Sunday, December 22, 2013
Ando Lloyd is a new drama starring Takuya Kimura and Kou Shibasaki. Kimura plays a genius physicist named Matsushima Reiji who is employed as a professor/researcher at Tokyo Imperial University. He has been studying about wormhole theories and one day tells his fiance that, based on a "kill list" circulating on the internet, he will be next in line to be killed. He also states that she will be targeted as well, but he will do everything in his power to protect her. His fiance, Asahi Ando, played by Kou Shibasaki first thinks that Reiji is fooling around, but soon realizes that someone is definitely coming after her. Just when she is about to be killed, someone that looks just like Reiji swoops into the rescue. At first she is happy to see him, but soon realizes that he is not Reiji. He explains that he is an android sent by a "client" from the year 2113 with one sole mission; to protect her from being killed no matter what. Who is the client? Who is trying to kill her and why does this android look like Reiji?
Recommendation: After I watched the first episode of this drama I was curious to know who the director was because the style seemed very familiar to a drama called "SP - Security Police" which I just posted a review about. Lo and behold, one of the directors (probably the main one) was Takafumi Hatano the director of "SP". Just realizing this made me cringe and boy did I cringe throughout this drama. I will give him and his team credit for trying to create a descent science fiction story, but in my opinion science fiction is one of the hardest genre's to work in. More importantly though, I just don't understand why Kimutaku agreed to work with Hatano (maybe he had no choice). If he was working in Hollywood, I would compare Hatano to Michael Bay; someone who loves intense action scenes and CG, but everything else is sub par. This was the case with "Ando Lloyd". Kimutaku and Shibasaki do their best with what they could work with. Kimutaku does a good job playing two different characters, but there are SO many holes in the plot and it doesn't slow down enough to have a chance to develop any of these characters. Even the supporting cast was hollow. The only scene that I felt emotionally drawn in was in episode 4 when Lloyd had to kill Navier. Why couldn't they have more androids like him? What gets to me the most is that, overall, this wasn't a smart drama and as a sci-fi story, if it isn't smart, it's less intriguing and becomes pointless to watch. Are these androids seriously from the future? I would definitely have a better plan of disposing one human being than what these 'droids thought up of. Who came up with adding English phrases? There was no need to do that and it just came off as uncool. The director is clueless here. What kind of story does he want to tell? The focus shifts from sci-fi to romance to social issues, but doesn't develop them nearly enough. It was low and uninspiring to steal from "The Terminator," "The Matrix," and even "Dragonball". I seriously got tired of constantly seeing the same action scenes that start out with the initiation of the Asura OS and then seeing Lloyd stagger and fall (I seriously think Lloyd staggers and falls to the ground in every episode). Also, the sappiness of protecting a loved one and over preaching of societal issues caused by humans was overkill; it just starts to come off as disingenuous. Finally, as I mentioned in my "SP" post, the worst (and I would like to emphasize the word WORST) fight/action/kill scenes are the ones that end with characters fighting to the death but suddenly when one character is about to be killed...they have a conversation! (Yes, I would like one cup of coffee with a crumpet before I kill this guy...really?). I would like to mention that this type of scene occurs in EVERY single episode in this drama. Hatano also recreates the final scene from "SP" and just seems to copy and paste it into this drama. I'm talking about the part when The Last Queen shoots and "kills" a few main characters, but they miraculously survive. That was just offensive.
I would like to apologize for my rant above, but as a huge Takuya Kimura fan, I'm just disappointed with his recent dramas and sadly, it seems like his days of posting high TV ratings may have come to an end. Obviously I am not a director or actor so I will never know how much work it takes to develop and produce a drama series, but I'm a die hard fan of dramas and sometimes I wonder if he has a say in what kind of drama he wants to be involved in. Recently, I've been thinking about some reasons why Kimutaku is posting lower ratings. Yes, I do think one reason is that he is getting old, but I also think that he is not marketing himself to the audience that grew up with him. I feel like he is still trying to appeal to a younger, "popular" crowd and in this drama, there are some up and coming young and beautiful stars that he surrounds himself in and it doesn't look right. I would hope to see him solely in another love story/family drama in the role of a father or any drama that can focus on his abilities as an actor instead of being involved with a team focusing on glitz and glam. If you like Kimutaku or Kou Shibasaki and don't mind watching a drama that doesn't require much thinking then I would recommend this one for you. For everyone else, steer clear from this one because you will only be left frustrated. A.I. knows love? Yes, A.I. knows love! But please show it and not just say it!
