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[Japanese Drama Special 2021] Signal: Choki Mikaiketsu Jiken Sosahan Special シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班 スペシャル


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Title: シグナル 長期未解決事件捜査班 スペシャル
English title: Signal: Long-Term Unsolved Case Investigation Team Special
Screenplay: Adapted by Nishi Kōsuke based on an original screenplay by Kim Eun Hee (Korea)
Director: Suzuki Kōsuke

Network: Fuji TV, KTV
Broadcast period: March 30, 2021
Cast: Sakaguchi Kentaro, Kitamura Kazuki, Kichise Michiko, Kimura Yūichi, Ikeda Tetsuhiro, Aono Kaede

 

Synopsis:

Transmissions through the mysterious walkie-talkie begin once more as two detectives - one from the present, and the other 20 years in the past - work together to solve another cold case and clear the past detective's name. This is adapted from the 4th case of 2016 tvN drama Signal.

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This very recent Japanese SP, providing a link from the Japanese series to the upcoming Japanese movie, was very good. While I wait for this movie, I'm going to watch the original tvN Korean series, since there appears to be a drama sequel on the horizon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

While very likely its primary purpose being to set the scene leading up to the movie that was released Apr 2, 2021, the SP is a very well made adaptation of the Shin Da Hye case in the original, ingeniously tying the case and its perpetrator to the mystery behind Nakamoto's murder from the drama finale while giving the case its own twist, and a far kinder fate. Unlike the original which totally removes the collaborative element between past and present timelines, and by extension any hope of changing the past, the SP reconnects Saegusa and Ōyama once more, and it is their joint efforts that allows the past to be rewritten, undoing the victims' years of suffering. In contrast, fate remains far more cruel to Shin Da Hye and those who loved her, as they continued to live in fear and pain, only seeing justice served 20 years hence, when the perpetrator is finally brought to justice.

 

I truly marvel at how a case plucked from the middle of the original series, ends up providing a highly convincing link to Nakamoto's death and the clearing of Ōyama's name. There is a dynamic collaboration between Saegusa and Ōyama which I particularly appreciate, as they feed each other information that would help further their investigations, and ultimately allow them to nail the perpetrator of both crimes. I love too how Saegusa still tries to find a way for them to meet in his past, making their promise to each other doubly poignant. And not forgetting the heartbreaking longing Sakurai clearly feels as she sees the victim given a new fate through their efforts, even as she continues to wait for the man she loves. Then the cliffhanger at the end, just when things appear to have wound down, though we should have expected it from this universe, is the perfect setup for the movie to follow. Which makes me rue the fact that the originally intended broadcast on Netflix has not panned out at all, at least not yet. Argh!

 

Much as I love the SP, it is not to say it is without issues. There is nothing that explains why the perpetrator confessed to the 2nd previously unknown crime even though he was only arrested for the first, unless we are to deduce that Ōyama triggered that confession, knowing as he did what happened to Uesugi Kurumi. There is also no logical reason why the gun used to kill Nakamoto was not disposed off until 6 months after the deed. Was it used as leverage to ensure the killer got all the compensation he wanted? Perhaps. In addition, why was Sakurai never involved in the transmissions this time round, knowing that they have begun again? Instead all we see is her resigned to hearing 2nd hand news from Saegusa about Ōyama. The explanation as to why Ōyama never contacted her after his name was cleared in the past timeline also feels unrealistic, except to prolong the angst between Sakurai and him.

 

Notwithstanding the gripes I have, this is clearly a worthy, cohesive adaptation which stands well on its own. Some of my favourite scenes...

 

Seeing double. The photos that would trigger the investigation that followed.

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The confrontation. Perfectly executed in both versions, while leading to very different outcomes. 

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The longing in both women's eyes as they see a reunion that they helped bring about, while continuing to wait for the man they love, breaks my heart every time.

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As always... 
 

Timeline comparisons:

SP (Case 4 in the original)

To my surprise, it took me much longer than expected to gather my thoughts and put together a timeline comparison. While very much a straightforward narrative, the challenge ultimately lies in comparing a version that saw no change to the timeline, vs another which ultimately reversed the consequences. Hopefully the result is a coherent one...

Spoiler

Character comparisons:

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At the end of the day, I am truly glad to have been given a chance to be reunited with the characters that have become so dear to me, in the universe that I have sorely missed. Truly hoping that the movie will be available soon, and we will perhaps finally see a physical reunion of the trio we have all come to root for.

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  • 2 months later...
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Signal SP won in 2 categories in the just ended Seoul Drama Awards 2021 - Most Popular Foreign Drama (1 of 2 winners), and Asia Star Prize (Sakaguchi Kentaro). Congratulations to the cast and crew!

 

 

 

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