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Sherlock Holmes has seen countless screen adaptations and spinoffs across the world, but for the first time, the iconic British private detective will be reincarnated as a woman for Asian audiences.
HBO Asia will on Friday premiere Miss Sherlock, which also marks the network’s first Japanese production, featuring eight episodes shot over a period of four months. In addition to starring actress Yuko Takeuchi as the titular Miss Sherlock, the series’ equivalent of Dr. John Watson is also played by a woman (portrayed by actress Shihori Kanjiya).
Miss Sherlock is a young woman with extraordinary observation and reasoning skills that allow her to become a trusted investigative consultant for the Japanese police. She is able to solve bizarre cases by partnering with gifted surgeon Dr. Wato Tachibana (Kanjiya).
In the teaser poster, Miss Sherlock holds a red rose instead of a pipe. Its lead actress said Monday that the female factor certainly helped craft “a brand new Sherlock Holmes.”
“This version is quite special because the character is female, which is unprecedented. It’s exciting and interesting,” Takeuchi told an international panel of reporters during the show’s Asian press junket in Taipei on Monday. “I read the original novel [by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle] and some of the TV and film adaptations, but tried not to see too much, because I didn’t want to be influenced.”
But she said it was also about more than the female factor. “Sherlock Holmes is someone who is equipped with lots of knowledge and keen observations, so it’s not necessarily about traits that are specific to men or women,” she said.
But one of her co-stars disagreed. “I’m not trying to offend any guys, but some types of guys think very square. Women are more sensitive and know how to touch people’s hearts, so they know how to win the game. I think they make better private detectives,” said actor Yukiyoshi Ozawa, who plays the role of Miss Sherlock’s older brother Kento.
“I suppose many people say that women have a sixth sense [or strong sense of instinct compared to men],” said Takeuchi. But the male-female dichotomy aside, she said her foremost concern was crafting a layered character: someone who may be a genius detective but is suffering from emotional detachment following the death of her parents at a young age.
“I tried not to look into people’s eyes when I talked [to express emotional detachment]. This was a challenge for me. When I was a child my father always taught me to look into people’s eyes, so it was difficult,” she said.
Viewers can also look forward to seeing a younger, tech-savvy detective and slices of Japanese life in Tokyo. “Social media and the internet come in handy for solving cases with more efficiency. It usually took a few days for Sherlock Holmes to solve a case, but it will be only a few seconds for Miss Sherlock,” said the actress, who added how “what Japanese takes for granted will be shown in a way that is new for foreign viewers.”
But fans of the original British detective franchise will also be able to find similarities or homages. For example, Miss Sherlock was born in England before moving to Japan. Ozawa, a self-professed “superfan” of the original novels in his childhood, said he was excited to bring something that was new and different at the same time.
“In this story, there are some environmental factors that will remind you of the original Sherlock Holmes. But you have to find that yourself, and fans have to do the searching as homework,” said Takeuchi.
Miss Sherlock debuts on HBO and streaming service HBO Go (www.hbogoasia.com; available only in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines) on Friday. The first episode will be available for free across Asia and with no registration on HBO Go and HBO Asia’s Miss Sherlock micro site (http://hboasia.com/miss-sherlock; available in all other Asian territories) from Friday until May 11 with English and local language subtitles (available in select territories).
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