It cannot be that one is not familiar with characters like Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood. They have a special place in the cultural consciousness as they are characters from world-famous fairy tales. Now, a fairy tale may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a good murder mystery is something else. Yûichi Fukuda’s Once Upon a Crime, is a whodunit spin on the fairytale universe. It’s quite an intriguing idea, and with Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood as the main characters, it becomes all the more fascinating. The story begins with the story of Little Red Riding Hood, where we see the titular character going on her adventures. This tale is known to everyone, but the twist comes when she meets Cinderella on the way and tries to get her to go to the famous ball where she will meet her ‘prince charming.’ The story takes a murderous turn when a dead body is discovered. This isn’t an animated film, and the live-action version of Little Red Riding Hood is played by Kanna Hashimoto. Let’s take a look at her character in this special fairy tale where she gets to play a detective.
Kanna Hashimoto as Little Red Riding Hood:
If you were Little Red Riding Hood, you would want to explore all sorts of different places and be curious about everything. You would especially not want to cross paths with a witch because that could go very badly for you, but in this film, having a witch disturb you actually helps. Hood actually ignores the witch, leading to a funny exchange between her and the embarrassed witch. The witch, whose name was Barbara, was, in fact, harmless. All she wanted to do was change Hood’s shoes. The witch’s magic trick made her lose her shoes, and they ended up flowing downstream in a river. Cinderella, out of all people, picked them up. Hood reached just in time to see her walking away, and she had to follow her to get her shoes back. Hood caught Cinderella in the middle of mourning her pet pigeon, who was killed by her sister Morgan.
Hood had a sixth sense, which kicked in when there was something not quite right. She sensed that Cinderella was in a state of duress. She asked if she was being bullied by her mother or sisters. This is where the ‘Sherlock’ in her came out. Looking at Cinderella’s dress and her distressed state, she deduced she must have a sister and/or a mother who is treating her very badly and only letting her wear hand-me-downs. She was also not happy with her name. The name Cinderella means ‘covered with ashes,’ and Hood was so perturbed that even Cinderella had accepted this name. Now Cinderella’s fairy tale leads her to the ball, where she meets the Prince. Hood asks her if she would want to marry a complete stranger, and Cinderella’s answer is an excited ‘yes.’
Their wish is granted by Barbara and another witch, Barbara’s niece Tekla, who comes and gives Cinderella the glass slippers, as she has no boots to wear. The witch’s magic ensured that both Hood and Cinderella looked drop-dead gorgeous in exquisite dresses. This way, they could enter the ball, and no one would ask them to leave on account of looking poor and ugly. In this fairytale, superficial beauty was paramount. They were even given a carriage and a mouse rider who took on human form. They had until midnight, after which the magic would wear off. So Hood decided to hurry and get the sorrowful Cinderella to the ball and make her day by getting her to meet the Prince. Their adventure became morbid when they discovered the corpse of the royal court’s hairdresser, Mr. Hans.
Somebody had thrown his corpse in front of their carriage to make it seem like Hans had died by getting run over. Hood decided to cover the corpse with leaves, as they did not have the time to inform the royal guards about it. Their magic would wear off by the time they arrived at the ball. Hood thought the body wouldn’t be discovered until the next day, but she was mistaken. They arrived at the ball, and the Prince got to dance with Cinderella, or rather, she got to dance with him, and it looked like they were both falling in love. Hood was happy that she managed to help poor Cinderella, but then the news of Hans’ body having been discovered reached the court. Everything came to a standstill, and everyone became a suspect.
The list was narrowed down after Lord Chamberlain, the King’s closest aid, discovered a blood-stained whetstone in Hans’ home. He suspected that he was killed in his house and then thrown in front of the carriage to deceive the authorities. Same theory as Hood’s. Where Chamberlain differed was with the issue of the locks of hair found. Chamberlain thought that the women whose hair Hans accidentally cut too short must have resented Hans for doing so, and so the killer must be one of the women whose locks were present in Hans’s house. Hood came forward to dispute Chamberlain’s theory. The locks of hair still had ribbons on them, and she pointed toward the fact that Hans didn’t just cut the locks off by accident, as the ribbons indicate the women were not even ready to have their hair cut. Anne, Cinderella’s other sister, was also one of the women whose locks of hair were found at Hans’ place. She described how Hans indeed cut her hair off forcefully. He first enticed women by telling them the Prince preferred women with short hair, and then proceeded to cut their hair forcefully.
The Prince came forward and revealed that Hans was a lunatic who was envious of women with pretty, long hair. Anne, too, came forward to speak her truth: that she had overheard a conversation between the Prince and Hans, in which the Prince was livid with him. Could he have killed Hans in a fit of rage? The motive was there. Hans had blackmailed the Prince for a royal mirror and told the Prince that he would snitch to the King about the royal crown the Prince had thrown in the garbage. The plot thickened when Hood urged the King not to arrest the Prince. She managed to prove that the Prince was strolling on a hill during the time of Hans’ murder. She couldn’t have done so without the help of a poor girl who appeared as the Prince’s alibi.
Hans’ killer wasn’t found, and just minutes before midnight, the ball was suspended. The freshly released Prince ran after Cinderella as she left her slipper there and went away with Hood in the carriage. The detective in Hood couldn’t just let the matter go. She ran into Margot in the woods, and she told her that she had killed Hans, or at least she thought she had. Hood found a broken piece of glass in Margot’s dress, while Chamberlain’s men found her in the woods and dragged her away. Hood clarified the matter to him and told him that the killer was still at large, and she needed the Prince’s help in the matter. The very next day, the Prince arrived with the glass slipper at Cinderella’s place. Cinderella must have thought that her dream was going to come true, but after she tried on the slipper and they fit, Hood arrived and called her to be Hans’ real murderer.
Hood figured this out because she discovered Cinderella’s other glass slippers that had been buried in her pet pigeon’s grave. The same grave where Hood and Cinderella first met. Cinderella had lied about having gone to the woods to pick raspberries for her bully of a sister, Margot, when, in fact, Margot had gone to Hans’ place to get her hair styled. Cinderella went to Hans’ place first, and when he tried to force himself on her to take her lock, she hit him with a whetstone. Then she wrote a letter addressed to Margot. When she arrived, Cinderella hit her own sister in the head with her slipper, and that’s when the heel chipped and the broken piece of glass got stuck in Margot’s dress. But how did Cinderella have two pairs of glass slippers? Well, Tekla had met her alone and given Cinderella a pair of glass slippers, and she couldn’t recognize her when she saw her with Hood and Barbara because Barbara had given her a queen-like makeover and made her completely unrecognizable. So that’s how she got the second pair of slippers.
But why did Cinderella go to Hans’ place? Hood had a reply to this question as well. Hood exclaimed that, as beauty was paramount in this world, Cinderella, too, wanted to look beautiful to attract the Prince’s attention. She thought having her hair styled by Hans, the royal hairstylist, would give her an edge over the others. When he tried to take her locks away, Cinderella killed him with a whetstone. Cinderella couldn’t hear the intricate details of the crime any more. She confessed and was taken away. Hood was left with one more task. The Prince had thrown away his father’s crown in the garbage because he had not allowed him to marry the girl he loved. Hood realized that the poor woman who had risked getting thrown out of the ball and came as the Prince’s alibi was his lover. She reunited the two lovers, and finally, the case was solved. Hood’s next case could come when she meets other fairytale characters. But for now, she was content to just explore the forests, having just solved a complicated case where beauty was ugliness and true love was not a priority. Hood turned these notions on their heads and went on her merry way.