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Series: Trick
Trick is a Japanese drama starring Naoko Yamada, who, despite her status as magician extraordinaire, can't hold a job and is behind on her rent. Enter Jiro Ueda, a famous physicist who puts out an advertisement demanding anyone claiming to have spiritual powers demonstrate them for him. If they can prove they're not a fraud, they'll win cash money. Naoko shocks Ueda with a simple magic trick, but before she can get her paycheck, she's recruited into solving the case of a cult with a scary floating old lady at its head.

Together Naoko and Ueda solve Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries, usually centered around people claiming to be real live spiritualists who are always proven to be frauds. Detective Yabe, his partner Ishihara and Naoko's mother round out the cast of misfits. The series has a comedic bent, though tip-toes into dramatic territory on occasion. Notable as one of the series that helped Yukie Nakama down the road to stardom, alongside Gokusen.


This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming - Naoko has trouble remembering and reading names correctly.
  • A-Cup Angst - While having a respectable bust size herself (Yukie Nakama actually had to be padded down to make herself look flatter), Naoko's rather insecure about it. It doesn't help that many people use her bust size to insult her.
  • Annoying Laugh/Evil Laugh: Many con men and their goonies enjoy sporting these. Even Naoko has one.
  • Badass Bookworm - Jiro Ueda, elite physicist. He somehow attained a black belt in karate, judo, and sumo through correspondence course.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed - Or imprisoned. Many fraudulent spiritualists take the suicide route rather than go to prison and shame their family.
  • Big Eater - Ueda. In one episode he polishes off a big pot of rice meant for over a dozen people. He claims he's able to do this because he's an "average Japanese person." At the end of the episode Naoko's landlady says he ate an entire year's worth of rice in one afternoon.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed - Averted, Ueda's still a virgin.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family - The Kameyamas in Season 3 and the Kurotsus on Kokumon Island.
  • Butt Monkey - Ishihara gets smacked around (literally) by Yabe occasionally in season 1 and constantly in season 2. Granted, he never seems any worse for wear and always comes out grinning like an idiot anyway.
    • Naoko. Despite her talent she has no stage presence and can't hold down a job, gets laughed at by strangers for no apparent reason, is always behind on her rent, has no luck getting money and is constantly being pulled into Ueda's cases and put into danger because of it.
  • Calling Your Attack - Ueda will often should "Jump!" (in English, no less) before jumping or pulling a vanishing act.
  • Chekhov's Gun - In the first movie, it's mentioned Yamada's mother has started selling her calligraphy services online. Much later in the movie, she shows up to deliver some charms to the same mountain village Naoko and Ueda are trapped in.
    • In the second feature-length special, she starts selling love charms, which culminates in her arriving at the same village Naoko and Ueda are visiting as a "love doctor."
  • Chekhov's Skill - Ueda claims he won a diving competition in the second movie, and later is called on to tie a rope around a rock underwater.
  • Clueless Detective - Yabe Kenzo.
  • Con Man - Many of the so-called spiritualists are just using simple magic tricks to dupe ordinary people out of their money.
  • Cool Old Lady - Satomi-san (Naoko's mother).
  • Cranky Landlady - Naoko's, who never gives Naoko a break about rent.
  • Dumb Blonde - Ishihara. Though being Japanese he's obviously not a natural blonde. This is played with during the season 2 finale when the cast goes to investigate a forest that makes hair grow. Ishihara's roots grow back over the bleach, turning him into an intelligent, competent detective that takes the alpha male position from Yabe (at least until season 3).
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics - Averted with Ueda, a physics professor. He often uses mathematics to explain tricks that utilize probability which usually stump Naoko.
  • Funny Foreigner - Jami the Bangladeshi.
  • Gag Penis - Ueda's big dong. He even managed to successfully fend off a group of men fighting him in the third movie by simply showing his member. He also once prevented a fisherman's amorous advance on Naoko in a similar, though more accidental, fashion.
  • Gullible Lemmings - Too many to count.
  • I Know Karate - Ueda took a correspondence course in karate. Somehow he became a black belt. In the third season Naoko does some ass-kicking herself, but it's never explained how she learned martial arts.
