Monday, January 03, 2011
Kurohyo Ryu ga Gotoku Shinsho
I think I've mentioned a few times that I was a big fan of Ryu ga Gotoku series which is known in the West as Yakuza. The Takashi Miike movie was just an excuse for him to go nuts while ignoring the main story from the first game. Kurohyo is based on the psp spin off game which I have not played. When I first saw pictures of the game, I was not interested because its a young protagonist and they are clearly trying to go after the Monster Hunter crowd. After playing 5 games using Kiryu Kazuma, I don't think I can accept a young punk as the new protagonist. The only possible spin off I would love to see would be a grown up Haruka.
Saito Takumi aka the rich kid from Chase plays Tatsuya, the hero of the series. It is interesting to note that Takumi is 29 while the Tatsuya is supposed to be 18, which is a good thing. An 18 year old johnny would have doomed the series from the start. Tatsuya is this jobless bum who has a hot sister, wears the same tracksuit every single day and does not know how to zip his top up. Oh yeah, he's pretty good at fighting too.
One day, one of his friends gets into trouble and he has to rescue him from some yakuza. There is a huge fight and Tatsuya blacks out. When he comes to, he discovers that all the yakuza have been killed but he doesn't remember doing it. A short time later, he is blackmailed to enter this tournament called Dragon Heat as they have footage of him killing the yakuza. Fans of Ryu ga gotoku would know that Dragon Heat refers to Kiryu Kazuma's finishing moves.
Yes, Kurohyo is a martial arts dorama in the vein of old school B grade movies like American Kickboxer 2. Its even got the stupid all loser will be killed by the yakuza organisers story. With the mystery of who set Tatsuya up, the cute daughter of a yakuza boss, a hostess who has a thing for Tatsuya and lots of blood and MMA style fighting and you have the formula for what makes Ryu ga gotoku such an awesome series.
The fighting in Kurohyo is pretty good. For some reason, we can only see good fighting in low budget shows like Kurohyo and Holyland and not in the more expensive mainstream doramas. Actually, for a low budget mightnight dorama, Kurohyo looks very good. There's lots of blood and the fighters end up with bruised faces which is something you don't usually see because censors are always ok with violence as long as the effects of it are not shown. Of course, Tatsuya gets a magical doctor who can heal his wounds quickly which is a necessary evil considering the amount of fights he gets into throughout the series. It is interesting to note that Iwagi Koichi and Haru play the same characters in the game and dorama.
I pretty much enjoyed the first 10 episodes of Kurohyo. Some minor plot holes did not detract from the awesome fighting, humour and eye candy. This was the world of Ryu ga gotoku. Guys being macho and cool, cute girls and lots of violence. If it were any manlier, I would have grown chest hair from watching it. It was really fun to see Kabukicho and recognise all the places from the game series. I never got around to going there when I was in Japan but it is an absolute must for my next trip. The shops and small alleyways in Champion district really do look the same in real life!
I was ready to declare Kurohyo a must watch when the big stupid twist is revealed at the end of episode 10. A twist so stupid and useless that I was praying that there would be a good explanation and pay off in the final episode. Sadly that didn't happen and then the climax of the final confrontation in the last episode was so fucking retarding that I am convinced it was the result of the writers not taking their happy pills. It so goes against the tone of the series. Why couldn't they have kept things simple?!!
Sigh. For Ryu ga gotoku fans and jdorama fans who are looking for some violence, this show is worth watching. Just make sure to prepare yourself for the last episode which will leave a bitter taste. Or better yet, don't watch the last episode. Hope the story of the game is different but with my backlog of games at the moment, it'll be a long while before I find out.