Ship of Theseus is a thing or a theoretical question i never heard of until this drama. But i didn’t have to look it up either as it’s explained the opening credits: about whether a ship that has all of its components replaced remains the same original ship. Its relevance to the drama’s plot, however, is something i have yet to figure out. Because Theseus no Fune is a murder-mystery time-slip family drama spanning three Japanese eras.
Lies in the thick of it all is the Sanos, who bear the brunt of the case’s aftermath as the breadwinner Sano Bungo (Suzuki Ryohei) is convicted for poisoning a group of elementary school kids and the media continues to hound his wife Kazuko (Eikura Nana) and their kids for decades to come. The situation forces the now-single-parent family going by Tamura to live with their heads down, never to show their smiles or tears to the world. So for all of his life, Tamura Shin (Takeuchi Ryoma) lives hating his father for what he did, to those innocent kids and to his own family, until one day his pregnant wife Yuki (Ueno Juri) brings up the possibility of Sano’s innocence — which he has pleaded for 31 years — and urges him to believe in his father for once. He doesn’t think much of it until it becomes her last word.
Knowing how hard it is living as a murderer’s son, he wants his baby daughter to live without prejudice and decides to visit Sano in prison to find out the real truth. But he ends up meeting his estranged father for the first time back in 1989, when mist storm engulfs him at the memorial site he stops by and transports him back to the end of Showa, two months before the case took place.
But there’s no time to ponder about why he slipped back to the past or how to return to the present as he arrives on the day a string of mysterious incidents and deaths starts occurring in the village preceding the school poisoning. Soon, he realizes that some misfortunes are preventable while the others aren’t. And despite his intention to hear his father out, the preconceptions still prevail when he eventually comes face to face with police officer Sano. The suspicion isn’t completely unfounded though; Sano appears shifty at times and is spotted dragging a little girl in the woods before finding her unconscious in her home’s garage. On the other hand, the cop finds this outsider suspicious. Shin reportedly stole a bottle from the garage, whose content ends up killing the little girl, and a series of strange accidents starts happening shortly after his arrival.
This ‘misunderstanding’ creates organic friction and tension between the father and son, which i thought would last for a while but actually is bridged in the first episode alone. I’d rather have it resolved sooner than later, yet couldn’t help thinking it was too soon. It was only the second case and it came after the red herrings to paint Sano in a bad light after all. However, it’s certainly nice to see Shin integrate himself into his own blood right away; discover the family man in Dad and the smiley sunny disposition in Mom; and experience the warm and happy version of his little family. It’s also cute to see him essentially go from being the youngest to the eldest through the time slip.
Heartwarming moments aside, they can’t divert my attention from the main mystery too much. My mind keeps wondering how much Shin’s presence in 1989 will alter history and affect the present, how much he can let on about his identity and knowledge of past events (he already tells Sano he comes from the future, which the latter seems to buy quite readily) or how long he can hide them, and whether he will be able to prevent the tragedy or help vindicate Sano.
The second scenario seems more likely, the more since the townsfolk are revealed to be shady at the end of episode 2… while the shadiest of all turns up dead. Not that the most suspicious character will ever be the real culprit, since it’s too obvious, but the newspaperman’s death is unexpected and brings the whodunnit guessing game back to square one. It’s also possible that there is more than one culprit. The secret correspondences already involve two people, and given the scale of the incident, it being a conspiracy between multiple parties isn’t entirely impossible. What’s still unknown are the motive and Sano’s culpability. There’d better be a solid reason for targeting young children.
Hopefully the show manages to maintain the pace and keep the momentum going, because the mystery is quite intriguing from the get-go and the time slip is written quite nicely into the narrative. I’m liking the main cast and already falling in love with this sincere family, the last thing i want is for them to be torn apart by injustice — for the second time.
I wonder if Shin will return to the present soon? I’m worried about his baby daughter…