This is me recollecting my jumbled thoughts almost a week after watching the episode and trying to organize them in a coherent manner.
There is no glorification of the new Kansai 50th Anniversary drama packed with wondrous actors and gripping suspense, but there is quite a handful of spoilers since most of which constitute my impression arise from specific points in the episode. So halt here if you haven’t seen it and plan to. Because I do think it’s enjoyable and don’t want to spoil it for you.
I think no one will object when I say the most salient element of the drama is its music. In fact, that’s what drew me in at minute one. The music’s haunting effect paired with the golden sunset, the red backpack, red coat, and the blood create a grotesque kind of beauty — but the music doesn’t stop there. It takes a turn and continues down a different path, a different mood, all the while in sync with the plot and contributing to the fluidity of the story telling.
The second feature that I find endearing is its approach at travelogue, which doesn’t seem pushed or overdone. It’s necessary as far as the story is concerned and future events setting in Shanghai is laid out in the later portion of the episode, making it a very clear cut presentation. (It’s also great to hear proper French, especially with Hirosue Ryoko as Sachi even though she has been speaking mainly Japanese. Her appearance in the context of traveling in France reminds me of the 2001 movie Wasabi, which was fun to watch.)
The scene between Sachi and Ryoji (Eguchi Yosuke) at Montmartre before parting brings Amélie to mind (another 2001 French movie). It’s significance is certainly self-evident. (I think the main reason I like it has to do with my feelings for the French language.)
Of course, as much as I am enamored with the above mentioned aspects of the drama, there are challenges I have yet to reconcile. (Which is why you don’t see me jumping into recapping the first episode.) My biggest problem is, ironically, the mystery. Hah.
The French has a saying: ne pas savoir si c’est du lard ou du cochon (not knowing what to think) — and that is preciously how I feel about this drama. Of course it’s too early in the game to determine, but I don’t really know what to make of it. I don’t mean that it’s confusing; rather, it’s trying so hard to impress the viewers by providing a twist in the end, I fear that the efforts might backfire a little.
Let me explain myself. I have said a little earlier that the story telling is done fluidly, but it is by no means exciting or engaging. A tour in an arbitrary bookstore will demonstrate how popular the mystery genre is nowadays. We as readers/viewers have been exposed to so much of its kind that we become sophisticated enough to be hard to impress. A good mystery creates suspense by diverging on possibilities to keep us guessing and second guessing. A bland mystery has one theory and creates a turn of events only at the last moment — and that is exactly how this episode is like. Kimoto Machiko’s attack, the script being stolen, Ryoji’s repeated inquiry on whether or not anyone has seen the attacker all point to the direction that Ryoji has done the deed in attempt to bury the case even after its passing the statute of limitation. But it is too simple. So we expect a twist. And when the twist finally comes, it ends up confirming our suspicion more than piquing our interest.
With the revelation of Sashi’s miraculous survival after what was commonly acknowledged as murder, the episode ends. It ends without providing any incentive for the viewers to find out WHY a perceived murder of then an elementary girl 25 years ago would be worth watching and exploring (other than having nothing better to watch, like it is in my case). This episode is most disappointing in that respect.
The one thing I don’t understand is Sashi’s reaction after being recognized by Ryoji. Her mortification and hatred seem strange. Sure, she’s not expecting to be recognized, after feigning her death 25 years ago. Least by him. Sure, she’s unpleasantly surprised to find out that the stranger whom she spent her vacation in Paris with is the boy who tried to kill her 25 years ago. (If Ryoji wasn’t just a poor escape goat for a bigger secret.) Sure, she may feel exploited to realize he had orchestrated their rendezvous in France. But if she planned to attend this reunion after convincing everyone that she had been dead for decades, she couldn’t have expected to enter and leave unannounced. Someone is bound to walk up to her and politely, if not bluntly, ask her to remind them of who she is.
Well, the upcoming Tuesday’s episode will pick up from there. Hopefully it will shed some light and change my perception of the drama.