piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
since i am on this live action kick i started looking at some where i have not read the manga yet, and i am picking those on story concept and lead actors. when i saw that kurosagi features both yamashita tomohisa and horikita maki, two of the three leads in nobuta wo produce (my favourite jdrama), i jumped on it. the story sounded intriguing too.

based on the manga by the same name (by natsuhara takeshi and kuromaru), this is primarily a crime/mystery drama with a wee bit of romantic interest thrown in. the show tells us at the start that there are 3 kinds of swindlers: those who pray on people's money; the shirosagi (white swindlers), those who prey on people's emotions; the akasagi (red swindlers), and finally kurosagi (black swindlers), who prey on the other two. an important factor is that the law, because of a loophole, cannot bring justice to the victims (i have no idea whether that is true).

the protagonist is kurosaki (yamashita tomohisa). when he was 15, his father killed his mother, sister, and himself because he had been swindled out of all his savings and could not face life anymore. kurosaki was injured, but survived. we meet him 6 years later, by which time he has become a kurosagi, a successful con artist; out for revenge on any and all swindlers, with his ultimate goal the destruction of the man who cheated his father.

kurosaki gets his information on swindlers from katsuragi (yamazaki tsutomu), a somewhat mysterious old man whose real business takes place in the back room of a high-class restaurant. as the drama progresses, it becomes clear that he is more than an information broker with an obsession for making perfect tsukemono (pickled/marinated vegetables).

the series is mostly episodic, with an overarching theme of getting kurosaki closer to the man whom he most wants to destroy. each episode has roughly the same structure -- somebody gets conned, kurosaki tells them that he will get their money back, dons a disguise, and proceeds to set up his own con to do the swindler in, taking their money, and leaving them to the cops. at first he gets his information on the cons from katsuragi; later he also takes on people who ask him for help personally. lest this makes him seem like a modern-day robin hood, he isn't really; his motivation isn't the plight of others, but his revenge.

in the first episode he meets yoshikawa tsurara (horikita maki), whose uncle has been swindled, and is trying to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a subway train. kurosaki stops him, and rescues yoshikawa as well (she had followed her uncle, stumbles and falls onto the rails). she is studying law to become a prosecutor, and is dead set against her uncle subverting the law by working with kurosaki, even though he has no other recourse. knowing nothing about kurosaki's background, she's all self-righteous anger at anyone breaking the law. she ends up moving to a run-down apartment complex, which happens to be owned by kurosaki. if you're guessing that she will be the love interest (and who isn't); yeah. well, sort of.

the show is dark, both in subject matter and production settings. the cons are sort of interesting, though some of them seem simplistic to me; if i wouldn't fall for it, how would a seasoned con artist? maybe i am just more knowledgeable about cons since watching leverage, *grin*. it's all explained away by greed; ok, maybe so. i enjoyed the disguises kurosaki employs; i don't know why i am such a sucker for this sort of setup, but i am. yamapi does a halfway decent job playing kurosaki. which might not seem like much to others, because kurosaki when he is not in the role of a character is emotionally closed off and stoic, which offers little apparent range to an actor. and yet some emotions show minute changes in his face and the way he moves, and i was fairly impressed, because this is yamapi, who's not the greatest actor in the world. range comes a little into play with those characters kurosaki plays for his own cons.

the "romance" didn't bother me much because it is a minor sub-subplot, and never actually goes anywhere; yoshikawa falls for kurosaki much against her will once she finds out what motivates him. she tries to be supportive (while wanting him to stop what he is doing), but he consistently rejects her. only towards the end does he thaw out a little (we get to see him smile! twice!). it's not even clear that he feels anything for her beyond coming to accept her slowly as a potential friend. i like what horikita maki did with the role; except at the very beginning where she comes across as shrill and self-righteous. i like the actor's performance better than the character though.

the sub by kioku was serviceable (they also subbed nobuta) -- i would have liked some advanced culture notes as well as more translation of writing, and occasionally the english stuttered, but nothing seemed overtly mistranslated.

so much for what i liked. this could have been great. alas the list of things i didn't like is longer.

kurosaki's main antagonist is kashima, a police inspector, and he is both written and acted badly. i pretty much cringed whenever he came onscreen -- and his laughter! *gah*. so loud and fake. he has no compassion whatsoever; he's only interested in bringing down the full force of the law on any criminal -- and he becomes obsessed with catching kurosagi, who leaves the swindlers ready and set up for the police; it's a personal affront to him that the man continue to escape capture.

the swindlers are often acted with an apparent nod to comic relief. this completely does not work for me in the context of kurosaki's revenge. i don't want to see comedy here at all.

the legal situation is muddled -- what exactly is the loophole? the police can arrest swindlers, and they can be prosecuted and jailed. so? does this just refer to not being able to get the money back to the people from whom it was swindled? maybe so. come to think of it, how does that work here? i don't really know; i only have a vague recollection that restitution, while part of the justice system, rarely works.

the cons kurosaki pulls become indistinctive to me, and so do his disguises -- it feels like the same old same old.

i would have preferred there to be more development in kurosaki's relationship with katsuragi; there is clearly something here. also, more on exactly how katsuragi makes certain things happen. it was all left too vague.

the "love triangle" -- *gah*. yoshikawa has this friend yukari (ichikawa yui), who finds the aloof (and hot) kurosaki irresistable -- especially when she finds out what he does. she thinks that's ever so romantic, and she proceeds to "help" him. she is ANNOYING (imagine that in giant neon ascii letters). cutesy, airheaded, oblivious and uncaring about her friend, and vengeful when things don't go her way; i just hate the character and wish she got more of a come-uppance. kurosaki does never encourage her, does in fact keep telling her to go away, but this seems not ever to be a deterrant in japan(ese fiction); it just spurs people on to push harder. stalking must not be against the law. yoshikawa is too much the yamato nadeshiko of this show; and as such she's got to be long-suffering and forgiving, no matter what.

the ending was anti-climactic, and also stupid -- how many cops does it take to arrest a con artist, 200? and what was that with yoshikawa's renewed conviction? WTF? how has she resolved anything in her mind? we're not told.

theme song: daite senorita by yamapi -- i liked the music in general; will look for the OST.


overall i liked it enough to see the movie sequel, but i am not sure i'd recommend it, because part of why i liked it is that the protagonist is a loner with emotional issues, and i can look at yamapi all day long. the reviews on the net seem generally less impressed than i was. if you're a yamapi fan, it's a must, of course. ;) and there's slashy subtext -- kurosaki runs into a former friend from high school, tanabe satoshi (koyama keiichiro), and wow, at first i thought HERE is the real love interest; the two virtually lit off sparks (maybe they have real good rapport because they're both in NEWS -- another JE boyband). koyama's role is small, but i liked him in it.

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piranha: stylized white figure lifting a red barbell with weights (Default)
renaissance poisson

March 2014

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