Cheesy MIDI version of the bossa nova beat from the show! (aka "Stewardess from Ipanema")

The Elegant Murder Case, Part One

The Fateful Flight

JAL Flight 61, from LAX to Narita in Tokyo.  Our three heroines are all on board, and the stage is set for the first Stewardess Detective case.  It all begins in First Class, where Mrs. Nobuko Yamanouchi is sitting with her young lover, Masahiro Tanabe.  Mrs. Yamanouchi complains about the white wine she was served during the meal.  Asuka suggests that she try a champagne instead, but Ms. Yamanouchi indicated that she is tired of drinking Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot and promptly demands that Asuka bring her a wine that’ll go with her meal.

Enter Ryoko Izumi, the sommelier.  Asuka recognizes her on the flight (even though Ryoko is apparently travelling incognito) and pleads with her to offer some advice on Ms. Yamanouchi’s demands.  Per Ryoko’s advice, Asuka serves a red to Ms. Yamanouchi -- who promptly complains that you can’t have a red with fish, and that it’s so difficult not having a sommelier around to make recommendations.  Asuka introduces Ryoko to Ms. Yamanouchi, indicating Ryoko’s credentials.  Needless to say, Ms. Yamanouchi demands to see Ryoko’s sommelier badge...  How picky can you get on an airline flight???

Is it just me, or does Ryoko look like she just came from a Star Trek convention?

A starry-eyed Asuka asks her idol for advice.  (It seems that she's taking the sommelier exam soon.)  Ryoko replies:  "Never regret any wine that you drink."  Yuki and Ruri show up, expecting to chase down a movie star; I guess they don't share Asuka's enthusiasm for wine superstars.  At this point, Asuka offers the first, teasing insight into things to come:

When I think back, the case had already begun.  A murder case that the Big Eater Sisters would become involved in.  (Insert dramatic music here for emphasis.)

Home Sweet Home

Back on the ground, the flight attendants check in at the airport.  Yuki finds that the Stewardess Gossip Network has discovered that she's been "dumped again" by her umpteenth boyfriend.  (Apparently, news travels fast throughout the world on this network.)  Asuka heads home to her father's sushi bar/residence, where she relaxes and continues studying for her upcoming exam.

Later that night, on her way to meet her cohorts, Asuka is stuck in traffic.  What follows is arguably the best scene in the series:  Asuka spies a fleeing purse snatcher, lunges from the cab, chases him across the street and down the block in heels (holding her skirt down with one hand), actually catches up to him, and tackles him to the sidewalk!  During the ensuing struggle the thief rips her dress, diverting her attention long enough to get away.

The moral of this story?  Don't even think of sneaking an extra carry-on bag!

Fresh from her hot pursuit, Asuka arrives at the party.  This turns out to be a "Happiness Flight," which is a party stewardesses throw for their colleagues when they get married.  Asuka and Ruri shovel in the hors d'ouevres while a tipsy Yuki wails, "There will never be a Happiness Flight for me!"  From there, the trio are picked up by a "producer and director" and end up at their favorite wine bar, where they quickly drive away their suitors.  (Asuka notes:  "Three women killing six bottles of wine would scare any man!")  Once again disappointed, the lovelorn Yuki relates her fantasy of meeting her Prince Charming by asking for a doctor in-flight.

Checking their new schedules, the women see that their upcoming flights are all domestic this time.  They decide to head for Ureshino Hot Springs following their flight.  Miss Izumi just happens to be giving a seminar there, and there are bound to be masseuses.  (Another aside:  "Stewardesses can't resist the lure of good wine and a good massage."  Hey, why are these women having so many problems getting dates?)

