Thursday, June 28, 2012
I'm so happy to be enjoying my summer break at the moment and my first thought was getting back to watching dramas! I actually heard about "Strawberry Night" from a friend who said she enjoyed the bestseller. The crime drama focuses on Himekawa Reiko (Takeuchi Yuko), a talented detective working for an elite squad within the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. Being a woman and the leader of her team, she endures ridicule and disrespect from within the organization. Headstrong and willing to fight for justice, she pushes forward, motivated by personal tragedy. With her deductive skills and powerful intuition, Himekawa and her team work diligently to solve the most heinous of crimes.
Recommendation: I've probably stated this a number of times already, but I enjoy Takeuchi Yuko's acting. That said, I'm not a big fan of crime/detective/mystery dramas, but "Strawberry Night" I have to admit was one of the better ones that I've seen. The format at first was a bit awkward in terms of having a few episodes concentrating on one story instead of having a new story per episode. It was a good idea though as it added more depth to each story. The cases were quite interesting and even though Himekawa uses her intuition a lot, I think the way the crimes were solved required "real" detective work. Most of the episodes were well paced and I liked the creative often subtle scene transitions which I don't see a lot in dramas. For example, there was a scene showing the number 11 and it slowly changed into a set of railroad tracks, or a scene of pouring rain suddenly changed into a scene with a character shaking a mix of juice for a cocktail and finally a scene showing a character buying a drink from a vending machine and just before the can pops out the scene changes to a pachinko parlor showing pachinko balls coming out of a machine instead. So the directing was well done, but I can't say much for the acting. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't terrible, but I couldn't help myself thinking that Takeuchi Yuko's scenes of anger or irritation felt forced. Maybe it's because I've never seen her in this type of role before. I am also biased in admitting that I don't like Nishijima Hidetoshi that much. He played Kikuta Kazuo which in my opinion was a bad choice for a huge role. I watched him in a drama called "Koinu No Waltz" and I had a choice of either falling asleep or bang my head against a wall to stay awake whenever he spoke in his monotone voice with his expressionless face. In this drama, he does improve in terms of voice fluctuation/frequency, but not much in terms of his facial expressions. I would have liked to see some kind of back story involving Kikuta just like they did with Hayama Noriyuki. Overall this drama was pretty good, but I didn't lose any sleep over it. I watched the first movie before watching the drama and I look forward to watching the second movie which is supposed to come out soon. If you like Takeuchi Yuko or crime dramas I recommend this one.
Character Development: 0.5
Emotional Factor: 0.5
3.5 Out Of 5.0 Crowns
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Okay really, one more drama and I'll return to full study mode. Nakanai To Kimeta Hi is a story about a young woman named Tsunoda Miki (Eikura Nana) who lands her first job at a prestigious company only to find herself the target of bullying by her co-workers and superiors. When she makes a few mistakes, nobody believes in her abilities to do her job and she is constantly harassed and ridiculed. To support her family she is determined to endure the cruelty, but going to work each day becomes more than tortuous. Losing confidence and her courage running thin, she finds a few allies to lend her support and she begins to realize that through her determination to never give up, she will not only change herself, but others as well.
Recommendation: So after being impressed by watching Eikura Nana in a previous drama, I had to see her again in another show. I thought she played her role quite well in this drama and it was an exciting one as well. The underlying themes of never giving up and holding on to your values was strong and I enjoyed the pace. However, I got a bit bored by the usual "innocent, uncorrupted, straightforward character eventually melting the hearts of her enemies" type of story line. There were some cheesy moments and it felt too idealistic/unrealistic at times for my taste even for a drama. I also disliked the outcome between Nakahara Shota (Kaname Jun) and Tsunoda. *Spoiler Alert* In my mind, I can't believe that Nakahara stayed with Tachibana Marika (Anne) even after finding out how evil she was. She even tried to kill Tsunoda and she didn't go to jail, but still got to be with the guy in the end with no consequences. Hmm, I didn't like that at all. Anyway, with the exception of a few holes in the story, I thought it was well made and I enjoyed the depth of the characters and the resolve to overcome their problems. I recommend this drama as it may resonate with many people who have experienced working with a difficult co-worker or company.
Character Development: 1.0
Emotional Factor: 1.0
4.0 Out Of 5.0 Crowns