It’s that time of the year again. Since getting subbed Japanese films is a bit of a chore these days, flying home is the only way I get to watch current films from 日本[1]. I was recommended by ノールさん to check out Strawberry Night 「ストロベリーナイト」 which centres on the investigation of three apparently linked murders involving three members of a yakuza group.

The investigation had to be handled by both the homicide and organised crimes divisions due to the nature of the murders, much to the chagrin of both sides. The homicide division is led by Himekawa Reiko (played by Takeuchi Yuko[2]) and things were going fine until Himekawa received an anonymous call implicating a certain Kento Yanai being the perp for all three deaths. The twist to the plot begins when she was told unanimously by her immediate superiors to back off from investigating Yanai and look at other possibilities to solve the case. Himekawa nevertheless went out on her own to find Yanai which led her close to Makita Isao (Osawa Takao), a high ranking yakuza, ending up with a somewhat unexpected entanglement of sorts.

The plot twists were just nice and not too convoluted. I hadn’t taken heed of ノールさん’s comment that it was already a TV drama, which would explain the movie’s title and the basis of Himekawa’s character and drive in wanting to solve the case in the way she did. If you are a fan of Japanese film or dramas, quite a few characters in the film are recognisable. The one character that sticks out for me was Kikuta Kazuo who was Himekawa’s deputy, played by Nishijima Hidetoshi whom I remembered very well as the main character in the rom-com dorama series Boku to Star no 99 Nichi. One other recurring actor I noticed was Tanaka Yoji, who seems to play minor yet important/memorable characters in many films/doramas, like Hero (the nameless and quiet bartender), Sukiyaki Western Django (a nameless gangmember who got it worst in a gunfight) and One Pound Gospel (a welterweight boxer who appeared in one episode). In fact, it feels like every film would have him in it (I note that he was even in Kill Bill Vol 1!), and I wonder if he chooses to play such brief yet memorable roles on purpose.

After all that heaviness, I chose something light on the DXB-KUL leg. Kencho Omotenashi Ka 「県庁おもてなし課」 is about a newly-formed department called the Hospitality Division at the local council for Kōchi prefecture on Shikoku’s south coast, which has been tasked to make the region more attractive to tourists.

Kakemizu Fumitaka (played by Nishikido Ryo of Kanjani∞) was successful in persuading Kōchi-born author, Yoshikado Kyosuke (Kora Kengo), to be the prefecture’s first ever tourism ambassador in the hope to somewhat boost its image for tourists. Yoshikado, cheesed off with the lack of the division’s initiative, later suggested that they should find a non-public servant who is young and female as a member of the division, as any opinion from a member of the young/female demographic would be of value as opposed to one provided by a typical public servant. Enter Myoujin Taki (played by the delectable Horikita Maki) as the soft-spoken yet firm new member of staff, who, together with Kakemizu, had to track an ex-council employee named Kiyoto (Funakochi Eiichiro) who came up with the infamous “panda plan” 25 years prior to boost tourism for Kōchi. This then led to reunion of Kiyoto’s small family with the author Yoshikado which explains a few things to why Kiyoto was to be sought if the hospitality division was to succeed in attracting tourists. The film also deals with the relationship between Yoshikado and Sawa-san (Seki Megumi), Kiyoto’s stand-offish daughter.


The film is pleasantly plain, for lack of a better word. It was neither a run-of-the-mill drama nor a rom-com, although both elements were conspicuous in this 2-odd hour film. A major part of it did feel like a gomen-type mari melawat Kochi kinda film, but as it was a while since I watched Horikita-chan, I’d forgive the filmmakers for the relatively average storyline which made me want to see the film’s conclusion. Can lah.

[1]Jepun, Jepang, Japon, اليابان. Same thing.
[2]I didn’t recognise her until I realised I had seen her playing the twin sisters in Once In A Blue Moon.