Monday, February 20, 2012

Hero Review (2001)

Drama Rating: ****
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Kuryu Kohei is a newly transferred addition to the Jyosai branch of the Tokyo Prosecutor's Office. With his  flamboyant dress code and affinity for ordering from TV infomercials, Kohei seems an unlikely prosecutor and is initially looked down by his colleagues. Amamiya Maiko, his ambitious paralegal and aspiring prosecutor-to-be, is initially put off by his strangely cavalier ways but gradually develops respect and fondness for his noble pursuit of justice.

*Spoiler warning*

A strangely whimsical drama which starts off originally with no apparent overarching theme. Each episode is more or less unrelated to the previous but slowly manages to introduce the audience to each of the characters and their various quirks. The plots are written in a lighthearted manner, often with a comedic side-story underlying the main case. The actual humor in this series is one of its more attractive points, using a very dry, droll, comedic style which is well matched by the quick filming style used portray those scenes.  Do make sure you catch the special episode and the movie as it does make the drama more complete.

After their hugely successful collaboration in Love Generation, Hero provided another chance for Kimura Takuya and Matsu Takako to team up. Their dialogue and chemistry, while not quite as tip-top as in Love Generation, was still fun to watch. The characters, including the supporting cast, had this uncanny ability to deliver great comic performances although I felt the acting sometimes felt a bit hollow especially from an emotional perspective. Character development, which was clearly not a core focus of this drama, was a little bit weak but I suppose that was traded off so that the plot investigations could run their course.

The music for this drama was special in the sense that solo instruments were used rather frequently to play quirky themes which sounded more like sound effects rather than musical accompaniment. I especially liked parts where the oboe and clarinet were used to play the ascending and descending partial scales. The common use of solo woodwinds gave it a fairly interesting feel but at the same time felt appropriate and in the spirit of the drama. Oftentimes, these motifs were used to give the drama an even more whimsical feel, making this drama feel extremely fun, lighthearted and droll.

This was a difficult drama to judge as I felt it really depended on what you were expecting and seeking from it. As a comedy, it was certainly quite delightful and the writers certainly put a lot of effort into crafting all those amusing tidbits. The cases themselves were well chosen, providing some interesting storylines for the audience. The judicial process was made very approachable and down to earth, which was definitely a strong achievement for a drama focused on law and order. Unfortunately, character development was a bit lighter than expected so this drama felt like it was really missing some heft. So while I really didn't see anything wrong with this drama, it lacked the gravity and substance needed to be truly a great drama, but one which I nevertheless enjoyed quite a bit.

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