Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shiroi Haru ep 1

My most anticipated jdorama of the season. Anything with Abe Hiroshi is a must watch for me. Not to mention a storyline which is sort of similar to ryuga gotoku? Knowing how jdoramas turn out, I'm keeping my expectations low for this one and would be happy if the show was watchable. Abe plays Haruo, a yakuza who went to jail for 9 years in order to pay the medical bills for his girlfriend. Sounds like one of those old hong kong gangster movies. Putting up with 9 years of jail time = instant empathy from audience.

Abe + Shinobu = win!

Haruo gets released and is shocked to discover that his ex girlfriend Mariko died and his 9 years were all for nothing. Everything that he did for her was for naught. He finds out that Mariko had a boyfriend, Murakami Koji before she died who is now a successful baker and Haruo suspects that he used her to get the money that Haruo went to jail for.

Whoever is responsible for this horrible shot should be banned from jdoramas or be forced to watch endless repeats of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi.

Its very obvious that the little girl in the series will be revealed to be Haruo's daughter. The other question marks would be Kanako's (Shiraishi Miho) past relationship with her sister Mariko and whether Koji did it for the money. Again, its pretty certain that Koji probably promised Mariko to use the money to raise Sachi. The sub story of the show is about Shiori (Yoshitaka Yuriko) who seems to be wandering through life and my bet is would have a past connection with Haruo.

The first thing that struck me about Shiroi Haru is that it has the look of a generic jdorama. Typical bar and bakery sets and usual boring camera shots. Don't expect a yakuza movie feel. The only scene that feels different is one flashback with Haruo bleeding all over. Some idiot decided that all Haruo's happy flashbacks would have brightness of 200% but all it did was make it look unreal, especially compared to the other flashbacks. Messing around with brightness and filters to convey emotion does not work in this show. It just feels disjointed, like a jdorama that wants to be everything. Instead of three directors directing three sets of episodes, it feels like 3 different people directing different parts of 1 episode.

Now, this is how a jdorama with a yakuza should look like.

This is only the first episode. Can't be too hasty. Plus Abe is great to watch, especially when he has his first beer in 9 years. Watching Haruo living day by day is interesting and the ending of ep 1 can only increase audience empathy for his character. When I finally go to Japan, I'm not getting within 3 meters of kids with stupid alarms. Can't believe that Shiraishi Miho is now playing a mom. I still remember when she debuted in Bijo ka Yajuu as the weatherwoman.

What happened to me Jinkama Misuzu????

Shiroi Haru is not the dark yakuza type story I was hoping for but I have faith in the writer of KDO and Tadano Hitoshi. While the revelations in Shiroi Haru are clear can write great dialogue and set up interesting situations as in KDO, we'll be in for a fun ride. If not, we can blame the shoddy directing and pathetic cinematography.


Anonymous said...

Wait - if you've read the synopsis on drama-wiki or somewhere, you'd know that this is not suppose to be a "dark yakuza type story", even though Abe's former yakuza background will surely play a vital role in the drama. A more apt comparison would be a darker version of the same writer's prior work "Otoko no Kosodate".

This is from the same production team that gave us KDO (writer, music composer, producer, directors). Compared to the chief director's prior work Triangle, he's already showing remarkable restraint (at least in the 1st 2 episodes anyway) and basically let the script and actors do all the work (although a little less flashbacks would help). I'm a little more forgiving w/ the camerawork and didn't find it particularly jarring (this not being a dark yakuza story afterall). I mean turning up the brightness level and shooting thru a soft lense is typical J-Drama style for flashbacks involving someone you're fond of and has passed away. Besides, it has the best ending theme song I've heard from a J-Drama in ages; I haven't been so smitten by a JPOP song since Kanon's Destiny (ED3 from the anime Angel Heart).

Sorry for rambling on, but this is so far my favorite drama of the season. Rinjo's also pretty good but suffers from being episodic and having somewhat bland mysteries. Another one to look out for is Yako no Kaidan which has IMO the best score among all the other dramas I've watched this season, which is already shaping up to be much better than the last one.

Anonymous said...

OK, just watched ep. 3 and I can see your point on the cinematopraphy. With a different director, the flashbacks are shot w/ brightness adjusted only a tad and some grain added, so you can definitely blame it on the chief director. Still the best drama this season by miles though; not since Shikaotoko have I been so looking forward to the next episode.

Anonymous said...

i cannot agree more with everything you said, but that doesnt make me like this show any less. great drama so far and i also loved that scene with Abe drinking the beer. i mean, he was drinking it so fast, even I felt like i was going to cough. and i liked the way he didnt milk it, like it was the best drink he has ever had in his entire life; he just swallowed it down, was content and moved on.

Akiramike said...

I'm still waiting for the SD release of ep 2. :(

Consistent colour filtering/brightness is very important IMO. Like how in Matrix, scenes in the matrix have a green hue and the real world doesn't have it. The colours and lighting of Shiroi Haru are so wildly inconsistent its as if a child were doing the post production.