Prior Convictions
Based on the original graphic novel “Zenkamono” by Masahito KAGAWA,Toji TSUKISHIMA published by Shogakukan Inc.
When Kayo Agawa (Kasumi Arimura), a sincere and passionate young woman, finds out that Michiko Murakami has taken unauthorized leave from her job yet again, she races to her apartment and smashes a window. Murakami emerges angrily, but Agawa grabs her hand and firmly yet compassionately encourages her to go to work.
Who exactly is Agawa, and why would she do something like this?
She’s a hogoshi (volunteer probation officer), a part-time public servant who assists the rehabilitation of criminals and delinquents. However, she does not receive any payment for this at all, so she supports herself by working at a convenience store.
Agawa also has to deal with other troublesome individuals on probation, such as Mr. Tamura, who uses her father’s name to run up a bar tab. On the other hand, there is Makoto Kudo (Go Morita), who has been assigned to Agawa for six months, and is her ray of hope. He’s a parolee who doesn’t say much but works hard at a small auto-repair shop, where the owner promises to make him a full-time employee once he completes his probation.
Agawa immediately reports this to her supervisor, municipal probation officer Tadaharu Takamatsu (Yukiya Kitamura), who reads her report on Kudo and is genuinely delighted. When Kudo was 10 years old, his mother was murdered by her stepfather, after which he and his younger brother were shifted around juvenile facilities. Although he eventually found a job at a bread factory, the intense violence and bullying he was subjected to there led him to stab a senior colleague to death. However, although Kudo says he has no memory of the crime he committed, he confesses to Agawa that he fears he might kill again.
Agawa returns to her home where she lives alone, and finds her first client, Midori Saito (Shizuka Ishibashi), has let herself in. Midori now runs her own utility business, and is holding a raucous party with her employees. She teases Agawa, saying “How’s your love life? Forget us ex-cons, and live a different life,” to which Agawa replies with a smile, “Reforming means being reborn, you know. Being able to witness that is pretty amazing, no?”
Through meeting with Kudo twice every month, Agawa becomes convinced that even murderers can be reformed, and Kudo also comes to trust the caring Agawa, who tells him not to try too hard. They make a promise: when Kudo completes his probation, they’ll celebrate together by eating at a ramen noodle shop that Kudo used to go to with his mother and brother. Kudo asks Agawa, “Why do you do this kind of work?”, but she answers vaguely, saying “I've been...through some stuff as well.” Kudo shows rare clarity by pressing her, saying he’d like to hear about it, but Agawa only replies, “I’ll tell you sometime.” They part, knowing their next meeting will be their last.
Meanwhile, a crime occurs elsewhere. A police sergeant is attacked at a police box, has his pistol taken from him, and sustains severe injuries. A few days later, the same pistol is used by a hooded man to kill a municipal welfare worker. Police detectives Shinji Takimoto (Hayato Isomura) and Mitsuru Suzuki (Makita Sports) begin an investigation, but before they can gain any leads, a third shooting occurs. This time the victim is an orphanage worker, and the same hooded man was spotted at the scene of the crime.
On the day of Kudo’s last meeting with Agawa, he doesn’t turn up at the agreed time. Agawa becomes worried and hurries to his apartment, only to find his neatly folded work clothes sitting on a desk, as well as the contact card that Agawa stamps every time they have a meeting. What on earth has happened to Kudo?
While working at the convenience store, feeling as if her heart is being torn to shreds, Agawa is visited by detective Takimoto, who shows her his police ID. He tells her he’s looking for Makoto Kudo, but she’s stunned for another reason: Takimoto was her junior high classmate. Their reunion revives memories of an incident in their past that she has kept locked deep within her memory...
Kudo has become a wanted man once again, but where has he disappeared to? Agawa, who put her faith in him and devoted herself wholeheartedly to his rehabilitation, struggles to save him. Is there any hope left for the ex-convict, and the volunteer probation officer?