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Series / Painless

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Can a person live without pain?

Painless (無痛~診える眼~) note  is a Japanese mystery/medical drama series that aired in 2015. The story is based off Yō Kusakabe's novel of the same name.

Eisuke Tameyori (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is a doctor running a small clinic. He has a very useful ability — to diagnose a person's sickness at a single glance. This ability also makes him capable of perceiving when a person plans to commit murder; a sign he calls "marker of criminal intent." In spite of his capabilities, he chooses to live a quiet life with his sister-in-law Kazue Inoue. After an encounter with a violent criminal, his ability is brought to the attention of Detective Junichiro Hayase (Atsushi Itō), a police officer with a passion for justice. Detective Hayase convinces Eisuke to use his abilities to help him solve crimes.


Meanwhile, Yōji Shiragami (Hideaki Itō), the founder and director of Shiragami Medical Center, is also a doctor with the same abilities as Eisuke. Within his hospital are two peculiar residents: Tadateru Ibara (Aoi Nakamura), a janitor with congenital insensitivity to pain; and Satomi Minami (Minami Hamabe), a mentally troubled patient who refuses to speak and only communicates by texting her caretaker, clinical psychiatrist Namiko Takashima (Anna Ishibashi). Doctor Shiragami envisions a world without pain and devotes his time and effort to researching "painless treatment" with the aid of Ibara's inability to feel pain. He later meets Eisuke and, seeing a kindred spirit, asks for assistance with his research.

Aside from the usual crimes he deals with as a detective, Hayase's thirst for justice is constantly reinvigorated whenever he recalls an unsolved serial-killing case wherein a family of four was brutally murdered with a hammer. Under Namiko's care, Satomi draws an eerily accurate portrait of the murders, and sends her a text: "I killed these people."


