There is a startling amount of dramas streaming this season, about six or seven, I think, which is a lot more than usual and even more being subbed, so I’m happy about that, even if I haven’t gotten around to watching everything yet. Now that I have some downtime and the drama season is in full swing, I guess it’s about time to check in on what’s airing.
Starring: Kubota Masataka, Yamazaki Kento, Mio Yuki
What it’s about: Ordinary college student Yagami Light (Kubota Masataka) finds a Death Note, a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written inside of it. Light uses the Death Note to dispose of criminals and is heralded as the savior Kira, however the famous detective L (Yamazaki Kento) thinks differently and sets out to catch him.
Episodes watched: 2
Thoughts: I think the Death Note drama is made for two kinds of people. Either A) You’re not familiar with Death Note (movies, anime, manga) or B) You’ve seen/read Death Note in one of its iterations, but you’re open to trying something new. I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of viewers have made it out to be and yes, it does look cheap, especially considering NTV was planning this for a good two or three months, but I’m interested to see where it goes.
I was excited to see Kubota play the arrogant Light since it was different than the roles he had taken before, so I was disappointed that Light would be a more ordinary guy. It’s not a bad thing, Kubota’s good at playing gentle guys that fall into corruption and his performance here proves that. While he doesn’t have a perverse sense of justice like he did in the original, Light’s strong sense of compassion for others is just as dangerous, if not more so. He makes irrational and careless decisions, like killing the escaped criminal to save his father or getting rid of the guy stalking Misa. In the long run, moves like that could hurt him and seeing Light wrestle with the moral dilemma of saving himself versus saving others should be interesting in the future.
The real problem is with L, who comes off as this rather smug show-off who always wants to get his way. Yamazaki’s really not doing the character any favors with all the damn smirking he’s doing and you can hardly blame Light for wanting to take him down. He’s just too cartoony for me to take seriously as a threat to Light, even if he currently has the upper hand in this game.
While the characters are different, Death Note still follows most of the same plot beats, though there are some surprises, especially in episode two. However Death Note hinges on the rivalry between Light and L, so I hope that the show manages to ramp up the intensity between them soon.
Tantei no Tantei
Starring: Kitagawa Keiko, Kawaguchi Haruna, Dean Fujioka, Iura Arata
What it’s about: After her younger sister is murdered, Sasaki Rena (Kitagawa Keiko) decides to become a detective in order to stop corrupt detectives and find the one behind her sister’s death.
Episodes watched: 2
Thoughts: I was interested in Tantei no Tantei since it seemed like an image change for Kitagawa Keiko, but she’s really not cut out for this type of role. She’s supposed to be this cool detective and there are plenty of scenes where Rena’s kicking ass, but there’s just no intensity behind Keiko’s performance so I’m left feeling underwhelmed. Instead of looking “tough” most of the time she just looks confused. Keiko’s performance aside, the story’s okay so far, though it felt like everything slowed down in the second episode as they explained Rena’s backstory and what happened with her sister’s stalker. I feel like this was something that should have been included in the first episode to help me sympathize with Rena more and understand why she’s so deadset on being a detective. There are some interesting ideas here, like the detectives being the “dark side” to police investigations and how detective agencies try to take each other out, but it’s still too early to see where they go with it.
Kawaguchi Haruna is your typical sidekick who asks questions so the audience can know the ins and outs of the detective business, but there’s not much to her character as she doesn’t get to do anything. After watching Rena get into a fight, Kotoha decides that she’s not cut out for this job, but stays on anyway because she needs a place to live and probably knew Rena’s sister. I do hope that her character gets to go somewhere considering the show’s set in 2014, leaving plenty of time for Kotoha to get some development, but I won’t get my hopes up.
Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu!
Starring: Yoshine Kyoko, Shison Jun, Morikawa Aoi, Shirota Yu, Yoshimoto Miyu
What it’s about: When Kagawa Makoto (Yoshine Kyoko) moves to Tokyo with her mother, she attends her parents’ former high school Omotesando. Listening to stories about how her parents met through the school choir, she’s determined to join the choir and find an old love song in the hopes of bringing her parents back together. However, the choir is on the verge of dissolution as the advisor Suzuki Ariake (Shirota Yu) spends his days at cabaret clubs and the remaining club members are no longer interested in singing. Can Makoto revive the club and bring her family back together?
Episodes watched: 2
Thoughts: Admittedly, I had really, really low expectations going into this one because Gakkou no Kaidan eventually bored me earlier this year, but I really like music-centric dramas so I decided to give Omotesando Koukou Gassoubu! a shot and it’s clicking with me so far. Ok, it’s super cheesy at times and yes, everything is solved through the power of song, but there’s enough going on to keep me interested. Heroine Makoto is your typical happy-go-lucky heroine, but she has a genuine reason for her passion behind singing other than “singing is fun!” as it was really a fundamental part of her family. I really loved the scene where it shows her and her family singing every day together before her parents slowly started to drift apart, I got the sense that this was the splintering of her family. I also love the little flashbacks to Makoto’s parents as her mom was the school madonna and her dad was the delinquent. Typical, but still cute. It remains to be seen if this mysterious song will bring her parents back together (
it totally will), but right now I’m rooting for Makoto.
Not that it’s going to be easy. I’ve never been a fan of Shirota Yu, but I like him as the no good choir adviser Ariake. He taught Makoto how to sing in the past and it looks like something surprisingly dark caused his current condition. Makoto’s obviously getting under his skin though and while he’s far from getting involved, he’s at least a little bit more concerned about the choir than he was before. Of course it wouldn’t be a school drama without bullies and Tania Yuria (Yoshimoto Miyu) is an intriguing take on the usual sneering mean girl. She’s the school goddess since she’s a news anchor and soon-to-be actress and while she smiles and openly supports Makoto’s endeavors, she’s pulling all the strings behind the scenes. She’s going to get a redemption arc I’m sure since we already got a look at her family in the second episode and she has a history with male lead Natsume Kaito (Shison Jun), but I am content to watch her wreak havoc until then.