Baggage Dark Past Bloody Angst
Finally, people. I had reached to a point where I can literally saying that I had watched MOZU. Well in fact, who in the dorama viewers world haven’t? Since this drama was the most raved and buzz generating in 2014. As for me, I have so many reasons to watched MOZU, which most of you–who had read my previous posts—prolly already know what. Haha. But one of the main reasons, is that I love Double Face. That drama may be only two parts TV movie special, but it hits all the right note in terms of being such an awesome watch. And it’s obvious from the get go that MOZU is a prolonged platform to rehash the same success that TBS X WOWOW had earned from Double Face. The similar casts, production team, composer, cinematography style, everything screams Double Face!!! into well, our face. Lol. But the real question is; did MOZU able to revive the past glory that had elevated both Nishijima Hidetoshi and Kagawa Teruyuki into a whole new level of popularity?(Spoilert: Everything, like usual…)
Well, if we looked from the production angle, MOZU is, hands down, a winner by mile. This drama is a big budget production that provides a grand deliverance, hiring bunch of great actors, utilizing artistic camera play, along with gripping and elevating soundtracks. Every episode gives us a cinematic experience, every next episode spoiler always put us at the edge of our seat and piquing our curiosity at best. This drama clearly knows how to maximize the thrill for the viewers with cutting edge and stylish editing. With that much good ammo in the production team’s pocket, what could possibly go wrong? Well, unfortunately, this drama suffers bunch of hiccups; minor, and major.
MOZU is trying too hard to be a heavy bad ass cop drama by cramping a 20+ episodes worth-larger than life complicated story into a 10 episodes with a three quarters hour each duration, which in the end makes this drama bite more than it can chew. First, you got an ace PSB officer slash grieving husband, Kuraki Naotake (Nishijima Hidetoshi), who lost his wife, Chihiro (Ishida Yuriko) in a bombing incident, and turns out he also just lost his daughter as well priorly, from a domestic accident by his late wife, who possibly suffer from Munchausen syndrome by proxy ever since she accomplished her super-secret mission with the government called Glarke Alpha. Kuraki, who can’t accept his wife’s death from that explosion, start suspecting a foul play. Then he was joined by his fellow female PSB, Akeboshi Miki (Maki Youko) who lost his dad 15 years ago too in a super secret mission as well and his father is still MIA. Added to the circle of deka buddies is Osugi Ryota (Kagawa Teruyuki), a detective who hates PSB officers and has his own family problem with his estranged wife and daughter (Sugisaki Hana). Also, there is some kind of shady connection between the bombing incident, the government and a large security company, Athena Security with their leader Higashi Kazuo (Hasegawa Hiroki) and his nut-case right-hand man, Nakagawa (Yoshida Kotaro), who hired a freelance hitman Shingai Kazuhiko (Ikematsu Sosuke), who turns out has a cross dresser twin brother, Hiromi, that has a psychopathic impulsive behaviour. Added to the mix is also Tsuki Shunsuke (Bussan’s pop) and his secret agenda in ordering Akeboshi and using Kuraki as his pawn to investigate the dirt inside the PSB. Added to the mix (again) is the boogey-baldy-man, Daruma, who’s haunting people in their dreams thus creating a depression and breakdown. And the complexity goes on and on and on. Have you tired reading it? Cos we’re only covering like, 50% of the whole story, and me already got exhausted in typing this freaking NUTS-shell. Haha *cynical laughter*
After having this head scratching six degrees plot, one can expect for MOZU to become a one exciting packed of an outcome eh? Ahahaha. Not really. Cos turns out the development on each episode is such a snail pace, and this drama draaggggg itself like a slow burn cigarette, especially at the episode 1-4, with its meandering cycle of Kuraki messing with Akeboshi and harassing Athena Security; Shingai being confuse over his real identity; Kuraki ignoring Osugi; Osugi rant towards Akeboshi and PSB; Akeboshi meeting with Tsuki on the rooftop; a tidbit revelation of the bombing case; end of episode. These four episodes were going back and forth in this story-mold, which makes everything turns into something that kinda boring and frustrating.If I can opt for the only character who can carry the show from the very beginning until the end and manage to make me hooked enough to keep watching, it’s definitely Shingai Hiromi, for he is getting more and more interesting