Otaki-san // Woodpecker Detective’s Office Episode 2 & 3 Review
Episode 2 & 3 Review - A Red-Light District Woman &
Episode two takes on a Rashomon style of story telling to the murder mystery. Ishikawa and Kyousuke travel to the red-light district to unwind, and find themselves in the presence of a dead woman. The episode twists the viewers understanding by showing the murder from the perspective of two narrators. Both are unreliable in their narration.
Ishikawa’s version of the story alleges that Otaki was killed in a kerfuffle after Kyousuke fails to perform. Its logical that Kyousuke is the murderer because no one else entered the brothel that night other than the two friends. Kyousuke’s version of the story tells a different tale. He accuses Ishikawa of accidentally killing Otaki, confronting her after Kyousuke had left the scene.
Ishikawa’s actions throughout the episode feel irresponsible as Kyousuke puts it. These two are supposed to be friends, but at the first sign of danger Ishikawa dumps the law right onto his compatriot. Both versions of the story are crafted to put blame on the other when we the viewer are led to believe that neither of them is a murderer. Neither Kyousuke or Ishikawa are setup to benefit from killing the girl, so it only makes sense that someone else was secretly there.
Attention to the Cigarette
Something I picked up on in Woodpecker Detective’s Office episode two is the focus on smoking. Almost all of the major characters on screen are seen smoking at some point. There is a lot of subtext in the smoking, and a lot of clues to the larger mystery. The smoking also shows off a lot of the characters and how they interact with the cigarettes.
The first to be seen smoking is Ishikawa. He buys packs on the regular, similar to how he regularly frequents brothels. Ishikawa is comfortable with smoking and has no problem spending his money on the two vices. Kyousuke is the opposite. He is uncomfortable with the idea of paying for the woman’s services, and is unable to light the cigarette Otaki gives him. She has to help him light the cigarette like she has to help him in the bedroom.
Unveiling the ‘Murder’
Episode three’s winding towards uncovering the actual mystery of the “murder” is really interesting. There is a focus on the victim, and her motives in all of this. Both men claim innocent in taking Otaki’s life, so what motive is there for anyone in this situation.
A few new characters come into the scene for episode. The first three are fellow boarders among Ishikawa and Kyousuke. They know that neither of their friends are capable of murder, and that there is foul play is among the foul play. It is a random passerby, the youngster Hirai Tarou, that breaks open the case for them.
From the second episode it made no sense for Kyousuke to murder a prostitute he has allegedly just met, and for Ishikawa to turn on him so quickly. Hirai’s deduction of the suicide and not the homicide makes it all clear. Otaki was into Kyousuke before their encounter the night before. It makes sense that Ishikawa would be upset at the dismissive nature of Kyousuke. He has respect for the woman’s passion and sees Kyousuke’s timidness as a betrayal. That’s why Ishikawa lets him spend a night behind bars.
I didn’t expect the story to hit such a hard emotional beat at the end. It plays off the forlorn lover angle well enough up until the end moments. Something about the final shot of Otaki falling silently is really striking. She doesn’t have much to live for and now that she has finally spent time with Kyousuke she can be at peace. I felt the anger that Ishikawa felt seeing Otaki take her own life. Its a moment that Kyousuke has arguably ruined by being such a pansy.
Woodpecker Detective’s Office episodes 2 & 3 have really shown some heart that I didn’t expect out of a murder mystery series. I think the friendship they are establishing between the two main characters is just beginning to show. Even more importantly, the short stories that we are starting to see have an emotional presence to them.
[Sources and Further Reading]
[Image via Crunchyroll]
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