I’ve just finished this entertaining but wildly uneven series. Gokuaku Ganbo was mostly notable for the wide range of acting styles on show. I started watching it because it had Ono Machiko in it, and I kept watching it for pretty much the same reason, loving her performance as the debt-ridden woman trying to pay back her Yakuza creditors by working for them.
Alongside her were a number of Yakuza stereotypes of varying degrees of cartoonishness. Is that a word? Never mind. It is now. There was also Odagiri Joe turning up occasionally as a laid-back, slightly corrupt police officer, and Shiina Kippei trying very hard to look intelligent and suave, while Naka Riisa wore spangly dresses and ran a bar.
Perhaps the part where these different style jarred most was in episode three. Our hero, Kanzaki, is still new to this business, and has been beaten up. In the next scene, Ono Machiko is acting her socks off as a battered woman while two other members of the gang talk business while ignoring her. Now, I know they’re meant to be uncaring mafia-types, but it did feel like Yosemite Sam walking into a scene about domestic violence.
Once you got over this, this drama was an enjoyable romp through some illegal scams to bleed money out of desperate people. The stories were nice and varied, building up towards the usual Big Boss Battle in the final episode – a corrupt politician, in this case.
So it was an interesting drama, which didn’t quite know how serious it was supposed to be. But certainly worth the time.