Asia Express (アジア・エクスプレス) is the 6th episode in the first season of Joker Game. The episode focuses on Tazaki investigating the death of a soviet defector after a failed intelligence exchange in the famed train line "Asia Express" in Manchuria.
A Soviet secretary by the name of Anton Morozoff, stationed in Manchuria, offers the D-Agency highly classified information (written as a encoded newspaper ad) in exchange for a large sum of money after spending copious amount of funds on a Harbin nightclub girl. Tazaki, the agent tasked with the exchange, agreed with Morozoff for the trade to happen in the washroom of the Asia Express train line. However, Tazaki found Morozoff already dead, assassinated by SMERSH, an organization targeting Soviet defectors known to leave Tarot Cards by their victims. Knowing that the assassin has the encoded newspaper message, Tazaki predicts the assassin to leave the train at the Muken station, a little over an hour away. Tazaki machinates about Morozoff's death, remembering a suspicious man who was near the washroom where the exchange was to happen, whom Tazaki also suspects is the assassin. While Tazaki was in thought, three young boys found themselves fascinated with a sleight-of-hand magic trick Tazaki was passively performing. A particular boy displays his knowledge of the Asia Express, to which Tazaki happily listens. The boys explain that they going to Dairen, a city 6 hours away, and they are playing expedition to pass the time. Tazaki offers them a riddle: if he gets off at the Muken station, how could he send a message to Dairen faster than the Asia? (despite the Asia Express being the fastest train in Asia) The boys start intently solving the riddle. Unable to solve the riddle, Tazaki offers the boys a "mission" for their expedition. Tazaki tasks the boys to find a man reading a newspaper several days old and drop the SMERSH tarot with a message at his feet, as well as telling Tazaki what clothes he was wearing. In exchange for completing this mission, Tazaki will reveal the answer to his riddle. The boys successfully drop the message and explain that the man was wearing a white jacket with black lining and black pants. As the train starts arriving in Mukden, a train conductor, who happens to be a soviet asset, explains to the SMERSH assassin to remain in the bathroom. The conductor asserts that the spy is aware of the assassin, but not of the identity of the train conductor. As he says this, the conductor becomes aware that the assassin was actually Tazaki in disguise, and Tazaki neutralizes the conductor. Tazaki discovers that Morozoff was not travelling alone, but actually travelling with Elena, the nightclub girl whom Morozoff was infatuated with. Elena was in cooperation with the conductor, obscuring the view of the washroom while the conductor carried out the killing (hence the conductor being the actual assassin). Tazaki assures to Elena that he will not turn her over to SMERSH, but expects her to work as a spy for Japan.
Tazaki finally reveals the answer to the riddle, saying a pigeon can deliver the message faster than the Asia. Dumbfounded and in disbelief, Tazaki reveals a pigeon which he has been hiding in his suit and demonstrates the pigeon delivering a message. The message is revealed to be a communique to a D-Agency member, in lieu of using radio communications, which is monitored by Manchuria.