Friday, August 30, 2013

Kazoku Game Review (2013)

Drama Rating: *****
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Based on Honma Yohei's novel 'The Family Game', this drama tells of Numata Shigeyuki, a boy being bullied in school. Concerned about his low grades, his parents hire Yoshimoto Koya, a private tutor, to help bring his grades back up. His unorthodox teaching methods quickly draws their attention as he starts to peel back the layers of problems plaguing his student. Will he successfully turn Shigeyuki around and what exactly is he trying to hide?

*Spoiler warning*

This drama had a very solid script as it was based on a well-thought-out plot. Adapting this story to the small screen was likely a challenge given the depth of social commentary. However, the director and screenwriter do a great job telling the story from each of the character's perspectives and presents the key issues in a direct but approachable manner.  From a drama perspective, the storytelling was very well done with plenty of tension and intensity.

The acting in this series was completely solid. Given the lack of good jdramas lately, this was a refreshing breath of fresh air as Sakurai Sho did a superb job as the enigmatic Yoshimoto Koya, giving off a very mysterious and dangerous aura in his portrayal. The entire Numata family also played their roles to perfection making you almost believe they were a dysfunctional family. The primary cast was very well selected and completely suited this story.

The main theme on the clarinet gives off a very tense, unsettling vibe that makes this drama feel very eerie, as though something isn't quite right. The strange dissonances provide an unsettling tone that pervades throughout the drama. The clarinets do transition from time to time to a more calm, comforting theme but the drama never truly feels at ease. However, although this OST more of less captures what I think the director was looking for and was uniquely memorable, personally, it didn't quite feel like a perfect fit for this drama/story.

With a wide range of problems currently facing society, this drama comes at a very relevant time and offers an unabashedly direct critique of some of the key issues today. The different sides of bullying, work, stress and family all get a deeper look under the microscope in this series as the drama cuts straight to the core of the issues. Along the way, the viewer is taken on an intense thrill ride that subtly reminds us of what a family truly means. But aside from all that, this was a superb drama to boot and is definitely a must-watch series!

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