Antiquarian Bookshop Casebook (2013)


biblia cover

With her vast knowledge of books, publishing, and observation, Shioriko Shinokawa (Ayame Gouriki) runs her family business, the used antique bookshop Biblia with an expert’s ability despite her young age. Using her talents, Shioriko is able to solve mysteries and answer questions which only her keen eye for detail can reveal. Joining her is new employee Daisuke Goura (Akira), a good natured guy who discovered some hidden family secrets thanks to Shinokawa.
One of my favorite types of Japanese dorama, the mystery compels me with their imagination and unique use of expertise in a seemingly innocuous way. Take this series; Shioriko can measure time and motivation by deciphering the importance of a book’s plot and date of publication. It’s a clever technique, and while her mysteries don’t solve murders, her deductions nonetheless are meaningful for those involved and add gravitas in a believable, albeit slightly exaggerated way.
Performances are good with Gouriki standing out in particular. Her quiet grace and attractive features reminded me of the early career of Aya Ueto. She is certainly an actress on the rise, especially looking at her recent output and attached projects. The singularly named Akira, from the hugely popular group EXILE, plays the straight man and his growing comprehension of techniques and analyses is in line with the viewers. It’s a decent performance and he does have good chemistry with Gouriki. The supporting cast fares less well, though by the 3rd or 4th episode you expect the caricatures. Guest stars are excellent with appearances by the likes of Eriko Sato, Nakamura Shidou, and Keiko Matsuzaka rounding out the cast.
Set design is excellent with the Biblia bookstore given a realistic but still somehow magical aire. Clearly emphasizing a nostalgic demeanor towards literature, it wholly succeeds by providing a look into the world of bibliophiles. Music is quite good with the theme handled by JPOP supergroup E-girls and some surprising, but very appropriate incidental music from personal favorite, m-flo. There is a good mix of books featured in the series which help guide the cases, though the expected leanings toward Japanese literature made me want to search out the books, despite limited English translations for such material.
With some clever mysteries and solutions, and some starmaking turns by young talent. This series is easy to enjoy and should tickle your thought processes in just the right way. Recommended.

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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