Hot Time at the Hot Springs

The next day, our heroines fly to Sapporo, then back to Tokyo, and on to Nagasaki.  On this flight, they notice that one of the passengers appears to be getting sick.  He asks to be left alone, but Yuki jumps on the chance to ask for a doctor on the plane.  She moves through the cabin, and eventually encounters Dr. Hisao Yamanouchi, a surgeon who just happens to be the Prince Charming in her dream!  A quick examination reveals that the passenger simply drank too much before the flight due to fear of flying.  ("How can this huge chunk of metal fly through the sky?")  The embarrassed passenger asks to be left alone.  Yuki allows the doctor to return to his seat, but not before demanding his business card!

Finally, the Stewardesses arrive at Ureshino Hot Springs.  They decide to stay at Hotel Hamilton Ureshino, which has an excellent Italian cook.  (Always with the food, these women!)  While soaking in the spring, Yuki dreams of the doctor in her "lovesick" mode, while Asuka comes to her own revelation:  the drunk passenger on the plane was also the purse thief she tackled in Tokyo!  She vows she'll get him the next time she sees him, but for some inexplicable reason doesn't recognize him when he walks into their spa area -- naked!!  The girls scream, and the mortified man runs back into the locker room.  On their way out, they angrily realize that they mistakenly entered the Men's Spa!

No funny caption necessary.

Arriving back in the lobby, they encounter yet another familiar face:  Dr. Yamanouchi!  Asuka and Ruri head for Ryoko Izumi's wine-tasting seminar, while Yuki flirts with the doctor... until she finds out that he's waiting in the lobby for his wife!!

Crushed yet again, Yuki heads for the karaoke bar and wails her sorrows, while her companions (surprise!) chow down.  Stumbling back across a bridge to their hotel room, Yuki decides to try to go swimming and stumbles down into the creek bed.  Startled, Asuka and Ruri chase after her.  Asuka grabs her hand to pull her up, noticing that her hand is very clammy.  Then, to her astonishment, Yuki sits up several yards away.  See it coming yet?  Wondering whose hand she's grabbed, Asuka looks down and discovers -- gasp! -- a dead body!!!

You'd scream, too, if you were trying to make sense out of all this!

On the Case

Much hysterical screaming later, the stewardesses are ushered into the police station and grilled for information.  It's here that they finally meet police detective Keiji Bando, who is working on the case.  They all recognize him in simultaneous horror and shout various insults.  ("Purse snatcher!  Afraid of flying!")  He identifies Asuka as the woman who mistakenly tackled him on the street while he was chasing a purse snatcher.  Oops!!  The sergeant then informs them that they've identified the body:  Mrs. Yamanouchi!  Not only that, but she's been positively identified by her husband:  Dr. Yamanouchi!

Later that night, another classic scene unfolds.  Yuki snores loudly as Ruri and Asuka discuss the case.  Ruri tries to convince Asuka that the three need to solve the case together.  When Asuka proves reluctant, Ruri plays her trump card:  "It's our job as stewardess to protect our passengers, right?  Mrs. Yamanouchi was our passenger!"  How can Asuka resist a speech like that?  And so, the Stewardess Detectives are born!

Stewardess logic at work.

Leaving Yuki to slumber peacefully, Ruri and Asuka head for Keiji's room, where the detective is busily brushing his teeth.  They demand details of the investigation so far, and are promptly kicked out of his room.  He agrees to meet them in the bar only after Asuka tells him she withheld some information at the police station.

In the bar, the stewardesses learn from Keiji that Mrs. Yamanouchi died between 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM.  She was stabbed through the heart with a sharp knife and hit on the back of the head with a heavy object.  The trio then begin discussing the "victim's movements" using timetables.  (It's a good thing everyone on this show uses Japan Airlines exclusively!)  The stewardesses learn from Keiji that the victim left Haneda at 7:55 AM, arrived in Fukuoka at 9:35 AM, and rented a car to go to the Hot Springs.  The rental car was found abandoned, and the victim's purse was ransacked.  Asuka scoffs at the possibility of robbery as a motive, and drops her bombshell:  The victim was on their flight from LA, with her young lover!