I think it’s been a while since a jdrama has really captured my attention. Granted, it’s probably because I haven’t been doing the “try one ep” thing at the beginning of each season. (I haven’t been doing it for kdramas, either.. but there are a lot of people doing recaps for those, so I don’t even have to watch anything for a while… Oops?) This first ep for Bitter Blood actually looks to be gearing for a pretty good series. Cross fingers!
(Also, erm… this was supposed to be a “high-level” recap… but I started detailing some stuff more towards the end. No promises on continuing on this series… or even continuing with this much detail… but I’m really happy with the first ep.. so….!)
The story begins in 2002 when Shimao Akimura’s partner (“buddy”), Maeda Shuuichi, is killed during what I assume is an investigation. Shimao runs to him, but Maeda is only able to leave him his final words to treasure his family. The killer is revealed to us immediately. The cast list has him named as “Kaizuka Takehisa”, a man with a limp who appreciates classical music… and killing, apparently.
Fast forward to 2014, and we see Sahara Natsuki waking up with just enough time to rush off to his first day on the job at the Ginza Police Department. He is unhappy to see that his horoscope foretells trouble through the day and to hear his sister, Shinobu, compare him to his dad, who had left them when they were younger. As he makes his way, you can see how much he hates to see people in trouble, as he turns back to help a child get across the tracks and go to school, helps the child’s mom who is about to give birth, and help an old woman with a thief who had just stolen her purse. The last proves to be too much for him when the thief flips out a knife, but, thankfully, another rookie cop, Maeda Hitomi, kicks ass and saves him.
Meanwhile, the welcoming ceremony has started at the station, with the team we’re going to grow to love sitting in the back and looking like a bunch of goofs. Shimao is among the group and inadvertently responds for Natsuki when he registers surprise at hearing his son’s name being called out. (By the way, they list the astrological sign on the new staff list? Hahaha.) The truth hits him harder when Natsuki and Hitomi walk through the doors with the perp, and they see each other. Shimao: “Nonsense.” Natsuki: “No way….”
Apparently, the team knows about their relationship and the fact that their family had split about 10 years ago. Koga marvels at the fate God has handed down. XD Hitomi and Natsuki are handed their badge, with a reminder that they are just rookies. When Shimao, known by the nickname “Gentle”, notes that they don’t know the police code, their team lead assigns him as Natsuki’s “buddy” so that he can properly teach him the basics. (I’m just going to use “partner” from here on.. I assume they’re using “buddy” for the “buddy system”.)
Gentle and Natsuki start their partnership awkwardly, as they leave to question a murder suspect’s neighbors. (As an aside, Gentle asks him what the most important thing is to being a cop. Natsuki tentatively answers, “Passion?”. But.. “No! It’s the jacket!” Gentle says, as he flings his coat at Natsuki then demonstrates the idol way of putting it on. Hahahaha.)
We come to see the difference in the way that they do their questioning. Gentle barges in like a “weirdo” (Natsuki’s descriptor, haha) and gets in the other person’s bubble as he questions them. I assume he’s looking for a tell to see if they’re lying. On the other hand, Natsuki sympathizes with and establishes a connection with the other person when he’s questioning… as we can see when they get word that the second suspect has died and they go to question the suspect’s daughter. He even sheds some tears with her, and, as lame as Gentle thinks he’s being, it totally works. (Incidentally, we also get to see Furukawa Yuki during this part. *squee!*)
(In the midst of this, by the way, Hitomi is introduced to their teammate’s nicknames as she looks for somebody to review her report.  “Bachelor”, a bachelor with a strong desire to marry;  “Chaser”, the technological genius and a master at trailing (?);  “Skunk”, whose breath is so bad that he uses it to intimidate suspects;  “Taka”, who, if I remember correctly, is the one who handed out the nicknames. Other than these, there’s the section chief who has so much work he barely goes home and has basically forsaken his family. Of course, there is also “Gentle”.)
The team digs at him for it later when they go out to dinner, and Hitomi is none too quiet about noting that guys who cry too quickly are lame. He responds that he’s been told that he puts people at ease. Skunk pounces on that: “Just like Gentle!” “Who, me? I’m the complete opposite.” But, Bachelor notes that their eating habits are also the same… and Taka issues a nickname for Natsuki: “Junior!”)
The entire team is drunk by the time they walk out, and they happen to walk by a bar where the bounces are picking on a guy who is begging in his underwear. Despite the team’s advice to let it pass, Junior just can’t and he ends up running back to cover the guy with his coat and distracting the bouncers while the guy makes a run for it. The team watches for a while, but when he’s down, all but Hitomi and Gentle make a move forward. “That’s enough! This guy’s our Junior. Our quite precious Junior.” Gentle smiles wryly, until a guy rushes to the club’s doors, telling somebody on the phone that the cops are here.
Gentle runs after him, and barely catches him burning a list in the back room. Of course, the higher ups aren’t too happy about this. Once alone, Gentle takes Junior to task for his actions. When he demands Junior’s reasons, the latter can only mumble, “I just couldn’t stand it…” Gentle commands him to write a resignation letter by the next day before he walks off.