Character Development: 0.5
Emotional Factor: 0.0
2.5 Out Of 5.0 Crowns
Saturday, December 7, 2013
SP is a drama about professional bodyguards called security police. Their sole purpose is to protect VIPs and in the most dire of circumstances become "human shields" to defend them from harm. In the 21st century, terrorism has become a global threat. Not even Japan is exempt from this menace. SP's play a crucial role in anticipating unforeseen circumstances, but they are not well equipped to deal with new challenges. Enter Kaoru Inoue (Junichi Okada), an SP rookie with unusually strong senses to detect danger. Joining Soichiro Ogata (Shinichi Tsutsumi) and his loyal team, they fight to stop any destructive force before it's too late.
Recommendation: I picked this drama because I just watched "Oyaji!" and I remember Junichi Okada being a pretty good actor. I realized he's been laying a little low in the drama universe for a while which is a shame because he can play action roles well. Unfortunately, this drama is not as easy to sum up as I first thought it might be. The reason is because there are some really good things I liked about this drama, but there are also aspects of the drama that I just downright despised. The story is definitely interesting and a relevant one. I liked the idea a lot. The acting was also descent, but not anything to highly praise about. From there, I just have to say that everything else was sub-par. This drama associates with the phrase, "style over substance" perfectly. The screen shots and action sequences are fast and flashy, but when it comes to editing the story, there are cracks and holes so numerous that I grew indifferent to the plot and characters.
Just some examples, but there are scenes in the drama that I thought were sloppily presented. In episode 6, Shoichi Ohashi is being protected in a hotel room by the SP's and he purposefully spills orange juice on his pants. He goes back into the bedroom pretending to change his clothes when he escapes. My first thought was, how did he escape? There is no door to the hallway from the bedroom and he clearly didn't escape through the living room. And even if he did escape from the bedroom, why didn't any of the SP's ever think of guarding that entrance?
Again in episode 6, there is a scene that looks like Ohashi is poisoned in the shower after swimming in the pool. I disliked this scene because when I first watched it, it looked like it actually happened. There are too many of these dire/tragic scenes that end up being part of the sensitive imagination of Inoue.
Another strange issue that came up was in the very first episode when Inoue fought with the bald, knife wielding terrorist and arrested him. Ohashi said that Inoue was the first ever SP to arrest a terrorist and they are not supposed to do so. Well, if that's the case, why do they even carry handcuffs in the first place?
Those were just a couple of examples of sloppy editing/directing, but the sin of all sins in action scenes are the ones where the shooter, be it the protagonist or antagonist, has multiple chances to make a kill and instead decides to make small talk like they're in the middle of an important conversation on a nice sunny afternoon over a cup of tea and biscuits. Seriously, these scenes must seriously go. I'm so fed up and tired of them because they are a put off. The last episode during the assassination attempt of the prime minister symbolizes this issue and that is where I put my foot down and just couldn't give this drama a higher rating.
The drama overall did well in terms of ratings. A special and a couple movies were completed afterwards, but if you're like me who tends to look at the details, this drama will ultimately frustrate you. I also didn't like the fact that the SPs work as a team, but there wasn't a huge emphasis on character building. Yamamoto, Ishida, and Sasamoto were like pawns/fillers and I could care less about what happened to them even though they all survived in the end. Maybe that's why the comedic moments between them didn't really work for me.
Overall, if you like Junichi Okada or even Shinichi Tsutsumi, and you're into action dramas, I recommend this one. It's fast paced and I finished it quickly because there is a lot of filler in the beginning, and the ending credits are also long after each episode. But if you are looking for something smart and sophisticated you will only be shaking your head. If I only had Inoue's heightened senses, I may have avoided this one!
Character Development: 0.5
Emotional Factor: 0.5
3.0 Out Of 5.0 Crowns