Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shiroi Haru ep 11

I wanted to write about the finale of Shiroi Haru straight after watching but I couldn't. I had many different thoughts about it but I couldn't form a solid opinion on how I felt about the ending. If you take Shiroi Haru as a yakuza dorama, then its really a fitting ending. The stereotypical story about the bad guy with nice heart who wants to quit/change, finds some happiness only for his past to catch up with him in the end. I've seen it way too many times.

Except Shiroi Haru is not a yakuza dorama and Haruo wasn't really a bad guy or at least the viewers were not shown the bad things that he did in the past. Sure he killed a top ranking guy but he was under orders to do so and he did it for Mariko. He seemed more like a small time punk rather than yakuza who has down all sorts of evil that warrant denying him a happy ending. Even the way Haruo did the murder was so lame and amateurish making him look like more of a wannabe. And if the son really wanted revenge, he would paid to take Haruo out in prison or waited for him on his day of release.

If there's one major complaint I have about episode 11 its how the knife scene was staged. If you look at the baker's position and Haruo's, Haruo could have rushed the attacker from the side. To get stabbed he had to go around the freaking table which is a lot slower than say grabbing the assailant from behind or jumping across the table and knocking him against the wall. Its such a pivotal scene and the director can't even get the simple logistics of it right. Its not as bad as the cafe scene in Bloody Monday but no scene can even approach that in terms of gaps in logic. The audience doesn't want Haruo to die so can it be so hard for the director to ensure that it looked like using himself as a shield was the only to save the baker? Are jdorama directors so incompetent that they can't even direct an action sequence that makes sense?

When the knife weilding dude appeared, I was overjoyed. The perfect ending flashed through my mind. The show was been about Haruo's past but what about Koji the baker? What if he had a shady past that caught up to him? Now that would be a good way to get him out of the picture cause deep down, we all want a Haruo Sa-chan ending. Koji may be the better choice plus the 9 years he spent taking care of her but Haruo's a more sympathetic character. The audience would be crying crocodile tears while clapping in joy.

Maybe Haruo would make a move on Kanako. How could Koji or anyone live in a house with Shiraishi Miho and not make a freaking move on her? What Shiroi Haru lacked was more emphasis on his relationship with Kanako. Surely there must be some attraction there. Mixed emotions and reluctance to go further for fear of damaging their pseudo family life. Why not spend an extra episode exploring their relationship? I don't think Koji even banged Mariko. If Koji couldn't get the girl he liked, he should get her sister. They are like a married couple sticking together for the child except the skipped the whole romance part.

To me, the high point of the episode was Sa-chan's visit to Haruo. That scene where she asks him the question was brilliant. No need for music. Just raw emotion and close up of Haruo's face. Abe Hiroshi deserves all accolades for his work here. Contrast the supposed high point which was the hospital bedside scene. They had to use music and flashback to support Sa-chan's not so good acting. She can look kawaii but Ohashi Nozomi can't carry that scene. I think Fukuda Mayuko 5 years ago would be the perfect casting for Sa-chan. Its supposed to be the scene where Haruo is finally happy but I just can't feel that way for him. It reminds me of the ending of Utahime. Its an ending that makes sense but you'd rather see it go another way. Its not that it prevents Shiroi Haru from being a good show, it just does not give the audience emotional closure.

Usually when a character is going to die, they usually give the character an episode to be happy. When something good finally happens to a character but its a bit too early, you know something is going to happen. The art competition was suppose to be that for Haruo and Sa-chan but I would have loved to see them bond more. It would have been fun to see them hang out for a day or Haruo doing a conversation saying that if he were hypothetically her father, he would want Sa-chan to do this or that.

Some people have remarked that the ending is too short. When the emotional core of the show is finished, namely the Haruo Sa-chan relationship there is nothing else to do. There is no perfect. There is no perfect ending this show that will please everyone. I think my idea of Koji's past catching up to him instead of Haruo is the best cop out but if they had made it pretty obvious that Haruo had to take the knife instead of beating the shit out of that scared assailant I would have felt better about the ending. Its more the fact that he just did not fucking fight back. Its the pussy way where he sorted accepted it was punishment for his 'crime'. Didn't he come from the yakuza world where right makes right? Its not like beating the assailant would endanger Sa-chan. Its funny how I was complaining that it didn't seem like a yakuza show in the beginning and now they do a yakuza ending.


Moderagio said...

Overall, Shiroi Haru was a must-see imho. Ozaki Masaya is a very talented writer, Abe Hiroshi was, as expected, great, directing wasn't too shabby and Nakanishi's music was nice as usual. I have two complaints although. First, since overall the production, writing, directing staff and narrative structure is the same as KDO i can't help to compare the two series and that's not in favor of Shiroi Haru. The writer and director are obviously more at ease with light hearted stories as showed the more or less satisfying end of the show. Secondly, i find very dissapointing Haruo's lack of growing. The story began with him "leaving" Mariko for her sake and finding out the mistake it was. It ends exactly the same. He sacrifies himself for Sachi's sake after he rejected her, like he rejected her mother. Haruo's always running away from happiness from the begging till the end.

