Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Drama Review- Karei Naru Ichizoku

Karei Naru Ichizoku is a human drama comprising of a star studded cast that aired in 2007. It stars Takuya Kimura as Teppei, the eldest son of the Manpyou family as the protagonist. Here's a summary from dramawiki:

Originally a novel by Yamazaki Toyoko, and later a 1974 movie, Karei naru Ichizoku depicts the conflicts within the Manpyo family, famous in Kansai's financial circles, amidst the tumultuous reorganization of the financial industry of the late 1960s. Unlike the book, the eldest son, Teppei, and not the father, Daisuke, is the central character of the drama.

This drama is set in the late 1960s decade of Japan and depicts the rivalry between Manpyo Daisuke , a powerful banker, and his eldest son, Manpyo Teppei , the executive managing director of a steel firm. For reasons not yet entirely clear, Daisuke seems to dislike his own son and when Teppei finds out why, the Manpyo family is turned upside down.

I will start with the positives. It is easy to say after watching the drama that it was adapted from a novel because it is very well plotted. There is a lot of story that goes into the twelve episodes. The story is filled with ample twists and turns and for a human drama has a large share of suspense. It is not like the emotional and gentle human dramas that we usually see (1 litre of tears and the likes). In fact, if I had to compare the style of this novel to a western author, the first one I would think of is Sidney Sheldon. That is not to say that this drama is not original but to say that the plotting is world class. For western audiences, this would translate to something like Sheldon's Master of the Game (this is my opinion). This is a drama that spans many generations in a period of time where Japan was rapidly expanding especially in the steel and banking sectors. Therefore, there are conflicts due to the difference in thinking between generations one prominent example of this being the perception of marriage. The novel was well adapted into script and directed. There are quite a few popular plot devices that the drama utilises but I don't want to spoil it for you, so, I won't reveal them.

Another big plus point of this drama is the cast. Of course, anything with Takuya Kimura already passes the test but the other characters here were not sidekicks but experienced actors in their own right. For me, this was one of Takuya Kimura's best performances. I always thought of him as a romance hero but after this drama, I think he does these kinds of roles better than romance. Teppei, Kimura's character is the protagonist and one of the characters you want to root for. Besides Takuya Kimura, Suzuki Kyoka's acting stood out. Her portrayl of Aiko was done well. I think her enigmatic appearance matched her role and she managed to stir emotions of hatred in the viewers towards her character. Kitaoji Kinya'a portrayal of the head of Manpyou family was another A+ performance. All these three characters made a strong emotional impact. I saw Aibu Saki but she is not her best here. I found Sanae's acting very bland compared to the other characters but maybe that had something to do with her role. Overall, the cast was great and made the drama work. A lot of them were good looking and added to the visual appeal of this drama which may not have been so appealing on TV otherwise.

As for the negatives, there is a long list of them as well. The picture quality is oldish considering that the drama aired in 2007. I guess this is okay to create a sense of the time period.

 For me, the biggest problem with this drama was that it was very hard to relate to. The time period is a bit old. The characters seem solely motivated by lust, ambition, money or jealousy and rarely display the more tender feelings of love or compassion.
Teppei was the only character that you can relate to and probably Daisuke. All the women were very flat as characters except Aiko maybe. It may be due to the fact that women didn't occupy a very important position in society at that time. Nevertheless, the characters are a bit one dimensional and even though you can sense the depth in them, they still lack the wholeness of being human and having those gentler moments. The atmosphere of the drama is very tense and this seems very unusual considering that the main cast is supposed to be one family. Despite that, they lack a general feeling of love underlying all the complexity. The drama did a very good job of portraying the myopic view of the time it was set in and I can relate the older people around me to that generation. The portrayal was very realistic.

Additionally, the ending was the biggest strength and weakness of this drama. My Japanese friend and I were discussing this drama once and we both agreed that the ending was not very pleasing. The pacing is also a bit rushed towards the end. Most of the events in the beginning are not very important and spaced out but the events towards the end progress very fast to the climax.
The drama projects the frail nature of human emotions especially ambition, and desire. Misunderstandings and how they get built and create baseless hatred is also another theme in the drama. Change, transformation and the winning and losing parties in the constant evolution of societies is also looked at.

Overall, the drama was very strong if you look for a human drama that presents the dark side of human nature. Also, for those wanting to learn more about Japan post World War 2, this is a good drama. I would also recommend it to Takuya Kimura fans. His acting is wonderful here. If the novel is translated, I would want to read it because I think there are some things I would understand better if I read the novel.

Overall- 4/5




May be hard to relate to

I am sorry I can't upload photos now. My laptop's giving me trouble.

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