Monday, July 18, 2011

Marks no Yama

Marks is the show that made me not do a best of 2010 list because I knew it deserved to be on it but I couldn't put it on the list without watching it to the finish. I stopped at ep 3 and decided to wait for the whole series to be subbed before I rewatching as it takes too much trouble to remember the storyline between releases. Besides, a dorama this good deserves to be watched in one go. Rewatching the first three episodes, I am just goddamn awestruck but how bloody excellent it is, especially after watching something as horrible as Space Battleship Yamato.

Granted, Marks is a thriller/mystery tv show and Yamato is a big budget sci fi story but the acting and camera work are miles apart. Even when you know the twists and turns,  the way it is presented is so exciting. The way the camera moves into a conversation puts the viewers in the midst of a discourse and allows them fell the energy of a conversation. Even the soundtrack where they use variations of the same music in each episode just makes the excitement much more palatable.

Even when the audience already knows certain facts, it is how certain characters find out about it that is exciting. I would say that the first three episodes are as close to perfection as possible. There are certain minor things like how they could ascertain what the murder weapon was using a plasticine head as there are many similar objects but the way the story unfolds is done masterfully.

We get to episode 4 and the story slows down a bit. There's nothing left to reveal and then we get a lot of personal story scenes which I find time wasting. Its pacing of the first three episodes where something is always happening feels like it starting to slow down to a halt. Looking back at the last two episodes, its not that nothing really happens.

I think I was waiting for one final revelation, one final twist. Instead we get a sort of anti climatic conclusion. No confession from Kita Yoshio. Instead, they gave him a karmic ending that bloody doesn't make sense. It actually got my hopes up in that what if he were the one who actually gave Marks the instructions? But no, they have to do the he gets caught because he finally acts crazy in the end. Would the fabric of the world of jdoramas explode if a villain actually gets away?

I must stress that there's nothing really bad about episodes 4-5. Its got its share of awesome moments but also moments where I'm thinking this does nothing for the story. Normally when the truth is finally revealed in a story, its action time. Instead we get two hours where half the time the story is at a standstill. They should have trimmed the series down to 4 episodes. Show the fate of Marks first and then everything else as a sort of epilogue.

Unfortunately, Marks is not this perfect jdorama it could have been. Its still bloody awesome and a testament that Japan has actors who can act and directors who use dynamic camera movements instead of the generic studio set fixed cameras. Marks no Yama is the anti-Boss and anti-Lady Saigo no Hanzi. Its a police procedural mystery show where things make sense, characters don't act like they are from a kids anime and villains don't twirl their mustaches. This is a must watch dorama, just don't expect to finish the show on a high equal to its first three episodes.


Anonymous said...

I discovered this blog a few days ago, and have been feverishly mining it ever since. It's so refreshing to come accross another person with discriminating taste.

As late as it is, I really hope you reconsider doing a 'Best of 2010' list. I've used your past lists to identify shows I should target next. Thanks to you, I was able to 'rediscover' Konshu Tsuma ga Uwaki Shimasu. I remembered hearing of the concept of the show a few years ago, and being intrigued, but at that time I couldn't find any place to download. I'd forgotten the title too, before I came upon it here. I'm sure there's many other gems lying in wait.

As for Marks, yeah, the final episodes somehow lacked the oomph factor. And Rinbara going insane was completely nonsensical and unnecessary.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Akiramike said...

Gold hasn't been subbed finish yet and I haven't gotten around to finishing Freeter. Will probably get around to doing a best of list at some point but as with all my best of lists, there are always noteworthy shows that I missed out on and discover sometime down the line.