Sunday, 28 March 2010

Recommended: The Quiz Show

Only a few days after I watch the last episode of Untouchable and think to myself "that was odd", I am reminded again of how downright peculiar Japanese dramas can be.

This series takes on the format of a quiz show in which the contestant aims for their "dream chance" - an opportunity to fulfil their life's ambition, but in doing so have to answer increasingly personal questions, eventually uncovering a terrible secret at the end. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that the presenter suffers from amnesia concerning some terrible event, and that each of the contestants is involved somehow. Each show is overseen by the producer, who calmly allows the host to embarass the contestants.

The series, despite its sombre sub-text, is very funny. Especially episodes three and four which feature an astrologer, Smiley Kitamura (pictured) whose predictions are constantly debunked by the wiley host.

The slow drip-feeding of information regarding the show's central theme is also nicely handled as each week's contestant moves closer to the host's personal life and we slowly hone in on the secrets behind his amnesia.

The acting is great, especially the host (Katagiri Jin), whose unbalanced mania grows increasingly erratic with each passing show and as each piece of the puzzle is put in place. The producer is clearly behind it all, for far from becoming concerned for the host's health, takes great pleasure in this and insists that the show continues.

With such a lengthy build up, it was obvious that the finale would throw up some suprises. Even so I found myself a little confused at how to react at the end (which I suppose is a good thing). Finally, I found myself unable to sympathise with either the host or the producer. I can't explain why without giving away spoilers but suffice to say by the end I found myself thinking "what just happened?"

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