My initial plan – to use the translated manga version of SOIL to help me understand the TV series – didn’t last much further than four episodes and mostly I was reliant on meeting up with a Japanese friend every week (who’d also seen it) and asking him what different things meant.
But I got there in the end. I’ve just watched episode eight and while I still need to ask my friend about it, I’m fairly sure I understood most of it. Not every line of dialogue, but enough to be getting on.
The story involved the disappearance of a family and how this uncovered various dark secrets. It was set in a pristine New Town in a baking hot summer and this gave it a dreamlike and slightly suffocating atmosphere, even before weird things started to happen.
Even though the style of comedy was quite physical, this drama also had moments of beauty. Some of the directing (by Takashi Shimizu) was top notch, and film students might want to take a look at a couple of scenes: one in episode six where flashbacks are woven into the scene with only a change of lighting to show the difference, and also in episode seven, when someone watching a reflection becomes part of the scene he’s watching in a very natural and non-CGI way.
I enjoyed this a lot. Now I have to watch it again to work out if I understood enough so I can make subtitles for it. Hmmmm... this could take a while...