At last, Police in a Pod episode 5 is here with yet another perfect blend of hilarious skits and serious discussions. But this time, there’s a weird integration of old traditions and ideologies that come into play. There was surely a huge jump, compared to the slow pace during episode 4.
In the first part of the episode titled Late-Night Patrol, we see Kawai getting kicked out by Fuji from the patrol car and doing the school patrol late at night. As Kawai musters enough courage to do the patrol (by singing the police academy song), we get a glimpse into Kawai’s thoughts. She images ghosts purportedly roaming around, and remembers Fuji talking about her superior sprinkling some salt on front of the police box after ‘seeing’ a ghost during their patrol.
It’s a bit interesting to think that despite Japan’s current face of being a modern and fast-paced society, some traditional beliefs remain fully superstitious. Contemporary literature and reports, such as from the book Ghosts And The Japanese: Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends have long detailed the beautiful and diverse culture and traditions surrounding Japanese belief in death and ghosts, and how they integrate it into their forms of media, be it a TV series, a drama, or a theater show.
Going back to that scene where Fuji’s superior is sprinkling on the front of the police box, this superstitious belief has its roots back from the teachings of Shintoism, the primary religious belief in Japan. The practice, known as shubatso, is the act of sprinkling salt as a “purifier” across establishments and is based on the belief of harae or purification of sins and uncleanliness, including bad spirit elements.
Moving forward, we see Fuji once again using her unique wits to catch the suspected school burglar. From spotting the Criminal Affairs car outside of the school to using the locked bicycle as bait, you can’t help but admire Fuji’s persona, despite being the hot-headed police officer she is.
As much as I was just laughing out loud during the first part of the episode, that mood changed to utter disgust during the second part.
Said part, titled Vs. The Groper, details the story of detective Takeshi Yamada who is having a hard time dealing with a man arrested for groping a minor girl in a train. Furthermore, we learn that the man is using his influence as a corporate employee and using money to bail out of court–and get away with it.
Japan’s society has struggled with the rise of harassment, especially women in public transport. Data from Asia Media International notes that in 2019, there has been an uptick in sexual harassment against women in public transport. The same article notes that 75% of women have said that they have been groped, but only 10% of these cases are ever reported to the police.
What was more infuriating during the episode were some of the man’s remarks against the victim, such as blaming the victim for wearing such a short skirt in public transport. Again, Police in a Pod finally sheds light on these issues in contemporary Japan that would otherwise not get too much attention.
Before I end this review, there was a funny tidbit at the last part of the episode where Yamato thought of using a crime reenactment against the suspect to fully describe how he did the crime, with Minamoto acting out as the victim. As funny as the scene looks, this is a legitimate process used by police called crime reenactment, which doubles as a public humiliation tool for the prime suspect to fully confess to everything. However, the practice itself has been called out by international human rights groups as being disrespectful of the suspect’s human rights.
In summary, episode 5 of Police in a Pod is back at it again on the track of blending comedy with serious discussions on societal problems. Makes me wonder what topic the series should tackle next in episode 6. You can watch Police in a Pod on Funimation, Muse Asia, and Bilibili, and if you liked the series don’t forget to vote for it in our weekly poll.
All images via Muse Asia.
© Miko Yasu, Kodansha/Hakozume Production Committee