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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shinzanmono [j-drama]

People lie to escape from their sins and to continue living their lives.  

I have been trying to find a good detective-type drama since I watched the series Odoru Daisosasen back when I was in high school.  It's been recently that I've been researching dramas and keeping up with current seasons (because it is always so much more convenient to download when links are fresh) and found that there are actually a lot of detective ones.  Shinzanmono is a spring season drama that finished back in June.  The actors high profile and the story is moved by multiple mysteries, clearing up the big mystery of who killed newcomer (in Japanese the word for newcomer to a town is shinzanmono) Mitsu Mineko.  The cast was well put together and each character had screen presence.  The main cast appears throughout the series, but there are many recognizable actors in each individual episode.

Abe Hiroshi (been in various dramas and movies for the past 13 years)

He plays detective Kaga Kyoichiro who has been recently transferred (also a shinzanmono) to Ningyo cho, a small shopping-district town famous for it's family owned shops.  He is placed as head of the investigation into the murder of Mitsu Mineko and has very good skills at reading people and the little actions.  

Kuroki Meisa (1 Pound Gospel, Tada Kimi wo Aishiteru, former JJ Model and singer)

She plays journalist, Aoyama Ami who knew Kaga Kyoichiro when she was still in school and is dating the son of Mitsu Mineko.  Ami feels like she has to find out why Mitsu Mineko was killed and starts doing a bit of her own investigating.  

Mukai Osamu (Beck, Osen, Nodame Cantabile, Bambino!)

He plays Kiyose Koki, Mitsu Mineko's son who left home to pursue his acting career against the wishes of his divorced parents.  He feels like his mother regretted having him and does not feel the need to be in contact with her.  He seems to not care about his family since he did not feel wanted, but he can't seem to completely cast away his family.  

Mizobata Junpei (Hana Kimi, Buzzer Beat, Seito Shokun!)

He plays Matsumiya Shuhei who works for the police force and is constantly put with Kaga Kyoichiro.  He is the typical understudy type character who is constantly wondering if Kaga's techniques and questioning really works.  Matsumiya is always trying to prove himself and is a good detective.

Miura Tomokazu (Ryusei no Kizuna, The Taste of Tea)

He plays Kiyose Naohiro, ex-husband of Mitsu Mineko and father to Kiyose Koki.  He is constantly under suspicion from the police because of the background between the two.  He has distanced himself from her, but it is apparent that he still cares, even after her death.

Harada Mieko (Ran, Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis, Dreams)

She plays Mitsu Mineko and is shown in every episode through various flashbacks and recollections of the town inhabitants.  She is a kind woman who just wants to find out more about her son and his life.

I picked this series up because I was happy to see a detective drama.  I am also familiar with Kuroki Meisa because she was a former model in my favorite Japanese magazine, JJ.  She has also been in my all time favorite Japanese love movie, Tada Kimi wo Aishiteru.  The first episode also had a small segment on kendo (Japanese fencing) and me being a kendoist for the past few 7 years, I was excited to see a drama with a kendo segment.  I was pleased with my first detective drama since Odoru and have been looking for other great ones since.  Some have been more comedic, while others have been boring, but I will be interested to learn if there will be another great detective series out there.  :)


Characters: 4.5 out of 5 (Awesome variety in cast and great character movement.  It was the perfect mix with only a few stereotypical characters, but overall good range.)

Story: 4.5 out of 5 (Loved the story and how great of a character Kaga Kiyoichiro was.  He reminded me a lot of Kindaichi from one of my favorite manga's The Kindaichi Case Files.  The town residents were very unique and interesting to watch.)

Irritation Level: 0 out of 5 (No constant, irritating, quarrels and misunderstanding between lovers here!)

Overall: 5 out of 5

I loved this series.  It was very different from the typical comedic-romance high school drama or the heartbreaking love story that Asians love to watch.  Abe Hiroshi plays Kaga Kyoichiro very well and is an awesome character to watch.  I liked how by solving each of these mysteries, you get closer to the big mystery of who killed Mitsui Mineko.  I hope you guys find joy in this series and perhaps it will spike your interest in the ever popular Japanese detective stories.