On July 1, 2000, a 21-year-old flight attendant named Lucie Blackman went on a dōhan (paid date), and no one heard from her again. Her father, Tim, recounts talking to Lucie a few days before the incident, saying she mentioned she was enjoying Japan. Well, Tokyo at that time was considered to be an alluring place for many. However, it turned out to be a nightmare for one. Japan was regarded as a happy place by many, but its dark underbelly soon revealed itself to the public. Lucie's disappearance and the subsequent police investigations exposed disturbing cases of sexual violence.
Initially, Lucie's case was linked to cult kidnappings and sex trafficking. The family members flew in from the UK and held press conferences to put pressure on the police to speed up the investigation. You see, Tim had a rough relationship with the Japanese police force. He felt they were slow, so he started doing whatever he could to find his daughter. That included putting posters on the poles - a move the police didn't welcome with open arms. When one of the officers asks Tim to remove the posters from the poles, he refuses to do so and even tells the officer that he can arrest him if he wants. Furthermore, when Tim suggests going through the CCTV footage, he is informed that security cameras are not ubiquitous due to privacy concerns.
Technology wasn't so advanced during the 2000s. This is why computer systems aren't able to accurately track someone's cell phone location. One could only depend on humans to do their work with skill and dedication, and when taken in this particular respect, Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case can be seen as a story of humans emerging triumphant over gadgets. The tracker fails to provide the exact address, but the officers manage to narrow down the killer's location. Near the end, a police officer relies on his intuitions, enters a seaside cave, and discovers the body of the victim.
The culprit is a man named Joji Obara. He used to take women on expensive dates before drugging and raping them. Obara was a wealthy man who owned a few properties. He also maintained journals in which he shamed women and called himself some sort of devil. Things only get worse when police find over 400 VHS tapes containing videos of sexual assault. The recordings are so grim that some of the police officers who were asked to investigate it suffered from mental breakdowns.
These details are more than enough to make Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case very horrifying, and director Hyoe Yamamoto does little to elevate the filmmaking. The documentary, like other Netflix documentaries, narrates events as if reading them from a Wikipedia entry. So much weight is put on the text that the other elements are thrown in the backseat. Netflix is opening up all these real-life wounds to fill up its library. Can the directors put equal importance on both the words and the filmmaking?
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