The series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Afraid of Blood: Satomi freaks out when she sees Ibara bleeding, triggering memories of being at the Ishikawa family murder scene. It turns out both of them were indeed involved.
  • Arc Words: "The pain is me. I am my pain."
  • Asshole Victim: Namiko's ex-boyfriend Sada, who is dismembered and killed by Ibara.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Both Eisuke and Dr. Shiragami are capable of diagnosing a person's illness just by looking at them. Eisuke in particular perceives murderous intent through the very same ability.
  • Berserk Button: Hayase absolutely hates Article 39 of the law, which states that a person declared legally insane cannot be charged with a crime.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Sada, who is incapable of doing anything more than stalking and harassing. Eisuke doesn't even see any criminal intent in him, and willingly calls his bluff at knifepoint.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Yokoi, Shiragami's secretary. She not only manipulates Sada in an attempt to get rid of Namiko, but she later tries to kill her with a scalpel after Shiragami disappears.
  • Byronic Hero: Both Eisuke and Hayase. Despite his ability, Eisuke doesn't trust it completely because he once saw the "marker of criminal intent" on his wife's face the night before she died. Hayase is so driven to seek justice that even Eisuke is wary of how far he will go to obtain it.
  • Cool Big Sis: Kazue, Eisuke's sister-in-law, takes care of the house they live in and the clinic that he runs.
  • Cowboy Cop/Rabid Cop: Hayase. Much of his character arc throughout the series involves Eisuke's and his own attempts to rein himself in, especially because Eisuke has seen the "marker of criminal intent" on him.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Sada is "operated" on by Ibara. Though it's never said what ultimately killed him, he was at the very least dismembered while he was alive.
  • Destination Defenestration/Taking You with Me: Ibara tackles Shiragami and pushes the both of them out of Shiragami's penthouse office window in the final episode.
  • Distressed Damsel: Namiko falls into this when a stalker starts bothering her.
  • Driven to Suicide: Shiragami's brother Reiji, after being dumped, fled to Nepal and jumped to his death there. Yōji followed him and found his brother brain-dead, so he took the opportunity and had his brother's heart transplanted to replace his own diseased heart.
  • The Fettered: Eisuke, who doesn't have any major ambitions in spite of his ability.
  • Finger in the Mail: A bizarre, well-intentioned case: Namiko finds Sada's dismembered hand inside her hospital locker after Ibara kills him. Ibara meant to convey that there was no longer any threat to her.
  • Good Doc, Bad Doc: As the series progresses, Eisuke and Shiragami's ideologies begin to diverge. Eisuke eventually stops helping with Shiragami's "painless treatment" research, and discovers his own personal belief in the necessity of pain.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene goes out-of-focus right before Ibara begins his "operation" by cutting into Sada's chest, which eventually kills him.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: Eisuke and Shiragami's ideological disagreement in a nutshell. Shiragami aspires to manage and ultimately vanquish pain (Discipline); Eisuke comes to the realization that pain is an essential part of being human (Harmony).
  • Hate Plague: The medicine Shiragami creates through his research, "droll", is revealed to have this side effect when taken in excess. Ibara murders the Ishikawa family under the influence of this.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Though being with Kazue keeps him in check, Eisuke is still haunted by the death of his wife Noriko, because by the time he "saw" her cervical cancer, it was already too late. Another part of it is that he saw the "marker of criminal intent" on her face right before she died.
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Shiragami's secretary Yokoi.
  • The Igor: Ibara, a janitor at Shiragami Medical Center as well as Shiragami's test subject for "painless treatment" research. Though his speech isn't impaired at all, he does appear somewhat eerie with his pale skin, bald head, and unusual inability to feel pain.
  • Insanity Defense: The law allowing insane criminals to be declared innocent is the bane of Hayase's existence. At least one criminal in the series is shown making use of this to be released from prison early.
  • Knight Templar: Hayase will stop at nothing to ensure that criminals are brought to justice.
  • Madness Mantra: "An important person, an important place." It was the name of an essay written by Akiko Ishikawa, who it turns out was the primary target of the serial killing.
  • The Mentor: Kurume, Eisuke's former teacher, who is suffering from cancer.
    • Mentor Occupational Hazard: He dies in the latter half of the series after repeatedly refusing sedatives or analgesics, choosing to feel every bit of his pain.
  • Misery Builds Character: Eisuke's mentor Kurume believes this, so much so that he refuses to take painkillers despite his cancer causing him immense pain. Eisuke later comes to this conclusion as well.
  • Mysterious Waif: Satomi refuses to speak up, and only communicates through texting Namiko. Also, she may have some connection to the Ishikawa family murders, and initially admits to the crime.
  • Not So Similar: Despite having the same abilities, and somewhat similar backstories, both having lost a loved one, the differences between Eisuke and Shiragami begin to emerge further into the series.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: In the final episode, Shiragami reveals the reason for why he had the Ishikawa family murdered, and proclaims to Hayase that it was simply human nature that motivated him. Eisuke vehemently disagrees, saying that in spite of all the pain, ugliness and brutality humans are capable of, the ability to live through and overcome them is an important trait of humanity.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Eisuke and Kazue really do act like siblings despite being in-laws.
  • Protectorate: Satomi, both when Hayase discovers her connection to the Ishikawa family murder case, and when she accompanies Ibara as he hides from the cops.
  • The Quiet One: Satomi only communicates by texting on her phone. Eisuke later discovers that her throat was constricted due to her parents' abuse, and she is then able to speak again after having surgery.
  • Red Herring: Sada, twice. When a man that Namiko seemed to befriend is found murdered, Sada becomes a suspect, though the killer is later revealed to be the victim's jealous ex-girlfriend. He is also initially believed to be the suspect in the serial murder case due to his shoes matching footprints found at the scene, and his "reenactment" of the killings through Namiko. It turns out he merely used the house as a hideout, and he couldn't actually kill Namiko.
    • Although she admits to the crime early in the series, Satomi is actually not the serial killer. She was, however, a firsthand witness to the murders.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: According to Kazue, Shiragami is an aloof genius, while Eisuke is more like a dimwitted hero.
  • Running Gag: Kazue simply cannot remember Hayase's name no matter how many times he barges into Eisuke's clinic.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Hayase is more than willing to use lethal force when dealing with criminals. He's also fond of investigating on his own without asking permission from his boss.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Namiko's ex-boyfriend Sada.
  • The Stoic: Ibara, mainly because of his insensitivity to pain.
    • Not So Stoic: Eisuke attempts to convince Ibara that he does understand pain, and that he is a kind person. Unfortunately, Hayase shoots him right before he can go with Eisuke to the police. He falls into the river, and later after getting out of the water, he screams in anguish.
  • That One Case: For Detective Hayase, the Ishikawa family murder haunts him as it remains unsolved.
  • The Unfettered: Doctor Shiragami is willing to use his connections and experiment on Ibara in pursuit of his ideal "painless treatment." It's later revealed that he not only had his brother's heart transplanted to himself to save his own life, he also manipulated Ibara into killing his brother's ex-girlfriend's family.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shiragami truly believes that pain is an unnecessary condition that needs to be alleviated and eliminated from the world.


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