Enma said...

First you went to great length to describe the the shiori character and how she evolved. Well you ought to go a step further and ask yourself what Haru”s temperance brought to the other remaining characters:
+Sashi wasn't miserable, at least there is no hint to that, and the numerous photo album of her smiling confirm this. So basically Haru taught her acrobatics, and bought her a painting set so that she could but her “masterpieces” all over the fridge, the closets, and the roofs...
+The stupid shiraishi miho character remained the aunt throughout the drama. I understand the “help raise my dead sister's child” part, but what I can't bear is the hint that she would like to build a family with the baker. What kind of sick woman would go after her brother in law? This issue should at least be brought, the aunt need to have a marriage plan with someone else. That could also have brought dynamics to the plot.
+Same goes with the baker. Why doesn't he have arranged marriage. Is he some kind of monk? Why nothing happened with the female teacher at school? What did Haruo bring to this “fake family” of sachi?
+And the metamorphosis of the other couple, from jobless bums, to young entrepreneurs in the waffle business is quite laughable. Gambatte for the retirement plan. BTW, the young lad is also from the looser type with his platonic relation .

You also talked about subtle drama. Well the scene of reunion of saschan and haruo is cute, if you take abstraction of what preceeded: a lame guy drops haru's address just in front of Sachy, followed by a long sequence were Sachy walked trough the town like a robot, while looking at her sheet of paper.

The overall plot is weak. Killing Haruo at the end is an easy way to avoid the issues. Like how would a young girl live the fact that her biological father is a murderer? Won't Haru find himself a wife or will he remain a monk worshiping the memories of his first love? Lets suppose he is not an idiot, and that he finds someone, what happens to sashi, can she live with him? This drama is crap wrapped up with Abe hiroshi. We could have killed him at the third episode, it wouldn't really matter.

Oh, and you brought the yakuza drama issue. I would like to know what a yakuza drama is. Is it a Takeshi Kitano style with brute and expeditious violence? or the tasteless Sailor fuku and machine guns style? Japanese drama writers would be advised not to copy the later example. If they don't want a violent drama, just write goofy funny yakuzas characters.

Finally, if several Japanese writers don't team up to write a single drama, they will continue to give crap compared to what some US series can be (take Six feet Under which is a good example of human serie).

Akiramike said...

Sometimes, one needs to look at what a dorama is trying to do and not what one wants a dorama to be.

Anonymous said...

"....He sacrifies himself for Sachi's sake after he rejected her, like he rejected her mother. Haruo's always running away from happiness from the begging till the end...."
I think taking sachi back is unfair to her present father , near the end dont you see sachi called him otousan , one thing that even he keep watching her from far away will be hard to happen , he can leave with tear of hapiness . as for me that ending is for the best

Anonymous said...

Hi Akira Mike,
How are you doing?

At first, I'd like to tell you your Blog is Pretty Good!!!

I'm watching the first three episodes of this touching J-dorama 白い春 (Shiroi Haru). After watching for all episodes, I'll post a comment, ok?

I'm trying to find the Song Title and Performer for "白い春 BGM on strings and piano".
I guess the title is "Touch my mind" but I'm not sure. Do you know where can I download it?

By the way, 白い春 Theme song is 横顔 (Yokogao) by 阪井あゆみ (Sakai Ayumi).
This song seems to get a caribbean rhythm, huh?

Thank in advance!


Hélio Shiino
Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL

Anonymous said...

Hi Akira Mike, I'm back!

First of all, I wanna tell you I've found so pretty nice "Shiroi Haru - Main theme (Piano & Strings)" by Kian Hsuan Tng, I've been looking for this for the longest, finally. You can listen it here!

If you ask me, 白い春 (Shiroi Haru) is really very touching and it'll be always on my mind! No crying and screaming a lot that I hate as well! 白い春 (Shiroi Haru) is a really well-made drama though just almost perfect. It would be a perfect 10 if not for that ending, to be quite honest. In other words, left me a bit disappointed and feeling sad after the ending! But still a very heartwarming drama and an amazing storyline. Highly recommended for real human and serious drama viewers.

Great performances from all of the casts. Stunning performance by 阿部寛 (Abe Hiroshi) and 大橋のぞみ (Ohashi Nozomi) was also excellent as the 9 years old 村上さち (Murakami Sachi).

By now, I didn't understand the meaning of the scenes where 阿部寛 (Abe Hiroshi) sees birds flying across de sky and it appears several times in some episodes...


Hélio Shiino
Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL