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Movie Review: Wings of Kirin

Updated on December 19, 2019

Japanese Title: 麒麟の翼: 劇場版・新参者
Release Date: January 28, 2012
Director: Nobuhiro Doi

Covering up a crime to secure another’s future- is it the right thing to do or is the lesson that you forgot to teach the reason for this whole mess?

A man lay dying under a statue of a Kirin, a bloody paper crane in his hands. Within seconds of losing his life, the crane flies away.

With such a dramatic scene, the movie from the start elicits a sense of wonder. The investigators assigned to the case of Takeaki Aoyagi are Detective Kyoichiro Kaga (Hiroshi Abe) and his sidekick, Yuhei Matsumiya (Junpei Mizubata). Although the police, as much as possible, wanted it to be an open-and-shut case, Detective Kaga was perceptive enough to look at this from another angle.

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WARNING: There are a lot of important spoilers in this part of the review.

Paper Cranes and its Significance to the Story

Paper cranes are symbols of healing in Japan.

Throughout the movie, paper cranes appeared numerous times.

The bloody paper crane at the start of the movie can be interpreted in two ways: It blatantly hinted the death of the president of Kanseki Metals CO., LTD, Takeaki Aoyagi (Kiichi Nakai) a few seconds after it flew away, but in a more symbolic way of looking at it, white in a lot of countries could be associated with purity and paper cranes can also be connected to hope or making wishes. Therefore, in my point of view, a white, bloody paper crane can also refer to a wish that was intended to be pure but ended up in bloodshed.

Although it was said that president Aoyagi went to the seven shrines of the seven Gods of fortune to offer paper cranes, Suitengu Shrine was highlighted in the movie. Even though the Suitengu Shrine is known to be a shrine related to pregnancy, it is also a shrine that people go to for protection against drowning. This points the sleuth’s investigation to the direction of the crime being related to swimming and what the paper crane symbolizes.

The Kirin

According to the movie, it is a mythical creature that originally doesn’t have any wings. They only added wings to the statue because they believe that from its location, the Japanese can start to spread their wings to fly.

The kirin can symbolize many things depending on how the character sees it in the story, three of which are courage, stagnancy, and hope.

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Two Cents on the Actors

As expected, veteran actor Hiroshi Abe did his role well as a detached, poker-faced detective. What stood out to me the most though is the performance of Tori Matsuzaka as Yuto. I felt really bad when I found out recently that he was in a variety of movies that I already watched. Because he looked so different in each of them, I didn’t recognize him at all. The way he portrayed a scared teenager who was putting up a tough front as a shield to cover up his misdeeds was amazing. All those mixed emotions in one face and the shift from that to a character who had a change of perspective regarding the situation was on point. Even though Yuto was giving angry retorts, you can also see how nervous he was from his facial expressions to his body language. For me, seeing an actor do his role properly is fun to watch. Aside from Hiroshi Abe, Tori Matsuzaka is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed watching this movie.

Lingering Thoughts, Conclusion

This movie was based on one of Keigo Higashino’s novels- but given that I haven’t read it yet, I still can’t grasp the importance of the relationship between the sleuth and his father in the story. Was the main purpose of including information on that for the needed eureka moment of the detective? Or did it have a deeper significance in the novel that was not shown in the movie?

Either way, it is a worthy mystery film to watch. It teaches a valuable lesson about courage, bravery and the importance of owning up to your own mistakes and facing them responsibly.

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