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.