Thursday, 14 July 2011

Recommended: Marks no Yama

Reading what others, including myself, have said about this series, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the Japanese equivalent of The Wire. That’s how fulsome the praise has been. It’s not quite at that level, but since quality Japanese dramas seem to have dried up recently, this stood out from the rest.

The story followed the attempt of one lone murderer (played by Kora Kengo) to blackmail five powerful men. Their secret revolved around the events on a mountain twenty years ago. The police begin by investigating the murder, but are soon drawn into the web of lies covering the earlier mystery. Add to this a journalist (Konishi Manami on fine form) who has also found out about the story behind the story, and things can get complicated.

Certainly, I found myself re-watching previous episodes whenever the subs for this came out, to remind myself of the twists and turns. This series managed to pack more story in one episode then others can in ten, but even so it never seemed rushed or confused.

It’s nice to watch something that’s made with such care, with the writers, directors and actors all producing quality work. It felt like a proper story, and it didn’t try and patronise us with flashbacks to a childhood incident which made people want to be a police officer, journalist or corrupt politician. Well, okay, the murderer got a flashback or two, but it was part of the story.

If I had to point out a flaw, I’d say the ending for the character played by Kohinata Fumiyo was pretty convenient. But it was nice to see him playing a bad guy for a change. In the end, it’s a bit of a relief that J-dramas like this are still being made.

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