Sunday, March 17, 2013

Priceless Review (2012)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

This jdrama led by Kimura Takuya tells the story of Kindaichi Fumio, an ordinary salaryman who is one day unexpectedly tossed from his job. The bad luck doesn't end there as his apartment subsequently explodes and he ends up losing all his money and almost all his possessions. With nowhere else to move but back up, Kindaichi begins his life anew with optimism.

*Spoiler warning*

The storyline is rather simplistic but recalls the tone of those inspirational late-90s jdramas. Although the main story thread doesn't hold as much depth as jdramas used to, it makes up for it in feel-good antics. Sadly, it was hard to really get into the story or empathize with the characters when the drama's coherency and realism is continually called into question. How realistic is it for an investor to randomly sink 10 million yen into a hot dog stand business or when practically everyone in the company seems to follow Enomoto's lead to eat hot dogs for lunch? Starting a small business is tough and the drama just seems far too optimistic in this drama. This was particularly evident in the ending with none of the events being credible and leaving me in disbelief at the way various situations were wrapped up.

Kimura Takuya plays the ever optimistic Kindaichi Fumio and given his experience, he handled this role smoothly with his trademark acting and mannerisms. It would have been nice if he had taken a more challenging role to see what he's really capable of. Nakai Kiichi plays the shy Moai Kengo and does a great job especially with the evolution of his character. Karina plays the role of Nikaido Saya fairly well and convincingly comes across as the more responsible one of the trio. Fujiki Naohito was a decent adversary as President Oyashiki but Issey Ogata's Director Zaizen was really a bit out there; that character just seemed outright ridiculous. Overall, the casting was so-so, although the screenwriter clearly underutilized the cast with a script that didn't fly too well.

The pure instrumental music for this drama was a reasonable choice for this drama but didn't feel quite right  throughout the series. The timing of the music felt a bit carelessly done, particularly in the early episodes where sometimes the music tends to drown out the dialogue. Overall, it attempts to reflect the general mood of the characters and the situation and while it was successful for some scenes, it didn't quite come together for others.

This drama comes at an opportune time as the tough economic times continue in Japan. The optimistic tone permeates throughout the series and Kimura Takuya was an appropriate choice to lead this series as he exudes his infectious charm with ease. That's as far as the praise goes because unfortunately, I was disappointed by drama's overall story arc. The main problem with the script is that it goes from one incredulous event to the next. Being less and less able to relate, it gradually diminished my appreciation for the story and my emotional investment and attachment to it. And so while I applaud its optimism, this was certainly a disappointing series to watch.

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