Once Upon a Crime summary and ending explained

Once Upon a Crime is a Japanese live-action rendition of the eponymous novel and takes you into the world of fairy tales with a twist. We follow Little Red Riding Hood, who runs into Cinderella and the two attend the infamous ball after being magically dressed up by two witches. Things take a curious turn when Red Riding Hood finds herself investigating the murder of the Royal hairdresser.

Plot summary

Once Upon a Crime opens in a fairy tale world where physical beauty is considered the optimal standard of acceptance. We are introduced to Little Red Riding Hood, who runs into an elderly witch named Barbara.

The latter is obsessed with giving Red Riding Hood new boots with magic but ruins the ones she has on. As she washes them in a nearby stream, they float away.

Red Riding Hood walks barefoot and notices her shoes on the feet of a ragged-looking girl. This is how she meets Cinderella, who apologetically returns them.

As she observes Cinderella, Red Riding Hood uses her immaculate observation skills and instincts to confirm that the girl is being bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters, Anne and Margot.

Cinderella confesses that since she is ugly, she is treated like vermin by her family and made to wear hand-me-down clothes. At this opportune moment, Barbara shows up and offers to dress both girls up with magic so they can attend the ball at the Royal Palace.

The handsome Prince Gilbert is set to choose a wife at the event and Cinderella would want nothing more than to marry him and rid herself of a bullied life.

She dresses them up beautifully but cannot create appropriate footwear due to her limited skills. However, her niece Tekla, also a witch, appears and does the needful. The witches also turn a pumpkin into a carriage and transform a mouse named Paul into their chauffeur.

Barbara warns that her magic will wear off at midnight but Tekla’s glass slippers will last for 24 hours. The two girls then hop inside the carriage and Paul drives them towards the castle.

As Cinderella tries to find words for her sudden change in fortune, they run over someone with the carriage. Paul is scared as Cinderella mentions that the person is Mr. Hans, the Royal hairdresser.

Panic sets in with Red Riding Hood confirming that the man is dead. However, she notices that the body has too much mud on the heels, meaning that it was dragged along the ground.

She concludes that Mr. Hans was dead way before he hit the carriage and the murderer used this tactic to deviate the blame. They decide to hide the body and get to the ball since Cinderella doesn’t deserve to miss it when she did nothing wrong.

They join the ball and start enjoying themselves. Cinderella’s stepmother and Anne don’t recognize her in this new avatar and focus on wooing Prince Gilbert. However, Margot is nowhere to be found.

The King and Prince arrive and the latter asks Cinderella for a dance. However, before he can pick a wife, a soldier arrives and reveals that they’ve discovered Mr. Hans’ body. The King stops the ball and asks everyone to stay put until the killer is caught.

Since there is a hoof mark on the body, he orders the soldiers to check every carriage for signs of blood but Paul takes care of the cleaning. Cinderella is worried that they may get accused of murder but Red Riding Hood asks her to calm down and observe.

Soon enough, the Chamberlain confirms that the wound on the back of the head on Mr. Hans’ body is older than the hoof mark. This makes it clear that he was murdered before the carriage accident.

Furthermore, they find a bloodied whetstone at his house alongside multiple locks of beautiful hair belonging to different women. The Chamberlain claims that the killer is one of the five women who got a haircut from him before the ball. One of them is Anne.

Once Upon a Crime ending explained in detail:

What is Prince Gilbert’s secret?

Red Riding Hood interjects and claims that the theory is incorrect. She points out that all the locks of hair have pretty ribbons on them. However, when women get their hair cut, they always remove these ribbons.

This must mean that the hair was cut by deception and after the women were ready. Red Riding Hood asks Anne to recall the details of her appointment with Mr. Hans.

Anne reveals that Mr. Hans told her that the Prince likes women with short hair and cut her hair off even when she wasn’t comfortable with it. Prince Gilbert adds that he has heard unsavory rumors about Mr. Hans.

The hairdresser envied women with beautiful hair who were not his customers. He could not stand the existence of such hair that he did not style. Therefore, whenever he came across a woman with such hair, he would cut it off forcefully.

Anne continues her story and mentions that earlier, she snuck into the castle to meet the Prince and convince him to ask her for a dance. However, she heard him in a screaming match with Mr. Hans and left.

Prince Gilbert confesses that he saw a lock of hair in Mr. Hans’ possessions and lost it. However, the hairdresser knew that it was Gilbert who threw the King’s crown in the trash a year ago and used that information to blackmail him.

The King confronts him about the confession, and the Prince claims that he did it because the emperor was responsible for making a woman named Remi disappear. She was a servant, but Gilbert loved her. However, before he could marry her, she disappeared.

This information shocks the entire room, but the King confirms that he had nothing to do with it.

Is Prince Gilbert guilty?

The King asks Gilbert if he killed Mr. Hans because of the blackmail. The Prince refuses and claims that he went on a walk to be alone at the supposed time of the murder.

