TV review: BOSS

Criminals of Tokyo, watch out! The Special Crime Countermeasures Unit, led by American-trained Inspector Osawa, is on the job! There are just a few flies in the ointment. Osawa’s superiors hate her. To form her squad, she’s been given the dregs of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. And Osawa herself was previously packed off to the US in disgrace. But don’t underestimate what outcasts can do, given the chance to prove themselves…

 

BOSS is a Japanese detective show, two genres I’m not familiar with. However, I have watched a lot of anime, and in a couple of ways, this reminds me of a live-action version of the same.

 

The first similarity is plot. Generally, each episode features a new case for the team to investigate, and to my non-genre-viewer’s eyes, these are implausible but entertaining. I doubt real police officers would use the heroes’ methods, and a couple of plot twists came out of nowhere, but it’s still a delight to watch the heroes outwit the criminal of the week. Here, the show deserves credit for avoiding a formula. In some episodes, the viewer and characters have to discover the identity of the criminal from scratch; in others, the viewer knows from the start, but the characters don’t. In some, the characters must race to prevent the criminal from striking again; in others, there’s no risk of a repeat, so the tension comes from the difficulty of obtaining hard evidence. As such, it has no problem staying fresh every episode.

 

The second similarity, and where BOSS really shines, is its characterisation and its sense of humour – this despite the grisly nature of the crimes. At heart, BOSS is the classic story about the ragtag band of misfits that ends up gelling together to save the day. Osawa is hot-tempered on the job, but also brave and devious; her crew run the gamut from excessively cheerful (young patrolman Hanagata), to apathetic (forensics technician Kimoto), to scatterbrained (washed-up Yamamura), to sullen (firearm-averse prettyboy Katagiri), to deceptively gruff (gay romantic Iwai). I doubt real police officers would be as quirky as the heroes, but they’re too endearing/funny for me to complain – and the whole point of this genre is seeing how the goofballs shape up. Watching them grow, learn to trust each other and conquer their demons over the series is the slow-burning payoff to the immediate laughs they generate.

 

Overall, BOSS might be a fluff show, but it’s a very good fluff show – the best analogy I have is an early Lois McMaster Bujold novel. You won’t ponder its hidden meaning or debate its moral nuances, but with its rollicking plot, vividly written and acted characters, a great sense of humour, and memorable background music, you’ll have too good a time to worry about such things. Recommended.

 

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