Friday, 20 January 2012

Currently watching: Shokuzai

Now, this is why I watch Japanese dramas. After a run of nice but unremarkable detective shows and historical dramas, it's been a while since anything's really made me sit up and take notice. The publicity for this drama certainly caught my eye with its high quality cast and interiguing storyline. And at least the first episode has justified the hype. Thank God someone subbed it. I did try watching without subs, but halfway in I gave up. This isn't the kind of show you can watch and it's okay if you just get the gist. It's too subtle for that.

The story is about four women who witness a murder of a classmate when they were children, but are unable to remember the murderer's face and so he is never brought to justice. The mother of the victim has promised revenge for this.

Episode one follows one of the women in the present day. She is now a nurse, but still lives under the shadow of the event fifteen years ago. She has difficulty relating to people and when she meets a man who seems to understand her, and he asks her to marry him, she agrees.

Whatever marital bliss she was expecting is short-lived, as things start to go wrong in a most unexpected way. And it all seems to be linked to the murder. But how much influence the victim's mother has is never made clear. Is she deliberately setting things up to fail, or has she just sown the seed of mistrust in the woman's head and waits for it to take its course?

The show looks very nice. It's directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi, who also made the film Tokyo Sonata, and the two have a very silimar feel. Very thoughtful composition, and very cleanly shot. The acting’s great and the story walks the fine line between unreal and unrealistic, never becoming so odd that it just seems absurd.

It’s still early days, but so far, so perfect.

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