Unfortunately, there is no one to confirm his alibi, and he has a strong motive. Gilbert is put in cuffs and taken away, but Red Riding Hood spots something.

This is also when a poor beggar woman sneaks into the room and confesses that she saw Gilbert walking on the hill for two hours. The elite class people refuse to believe her since she is ragged and ugly, but Red Riding Hood calls for them to see sense.

She shows them a thorn that fell out of Gilbert’s outfit. Since it was specially made for the ball, he couldn’t have worn it before, and the only place these thorns grew was on the hill.

The King and the people are finally convinced, and Gilbert is released.

The murderer is still not found, and the King finally allows everyone to leave. The clock is about to strike midnight, forcing Red Riding Hood and Cinderella to make a run for it.

As the fairy tale goes, Cinderella loses one of her glass slippers while getting into the carriage as Gilbert tries to stop her. Paul gets them far away from the castle, and the magic wears off.

Where is Margot?

Cinderella takes Red Riding Hood to her house and the two tuck in for the night. Later, Red Riding Hood hears a commotion outside and goes to investigate.

She runs into Margot, who looks exhausted. She is being chased by soldiers and claims that she killed Mr. Hans. Red Riding Hood asks her to narrate the events of the murder.

Margot reveals that she got a letter from Mr. Hans that he would like to cut her hair. When she went to his place, he wasn’t there and she was struck in the back of her head.

She tried to wake up a little while later but was attacked again. When she finally regained consciousness, she saw herself holding the bloody whetstone, and Mr. Hans lying dead in front of her.

Concluding that she must have killed the hairdresser after noticing Anne’s lock of hair, Margot panicked and dragged the body outside. It was she who threw it in the path of the carriage.

Unfortunately, she didn’t feel like going to the ball after that and started wandering around. This is when the soldiers spotted her and gave chase.

The soldiers close in on them and Red Riding Hood hands Margot over to them. The Chamberlain thanks her for getting a confession out of Margot but Red Riding Hood isn’t convinced that she’s the killer.

It doesn’t sit right with Red Riding Hood that Margot was attacked by an anonymous person and doesn’t remember killing Mr. Hans. This is when she notices a broken piece of a glass slipper that fell out of Margot’s hair, and everything becomes clear to her.

Who is the killer?

Red Riding Hood figures everything out and asks the Chamberlain to help her with something. The next morning, Prince Gilbert shows up at Cinderella’s door and asks her to try on the slipper she left behind.

The young girl is elated and obliges. When the slipper fits her perfectly, Prince Gilbert asks the soldiers to seize Cinderella. Shocked, she looks around for an explanation, and Red Riding Hood shows up.

She confronts Cinderella and discloses that she is the real killer. It is revealed that Mr. Hans ran into Cinderella before he met with anyone else that day and saw her natural beauty beneath the ruggedness.

Jealous of her hair, he planned to cut it off. When he tried to do so, she smacked him in the head with the whetstone and killed him. Also, she had gotten a pair of glass slippers from Tekla before she met Red Riding Hood and lied about Margot throwing away her shoes.

Furthermore, she decided to frame Margot for the murder to avenge the bullying. Therefore, it was Cinderella who wrote the letter inviting Margot to Mr. Hans’ place for a haircut.

When she showed up, Cinderella attacked her with the same whetstone and placed it into her hand. However, Margot wasn’t knocked out properly so she used one of her glass slippers to attack her the second time.

What Cinderella didn’t realize was that a piece from the heel broke off and got stuck in Margot’s hair. This was the same piece Red Riding Hood saw fall from Margot’s body when she was arrested.

Cinderella is further shocked when Red Riding Hood reveals that she found the first pair of glass slippers inside the grave of a pigeon that belonged to the poor girl.

It was the obvious place for hiding evidence since in a world so obsessed with beauty, no one would look inside the resting place of a dead and ugly bird.

The poor girl argues that if she had another pair of glass slippers, then why did Tekla introduce herself to Cinderella in front of Red Riding Hood when she had met her before?

The young detective explains that the second time, Cinderella had already transformed into a beautiful maiden with Barbara’s magic, and Tekla didn’t recognize her.

The witches show up to confirm this theory, and Cinderella is stumped. She finally confesses that she committed the crime and is taken away.

Who does the Prince marry?

Once Cinderella is taken away, Red Riding Hood confirms another theory. She explains that the King was not responsible for Remi’s disappearance.

Mr. Hans tried to forcefully cut her hair as well and ended up wounding her face in the process. Realizing that she could not marry Prince Gilbert anymore, Remi went into exile.

She is revealed to be the same poor woman who acted as a witness to the Prince’s innocence and confirmed that he went for a walk. Prince Gilbert proposes to her and convinces her that a simple scar on her face will not deter his love.

The King also accepts them as a couple, and they thank Red Riding Hood for her help. The young detective takes her leave, waiting to solve many more mysteries in other fairy tales.

Also Read: Thursday’s Widows summary and ending explained

More from The Envoy Web