in a further revelation by the time he regains his memory back piece by piece–and bless the casting director for being able to find a kid actor, that really resembles Ikematsu Sosuke, to act as the childhood Shingai bros–But then, you know something is obviously wrong when Shingai Hiromi is the only one that carry the show cos 1.) He’s not one of the main leads, and 2.) Dude’s one of the villains, and 3.) It means the three main characters are the coma-inducing trio. Hah. I won’t blame the actors though, as it more to the writer’s lack of effort and sensitivity in building the characters. For example is the lead, Kuraki.Oh boy, I dunno what to say about Kuraki though. As our main hero, he’s just so bland and perfunctorily sullen. Kuraki may carry an uber heavy baggage for losing his daughter and his wife in a domestic accident and bombing, but somehow I just cant feel the need to sympathize with him, because he’s just so underdeveloped. As a complex character, should he be written more personally, his emotional status should be more dug out, his sadness and lost should’ve been more prominently displayed by showing us at least, I dunno, a one small scene of him crying alone in the house maybe, or anything close in that range.But heck this drama instead was trying to make Kuraki looked more like, a hot stuff grieving widow or something, by give us a giant nudge through almost every scene, like “Wow, look at Kuraki’s walking through the hazy chimney smoke in slow step to save the chick!”, “Look at him brooding near the door frame”, “Look at his muscles while doing those push ups! He’s so kakkoii, neeee???!! Ahahahaha. WTF. Not to mention, this drama is going peak with its absurdity by giving us the most what the? scene yet of his shirt got ripped by Akeboshi in the middle of tending up his fatal HEAD wound. I repeat, HEAD wound.
For pete’s sake… That scene was so unnecessary and, errr, stupid. I know, I know, that they had to make up whatever of a reason to show Nishijima’s gym bunny body, but trading the drama’s logic just for a couple seconds of doki doki fan service moment is so not worth it. Beside, honestly, I can never buy that kind of sexified shirtless/shower/muscle-showing scene; doesn’t matter if even my fave actors are the one’s doing that shit; cos imo, it’s too damn cheesy and reeks with self importance. To me what’s winning in character to be root and liked by viewers is not those k-dramaish thingies, but more to the substance and dynamic that makes it become realistic and three dimensional.
Gah, really can’t help myself to compare Kuraki Naotake with Nishijima’s similar role in Double Face, Moriya Jun here. Character-wise, we clearly can see that both Kuraki and Moriya were written in a same premise of being a jaded and empty shell-guy. But the similarity ends there. For as the drama progresses, Kuraki is more to the talking by keeps saying that he’s so hollow blahblahblah, when in fact he’s not; he’s simply just plain and static. While Jun, despite having a lesser screen time and never utters about how empty he feels, gives a bigger impact to the viewers in creating something to feel, through the dynamic of his emotion and behaviour. When he’s with the Oda-gumi, he looked stern and stoic, but yet he shows his softer side when interacting with Naoko and a genuine caring attitude towards Hiroshi. But still, that doesn’t change the core basic of his personality who is Moriya Jun; the dejected undercover police officer.Meanwhile Kuraki characterization’s depth in MOZU was only shown through tonzzza scenes of him smoking, and smoking, and smoking –seriously, I think Nishijima smokes around a hundred cancer sticks per episode, cos he puffing out so much, it makes me feel like I can smell that nicotine reeks from my screen. Geez… Dude seriously needs some CT scan check for his lungs, or vegan detox for the rest of his life, once they wrapped up the production– Maaaan, broodily smoking won’t explain anything to the viewers, MOZU writer-san; this drama needs a stronger approach in delivering and makes viewers able to feel for Kuraki; which sadly I didn’t get until the final episode ended.
I find it a bummer for Akeboshi as well, cos even though she’s kick ass and such a cool chick, she’s turns out to be just a female version of Kuraki; bland with no depth. And her Daruma nightmare and mysterious silent call + MIA daddy issue are somehow not riveting enough to make us as viewers to care. Not to mention that her chemistry with Kuraki come out flat as well, which makes me can’t ship or even see them as a couple, even though I want to, and despite this drama has hinted that they might be one. Naotake and Miki, sitting on a tree. B.O.R.I.N.G.