Hitomi witnesses the scene.. and follows Gentle by the vending machines (where Gentle is drinking “Gentle Coffee… Pfffft). She notes that Junior is pretty down and that he’s been rather severe. “Is it because you’re father and son?” At his denial, she adds, “Then is it because he’s your buddy?” She tells Gentle that she’s Maeda Shuuichi’s daughter, but he’s already aware of the fact. She tells him about how she’d looked up to him, since her dad always talked about him. He responds that he’s no hero; he couldn’t save her dad. They both share their desire to catch her father’s killer.
Junior stays late into the night, apologizing to their lead for causing trouble, but the lead just tells him it’s ok since they’re family. The lead tells him that, among police, the relationships between people in the organization run deep and that they have to help each other… just like family. But, even with family, there are things that are difficult to talk about. He adds that, although he has a hard time showing it, Gentle must be happy to be partnered with his son.
Hitomi is waiting for him outside when he leaves. She calls him stupid. Since they started together, his image of being an idiot might reflect on her as well… She asks what he’s going to do if her credit goes on the line as well. He can only mumble his apologies. She mumbles that she guesses she’ll have to watch him…
Later at the sauna, the chief calls Gentle out on being cold to his son because he’s worried for his safety. He tells Gentle not to bear it on his own.
The next day, Junior turns in his resignation letter for Gentle’s review, but asks to be allowed to continue with the job. Gentle hands him the card for a tailor, then tells him to properly follow the rules from now on.
The tailor ends up being too expensive, so he goes to the bank to check his balance. The old lady he had helped from the thief earlier in the episode recognizes him as he heads for the restrooms, but she is restrained by a masked man before she can approach Junior. The people at the bank are taken hostage, as a 30-minute timer starts.
The team arrives outside, as the hostages are terrorized and their phones collected. Unfortunately, Junior’s phone rings as Gentle tries to call him to meet up with the team. He quickly hangs up and hides in the bathroom. He’s almost caught, but, fortunately, he has two phones. He slips his phone over to the next stall and calls it just as one of the masked men fires at his lock. The robber buys that it’s a dropped phone.
Once he’s alone, he calls Gentle back. When he’s told to “come to Midori Bank”, he whisper’s back, “I am currently in Midori Bank’s restroom.” XD He quickly gives them the rundown of the situation inside the bank, but his personality snaps as he sees a man get shot when the timer reaches zero. He lays out a plan to Gentle, who does NOT agree… but when a child is threatened (and, oh, God, I’m going to cry), he goes forward with the plan anyway. He keeps the line open and stuffs the phone in his pocket as he moves forward. He acts the idiot when the robbers ask him where he came out from. He notes that he was in the bathroom because his stomach hurt.
“Die,” the leader growls, as he shoots in Junior’s direction.
Fortunately, it was just a threat. The leader had shot at a coin container. He is tied up and thrown in with the other hostages. He tries to calm down the others, and the old lady encourages the others to believe him. He whispers to the kid that, “the Ally of Justice is coming.. so you mustn’t cry.”
Outside, Chaser is able to loop into the security camera’s feed, just as the robbers start threatening the kid again. (And when Satou Takeru is looking back like that, I am, for some reason, reminded of Kamenashi Kazuya… wth?) The leader cocks the gun, and he points out the security cam to buy some time. They, of course, shoot it.
The leader faces Junior again, and irritatedly notes that he’s been going on for a while now. “Are you not taking us seriously?” (Kind of like, “Are you making fun of us?” or “Do you take us for a joke?”) As he’s told that he’s next to die, he asks for one last call to his family. The leader scoffs as he kneels down next to Junior… who quickly steps forward, ninja-dodges, and knocks the gun out of one lackey’s hand as he lands on a desk. He flips the phone out of his pocket and calls out for them to move in. The leader shoots… but… “You’ve already fired six rounds…. Non-seeeense. You should at least know how many shots you’ve got.” Desperate, the robber is about to beat him with the gun, but Gentle has just come in to shoot the guy in the arm. “Don’t copy Nonsense,” he tells Junior.
The rest of the team come in to detain the robbers. (They sent Hitomi on her own while everybody else had a lot of backup? What?) Unfortunately, it seems the leader has one more gun in his pocket and he tries to fire at Gentle, but Junior sees him in time and knocks him off-balance. Father and son detain him.
They have a touching moment as Gentle tosses him a “Gentle Coffee” can and asks if he really called him “Father” just earlier. He vehemently denies it, but takes a swig of the coffee, despite his aversion to bitter things.
The ending can’t all be happy with a killer on the loose, of course. Kaizuka has been watching the entire time, and he drops a recorder at the scene.
This same recorder is replayed for the leader of the robbers later in the interrogation room. A high-pitched voice declares that this is just the beginning. He denies it as the recorder begins to smoke… and it explodes… with the robber and Skunk in close proximity.
Kaizuka is also watching this security feed. Once it fizzes out, he replays the feed from the bank earlier… and notes Junior with interest. He pins a picture of Junior to his killer wall, filled with pictures of the team… primarily Gentle. (Was this guy a cop in a past life? I think he calls them rivals.)
When Junior gets home, Gentle is making okonomiyaki for his sister… who is calling him “Papa” like he’s always been there. Apparently, Shinobu had called “Papa” over, thinking it’s unfair that he’s the only one that gets to be spoiled by “Papa”…. who had apparently bought him a suit, after seeing his bank book and finding out his pauper status.
They argue over the style on the lining… while Shinobu digs in, unperturbed, between them. Their argument is cut off as they get a call about a bombing.