Originally broadcast in November 2010 as a special drama, Strawberry Night was broadcast as a TV series starting January 2012. The visualization of Tetsuya Honda’s representative novel series, highly regarded by mystery fans for their excellent plotlines and breathtaking storytelling, this TV drama series became an instant hit as a new wave serious police drama that combined a profound worldview and depth of story. It also acquired female fans, generally considered to be difficult to accomplish for police dramas, and gained support from a wide range of age groups of both men and women alike. With an average viewer rating of 15%, fans went wild for this popular series that breathed new life into the police drama genre. Now, Strawberry Night is coming to theaters as a feature film!
In her first role as a police detective, Yuko Takeuchi plays the protagonist, Reiko Himekawa. This non-elite female detective who had risen through the ranks to become an assistant inspector at the age of 27 became a hit role for Takeuchi. Hidetoshi Nishijima plays Kikuta, whom Himekawa trusts immensely. Other original members of the cast from the TV series include Keisuke Koide as Hayama, Takashi Ukaji as Ishikura, Ryuhei Maruyama as Yuda, Tetsuya Takeda as Himekawa’s natural enemy Katsumata aka “Gantetsu,” Kenichi Endo as Kusaka, plus Ikkei Watanabe, Masahiro Takashima, Katsuhisa Namase, and Masahiko Tsugawa. Other top-notch stars of Japanese cinema including Takao Osawa, Tomokazu Miura, Ken Kaneko, Tetsushi Tanaka, and Shota Sometani also breathe vibrant life into the world Strawberry Night the movie. The director who brings these distinctive characters together is Yuichi Sato, who also directed the TV series. The director of the highly acclaimed film Kisaragi and one of the leading figures in the world of Japanese entertainment, he displays his skill to the utmost in this film.
Strawberry Night is based on the best selling Reiko Himekawa mystery novel series by Tetsuya Honda that has sold over 2.4 million copies (as of September 2012). The special drama was an adaptation of the novel by the same title, Strawberry Night, and the episodes of the TV series were based on Symmetry, Infection Game and Soul Cage. The feature film version is based on Invisible Rain, widely recognized as being the best work in the series, and depicts the new case that Himekawa and her men must tackle. The story is filled with suspense, but carefully depicts each character's concerns, sorrows, and inner conflicts. In the movie, Reiko Himekawa, who had been badly hurt both physically and mentally in the summer when she was 17, encounters a man she must never fall for, the solitary, aloof yakuza gangster Isao Makita. Each of the three characters – Himekawa, Makita, and Kikuta, who had protected Himekawa in the earlier TV series – how will their differing emotions reach a conclusion?
In the rain that falls incessantly throughout the film, a side of Reiko Himekawa that had never been seen before emerges. As they take on a series of intricately entangled serial murders, Himekawa’s unit’s final ordeal begins.
Labyrinthine Series of Incidents Hidden Under Layers of Deception
One rainy night, Reiko Himekawa (Yuko Takeuchi), a police detective stationed at the Homicide of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, sits in a bar with Kazuo Kikuta (Hidetoshi Nishijima), who works under her. She receives a phone call from her superior, Imaizumi (Masahiro Takashima), who is in the hospital, telling her that a man has been found dead within the jurisdiction of the Nakano Higashi Police Department.
The victim is Mitsuru Kobayashi (Nobuaki Kaneko), age 29, a member of Rokuryu-kai, which is a subsection of Jinyu-kai, an affiliate of the organized crime syndicate Ryuzaki-gumi. He has been stabbed numerous times all over his body and his left eye has been slashed vertically. The way he was murdered matches the homicide cases that occurred 5 days ago in Mitaka and 3 days ago in Narihirabashi, so the police link them as serial killings and sets up a joint investigation. The headquarters is set up in Nakano Higashi, where Himekawa’s unit is stationed, and joint investigation with Mitaka and Narihirabashi Police Stations begins. Himekawa and her men, her rival Kusaka (Kenichi Endo), members of the Organized Crime Team (commonly called “Sotai Section 4”) and other investigators gather one after another to the meeting room. Among them is Ioka (Katsuhisa Namase), who had supposedly been promoted and transferred.
Since the victims of all three cases were members of the organized crime syndicate Ryuzaki-gumi, internal strife is considered to be the probable motive behind the murders and the investigations are begun accordingly. Himekawa returns to the empty room after the meeting to retrieve something she forgot and happens to answer a call, a suspicious tipoff informing her, “Kento Yanai (Shota Sometani) killed Mitsuru Kobayashi.” She begins to doubt whether the three cases are really serial killings. A non-elite who had solved many difficult cases through her intuition and hard work and thus quickly risen through the ranks, Himekawa senses that there is more to these murders than first appears. But the Superintendent, Hashizume (Ikkei Watanabe), strictly orders her to “ignore the name Kento Yanai even if he happens to surface as a suspect in the course of investigations.” Dissatisfied with the order, she places the members of her squad and Ioka under Kikuta’s charge and begins to search independently.
Meanwhile, Himekawa’s men including Kikuta, Ishikura (Takashi Ukaji), Hayama (Keisuke Koide), and Yuda (Ryuhei Maruyama) assist her independent investigation. Eventually she hits on a certain case from 9 years ago, a heartbreaking incident that involved Kento Yanai’s family.
Several days later, as Himekawa waits in the rain outside Yanai’s apartment, she meets Makita (Takao Osawa), who introduces himself as Yanai’s acquaintance. He hands her a name card that reads, “Koichi Makita, Sales Division Manager, Seiryo Realtors.” But he is actually Isao Makita, the aide to the young leader of Ryuzaki-gumi and the leader of Kyokusei-kai, one of the suspects involved in the serial murders. Before long, Himekawa finds her life being thrown out of equilibrium because of this encounter with Makita.
In the meantime, the labyrinthine series of incidents hidden under layers of deception shake up police authority, and the investigation moves in a completely unexpected direction.
As the justice that had been concealed comes to light, what does Himekawa witness beyond the truth that she uncovers? Everything will be revealed in the steadily pouring rain.
Yuko Takeuchi Hidetoshi Nishijima Takao Osawa
Keisuke Koide Takashi Ukaji Ryuhei Maruyama Masahiko Tsugawa
Ikkei Watanabe Kenichi Endo Masahiro Takashima Katsuhisa Namase Tetsuya Takeda
Shota Sometani Nobuaki Kaneko Ken Kaneko Shingo Tsurumi
Renji Ishibashi Tetsushi Tanaka Tomokazu Miura
Produced by Chihiro Kameyama Yoshiro Hosono Minami Ichikawa Yoshiaki Yamada Motoharu Takahashi
Executive Producer Toshihiko Taneda"
Producers Hiroaki Narikawa Ken Tsuchiya Masataka Takamaru Hiroko Emori
Original Work "Invisible Rain” by Tetsuya Honda
Written by Yukari Tatsui & Makoto Hayashi"
Music by Yuki Hayashi
Director of Photography by Akihiro Kawamura
Lighting by Keiji Abe
Video Engineering by Ken Takanashi
Sound by Takashi Kanasugi
Editing by Takuya Taguchi
Production Design by Takashi Shioiri
Directed by Yuichi Satoh
©2013 Fuji Television Network, SĄDĄP, Toho, Kyodo Television, FNS, Kobunsha
127 minutes, Released on January 26, 2013