UNFAIR -the answer
UNFAIR -the answer


It began as an incredibly popular television drama series in January 2006, a hard-boiled suspense rare for Japanese TV that delves deeply into the darker side of human nature and society, with often bizarre and unpredictable plot twists and an attractively talented cast. In October of the same year, UNFAIR returned as a made-for-TV movie entitled UNFAIR the special: code breaking, also garnering high ratings. Then in March 2007, UNFAIR: the movie was released in theaters nationwide. Taking place in a police hospital occupied by terrorists, the large-scale production drew over 2.1 million moviegoers. The crisis in the movie was resolved, and yet the mystery that obsessed Yukihira remains.
And now, four years later, Natsumi Yukihira returns to the screen for answers in the aptly-named second feature-length film, UNFAIR the answer. Having left Tokyo to take up an unglamorous post at the Nishi-Mombetsu police precinct far up in northern Japan (Hokkaido), Yukihira still can't escape controversy as she winds up the prime suspect in a bizarre series of murders, which may be linked to an entrenched police corruption conspiracy. When different men with varying interests begin showing up around Yukihira, she realizes that she must act alone and goes on the run in search of answers. As the name indicates, UNFAIR the answer represents the concluding chapter to the exceedingly popular franchise, tying up loose ends and bringing Natsumi Yukihira the long-awaited justice and closure for which she has tirelessly fought.


Former Tokyo Metropolitan Police agent, Natsumi Yukihira (Ryoko Shinohara), was famous for having the top arrest record on the force as well as drawing the wrath of her colleagues and superiors. Then she got caught up in an internal coup d'etat that culminated in a terrorist occupation of a police hospital. While she single-handedly brought the incident to a close, Yukihira was shipped northward to a post in Hokkaido at a small precinct in Nishi-Mombetsu.
Meanwhile, back in Tokyo, a brutal and twisted serial killer was on the loose, murdering his victims with a nail gun, and sending society into a panic. Field investigators on the case included Yukihira's ex-colleague, Tetsuo Yamaji (Susumu Terajima) and Kaoru Mikami (Masaya Kato) while Yukihira's old boss, Yuji Kokubo (Sadawo Abe), led the investigation from headquarters.
When the latest victim's body shows up covered in fingerprints from Yukihira's ex-husband and freelance journalist, Kazuo Sato (Teruyuki Kagawa), Yukihira is stunned, having heard the news from Nishi- Mombetsu precinct criminal investigations chief and current boyfriend, Michitaka Ichijo (Koichi Sato). Sure enough, Sato shows up in Hokkaido to warn Yukihira that every prime suspect in this bizarre serial killing ends up as the next victim. He secretly returns to her a USB flash memory stick that contains incriminating police corruption evidence that Yukihira had asked him to decode, and then disappears. The next morning, there is a pounding at Yukihira's door. It is Ichijo and fellow officers who have come with a warrant for Yukihira's arrest as a suspect in the murder of her ex-husband, whose body had been found full of nails.
The news of Yukihira's arrest in Hokkaido sends shock waves through the police agency, leading to the sudden appearance of a man from the district attorney's office by the name of Katsuaki Murakami (Takayuki Yamada). He has come to question Yukihira much to the chagrin of Ichijo and police at Nishi-Mombetsu. They bridle at his haughtiness as he attempts to exclude the police from the investigation. Once alone with the Murakami, however, Yukihira quickly overpowers him, takes him hostage and flees from the site, hostage in tow, seeking for herself the answers and choosing to trust only investigator Yamaji and coroner Mikami. Later, she discovers the serial killer is actually after the USB stick that Yukihira carries with her, and purportedly contains secrets of vital national security. From police chief to murderers, varying interests entwine around Yukihira and her flight from the law, but someone must be the ringleader and Yukihira is determined to expose him and all the police corruption that lay beneath. But who can she ultimately trust? Who will betray her? And who will she have to betray herself?


