After an extended diet of fluffy contract marriage Jdramas, I decided I was in need of something different, and 99.9 Criminal Lawyer hit the spot. Our lawyers have cases to solve, but they are the focus of the show, have personalities, and sometimes clash. If you’re looking for something partly serious but lightened up with humor, try this out!
The law firm
In Japan, we are told, the prosecutors have a 99.9% conviction rate. Miyama Hiroto is a lawyer who looks for that other pesky 0.1% of cases and is zoned in on finding the truth. There is a reason for that, which we don’t find out until the end of the drama. He is also irrepressible and smirks a little too much.
Miyama’s paralegal is the rather hapless Akashi Tatsuya, who gets stuck with all the craziest jobs when they reenact crimes – such as changing clothes, running down 25 flights of stairs, and then racing across town. He provides slapstick for the show, but he grows on you.
Madarame Hiruhiko is the CEO of a very prestigious law firm that specializes in corporate law. He never lets on what he is thinking and has a secret plan that isn’t explained until the end of the drama. He suddenly, and without an apparent reason, opens a criminal defense department and hires Miyama. The cases he chooses are those that he thinks might be part of that pesky 0.1%.
The number one lawyer at the firm, with a great sense of dignity and an unmatched ability to come up with insider information, is Sada Atsuhiro. He is outraged when he is tagged to head the new criminal defense department because it pays less. He pushes back at first and ignores Miyama, but it’s part of the fun to watch him slowly get coerced into cooperating.
Tachibana Ayano is the lone female lawyer in the story and has some trouble holding her own. The first day Miyama assumes she’s a paralegal and gives her an assignment, but she corrects him and runs off with him to interview witnesses. Pretty soon she is insisting that she be lead lawyer in a case with a female client, and Madarame trusts her to make important decisions.
A lot of the shenanigans are perpetrated by Akashi. He screams, he flails, he flops on the floor. And he often gets into trouble, like the time he went on a stakeout and got into a sleeping bag because he was so cold.
In their first case, without asking, Miyama takes over Sada’s whole office for use as a murder board. The client is accused of murder but insists he is innocent. Miyama looks into more and more people with connections to the crime and digs for detail until he finds an inconsistency, then follows that to find the truth.
Miyama decides to reenact the murderer getting into a building without letting his face show on security cameras. He disrupts the entire staff by setting up the foyer and hallways of the law office to mimic the scene of the crime, with cameras set up to record the whole thing. Sada complains, but Madarame doesn’t interfere.
We peek into the personal lives of our characters. Seeing Sada with his family gives us an inkling of why he cherishes his dignity at work and why he resents Miyama. Miyama often hangs out at a cafe run by his cousin (who has some pretty slapstick-y customers). We don’t meet Tachibana’s family, but she is a fan of pro wrestling and we see her at a rally, then get to see her use her skills at least once.
When beginning a meal, it is a Japanese custom to say, “Itadakimasu,” which means, “I accept,” or “thank you.” Miyama has a strange habit of adding random words that begin with m, such as “Itadaki mongoose.” See how many different versions he comes up with! (At the end of the drama we find out where he gets it.)
I really enjoyed this drama. It originally aired in 2016 and is now on Viki. It never got too violent, the cases lasted an episode or two, and it never bogged down or lost its sense of humor. It was successful enough that there was a Season Two in 2018, which is now coming out on Viki as well, and a Special in 2021 that is listed as “coming soon.” Let us know if you try this one out!
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi