan of Toda Erika, so the surprise of seeing her in this drama was a pleasant one (though, I didn’t figure it out until the second episode it was actually her because she looks so different with her hair up and bangs pinned back). Her work in Liar Game and Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta remains some of my favorite work of hers. I was expecting an equally good performance out of her in Kagi no Kakatta Heya, but she was rather undazzling in this role. She used the same cheesy and exaggerated facial expressions over and over again, and her character (Aoto Junko) was not very interesting.

Sato Koichi, who played a lawyer famous for business lawsuits (until it changed to solving locked room cases), Serizawa Gou, was hilarious. The way he would always act like taking up another locked room case was inconvenient, yet loving the praise he received from it made his character quite likeable. He also had a funny way of running where his wrists would be limp (just imagine what people typically think of when they say “you run like a girl”) While, I don’t think that saying is very nice to the sex of women, the most accurate way to describe how Serizawa ran is exactly that. It was also funny how his character not-so-subtly became jealous when Enomoto and his ability attracted a detective’s eye and how his “advances” to try and get Enomoto to return his friendly affection was met with apathy. This was my first time watching a drama with Sato Koichi in it, and I would definitely not be opposed to watching another with him in it.

The guest actors for the various murders all did really good jobs. I can’t pick out any one actor that did a very poor job. I just remember that they portrayed their characters accurately and skillfully.

Plot and Plot Development:

Since this drama was based off of books about solving locked room murders, each episode had a different murder and a different conclusion. Until episodes nine and ten, which could really be treated like one, long episode, each episode began and ended the same way. Enomoto would be in the locked room explaining the case, while Serizawa and Aoto would stand behind him. Then, the episode would abruptly cut off and go to the real beginning where the murder is discovered. Then, the episodes would end with Enomoto “unlocking” the locked room in his brain, confronting the culprit about it, and receiving an explanation as to why they committed the murder. So, the plot and the plot development were quite simple, and they followed a simple pattern, so they should both get perfect scores, right? Well, I gave the storyline an 8 simply because it took until about the third or fourth episode for me to actually be interested in what was going on and not watching the drama just to watch it. There’s only so much you can do with locked room murders before they begin to be boring. The development only got a 7 because there was a minor story arch introduced I think at the very end of episode five, and is not reintroduced until episode 11. I don’t what to spoil what the small story arch is, but I’ll just tell you there was so much more they could have done with it, so I wasn’t happy when it didn’t fully develop when it was introduced so early in the series of episodes. Plus, the fact that the culprit in the last locked-room murder was hyped so much yet wasn’t even connected with any of the main characters in any way like was implied, was irritating.

Characters:

Enomoto’s character was the most intriguing, though he didn’t get as much screen time as Aoto or Serizawa. I love how the only time Enomoto smiles is when he finally unlocks a really difficult lock, and I also like the ambiguity and lack of back story his character received. It added to his mystery and further intensified his nerdiness.

Aoto and Serizawa as well as the various characters involved in the many different locked room murders were mostly fun to watch, but there was nothing too special about any of them that really made you connect with or feel their pain. Well, there was one. There was a father in one of the episodes (I believe episode five) who said and felt some things about his children that is fairly realistic to what some parents may feel if they have one child who creates problems for the whole family. Other than the father, I can’t think of any other minor character that was particularly interesting, though they certainly weren’t boring either.

Music:

The music was nothing special. In fact, I’m finding it’s rather rare to get any drama from any country in the world that has a soundtrack worthy of praise. Thank goodness for Game of Thrones! Anyway, there were a few tracks played throughout the drama, as is customary, and they gave off the “detective/murder-solving” vibe, so that’s why I gave the music a 6. Also, the Arashi theme song for this drama, Face Down, is their best one since Truth.

Ending:

There was only one loose end that needed to be tied, and it was tied and wasn’t tied at the same time. I like ambiguous endings like this–the kind that are obviously done in order to have some fun with the audience. Did Enomoto steal the jewels? I’m betting he did–with his ability, who wouldn’t? Although there’s really no way to know, unless the 2014 special answered it, but I haven’t watch it, so I wouldn’t know.

So, all-in-all, Kagi no Kakatta Heya was an entertaining, light-hearted take on the otherwise dark subject of murder. And it was also pretty interesting seeing how Enomoto solved seemingly unsolvable cases.

Overall Rating out of 10: 7.5

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