– by Stephon White

Have you heard about Ninth Step Station? It’s a weekly audio production released onto Serial Box. The Serial Box site has different genres of audio stories available to listen to. When I say stories, I mean more like movies without the pictures. The audio production Ninth Step Station to which I am a fan of uses high-quality voice over and effects to tell compelling stories. You even get the option to listen to or read the story yourself.

Ninth Step Station is seven episodes in with three more to go. We’re getting close to the end of this chapter for our characters Emma and Miyako. This week’s episode seven is titled “The Loud Politician.” A politician is dead. Two of her colleagues were caught on tape saying they wanted to kill her. Case closed. Right?

We’ve seen surveillance drones utilized in previous entries to Ninth Step Station, but never to the effect we see in this episode. Here, the drones paint the sky with ever watching eyes. They ominously hover in the sky like paparazzi. Things get interesting once a drone waiting for Diet “a governmental organization”, high up in the air. One captures controversial politician Tokyo Councilwoman Nakagawa Misato on camera, immediately followed by two members of the Nippon Saisei Party as they hurl insults, and a threat to Misato’s life. The intrigue builds quickly after Emma and Miyako respond to the murder of the Councilwoman.

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It is a return to form here. The episode moves brisk and provides the right amount of political discourse. There are callbacks to previous episodes that really work this time around. For instance, the chief culprit in the murder was using a drone to aid him. However, this drone does not appear to show any digital footprint. It’s as if it has been scrubbed out of the footage or altogether invisible. You recall Episode 3’s “The Fallen Executive” and a certain killer whose crimes were made possible thanks to his technology that made him nearly invisible.

Episode 7, “The Loud Politician” was utterly thrilling. Though taking place in the future of Tokyo, the story felt very familiar and almost an extension of some of the women shaming and ruthlessness we see in today’s politics. It was nice to see Emma ruffling a few feathers with her brazen American ways of getting things done. In fact, Emma and Miyako’s budding friendship/partnership is used to great effect here. Emma’s entrenchment in Tokyo is starting to make her leadership worry as to whose side she’s pledging her allegiance to first. That’s how bad Emma wants to solve the Councilwoman’s death. The story’s last-minute twist was unexpected but the writers were careful enough to drop a few well-timed hints early on. It’s also worth mentioning that seeing the two characters different personalities and ways they go about policing the city was added icing.

It’s pure joy listening to Emily Woo Zeller’s narration. I may have found myself switching from audio to text a few times to recap some things. With three more stories left until the end, Ninth Step Station is certainly seeming to be saving the best for last. Check it out if you haven’t. This episode is a definite favorite. Full of vivid imagery, a police hunt, and one awesome Butterfly Bar scene. Highly recommended.

Grade: A

+ Compelling narrative
+ Likeable main characters
+ Solid narration by Emily Woo Zeller
+ Political intrigue
+ Strong villain
+ Motivated protagonists

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

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