Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kaseifu no Mita Review (2011)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Mita Akari works as the housekeeper for the Asuda household where the rest of the family face numerous issues and challenges after the death of the mother in the family. But when solicited for advice by the members of the Asuda family, she turns the question back to the questioner and asks them to make their own choices without giving advice. The mystery deepens as she repeatedly thwarts questions about her mysterious background.

*Spoiler warning*

The style of filming of this drama was one of the interesting highlights of this series. The subject matter is dark and heavy with ominous overtones and this is reflected in the subtle changes of lighting throughout. The starting episode begins in subdued, grayish hues and gradually moves towards a brighter and more colorful palette as the story draws to an end. This was probably the first time I've noticed something of that nature in a drama. Plot-wise though, the mysterious initial buildup led to a buildup of certain expectations regarding the eventual outcome but the actual denouement was rather disappointing and left a number of initial questions unanswered.

Matsushima Nanako is a deserving 'Best Actress' recipient for her portrayal of the mysterious Mita-san. She plays her character with professionalism and determination, constantly giving off a sense of danger and resoluteness. Hasegawa Hiromi is brilliant as Asuda Keiichi, bringing out his character's weaknesses and insecurity remarkably well through his constant self-doubting and evident lack of confidence. The children do a smashing job as well making the entire dysfunctional family come alive and winning over the audience's heart with their performances. The sibling interactions in particular was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the series.

The music was very satisfying in the way it gradually changes with the story's flow. The initial theme in a minor key gave the story an appropriately mysterious beginning. Further on, the sound of the guitar and piano bring out suitable sad and soothing tones at all the right inflection points of the drama. This culminates in the final episodes where we hear calmer and more serene melodies that reflect the resolution happening in the drama. Of note is also the theme song which carries nervous energy well suited to this drama but balances this with a sense of optimism as well.

This is a frustrating drama as the intense buildup of most of the episodes leads the audience down a particular train of thought, particularly with the moon phase scenes and Mita-san's almost clairvoyant abilities. The drama's ending doesn't resolve any of this however and the final resolution/explanation or lack thereof makes it hard to accept the ending without feeling that something is missing. Its a shame that the ending ruined what could potentially have been an exceptional thriller.

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