I even found Kuraki and Osugi pairing has much more chemistry (which now makes me understand why these two are kept being paired up like a Siamese twins); and Shingai with that chick reporter, Nakajima Ami (Arimura Kasumi) are more OTP material. Which is why it makes me soooo in RAGE when I watched that she had to die cos of that inhumane torture by Nakagawa’s looney gang. Gahhhh!!! *table flipping*
Between these three main leads, I actually found Osugi to be the better-written one, cos his ordinariness somehow relatable with us as viewers. As the local police detective, he’s always excluded from the investigation conducting by the PSB, and he hates them so much, he rants about it almost all the time. But then his effort and struggle to finding out about the truth are realistic, as there’s one point when he has to choose whether or not to sacrifice his daughter’s future, while at the same time he’s getting warmer and warmer to the answer. And watching the fourth episode of the scene where Kuraki and Osugi talking to each other casually, while subtly knowing each others real intention, is somehow makes me anxious, and relieve, for in the end Osugi choose to stick to his own stance.
Luckily, after all drag and tediousness, this drama finally pick up its pace by the time they reach the fifth episode, with a very very engaging street chase scene. I must point out that even though this drama’s action stunt is not as impressive as say, SP, it managed to keep you fixated; like Kuraki’s and Akeboshi’s fighting the baddies scene in attempt to save Nakajima; or when Kuraki’s trying to free himself from the officers in that sedan on the final episode. Its subconsciously makes you “oooh!!! aaaah!!!” by yourself. Lulz.But Shingai is another story though, cos, gosh… that dude rocks! especially on the sixth episode, where he just remembered who he really is, and starting to hunt and killing those evil tugs one by one. And at the end, he’s having this duel with that annoying baddie, Nakagawa. Dammit! I was seriously hooked! Those scenes were just awesome, man. On a side note, I really like the way this drama always presenting Shingai killing scenes in a slightly creepy way like a horror movie. Somehow, it feels so weird, but yet at the same time, it’s really fit with the drama dark atmosphere as well.
One thing that really smart from this drama, is that it clearly knows how to build a suspense through an act or in interaction between characters. Like the whiffing duel between Kuraki and Nakagawa or Kuraki and Higashi at the shooting practice, for the bragging and intimidation were really nicely shown. And also when Kuraki is arranging that little orphan girl’s drawing one by one like a puzzle, which in the end resulting a giant picture of a ‘monster’ that she saw at the explosion, who is Shingai in drag and half exploded (and his wig at that scene though… Lulz…); scattering human body parts to look for that IC Chip.But nothing builds up more than the dinner scene between Kuraki and Shingai; especially when Shingai is playing card with Kuraki in order to give him hints about who’s the secret woman through the photos. That was the only slow burn scene that I found to be successfully engrossing in deliverance. And at the same time, there’s some kind of relieve feeling as well, knowing that Shingai and Kuraki are not nemesis, though they’re not an ally either. Well in fact, maybe they’re more to kindred spirits, in matter of feeling empty over losing someone important in their lives.
Having typed that, the ending give me like, 33/33/33 impression of good, ehhh?, and predictable feeling. Though the airport sequence is fast pace and engagingly exciting, it’s kinda mind boggling me of how Shingai can alive and kicking, when he already got shot at least twice, pricked on that giant iron globe, and bloodily perforated like eff. Well, I’m just gonna assume that maybe he has such a strong will to do the vendetta and an impulse to kill like… the shrike? Maybe? *shrug*. And despite “the evil twin is still alive!” twist is kinda predictable, it’s good to know that Shingai still has a logical reason to appear on the second season, which hopefully is for the better plot development. Haha. Oh, and I actually really like the closing scene that shows Kuraki and Osugi having dinner together, and Kuraki cracked a lil smile for that awkward beer moment. It makes me feel like, “Gawttt, Kuraki-keibu! Finally!”. Lol…Overall, MOZU season 1~Mozu no Sakebu Yoru~ is a hard boiled of action and thrilling packed heavy cop drama that manage to reach its awesomeness at halfway through the end. It actually turns out great, though it’s still not as great as it’s “predecessor”, Double Face. But still, at least it doesn’t fall below expectation. That being said… Lets move, people! On to the Season 2! Ciao!!!
Final Score: 80/100