Ouroboros Episode 2 – The Wrong Path Taken

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We had great progress this episode as we watched our two dragons fight against society’s concepts of forgiveness and what it means to stay on the right path.  Especially when the right path seems to be littered with those killed or hurt by  society’s worst scum.  It makes our anti-heroes question their vigilante motivation and makes us viewers wonder if our leads are really heroes, or only more of society’s drudges.  We also get some very appreciated fan service, via a bath house scene, which helps a lot in distracting us from the fact that we are rooting for murderers.

DISCLAIMER:

I am writing this post while having the flu.  If anything does not make sense, rambles, or if I suddenly write “Kill me now” out of subtext, you now know why.  Now on to episode 2 recap!

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This being a Japanese crime drama we, of course, have our crime of the week.  This time it is in the form of the Hostess Killer.  Our murderer killed and burned a hostess a few years previously, and then he disappeared.  The first bureau was in charge of the case and got in trouble when the trail went cold.  Now that there were rumors out that the killer was back in town; the lead detectives decided it was time to make some peons do the grunt work.  With a smirk (that I swear is tattooed on his face), smirky detective states: “We got in trouble last time for letting him escape, let’s kick it to the 2nd bureau.”

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I guess the best way to hunt for a killer who targets hostesses (women that keep men company at the bars and help increase their alcohol intake and therefore their bill) is at a hostess bar. Ikuo and Hibino join their senior detectives, and areobviously uncomfortable with the whole situation, but Smirky Detective tells the two to loosen up and enjoy the perks of the job.  He then went on to tease (but not really) Ikuo about his connections with the underworld and how he seems to be so good at his job.   You have to appreciate that he alone is not taken in by Ikuo’s awe shucks country bumpkin facade.  As the senior detectives leave the rookies alone (heading to a different club), smirky detective questions Ikuo’s personality once again.  “Will we see his dark side? I want to investigate that.”

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A more awkward pair of people hanging out at a hostess bar you will never meet.  Poor Ikuo is huddled up and looking like a scared virgin sacrifice while Hibino begins questioning the girls about their makeup and promptly imbibes too much. Ikuo calms down a bit when he meets a new innocent looking hostess (I have a feeling the boy is getting played) Aio who convinces Ikuo that hostess bars are a lot of fun.  And after exchanging email accounts via touching their phones together (can you say Product Placement) manages to get him to order more liquor and fruit (Yup, he totally just got played).  When Ikuo gets the bill his eyes pop out and he begins to freak out over how much he owes.  The manager offers to waive the bill since the bar wants to stay in the police’s good graces, but Ikuo refuses and runs to the ATM to get the funds to pay.  Awww for such a rule breaker vigilante, he sure is uptight and upright in everything else.

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Tatsuya was also having problems on his end.  Paying a PI to investigate the Kintokei Gumi, he is thrilled to hear that the man has produced some results.  Only, when he arrives at the meeting location, he finds his PI seconds from death and his office trashed.  With his dying breath, the PI tells Tatsuya that this is bad and he has to take his finger.  Now before you start to think that this is some funky finger chopping for a thumbprint type plot line, relax and take a deep breath.  The man’s finger had already been chopped off and it was just his fake pinky that he had been referring to.  Tatsuya removes the prosthetic pinky and finds a scrap of paper inside with the name “Ryuu Sougen” written upon it.

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The hostess club that is being investigated belongs to Tatsuya’s gang organization.  We learn that Tatsuya is big on providing a safe place for his employees to work as well as providing education and extra perks to make his girls a higher class of hostess.  Tatsuya congratulates his manager on a successful remodel and tells him to continue the good work.  As Tatsuya leaves, his manager tells him that the police had recently been at the bar and that the detective was kind of odd since he actually paid his bill.  I cracked up when Tatsuya dryly replies that that detective probably has a terrible dark side.  Hahaha, the dry humor of his character really makes my day.

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Detective Hibino obviously has daddy issues and is not overly involved/thrilled when her father becomes the new police superintendent.  Her dad is busy making his spot in the department by meeting all the head honchos and pretty much schmoozing PR wherever he goes. “We must not hurt the public’s trust in us” seems to be his overall theme……  and every drama fan knows that this phrase means only one thing………. ding ding ding……….he’s dirty.

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What would a crime drama be without a murder of the week?  If anyone knows please tell me, I am pretty sure that this would be a kdrama watcher’s white whale.  But regardless, we at least have a wonderfully grisly murder to move the plot along.  This week it is our sweet hostess girl Aio who bites the big one.  Aio is found dead in her bathroom, drowned, with the  Hostess Killer’s prints scattered all over her house.  Ikuo is obviously upset that someone he had been near too was killed and as he exits he smells something at the crime scene.  You just have to love a man who has a super sniffer.

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It was Aio’s boss who had called in about her absence from work.  The manager falls apart, lamenting on not calling it in sooner and it is up to Ikuo to comfort himThe older detectives rush off to renew the hunt for the Hostess Killer with a renewed determination to catch this elusive killer.  

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I think that the Asians have  a mantra which states “Those who bathe together stay together.”  As proven when Ikuo and Tatsuya rent out the whole bathhouse so the two men could have some good BBF time.  Oh, my mother father……..Oguri Shun (Tatsuya’s) ouroboros tattoo is so sexy.  I know that this whole scene was mostly fan service, but this fan is not complaining one bit.

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And since it would be a shame to ignore all the fan service the drama gave us viewers, please enjoy these screencaps.  It would be a shame to waste them.

Tatsuya informs Ikuo about the prosthetic finger (bwahaha his reaction when he thought it was really a chopped off finger was hilarious) and the name Ryuu Sougen written and hidden inside-“It is the name of a black market doctor, but we must proceed carefully since Kintokei Gumi is obviously powerful.” Tatsuya also says he will look into it since it is part of his world.

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Tatsuya hunts down and pays the Chinese black market doctor a visit.  While originally coming on strong, he ends up paying the doctor for information.  The doctor recalls the men, a group of four Japanese men that came in for treatment on the day Tatsuya mentioned.  One of the four  had been shot in the back, which required treatment.  The injured perp cried the whole time saying “I’m so sorry, I’ll pay for what I did.”

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Fresh with the new information Tatsuya and Ikuo have one of those fun secret meetings.  I love how creative the director is in making these scenes so intimate and private within busy locations.  Tatsuya questions Ikuo as to whether he has retained any memories regarding gunshots from that night.  Ikuo apologizes for his hazy memory but replies that he does not recall anything except the impression of the four men.  Tatsuya tells him it’s ok, “He must have seen something horrible to have it be erased like that.”   He then questions Ikuo about his side of things.  Ikuo mysteriously answers that he was right, that that man was involved.  Tatsuya’s eyes harden and he replies “Ok then, let’s go kick that man around”.   They are so hot when they are vague and  turning vigilante.

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Detective Hibino was not waiting at home while Ikuo was out having BFF time; she also has been out following leads.  Leads that lead her straight to Tatsuya’s front door.  Thinking that Aio’s mobster boss might have something to do with her murder, Hibino barges into our favorite gangster’s office demanding answers.  When she does not receive them, she fumes and mutters under her breath which leads to a great conversation between her and Tatsuya.

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H – “I can’t overlook someone like you who is on the wrong path.”

T – “I have no faith in the police, I hate them.  However….. Among them, I guess there is one. An honest detective like you.”

H – “Sarcasm?”

T – “My true feelings.”

It was an great scene between the two people in Ikuo’s life who matter, even if Hibino is totally oblivious to the connection.

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It is actually an uttered phrase that helps our two vigilantes track down the serial killer. “Do unto others, as they would do unto you.” This is the phrase that the nightclub’s manager uses all the time.  The phrase is unique enough, that it caught the attention of both Ikuo and Tatsuya.  It is also a phrase that was used by Aio, who mentioned that she had learned it from her boyfriend.  Who knew a biblical quote would end up catching the killer?  Just proves that if you are going to go around murdering people, don’t have a catchphrase.

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Putting two and two together, Tatsuya and Ikuo figure out that the boyfriend is the manager at the hostess bar.  Since the prints of the serial killer were all over Aio’s apartment, it was apparent that the manager had gotten plastic surgery to disguise himself and had started his murdering ways again.  Too bad you can’t change fingerprints. The manager’s cologne was also distinct and lingered at the crime scene, adding yet another nail to his guilty coffin.

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Confronted by the two friends, the manager/killer admits to his crimes but is shocked when Ikuo walks away without arresting him.  Tatsuya pulls out a gun and informs the man that he is trash and should have treated someone who is family better than he did.  The next day, the police find the manager/killer dead in his apartment, having committed suicide by shooting himself.  Justice is served yet again.

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My Thoughts:

It was very interesting that there is so much focus on the phrase “the right path.”  We see through flashback, that the boys’ Sensai also put a lot of emphasis on this concept.  Yuiko Sensai told the boys, “By doing harmful things to others you won’t become decent adults” and they promised her they would never again stray.  Ummm… I think that ship has sailed unless you are a viewer who thinks that vigilante justice is decent.

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Hibino also focused a lot about the concept of the “the right path.”  While Tatsuya is fully aware that he and Ikuo have chosen a different road to travel and had made peace with his vengeful decision, you can tell that Ikuo is a bit more conflicted.  I think that both men are attracted to Hibino and see her as a replacement of their Sensei. With Ikuo being younger and more impressionable, he will be the one to have problems if he begins to feel guilt. It will be interesting to see if the two boys have a falling out about their revenge plans in the future now that Hibino is influencing Ikuo’s actions.

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Ikuo continues to be the stronger character when it comes to pushing the plot forward.  While Tatsuya is an amazing and strong character, it is Ikuo’s duel personas that really give the show its edge.  I like that we have the experienced smirky detective (who knows in his gut that Ikuo is not a bumbling fool) as well as Hibino (who is slowly having some doubts as well) creeping towards the truth.  It makes the plot more entertaining because we don’t know if the boys will achieve their goal before the detectives catch on to their illegal revenge quest.  I look forward to seeing what happens next and where the writer decides to take us.  

I was so taken by this story, that after the first episode I went out and read all the manga chapters currently available.  If anyone else is interested, here is the link for the manga Ouroboros Manga Link.  I am excited to see what stories the live action version decides to use, and how it will compare to the original work. 

Til next time,

Kmuse

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