Sunday, January 18, 2009

Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu eps 3-10

Best reason to be a teacher in Japan when I grow up!

I wrote about the first two episodes of Taiyo to Umi and it was clearly a dorama desperately searching for its identity, trying to find somewhere between GTO and Kinpachi sensei. They tried to make it different by making Oda Yuji by making Oda Yuji's character a bit more mysterious. They gave him a past of teaching in a war torn country and some story about his student dying. They gave him some weird power up move where, he does the Team Scorpion hand on heart from Pride, light comes out before he goes and does some GTO saving the students stupid heroics. The first two episodes convinced me to drop it and I only kept the series because it had Mop Girl/Kitagawa Keiko and Shinobu/ Yoshitaka Yuriko in it.

What's a teacher doing in the basement with two girls? :)

Taiyo to Umi became one of jdoramas I would watch from time to time when I was undecided about to watch. It was so bad that I would be forced to quickly decide what I really wanted to watch. The next few episodes were the same, Oda Yuji pulling some stupid GTO stunt except that it wasn't anywhere as cool.

Bloody Negative Yoshio Monday will be a sure ratings winner!

Then something happened in episode 6, the alien episode featuring Maeda Atsuko from AKB48. A side story that was been brewing in the background was coming to its conclusion. Oda Yuji's student saving stunt at the end was not about trying to out GTO GTO but was about doing something that made more sense for the problem. And there was no stupid hand on heart bullshit. Oda Yuji actually had a line in ep 6 about babies crying that I found to be pretty good. Was this Taiyo to Umi's identity that it was looking for?

Probably the closest thing to an upskirt shot in Taiyo to Umi.

Instead of trying to be cool, be a bit more touching. Put Oda Yuji in the background and the students in the foreground. Make his character serve as a plot device and make the stories about the students. No unnecessary illogical fourth quarter heroics from his character. Let the students decide the story and fit Oda Yuji where appropriate. Taiyo to Umi had finally found it voice.

3 lovely ladies in a classroom...

I continued on to episode 7 and couldn't stop watching. Taiyo to Umi actually became a gripping, well written show. The suicide story really helped. Going darker made the show and characters feel more real. There was more substance to the problem and Hachi became a character the audience would finally root for. Oda Yuji didn't need to do some crashing through window crap or carrying a piano to a cliff bullshit. He just needed to be a teacher like Kinpachi sensei, with less of the wholesome goodness but keeping some of the dark tones.

Luckily Shinobu was in the show or I would not have kept watching.

I won't spoil the rest of the series except that Shinobu has a big part in it and she is good. She was entrusted with a meaty role in Taiyo to Umi's most exciting story arc and she ran with it. Mop Girl is just miscast in this one. She is way too young to be playing a high school teacher. The last five episodes were really good, I would even dare say brilliant. If only I could easily discard the first 5 episodes from memory.

Too bad she was only featured in 1 episode.

Another problem I highlighted from the early episodes were the cartoonish villains. They're like your typical evil teachers except they are not funny and boring. I was expecting Kohinata Fumiyo/Kita Yoshio in the end to have some stupid painful past that made him become such an exam orientated teacher and have him do a long monologue about repenting. Instead something happened that I never thought I would see in jdoramas.

Are you upset about getting 'eaten' in the Baby! Baby! Baby! PV?

Kita Yoshio was revealed as a 'villain' who actually believed he was right. And he actually has a point. I'm watching Oda Yuji and Kita Yoshio debating their educational differences and Kita Yoshio saying that he is a necessary evil, in shock over the fact someone had written realistic characters making good, feasable arguments. It was sort of the undercurrent them of Taiyo to Umi; the prominence of exams in education. A 'villain' believing in himself and going down in his ship was such a great thing to see. And I think deep down, most would even agree with Kita Yoshio. It is such a shame that the villainous teachers were too cartoony during most the series.

If you've not watched Taiyo to Umi, I high recommend eps 6-10. Amazing stuff and proof that one can never judge a jdorama by its first 5 episodes. I remember watching one jdorama long time ago that only got good during the last two episodes but it was worth it. Taiyo to Umi Kyoshitsu 6-10 is very worth it. Simon & Garfunkel's Sound of Silence will never sound the same again.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Like you, I only watched this show when I had nothing else to watch. Then somewhere along the lines of watching it, I realized that I was more interested in watching Taiyo and sped through the rest of the show. I wonder what happened to the writer(s)... why did they change the show so much halfway through?

It kind of reminds me of Big Money. Big Money, while not as good as Taiyo, spent the first half going through silly episodic episodes. Then suddenly, halfway through, the Manabe Kaori plot came in full swing and the show completely changed...

Jung said...

omg you guys are making me feel like I watched another showed with the same exact title... perhaps one for the North American market...

The show did get better after Oda stopped becoomg MacGuyver, but I really don't recall it being anything better than average? Maybe I just developed such hatred towards the show that my view became irreversible tainted, so I couldn't watch the later episodes with any kind objectivity.

Am I the only crazy one here? Where's my buddy Sparqi on this? lol

sparqi said...

Ive been drooling and gently rocking in the cupboard (where I spend my alone time on my training journeys)!

But seriously the evil Jungs just jealous about my ninja ooku.

I dont think I'd have the patience to sit through 5 hours of what sounds like tiring rubbish to get to the good stuff. Ill be skipping this one.

Akiramike said...

The show got way better after they got rid of the MacGuyver crap or at least didn't emphasize it.To me it was like a completely different show. Sparqi, where's your love for Shinobu?