Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fumo Chitai ep 19

What a glorious ending! My pet peeve with Fumo Chitai was I never understood what Daimon saw in Iki or why he was the protagonist for this story. The only success he ever had up to this point was the Luckheed thing. The Chiyoda thing failed because of Satoi and Sarvestan thing was looking like a horrible gameble by Kinki. Iki never did anything superbly strategic or amazing enought for me to say now I understand why Daimon wanted him. All the breaks that Iki had have been due to Beniko. If I were Iki, I would be giving her whatever she wanted. Everytime Iki was in a pinch and needed some shortcut, it turns out Beniko knows the right people and saves Iki's ass.

Despite all this, Iki kept rising and rising in Kinki Corp to the point of Daimon even throwing Satoi away. That's like breaking the basic rule of hero/videogame advancement. Small victories should lead to bigger challenges and each victory culminating to the final boss. Its as if Iki leveled up without really slaying any dragons or used a cheat code to jump all the way to vice president. And in the middle of ep 19, when Iki finally, finally had his two victories, I finally realised that Fumo Chitai wasn't about Iki succeeding.

They didn't even afford the fact that the Chiyoda deal going through much celebration and was only mentioned in passing. It was more about the struggle. It was about contrasting and comparing Iki's Military life and imprisonment in Siberia with his mission in Kinki Corp. It was about the struggle. It was about Iki trying to fulfill his mission while having to make compromises in order to survive/reach his goal. The mission that Daimon wanted him for and that Iki had sworn to.

Before Kinki, Iki only knew to lives, that of a militaryman and prisoner. The former was about following orders to the letter and the latter about doing what was necessary to survive while maintaining one's sanity and dignity. Now the business world has become his battlefield except the reason he was doing it was because he wanted to follow Daimon's orders and serve Japan. In a sense Iki only knows how to live to achieve the goals of an organisation and country. Even after years of imprisonment, he places very little value on his own self. Like Dr Forge said, Iki is trapped in another Siberia of his own making, living his life the only way he knows how.

Fumo Chitai isn't a fantasy dorama where the hero concocts a master plan to beat everyone or pull a rabbit out of a hat. This is a realistic show about Iki trying his damnest to make the right decisions and sticking to his guns even when things don't look bleak. Iki isn't a superhero. His luck is that he knows the right people. All he is a smart businessman trying to compete with other smart businessmen like Samejima.

I'm currently 2/3 way through The Barren Zone, the novel on which the dorama is based on and it is a captivating read. 3/5 of the novel deal with Iki's imprisonment and there is a lot missing from the dorama especially about the Japanese prisoners being brainwashed into being Socialists. The reason offered in the novel why the Japanese prisoners were so easily brainwashed was that they were unable to think individually and will always follow the majority. This backstory makes the accusation of Iki being a soviet spy towards the end of the dorama even more profound and shows how serious the capitalist vs socialist war was at that time. What is shown in the dorama is not even half of what Iki suffered in the novel. The novel however, ends with the Luckheed story, just like the movie.

Whether or not there are more books, I'm not sure. If there are, they don't seem to be available in English. :( As I've said in my first look at Fumo Chitai, I wished they had spliced the whole Siberia thing into the series instead of just putting it in the beginning. The novel has been a fun read because there's a lot more information about Iki and thoughts and sufferings. If I had experienced what he has been through, I wouldn't want a high pressure job. I can really see that the problem with the adaptation is that a lot of what pertains to Iki is conveyed through the narrator in the novel. Overuse of the narrator in the dorama would have made it more a documentary style acting out rather than a dorama.

Ep 19 gave me the ending that I wanted and at the same time showed me that what the show was actually about was very different from my expectations. All my doubt and worries about this series were washed away. Thanks to Chuks for subbing this must watch dorama.

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