Given that this past twelve months has seen my amount of TV viewing fall off a cliff, this is probably the least representative November 8th awards that I’ve done. Nevertheless, I have seen some very good things and I’d like to celebrate them. And so, with a conspicuous lack of nominations, here are the winners...
Petero no Souretsu
Actually, this was going to be Border right up until last week, when I finished Petero no Souretsu. Plenty of dramas this year were quite nice, but most were abandoned halfway through. These two, however, kept me gripped until the end. Border expertly took a silly idea and played it straight, turning it into something quite unique: a sensible supernatural cop show. But Petero no Souretsu was a fine piece of drama, expertly played and I think it just deserves the win.
River’s Edge Okawabata Tanteisha
I did enjoy No Con Kid (didn’t write about it, though) and Kagi no Kakatta Heya but to be honest, River’s Edge had no real competition. Made with such care and acted so perfectly, there was almost nothing to dislike about this series. The idea of a detective series that takes weird cases is hardly original (after all, last year’s winner Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi had almost exactly the same plot) but I fall for it every time. Gorgeous.
Ah, now this is a category that I have kept up with. Mostly.
The Great Passage
The Last Chance:Diary of Comedians
Snow White Murder Case
A tough one. The Great Passage is a film about dictionaries, and I love words and language, so it obviously struck a chord with me. The Last Chance made me cry with its tale of a failing stand-up comedy act. The Snow White Murder Case was a great story that kept me thinking long after it ended but, despite all that, I cannot explain the hold that Petal Dance has had over me since I first saw it. It’s gentle semi-improvised pace means it is more of a mood piece than a story to be followed. And that’s how I’ve enjoyed it each of the six or seven times I’ve seen it. Almost like ambient cinema. Delightful.
Oguri Shun (Border)
A winner by a country mile. His performance in Border held the storyline together, and was full of nice touches as he slowly lost his ability to trust his colleagues while he relied more and more on his supernatural power of seeing the dead. Perfect.
Inoue Mao (The Snow White Murder Case)
Tricky one, this. I almost gave it to Toda Erika for Kagi no Kakatta Heya, simply because for the first few minutes of her performance I didn’t realise it was her. Quite a convincing change in appearance and mannerisms.
But Inoue Mao takes it with a great performance as the suspect in a murder investigation who has already been tried and charged by the media. The best role in her career so far.
Best Game Show
Game Centre CX
After three years of being first, Running Man slips back a few places, displaced by two new game shows from Korea: Crime Scene (basically Cluedo for TV) and The Genius. I decided to give the award to The Genius since it's a stunning piece of work: tense, exciting and funny. It is everything you want from a game show. Crime Scene was an excellent example of how murders can be fun. Meanwhile, Running Man is still funny enough that I can barely wait for the subs each week and Game Centre CX remains a fixture on my list of essential viewing.
Bump Of Chicken “Ray”
I knew half the CD before I even got it, since so many singles had been released from this album. Luckily, the half I didn’t know was well worth the cost. A great piece of work. The three opening tracks by themselves are almost worth the win.
Safe Pair of Hands Award
Odagiri Joe (The Great Passage, Gokuaku Ganbo, River’s Edge, Real)
This award could have gone to Hong Jin Ho, the ex-Pro Gamer from Korea who appeared in The Genius, Crime Scene and a nice bit of Korean fluff I saw called “Sweet 17” where he gave advice on romance, of all things.
But Odagiri Joe was in so many films and dramas I saw in the past twelve months that I lost count. And, amazingly, I liked all of them. Well, Alice no Toge wasn’t so great, but everything else was good. Certainly, twice he was involved in stuff that’ll I want to watch over and over, and everywhere else he was able to lift his scenes into something above the norm. Effortlessly talented.
And that's my opinion (albeit very uninformed) on the previous twelve months.