Thursday, 31 July 2014

Currently Watching: Wakamonotachi 2014

Well, that’s a lot of shouting.

That was my reaction after watching the first episode. But despite the full-on acting, I found the closing scenes really quite touching, so I decided to keep watching it.

Plus, of course, what a cast! Eita, Mitsushima Hikari, Aoi Yu, Nagasawa Masami. It’s as if the producers looked through this blog, made a list of all the actors I’ve raved about and then tried to put as many as possible into one drama.

Stylistically, it's quite different to what I'm used to. In the dramas I tend to watch, most emotions are pent up and suppressed, until they all come bursting out in the final scene. In Wakamonotachi, everyone's emotions are on display almost immediately. It's a rare scene in which one of the characters doesn't shout or cry. A lot of the emoting comes from Tsumabuki Satoshi, as the oldest brother in charge of his family. He must've been exhausted at the end of each days shooting, since he has very few lines where his character isn't reacting angrily to something.

It's not often I watch a drama like this but, so far, I'm finding it quite addictive. Also, despite each scene being played at full volume, there are moments of quite reflection, and it is during these scenes that the drama is at its most touching.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Just finished: Gokuaku Ganbo

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.