Greetings again on the first day of spring! Real life disrupted my drama-watching time, so I’ve only been able to complete two dramas that didn’t require too much brain power. Both featured actors I enjoy watching, but the quality was uneven and the differences obvious from the get-go.
I. Hello Harinezumi
I went into this drama solely for Eita, with Yamaguchi Tomoko and Aoi Yu as a bonus. Detective dramas are usually my cup of tea, the cast seemed mostly solid and the premise sounded interesting. I was even willing to overlook the one major no-no, which was Fukada Kyoko, who really should stop getting roles alongside people who can actually act. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but at the very least the drama should have a solid, cohesive narrative.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The drama seemed more like a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas, much like how the detective agency in the drama was made up of people who weren’t quite sure what they were doing there. The Akatsuka Detective Agency, run by Kaze Kahoru (Yamaguchi), featured two people who couldn’t really cut it as detectives – Nanase Goro (Eita) and Kogure Kyusaku (Gure), played by Morita Go – and the useless Shidawara Ranko (Fukada), who mostly did paperwork and the occasional legwork in her high heels. The “cases” were so run-of-the-mill they were boring, and didn’t seem to have a coherent thread linking them. Some of the clues were so obvious that it was amazing how long it took for everyone to figure things out. The “detectives” seemed more like odd-jobbers and handymen, and the agency took on whatever cases that put money on the table, much like how the drama didn’t really have a clue how to make things work and so lumbered on for the sake of getting to the finish line.
Eita did a credible job, but neither he nor Yamaguchi could save the drama. I did like the supernatural case featuring Aoi Yu as a medium, but that was mostly due to Aoi making the character and storyline work, and her fun chemistry with Eita. I wish she’d appeared more, for she would have made the drama more watchable and her character had at least more purpose than Fukada’s. The latter needs to stop pretending she can act, because it was tiring watching her try to emote when it was blindingly obvious she couldn’t. Even Eita in phoned-in mode showed her up badly, and Morita Go had more expressions in five minutes than Fukada did in 10 episodes. The ending theme song was catchy, but overall this was mediocre and forgettable. Eita needs to start picking better drama projects, or stick to film.
II. Keiji Yugami
Keiji Yugami, which is adapted from a manga of the same name by Iura Hideo, fared better in the acting department even if the cases were not particularly outstanding. Asano Tadanobu plays eccentric detective Yugami Yukimasa, whose unorthodox sleuthing methods frustrate his younger, more go-by-the-book partner Hanyu Torao (Kamiki Ryunosuke). Over 10 episodes, the pair learn to work better with each other as they crack cases together, and Hanyu picks up various useful pointers on how to look beyond the surface and see Yugami in a new light. Their bickering relationship is a source of much comic relief – especially the running gag about Hanyu being a virgin – with Yugami often getting the upper hand by taking photos and videos of Hanyu in incriminating situations, haha.
I enjoyed the drama mostly for the chemistry between Asano and Kamiki, and it was a pleasure watching them play off each other wonderfully. I hadn’t seen much of Kamiki but remember him well from Rurouni Kenshin, so it was lovely seeing how he had grown as an actor and could hold his own against Asano, whose screen presence is nothing to sniff at. Kamiki was expressive as Hanyu and had many hilarious reactions at being played by Yugami – for example, Hanyu’s chagrin when Yugami discovers his Instagram is full of model-like poses is gold, and you could feel his embarrassment burning through the screen. It was also fun to see how gullible Hanyu was at times, yet even as he learnt to be astute he still retained some of the innocence that made him Hanyu. I enjoyed seeing how Yugami, the unlikely mentor, taught Hanyu in his subtle “show, not tell” ways and Hanyu growing to care for his partner even if he’d never admit it. Asano was great as the irreverent Yugami, who did things his own way and never let up on a chance to tease Hanyu. Yet, nobody could fault his dedication to uncovering the truth and his keen powers of observation, even if it looked like he never gave a damn about his work. After the fiasco that was A LIFE, it was lovely to see Asano back in a leading TV role and working with people who could act. Asano and Inamori Izumi were also natural as subordinate and boss who used to be from the same police batch and are constantly ribbing each other about it.
The drama featured an impressive guest cast, from Sugisaki Hana to Odagiri Joe, and it was fun playing “spot the cameo” and wondering if the episode’s guest star(s) would turn out to be the antagonist of the week. Some, like Nikaido Fumi, were a bit wasted in their roles (Nikaido did well, but it just felt like she deserved a meatier character), but others were well worth their short starring time. I liked Odagiri’s turn and the storyline, which was already hinted at in the earlier episodes, but just felt it was a bit of a shame he and Asano didn’t seem to get much screentime together. You’ll never look at snails the same way again, that’s for sure!
The first episode was a little choppy, editing-wise, but otherwise the drama was a fun watch. It doesn’t offer anything new on the detective front, but the chemistry between the leads was great and Yugami and Hanyu constantly one-upping and blackmailing each other never gets old, which is always a good sign. It seems there may be a season 2, and since more Asano and Kamiki is welcome, I’m definitely looking forward to it.