  • Insufferable Genius - Aisuke Kikuchi from Season 3, who always boasts himself as a Tokyo University graduate. However, his competence is questionable at best.
  • Magician Detective - Naoko Yamada.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane - Naoko's mother has been implied to possess genuine supernatural powers, as well as some other characters in the show.
  • Name's the Same - While there's no good reason to make the Shout-Out so it may not be deliberate, a Naoko Yamada was once Spider-Man's roomie.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh - "Slit" Mikako in the third season.
  • Noodle Incident - At some point before the third season, the driver's side door on Ueda's car fell off, and he begins to carry it around after arriving at the crime scene. How and when it fell off is never explained in the show, and during the second feature-length special, the passenger side door falls off as well. By this point Ueda just leaves the doors where they fall.
  • Not So Different - Many Phony Psychics try to pull this off on Naoko.
  • Odd Couple - She's a failing stage magician! He's an elite physicist! Together they expose scam artists with magic tricks!
  • Otaku - From 2005 onwards, Yabe is teamed up with the appropriately-named Harando Akiba (Akiba is frequently used as a shortened form of Akihabara, which is famous for being the centre of otaku culture, with lots of anime, manga and video games available for purchase there). The latter's first interaction with Naoko is continuously exclaiming "Moe!"
  • Phony Psychic - Everyone who claims to have spiritual powers is this. The only exception is Big Mother of the very first case, who did have real empathic powers, but still created her phony religion.
    • Subverted in the third movie. A major character awakens his psychic powers by killing a phony when attacked.
    • Naoko's mother has also been implied to be a genuine psychic, though she's very low-key about it.
  • The Plan - Many of Naoko's magic tricks (specifically the ones designed to expose people) are this.
  • Police Are Useless - Yabe and Ishihara bounce between lazy and just plain incompetent. Despite Naoko and Ueda having exactly zero official police training between them, Yabe and Ishihara make them look like Mulder and Scully.
  • The Reveal - Used many times in each case to show how each trick was done, as well as the big reveal at the end to nail the criminal.
  • Running Gag - Naoko is constantly teased about her small breasts, though the actress who plays her has a respectable bust size. She apparently had to tape it down for shooting.
    • Ueda's big dong, Yabe's balding spot, Naoko's perpetual poverty, Ueda's increasing celebrity status with newly published books (with big font) and his famous quote "Why don't you do your best?!"note 
  • Scam Religion - The cult Naoko and Ueda investigate for their first case, along with a few other groups.
  • Shipper on Deck - Mrs Yamada supports her daughter and Ueda.
  • Ship Tease - Naoko and Ueda throughout the entire franchise.
  • Shout-Out - In the second movie, one of the mooks' arms stretch like Luffy's from One Piece. Ueda responds with "The Devil Fruit?!". Earlier in that movie, Ueda uses the famous quote "You're already dead" from Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star, with doubles as Actor Allusion, as Hiroshi Abe voiced Kenshiro in The Legends of the True Savior OVA series).
    • In the same movie, Naoko crouches in a way that resembles Sadako from the The Ring franchise. Also a case of Actor Allusion, as Yukie Nakama played Sadako in Ring 0: Birthday.
    • Also in the same movie, Naoko's landlady has her head enlarged when demanding Naoko to pay her rent. Naoko implies that the landlady resembles Yubaba from Spirited Away.
  • Snake Oil Salesman - A man who claims to be able to "see" through people's minds (and sketch their room layouts) sells tiny copper bells to people, telling them they'll cure their ills.
  • Spinoff - Keibuho Yabe Kenzou, featuring Yabe as the main character.
  • Stage Magician - Naoko's official profession, but she's rarely seen actually performing on stage (mostly because her stage presence is so lacking she actually drives away her audience).
  • The Un Reveal - Yabe is implied to wear a wig. His actual hairline is always obscured by white squiggles when it comes off.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass - In Season 3, after hearing about the "legendary" elephant statuette, Naoko decides to attack the woman holding onto it (who, unknown to her, is actually her mother), knocks Jiro out after he objects to her plans, and tries to sell the statuette back to her mother.
  • Unreliable Narrator - Both Naoko and Ueda in the episode previews.
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