Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Last Money ~Ai no Nedan~ eps 1-3 and invisible exposition

I had watched the first 3 episodes of this series some time ago, had some idea of what I wanted to say about it but couldn't be stuffed figuring it out... until last night when I was reading Jim Shooter's blog and came across the magic words that I had been looking for: invisible exposition. Shooter writes: it’s generally good policy to try to seamlessly weave your introductions and establishments the info into the action so it’s invisible exposition. And provide only the info necessary to understand the story in hand.

We all know what exposition is, its explaining things to the audience whether it graphics on the screen giving a summary of character traits like in Renai Dekinai, a conversation between two characters or a character voicing his/her thoughts or having them being audible to the audience. I would say exposition is the passing on of information to the audience so that they know who the characters are, what they are doing and what the possible outcomes are.

So what does it have to do with Last Money, a dorama about insurance fraud investigation? Well, its got this young trainee character who of course is idealistic and who's function is to provide information to the viewers in the form of asking stupid questions and stating his ideals without thinking realistically in order for the main character to state his stance.At first, I was thanking the gods of jdorama that the trainee was not the main character but it got worse when he asked questions for answers that can be easily be inferred upon and generally act like a bumbling idiot who is not funny.

Of course I understand that insurance fraud is not something most people would be familiar with. If this were say a surgery dorama, the only exposition needed is onlookers commenting on the process of the surgery and its difficulty. However, Last Money already makes use of written information on screen as well as the insurance agents reiterating the important bits of the insurance claim to the clients. So what we are left with is a waste of space character who is goddamn irritating giving more than enough information that treats the audience like we have an IQ of 50.

Invisible exposition this is not. Invisible exposition is when the conversations feel natural and characters don't say or ask things solely to get something across. A lot of times it is necessary when it cannot be woven into the fabric of the story or 'action' scenes like during a surgery. In the case of Last Money, most of the necessary exposition can be done during the course of client interviews or inferred during work conversations. There is no need to treat the audience like idiots.

However, I would not be too quick to condemn the writer because the trainee character is apparently played a johnny. Smells like someone told the writer to give him more lines. Bloody hell explains why his character feels so jarring when giving more than enough information and sometimes repeating information that the audience can easily work out for previous information. Why generally non Wowow and NHK doramas suck is not just because they cast bloody idorus who can't act, poor bloody writers have to appease the agencies and sacrifice efficient storytelling. Fucking johnnys, the backbone of the Japanese entertainment industry and the bane of good storytelling and decent acting.

What of the dorama? Besides the white elephant that is the trainee, its pretty interesting. Insurance fraud is something that we don't see everyday with interesting cases like who died last in an accident or trying to determine whether a death was suicide or an accident. There's also a mystery element to it with the death of a character shown in the beginning of the show. The hardsubbed version was stopped at ep 3 and I believe someone started softsubs for ep 1.


Anonymous said...

so that was the Johnny guy! haha.. really irritating. but i can forgive the show for that.

Anonymous said...

If the purpose of that johnny guy is to annoy viewers, then, he did his job well. Though he did bring the much-needed comic relief in episode 3, against the straight-faced Ito Hideaki (no insurance claim for those stealing underwears!!).

However, the rest are pretty good. The story sucks me in, and I hope the next episode will get subbed soon.

Akiramike said...

I'm assuming he is since he can't act and the hardsubs were done by newshfan.