Shooting begins near the drifting ice of Mombetsu

Shooting for UNFAIR the answer cranked up on Feb. 22, 2011 in Mombetsu, Hokkaido, chosen as the main location precisely because it was certain to have snow between February and July, and for its frozen winter wonderland beauty. In fact, this was the first time a major motion picture had ever been shot in Mombetsu, and when it was all over, hundreds of local citizens came out to the airport for a big staff sendoff.
The many picturesque locations in Mombetsu led to some very impressive and memorable shots in the film as in the scene where Yukihira lies under the giant rudder of a raised rusting ship to witness the last sight of a murdered victim. For the shot, Ryoko Shinohara, indeed had to lie on the frozen ground beneath the giant rudder, and the crew constantly worried whether the woodworks that were holding the ship upright would suddenly give out and bring the ship down on their lead actress. But the scene was one of the most haunting and unique of all crime site scenes ever shot for UNFAIR.
For the scene at the start of the film showing Yukihira's northern home, the exterior of a traditional Mombetsu private home was used with its European log house look nestled in a silvery snow-blanketed world, and served as a beautiful backdrop for the opening titles.
All the main actors took part in the Mombetsu shoot from Shinohara to Koichi Sato, Takayuki Yamada, Nao Omori and Teruyuki Kagawa. Shinohara spent a lot of time talking with Sato, Yamada and Omori, with whom she has many scenes and who were all new to the UNFAIR series. And they were often spotted at the local restaurants and taverns. The shoot took place on the restaurant-lined Hamanasu Street in Mombetsu, the shipyard, Galinko square, and a venerable private home (Uchida residence) with cast and crew fighting the bitter cold. With ice drifts nearby, it sometimes dropped to 15 below zero, and when the wind blew, it stung from the feet up. Still, when sunshine was needed, the sun broke through. When the schedule called for snow, it fell... making for a near perfect 12 days of shooting.

UNFAIR writer Shimako Sato gets behind the megaphone

Shimako Sato has been at the center of the UNFAIR franchise as its writer from the very beginning; from TV drama to TV special right on through to the first movie. This time, however, along with penning the screenplay, she sits in the director's chair as well. With her thorough knowledge of the series and vision for the franchise all coming to full maturity in UNFAIR the answer, this latest installment could also be deemed a return to its roots.
"In fact, Sato's cinematic expression took shape in scenes that I would call the most characteristically UNFAIR-like in a while," remarks producer Hideki Inada. "We were constantly being surprised. She's going there!? I mean, surprise has always been the series' selling point, but I'm certain she made it pay off the most here."
Even diehard fans of the series are sure to experience some fresh new surprises. "It's orthodox in a good way," notes another producer, Yoshihiko Taneda, in lauding the talent of the director and staff. "They're made an overt effort to really reward the audience on this one and create a perfect balance between old and new."
"Director Shimako Sato really knows the Yukihira character well, so it was a great help to me," says leading lady Shinohara. "There was a lot of communicating on the set, which made it very easy." This was particularly true for Shinohara as there were very few women on the set to consult with except for the director.
The film features a love scene between Yukihira and Ichijo, which was surprisingly new to Shinohara as veteran actress. And she relied heavily on Sato for advice. "Before shooting the scene, Shinohara and the director locked themselves up in a hotel dressing room and had a practice run with the director playing Ichijo, and saying "No, more like this, and more like that," recalls Inada laughing. "We couldn't peek so we didn't have any idea of exactly what was going on in there. Apparently, it had been over ten years since Koichi Satoh had done a love scene, himself so he, too, was very nervous to the point of not being able to eat. Imagine these two huge stars, Ryoko Shinohara and Koichi Sato all shy and terrified. They looked so innocent," laughs Inada. "But once the camera was rolling, they got right down to work."
In the four years since the last film, a lot of changes have come to Shinohara personally, motherhood being one - and people are curious about what the new Yukihira will be like. But Shinohara took to the action scenes with a vengeance and plenty of preparation, often electing not to use a stunt double. As a result, the crew all concurred that this Yukihira is the most Yukihira-like to date."

Yukihira Gets Down

There had always been great attention paid to the look and style of Natsumi Yukihira with her long black coats and black pantsuits to even her underwear, and that wasn't about to change here. But for a shoot that had to take place in the near arctic temperatures of Hokkaido, reality trumped style, and a down coat had to be considered. Still, too thick of a down coat would detract from Yukihira's signature coolness, and so selecting the right coat posed an unexpected challenge as dozens of coats were tried before finally selecting the long sharp-looking down coat you see in the movie. The movie also presents a new contrast in Yukihira's look between Hokkaido and Tokyo scenes.
Despite the dramatic intensity and edgy feel and aesthetic to the picture, UNFAIR was characterized by a relaxed atmosphere on set due largely to the laid back personality of cast leader, Ryoko Shinohara, and the support which she got from the rest of the cast and crew. When shooting finally wrapped up, Shinohara could hardly contain her joy and relief, showering the cast and crew with praises in a closing address. "Being blessed with such talented co-stars and a constantly supportive staff really made it a joy to come to the set each day. You were always full of smiles but still were thoroughly dedicated to and serious about the work. And that really saved me. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Amid applause and cheers from the cast and crew, the 2-month-long shoot came to a satisfied close.