「危ういトルコ石」 (Ayaui torukoseki)
The plot thickening is not something I necessarily expected in Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei. At the very least it wouldn’t have surprised me if this had continued to be an episodic affair for its entire run, but series like this (Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes for example) will sometimes go a little deeper with their characters. I certainly don’t think it can do any harm to have a spine running through these one-off stories, as some will invariably work better than others. And since Richard has been more interesting than Seigi even without knowing his back story, he figures to be a good source of intrigue going forward.
Things start off innocently enough, with Seigi proving his mettle when it comes to pudding (and milk jelly) to Richard. Housekishou continues to toy with us on the subject of Seigi’s romantic inclinations, and I now think that’s quite intentional – there’s a definite mischievous note to it (as witness the scene in the cafe). But Seigi’s college classmate Akita-san has asked for help finding her missing boyfriend, who gave her an expensive-looking turquoise bracelet before disappearing, and that sets off a chain of events which reveals more of Richard’s past than any story has so far.
There’s always an educational element to these episodes for someone like me who knows little about gemstones. This whole business about howlite being a common fake turquoise came as news to me (and to Akita), but it tips Richard off to the involvement of a group of scammers selling fake gemstones to young customers. Richard is obviously irked by this, as any straight-dealing jeweler should be – but Seigi is convinced that something deeper is bothering Richard about all this (and he’s certainly going to be proven correct).
Richard and Seigi going undercover on a counter-sting operation was amusing in its own right, if a bit fanciful. Actually the idea of this count of storefront scam job seems a stretch to me, but for all I know it’s common in Japan, where crime of the violent kind is exceedingly rare. Richard’s scheme is likewise pretty fanciful, but it certainly gives Sakurai Takahiro the chance to have some fun and chew some scenery.
The real meat here comes at the very end, when the reason for the depth of Richard’s emotional investment in this affair becomes clear. That he has a history of working as a scammer (“Edward Baxter“) itself is a development I can’t say I saw coming, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how puppy-eyed and possibly lovestruck hero of justice Seigi responds when he finds out. “This business isn’t as clean as you think it is” is certainly an understatement – Housekishou even delicately touched the third rail of the blood diamond industry – and I would certainly be interested to see the series dig further into that aspect of Richard’s vocation (though that would be even more unexpected than this week’s developments).