November 13, 2014


Hero (2014 season) is a (mostly lighthearted) police procedural about an oddball bunch of Tokyo public prosecutors. The most eccentric of which is Kohei Kuryu (Takuya Kimura), the Dr. House of prosecutors. He never wears a suit and is addicted to American infomercials.

In the 2014 series, he's paired up with the extremely cute Keiko Kitagawa and hangs out at a bar whose remarkably resourceful bartender can produce practically any obscure item on a moment's notice.

What makes it a police procedural rather than a legal drama is that Kuryu insists on re-investigating the cases he's given. Given the propensity of the police to extract convenient confessions, this would greatly improve the Japanese justice system if actually done.

Especially considering that defendants are regularly grilled by prosecutors without a defense attorney in sight. In fact, the appearance of a defense attorney pre-trial is cause for curious looks and raised eyebrows, not an expected part of "due process."

Guaranteed access to a lawyer is there in the law, but surprisingly few defendants (in real life too) take advantage.

Unlike Law & Order, only the final episode ends up in court. Most cases are plea-bargained in the U.S. as well. However, based on television ratios, Law & Order is no less accurate, as only a teeny-tiny percentage of criminal cases ever go to trial in Japan.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent is the only series in the franchise that I watch, perhaps because it is the least realistic and most "Holmesian." In the real world, half of the cases they "solve" would get thrown out of court. In Japan, they'd all be slam dunks.

Essentially—and this is stated rather plainly in the show—prosecutors don't bother prosecuting unless you're already guilty.

If you are indicted in Japan, you have about a 0.1 percent chance of being acquitted. So Japanese courtroom dramas are about as realistic as Japanese murder mysteries. Or, for that matter, British murder mysteries (especially the ones that take place in Oxford).

But this does mean that the public prosecutor's office in Japan is where a defendant's fate is truly decided, so Hero is pretty accurate in that regard.

Related posts

Lawyering Up
Justice for all (Japanese)
Less Crime and Less Punishment

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