Review: Cold Case (Jdorama)

Rating: 9/10

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a review and I’m glad to stumble on this gem to start off 2017.

Cold Case jdorama is an adaptation of the American counterpart which ran fom 2003 to 2010. I have not watched the American original but fans were excited to see Japan adapting it so I gather it must be quite good. My review will be solely based on the Japanese version, no comparison to the original but to detective genre doramas produced by Japan in general (at least those I watched).

Watching this gave me goosebumps, the same ones when I watched  Strawberry Night (Takeuchi Yuko, Nishijima Hidetoshi). They were both serious, cool-toned doramas that depicted gruesome crimes, interpersonal relationship of the team and no nonsense whatsoever. I’ve been searching for such detective dramas after I finished Strawberry Night and I can finally declare that Cold Case has satisfied that craving.

Cold Case is very procedural and every episode prioritizes the case in hand. As the title suggests, each case is often unsolved cases from the past where new evidence or witness has resurfaced allowing our team to re-investigate the case. Two sets of actors are often used to differentiate the past and the present. Glimpse of the ‘past’ actors are cleverly added in as our detectives talk to the ‘present’ actors, allowing us to feel as if they are the same people. The whole effect has succeeded in adding a sense of flow and poignancy. Not to forget, every episode features English songs from the period of the crime and it REALLY resonated especially if that was your era. We also see a ton of flashbacks which is a given, as it provides us with the truth our detective team is seeking. The cases are quite predictable, no brain racking needed but honestly the beautiful part of the drama is to see everything unravel piece by piece. We may know who have dunnit and perhaps how and why but it’s made more emotional by seeing how people are haunted by their past or the lost of their loved ones without clear answers. It’s also satisfying to see justice done for those who have forever lost their voices and for the family who needs closure. Then again, the drama picks up on reality as well in which some people prefer not to dig into the past but to leave it and move on despite not knowing the whole truth. I’m about to launch into an ethical discussion here and by that, you can tell that this drama will leave you with a gutted feeling of how twisted but real the crimes are.

I’ve seen Yoshida Yo appearing in various dramas playing smaller characters and guest but this would be the first time I see her lead a drama. Coincidentally, she is also leading a medical drama Medical Team: Lady Da Vinci no Shindan which I’m also watching. It must be a productive year for her because she executes both drama really well. In Cold Case, she is confident but unassuming, has a past but does not let it affect her, the lady boss but professional to her staff. There is rarely discrimination towards her as a female senior and there are no scenes of uppity higher authority yelling at her to get her pants on for the job. That’s why I’m so glad because all this talk about a lady having to be super capable or some sort of genius to reach the pinnacle is ridiculous and is often overplayed in Jdoramas. In here the lady is just doing her job, period. Along with her colleagues, they are just trying to serve justice, period. You’ve gotta love a Jdorama that respects its genre to the T. Nagayama Kento plays the rookie cop who is amateur, a bit taken by surprised by his female superior but learns to fit in. Just when you think he is a stereotypical hot-headed junior, we see that he has his own troubles and that immediately changes our judgement. Tomokazu Miura, Mitsuishi Ken and Kenichi Takito round up our team and are no strangers in the detective genre.

Why you should watch this:

  • You like serious detective doramas, no frills (aka romance)
  • You like cool-toned cinematography
  • You’ve watched the American one, just checking out what Japan has adapted. (please leave comments if you have!)
  • You’re used to watching American TV series format.

Why you shouldn’t watch this:

  • You can’t stand gruesome crimes. I believe there’s less blood spattering than Strawberry Night but it doesn’t make Cold Case less gruesome in nature.
  • You prefer humor or romantic elements
  • You want to see Yoshida Yo kicking asses. I’m sorry, there isn’t any ass kicking.

I do think that WOWOW has done a good job with this drama and it should really be considered for second season. More cases served cold please!


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