Japanese drama review: 『ミステリと言う勿れ』(misuteri to iu nakare)

By | January 10, 2023

Japanese dramas, like anime, are something that I have gradually lost interest in over time. While I still enjoy a good drama or anime now and then, I’ve become familiar with all the common tropes and am sensitive to the acting and other parts of the production, so I frequently get bored after a single episode (if I even make it that far).

But for the first time in quite a while I managed to make it to the end of the first season of a drama, so I thought I would write a brief review of it. It has the title of『ミステリと言う勿れ』(misuteri to iu nakare), which can be translated something along the lines of “Don’t call it a mystery!”

The story begins with a man who is a bit quirky, perhaps ‘nerdy’ would be a better way to put it, and it soon becomes clear he is quite intelligent, and has a unique way of viewing things. He shortly becomes involved in a crime which puts him in contact with the police, and the police quickly realize his special deductive abilities. Eventually, the police start looking to him to solve future crimes.

In the 12-episodes of the first season, there are a few story arcs that take place, which (as you might have guessed) involve solving some mystery. Some I liked better than others, but I liked how the stories didn’t begin and end perfectly with each episode, they often bled over to other episodes, and some story elements would disappear, only to appear later in the season. 

The mysteries feel somewhat contrived, and as the episodes go on there is increasingly a feeling that you are being pulled along just to see what happens next (as opposed to some big-picture story). To a certain extent, this latter characteristic is understandable since the drama was created based on a comic series (though I heard there were some significant changes to the story). With the exception of the character I just mentioned, I wasn’t that impressed by most of the other characters, though I liked some more than others. There was a second person who stood out, but I don’t want to give any major spoilers so I’ll leave that out of this review.

But having said all that, I feel that this drama was a step (or two) above the average J-drama, especially considering there are many intellectual topics and logical discussions about one thing or another. These are great for someone wanting to add some more advanced vocabulary to their Japanese, and just trying to understand everything and follow the twists and turns is a bit tricky. I admit that I didn’t understand 100% myself (I generally watch with subtitles off, or ignore them if they are on), and think a second watching would be fun just to pick up some of the nuances I missed the first time around. Or I may just try to read some of the manga to see how different it is.

Another nice thing is there happens to be a bunch of random classical music thrown in––at least one per episode, sometimes more––which perhaps is supposed to contribute to the “intellectual” atmosphere to the show (I actually think they did a good job at that). By the way, another thing that tags this drama as being a bit “advanced” is the word “nakare” in the title, which has the meaning of a negative command, but has a strong nuance of classical Japanese (you don’t hear/see it used much in modern language).

I think in some ways the logical discourse and deduction reminded me a little of the Galileo series (which was also quite good), and whether that was purposeful or not it contributed to my enjoyment of 『ミステリと言う勿れ』.

The first season doesn’t really resolve some important questions, but I heard a second season has been announced, so I’m looking forward to that. If you end up watching this drama, let me know what you think.

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