* spoilers *
Now that I’ve seen both series through to their conclusion, I thought I’d compare the two again to see how they match up. (For my review of Keizoku 2: SPEC on its own merits, you can read it on Yam Mag.)
The TV series of Keizoku ends on a bleak note, with Shibata apparently lying dead in the arms of fellow detective Mayama. This, by itself, is a sad but somehow satisfying ending to a series that had previously not been afraid to kill regular cast members, and so had a real sense of danger about it.
And to be honest, if it had ended there it would’ve been fine. But it was followed by two somewhat enigmatic specials (one for TV, one for cinema) which didn’t really add to the story. Indeed, after the movie’s lengthy dreamlike sequence at the end, and the line from Mayama to Shibata “You’ve been asleep too long”, I prefer to think that the last two stories never happened at all, and that Shibata is still in a hospital bed in a coma.
The last episode of Keizoku 2 began with a very clever way of catching someone with the power to stop time, but ended with a final showdown that didn't make much sense. By then, however, I was happy to see it through to its conclusion, and the final shot of Toma standing triumphant was enigmatic and yet made a perfect end to the story.
Trying to pick between the two is hard since they don’t have a great deal in common. Keizoku started with normal explanations for the crimes before ending on a supernatural note, while Keizoku 2 took the supernatural to be real from the outset and worked from there. Both Toda Erika and Nakatani Miki are great as the lead roles in the two series. If it were a case of comparing the two TV series, then I think the original Keizoku just wins, but the two specials just confuse things which brings it down a bit. In the end, they're about even.
Having said that, perhaps Keizoku 2 will have its own specials. We shall see.