Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kita no Kuni Kara eps 1-10

When xploring first started subbing Kita no Kuni Kara, I was interested but the source files were edonkey links which I can't be bothered with and it was 24 episodes for a family dorama that was aired in 81. How good could it possibly be? All I can say is, I've learned this lesson: if someone decides to sub an old dorama that does not have a johnny, there is a huge likelihood that it is a classic.

The old man from Golden Bowl.

Kita no kuni kara is a story about single dad Kuroita Goro (Tanaka Kunie) who was born in a rural area near Furano in Hokkaido. He moves to Tokyo, gets married to a hairdresser Reiko (Ishida Ayumi) and they have two kids, Jun and Hotaru. One day, Reiko leaves the house to leave with the man she was having an affair with and Goro decides to take Jun and Hotaru to back to his old home for certain reasons.

Goro brings his Tokyo bred and born kids with him and suddenly they are faced with living in a wooden shed in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity and a nearby stream as the only source of water. Jun, the lazy and irresponsible son goes nuts. How does one survive with no freaking tv? I don't watch tv anymore but back in the day, television was the equivalent of internet. It was the time when the hot topic of discussion was whether tv was good or bad for kids. I'm pretty sure parents today would be happy if the only thing they had to worry about was whether their kids were watching too much tv.

That's Ishida Ayumi, the old lady from Wedding Planner and Home Drama back in her prime.

So the basic premise is single and recently divorced dad brings city kids to live in harsh climate of Hokkaido. The son is always whining and pouting which is understandable but the daughter Hotaru, is a daddy's girl who is always thinking about her dad. But what holds Kita no kuni kara together is Goro. After all these years, I now finally know who the old man Ogawa Makoto from Momusu was spoofing in all those skits.

Nakajima Tomoko, I think she was the vet in Ushi ni Negai.

Goro is the ultimate underdog. He is uneducated in the ways of the modern world but is an expert in living in the wild, which is part of the reason that he wants to raise his kids in Hokkaido. He never did anything for them through all their years in Tokyo and he wants to raise them using the only way he knows how. His stubbornness in his single minded attempt to provide for his kids by himself is admirable and you can feel how strongly Goro believes in what he is doing when he refuses help from the water and electricity department and insists on providing for his family through his own means.

Matsuda Miyuki, mom to Matsuda Shota and Ryuhei. They've probably been told how hot their mom was by countless fans.

Goro has that said stoic face that says a thousand words. I just love how everything is so understated. His reasons for coming back to Hokkaido and his relationship with Jun and Hotaru. Its all reading between the lines. The emotional scenes are really awesome with how raw they are. One of my favourite scenes is the Christmas lecture in episode 7. Its just a simple lecture by an uncle with the quiet hum of the car in the background, the camera mostly on the uncle with great reaction shots of the kids as they realised what he is telling him.
 Iwaki Koichi, the veteran pilot in Good Luck!

That scene reminded me of the climax of the jmovie Poppoya. Simple and raw and letting the build up and the actors carry the scene without sad music and neon lights camerawork pointing to the audience that it is suppose to be a moving scene. If this scene were done today, the uncle would be overacting thinking it would translate to passion. It is the normalcy of the delivery that makes it impactful. Plus, I'm pretty sure the uncle was in Battles without Honour and Humanity so the kids knew to listen attentively.

Nothing says 80s like indoor smoking and not caring about the kid.

The other star of the show is definitely the Hokkaido scenery. Makes me want to go there but on the other hand, I've seen the cows and rolling hills in so many movies and doramas that I'm too lazy. To me, Oyaji and Hitotsu Yane no Shita has always been the standard for family jdoramas but the first 10 episodes of Kita no Kuni Kara makes a strong point to be no.1. If you are a jdorama fan, this is a must watch because it is a classic. Big thanks to xploring for subbing 1-8 and to Chuks for continuing the series. You can easily grab the series from here.


chobuki said...

Thanks for writing this review, Akiramike. Hopefully more people will start watching after reading this; definitely one of the best dramas of all time that Japanese TV has to offer.

Just wanna point out that the woman in the last pic is Miyamoto Nobuko who starred in all of the movies made by the legendary Itami Juzo. He will also make an appearance in a future episode as Reiko's lover.

About Nakajima Tomoko, her appearance in Ushi ni Negai wo was actually a cameo because of this show. (She played a city council member btw.)

Also, you need to post some pics of Jun/hotaru's teacher (Harada Mieko). :)

Jung said...

ooh, old drama! Thanks for the tip! *gets all excited*

Akiramike said...

Oh, Miyamoto Nobuko was the main character in Tampopo! That movie made me so hungry.

Didn't realise that the teacher was the victim in Shinzanmono!

Arthur said...

Thanks for the review. I just watched the first episode and it was great.

Chuks said...

Akiramike, I loved your review. :)
Is it okay if I link this post on my blog and the subtitle thread?

Akiramike said...

Thanks Chuks. Don't think you need my permission for linking.