By Sammi Jarnagin
On March 2nd, Ehime AJET hosted their annual Murder Mystery Dinner. I’m a first year ALT, so this was the first event of its kind that I could go to. I’m a sucker for true crime, thrillers, and mysteries so I had always wanted to attend a murder mystery event of some kind and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I booked a spot immediately and was happy to see that several of my friends had, too.
A few days before the party, everyone who had RSVPed received an email explaining the general plot of the dinner, as well as our assigned character. The party was a Roaring Twenties styled event ( think The Great Gatsby) hosted by two mob bosses from rival families at one of the men’s Speakeasies. The party’s theme is very specific to American history, so I would like to explain a little bit of the history behind it. During the 1920s in the USA, alcohol was officially prohibited by the government in order to preserve the morals of American society. As we all know, if you make something illegal, the demand for it only increases. Not wanting to turn down a great business opportunity, many groups including mob families all over the USA took over the production and distribution of alcohol.
One place where someone would be able to buy their favorite prohibited drink was in secret bars called Speakeasies. While Prohibition officially ended in 1933, individual states still had laws concerning inhibition until the 1960s. Anyway, this night the cream of the crop had been invited, ranging from the top silent film actress to a journalist who loves getting the scoop on any mob activity. However, the party would end in someone’s death, and it was our job to figure out who.
On the night of the event, we met up near the main entrance of the Okaido Shopping Street. As more and more people started arriving, I felt more and more out of place, as the majority of the attendees had decided to go all out with their costumes. Some people were able to make their own costumes (shoutout to the woman who made her flapper dress out of a large t-shirt) while others were able to piece together a nice outfit from their professional clothing. I also remember seeing at least one person in drag for their character role as a mob boss. At first, I felt embarrassed for the lack of effort I had put into my outfit, but as more and more people arrived I noticed a few others also wearing regular clothing.
Once we were in the establishment, we were split up into three separate groups and were able to chat and get into character while ordering the first round of drinks. After everyone had picked their poison, the first round of the game began. Everyone was given a card with instructions on who to talk to and what to say to these specific characters. While it wasn’t necessary to talk to everyone, I tried to engage as many people as I could for clues. After the second round of drinks, things got a bit more heated as we were given new instructions and clues, and the murder victim, a second-in-command of one of the gangs, was finally revealed to everyone. At this point, the final round of drinks were ordered, and everyone worked together to figure out who the killer was.
Eventually, everyone came clean with their secrets and hidden agendas in order to pick out who had the best motive to kill the victim. I thought that this part was truly funny, as almost every single character attending the party had a reason to kill this guy, ranging from blackmail to having a wife and two girlfriends at the same time. Unfortunately for our characters, coming clean resulted in a “shoot-out” between the two gangs, and even more characters ended up dying. However, due to the flexibility of this part of the story, each of the three groups at the murder mystery party acted out a different ending, making the mystery a unique experience for everyone involved. I had a lot of fun, and will definitely attend next years get together. I hope to see you there!
Sammi Jarnagin is a 24-year-old first-year ALT in Uchiko. They graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a B.A. in Japanese language, and Certificates in East Asian Culture and Liberal Arts. Their hobbies are traveling, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, and music.