Eccentric, emotionless pathologist does autopsies and solves mysterious deaths. That’s the main story behind both of these series. Both mention the fact that there is a shortage of medical examiners in Japan, which is ironic, considering the large number of them in TV dramas.
Both series use the old trope of an unemotional, ultra-logical investigator – a favourite of crime writers since Sherlock Holmes. Last Doctor stars Terawaki Yasufumi as Akita Shinya, a cold, distant medial examiner. Zero no Shinjitsu stars Takei Emi as Matsumoto Mao, another cold, distant medical examiner.
I’ve only seen two episodes of Last Doctor, and can’t see myself going back to it. Instead of a killer who has to be caught, both stories so far have focused on proving the innocence of the accused, by demonstrating that it wasn’t murder at all, just a really unlikely accident.
This makes it all a bit pointless. Sure, uncovering an tragic accident is a important as uncovering a murder, but I ended both episodes thinking “Is that all it was?”
Meanwhile, Zero no Shinjitsu did not make a good first impression with me, with Takei Emi effectively rehashing her performance in Otenki Oneesan (where she was a cold, distant weather reporter who solved crimes) and the cast included Sasaki Kuranosuke, who was also in Otenki Oneesan. And much as I like Sasaki Kuranosuke, I felt that this might just be a remake.
Luckily, it wasn’t. The mysteries are better written and the cast all fit together well. It may be crime-writing-by-numbers, but the stories are a lot more clever and satisfying that Last Doctor. Not awesome by any means, but it’s keeping me interested for now.