Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ningen no Shomei eps 1+2

I had the first episode of Ningen no Shomei sitting in my HD for a long time. Its funny how I always notice the new torrents for current shows but will subconsciously ignore any who I don't know because I'm not looking for it. I don't even downloading the torrent! I noticed it was subbed by HaroRangers, the subbers of Runaway, looked it up on wiki and could not believe that I had not noticed this show. It has Natsukawa Yui and Takenouchi Yukata in it!

Believe it or not, the guy in the middle is suppose to be black.

First, I need to talk about one very bad part of this show. Ikeuchi Hiroyuki aka Kunio from GTO plays an American named Johnny Hayward. Nothing wrong with that except he's supposed to be black. Yes, a Japanese actor who is supposed to be playing a black man because he wears an afro, smeared some dark colouring on his skin and can't even speak proper English. Unfortunately, Ningen no Shomei is not a comedy. I cannot comprehend the rationale for Kunio's lame attempt portraying an African-American. He looks nothing like one and sounds nothing like one. Worse, there are a lot of scenes shot in the U.S. and I cannot comprehend how the other actors felt when the director told them why Kunio's face was smeared black. The acting for the scenes in America are soapy quality but I'm just impressed this show had the money to go all the way there to shoot this many scenes. When a jdorama goes overseas, its just for the outdoor shots and all the interior scenes are shot in Japan.

Matsushima Nao as a bad girl is 10X hotter than her boring nice girl roles in Koi ni Ochitara and Ryokiteki no Kanojo.

Good news is, Johnny Hayward does early in ep 1 and the rest of the show is pretty good. Takenouchi Yutaka is a cop and the central character of the story. I don't know whether its all the crappy police shows I've seen this season but I am so happy that the police procedural stuff in Ningen no Shomei is pretty good. They go through every facet of the incident, trace back steps etc etc. A lot of Japanese cop shows skip on the details and spend time building up the twist/revelation thereby jeopardizing the whole story if the twist/revelation is easily foreseeable/does not make sense. Although there are antagonists for Yutaka, they are not stupid idiots like all the other wannabe comedy cop shows.

My favourite line of the series so far and it made me lol. As long as there are plenty of witty lines, I'm happy.

Natsukawa Yui is Yutaka's osana najimi who is a reporter. Her role in the story is not clear yet. Actually, how all the characters fit into the overall story have not been revealed. Ningen no Shomei is a collection of stories. You have Yutaka investigating black Kunio's death. You have the famous wife of a Diet member running in his stead. You have a couple involved in a kidnapping and a man in a wheelchair searching for his wife. How some of these stories are related is revealed in ep 2 but the interesting thing is to see how it will all tie up together.

Actually Yukata's investigation on Kunio is the one story that could fall apart. The whole Stroha and Kiss me clues could turn out to be really stupid. You have to watch to understand what I am talking about. The acting is decent and so is the directing. It doesn't have the generic jdorama camera shooting in a studio set look. Actually, I don't care if Stroha and Kiss me turn out to be the most idiotic clues ever. As long as the don't have a scene of 300 police officers standing outside a building to catch a lone criminal, I'll be happy.

The late Ogata Ken is in this show as well.

Its way to early to judge Ningen no Shomei as its more of a mystery dorama type show but the first two episodes what been encouraging besides Kunio just saying three lines in English so far. Actually the four letter word has been uttered in the two episodes at least three times which must be like a record for Japanese doramas. Give Ningen no Shomei a go if you're after a serious show that will hopefully keep us all guessing until the end.


Anonymous said...

Just reading about black Kunio is cracking me up. Oh, Japan...

Anonymous said...

Not to give anything away, but there's a reason why they used a Japanese actor to play an 'African American' (although his English could have been better). Takenouchi also speaks some English in the later episodes, and his accent is quite decent. Trust me, all the threads are related, and everything comes together at the end to give us a pretty satisfying ending. You'll also see a young Horikita Maki in one of her earlier dramas.

Jung said...

Kiss me!

Anonymous said...

Thank God someone subbed this. Look interesting so far, better than anything the terebi comes out for sprin (or summer for that matter)

Anonymous said...

BTW this is adapted from a fairly popular novel. I think a movie was made based on the novel back in the 70's. Because of its length some padding was necessary to turn it into a drama (like Natsukawa Yui's character was created from scratch and not in the original novel). Consequently the drama does drag a bit sometimes, but overall I still found it enjoyable.

Akiramike said...

Natsukawa Yui is the best jdorama padding ever!