Monday, 15 November 2010

Recommended: Tiger & Dragon

I’d seen this mentioned so often on discussions about Unubore Deka, that I had to try it. Since it’s a bit old (2005) it took a while to find it, but it was worth it. Oh boy, was it worth it! The story is about a tongue-tied yakuza who wants to become a great storyteller in the rakugo style, so he takes lessons from a master who happens to owe money to his boss.

Each episode is loosely based on a traditional folk tale, and the way the narrative slips eaily between the two is a delight. In fact, it’s one of the few dramas where I’ve admired the structure of the show: The two parallel stories enhance and explain each other brilliantly. The script is very funny with some sharp dialogue and one-liners. I feel a bit sorry for the subbers who have to deal with so many puns and references, and you’ll find quite a few explanations in square brackets in some of the episodes, but that’s a minor complaint. For the most part, they’ve done a great job in turning this very Japanese show into something understandable by everyone.

The acting, too, is top quality. Nagase Tomoya is great in the main role, Nishida Toshiyuki is perfect as the rakugo master, and it was interesting to see Ito Misaki in a more challenging role than she had in Densha Otoko, when all she had to do was look nice in soft focus.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this. Before I watched it, I thought it couldn't be as good as everyone says, but I was wrong. It even surpassed my expectations, and if you’re not moved by the final episode, well, I guess that means we can’t be friends. Now, I’ll have to try some more of the writer Kudo Kankuro's work.


  1. Isn't it great? T&D really is a rare gem of top quality. Kudo Kankuro hardly disappoints and his other works are definitely worth checking out. He's one of Japan's best!

    I would recommend watching Kisarazu Cat's Eye (the drama came first, then the two movies), Ikebukuro West Gate Park, and Manhattan Love Story. Mirai Koshi Meguru is also funny but it's a lot fluffier than those other three.

    If you have trouble finding them just check out
    You have to have a livejournal account and join the community, but I think it's totally worth it. :D

  2. Well, I signed up for Live Journal. Thanks for the tip. I'll have a look around later. I'm definitely interested in seeing more of Kankuro's work.

  3. we told you so. Asian Doramas is one of the best LJ communities~~~

    Plus, Rakugo is so interesting! Makes me wish I knew Japanese so I could watch the Rakugo NHK presentations xD

  4. As a fan of Kankuro and Tiger & Dragon I'm glad to hear you liked it, especially going back to it from Unubore. While I enjoyed Unubore Deka, I had hoped for a drama that was at least half as good as Tiger & Dragon, which I thought it was not.

    Like another poster suggested, I think Ikebukuro West Gate Park is what you're looking for. Another great Kankuro / Tomoya Nagase collaboration.

  5. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look.

  6. thanks for sharing.