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– by Stephon White

Today I’m back to review Ninth Step Station, a serialized weekly audio production made possible by Serial Box. Ninth Step Station comes in both audio and text so there’s the option to get the weekly episode on the go or during downtime. While I haven’t gotten into any of Serial Box’s other productions, I can say if Ninth Step Station is an indicator of the quality I’m looking forward to trying other productions. Again, this review like ones previous, the audio storytelling with Ninth Step Station is top notch.

Serial Box has published six out of a planned total of 10 initial stories set in the world of Ninth Step Station.“The Stolen Xiǎohái” is the title of episode 6 in the Ninth Step Station series. This week’s episode is written by Curtis C. Chen. In it, we find Tokyo cop Miyako Koreda and her partner U.S. peacekeeper against a different sort of crime; kidnapping.

The story opens on Lieutenant Colonel Ting Yupei, Chief Liaison Officer to the Japanese Government for the People’s Republic of China’s secret visit to Odaiba alongside his daughter, Annie. Early on, Annie goes missing among a breakout of clashing factions. The case threatens to turn into a diplomatic nightmare. Further complicating things are two foreign detectives that must shadow Emma and Miyako, watching there moves throughout the investigation. Unlike the previous entries featuring opening scenes of a murder to be solved, this entry launches with a kidnapping of Lieutenant Colonel Ting Yupei’s daughter. There are no victims to be honored in this week’s episode.

RELATED – Ninth Step Station Episode 5 Review: The Deadly Infection

Emma and Miyako seemed to be coasting a bit. The episode takes place within a ticking timetable. The story this week focuses more on the potential blowout should he daughter not be found in time. Most of the time, the characters are trying to figure out who would have the incentive to kidnap the girl. Speculation runs from rival factions to the local gangs. We get a bit more exploration of the city via plot twist that has the investigators tracking down a remotely operated cab that was spotted nearby the scene of the abduction.

This week’s entry felt more like a jaunt through familiar tropes. If new to the series, then it might be a decent place to dive in as Emma and Miyako are a bit more comfortable around one another and again show they are capable police officers. The fact the kidnapping happens right in Emma and Miyako’s own backyard, on their turf motivates them to track down the girl. The two visiting detectives felt tacked on, and were just straight up jerks to our mains leads. So, if you were looking for more evolution of character between the main leads, you may miss out this episode.

As always listening to Emily Woo Zeller narrate is an absolute plus. Postwar Tokyo pops with a liveliness thanks in no small part to the details in the writings on display. Whether it’s read too you are reading it aloud, Ninth Step Station’s world is full of interesting things. I just hope we see more of it before the series wraps. I’ve enjoyed the previous entries. This episode was good, but the series does have better entries. The story twists along as we breeze towards the conclusion. However, it’s when faced with that conclusion that some of the air is let out of the story.

Grade: C

+ Compelling narrative
+ Likeable main characters
+ Solid narration by Emily Woo Zeller
– Character development of new cast
– Weak villain
– Villain’s motivation

To check out the series for yourself, go ahead and CLICK HERE!

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