Saturday, 9 January 2010

Just finished: Majo Saiban

I noticed this as a recent addition to Silent Regrets, so on a whim I downloaded the first episode to take a look. It's a story based on a murder trial of a woman who says she is a witch, in which the lay judges (or jurors, as we'd call them) are subject to bribes and threats. I enjoyed the first part and decided to watch the rest even though, along with Liar Game 2, Boss and Bloody Monday, I'm stuck in a rut of watching programmes containing ominous people in dimly-lit rooms.

Its first advantage is its brevity. At just thirty-five minutes per episode, the writing seems a lot tighter than usual, and there's little in the story which isn't essential. The plot is convoluted enough to make it interesting, although before too long almost everyone has at least one secret which strikes me as being quite convenient for the writers: they can get the characters to do what they want - either be brave and overcome their fear of the blackmailers, or acquiesce in a cowardly yet understandable way - without really taking the time to think up a proper reason for the way someone acts. Plus, there's a twist halfway through that stretches credulity and perhaps that's the reason why it's never really expanded upon. This particular coincidence was there simply to heighten the tension and leave one episode in a cliffhanger, and then they were unsure of where to take it.

Certainly, with so many sub-plots, it's inevitable that some things are still unresolved by the end. But for all that it's an enjoyable yarn, which should have you watching to the end. While the minor characters and their stories may be a bit hit and miss, the central premise of the murder case is strong enough to carry the series as is the performance of Ikuta Toma (who is also in Akihabara@Deep). He's convincing and likeable as the slacker who turns detective, which is fortunate since he's in almost every scene.

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