Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Tetsu no hone eps 1+2
The last thing I need is another Ijyuiin dorama. I am sick to death of his goody two shoes idealistic characters. However, it is being subbed by WithS2 subs which brought us subs for Shinya Shokudo, Gaiji Keisatsu and Hagetaka, three of the best jdoramas I have watched in the past year, so there is no reason for me not to give Tetsu no hone which means 'bones of steel' a try.
At the start we are introduced to Heita (Koike Teppei) working at a construction site as part of the design division of Ichitani-gumi. He berets a construction worker for resting on some planks of wood. The worker like any reasonable person finds Heita's high and mighty attitude irritating and they start a fight. As a result, Heita is transferred to the sales division and this is when the show becomes interesting.
We are introduced to the weird and wonderful world of sales divisions of construction companies fighting for survival. Like any country its all about connections and Heita is brought around to as many government departments to introduce himself. Government departments receive so many visits that they have a box on the counter for sales people to leave their business cards.
Heita keeps wanting to go back into the design division and surprise, he discovers that all the companies are into bid-rigging! Now this is something I can sink my teeth into. I am from Malaysia and the name of the country should be right next to the word corruption in the dictionary. I have a friend who works in a similar job to Heita and the stories he has would make a good dorama. The only thing missing from Tetsu no hone is having to entertain business connections every night and interviewing young salesgirls so they can entice old men to buy property. Its nice to see a dorama address something bid-rigging except in Tetsu no hone its set up in such a way as to set up the villains of the story.
As to my concern of Heita being the typical Ijyuiin idealist, my fears were quickly allayed when he asks his girlfriend Moe whether there was such a thing as company loyalty. Heita was pondering whether doing something illegal for the sake of the company's survival could be justified. It was fucking music to my ears. You see, my problem is not with idealistic characters. My problem is that jdoramas are littered with idealists who refuse to even contemplate the reality of situations and somehow in the magical jdorama world, they are proved right.
Heita is still a good guy in Tetsu no hone, but he is a good guy that thinks. He is a guy who sees things from multiple angles and comes to a conclusion that whether it is right or wrong, he must do his job. You can see the emotions on his face as he struggles to confide in his idealistic girlfriend Moe dismisses corruption as an easy activity. You can see Heita observe the actions of the sales people from other companies as he tries to determine their true motives. I have to admit that I am surprisingly impressed with Ijyuuin's acting. Part of it is that the great script allows him to finally play a real, rounded character but he still needed to acting ability to pull of the Abe Hiroshi school of acting out multiple emotions without the need for dialogue. Don't get me wrong, Ijyuiin is nowhere near Abe's level but he has acting ability which is better than 99% of johnnies.
Heita does not even need to explain what he is thinking. He is fighting in a world where bid-rigging is a reality and there is no other way to win government contracts other than participating in it and cutting deals. If this were some lame Fuji-TV or TV Asahi dorama, Heita would win by preparing the best bids and make all the corrupted people cry with a long, preachy monologue at the end but thank the jdorama gods a semblence of reality exists in Wowow and NHK doramas. I like that Tetsu no hone shows that while part of what Heita participates in may be illegal, it is definitely not easy and is even harder than a system where bids are selected on merit.
Episode 2 is awesome and it introduces a new villain. The best way to make a wolf the hero is to wound it terribly, give it some humanity and make the villain a wolf in sheep's clothing. Suffice to say the first two episode of Tetsu no hone are freaking awesome and I won't be doing a best of 2010 dorama list until the subbing of Tetsu no hone and Marks no Yama have been completed. Give it a go. You won't regret it. Make sure to get your friends to watch as well. It makes me sad to see so many people downloading subs for crap shows like Lady and hardly anyone watching Kita no kuni kara. Are dorama fans unable to discern horrible writing and acting or are my tastes so out of touch with the general dorama addict population? Huge thanks to WithS2 subs, without whom I might have given up jdoramas.