Thirtysomethings Naomi Oda (Ryoko Hirosue) and Kanako Hattori (Yuki Uchida) have been close friends since college days. Naomi is an aspiring gallery curator who works in the VIP customer department of a large store while Kanako keeps house for her husband, an elite employee at a major bank. Naomi begins to suspect that all is not well with her friend's marriage and eventually Kanako admits that she is regularly beaten by her husband Tatsuko Hattori (Ryuta Sato).
Although not without its dramaturgical flaws, Naomi and Kanako is nevertheless an involving tale of two young women who, constrained by the expectations of middle-class Japanese decorum, come to the conclusion that murder is the only escape from the depredations of a violent husband. The series opens on the actual murder before turning back the clock to introduce the characters, their back stories and the reasons for and planning of the murder - which occurs in its entirety half way through the series. The rest of the series concerns itself, not unexpectedly, with the repercussions and the apparent closing of the net around our plucky pair.
Aside from Kanako's violent husband, Tatsuko, there are three other key characters:
- Chinese businesswoman Akemi Ri (played to larger-than-life perfection by Atsuko Takahato), who's rogue-with-a-heart character is both inadvertent catalyst and protector
- Chinese illegal Rin Ryuko (also played by Ryuta Sato), whose identical appearance to Tatsuko Hattori inspires Naomi to conceive the perfect murder
- Tatsuko's sister Yoko (Yo Yoshida) who becomes suspicious of Naomi and Kanako's involvement in her brother's disappearance.
All in all this was a good quality drama which, though it had its implausible moments, dealt sensibly with the disturbing issue of marital abuse and served up plenty of twists and nail-biting action, particularly towards the end. Slight carps from my side would be a tad too long dwelling on Naomi's and/or Kanako's guilty or anxious reaction shots (at various moments when things looked like they were going wrong) and that lazy directorial cliché of characters turning up unexpectedly at exactly the right/wrong moment (there are ways of making that sort of device look and feel more realistic).