Tag Archives: Yasuharu Ishii

Ouroboros (2015 TV Series)

TBSouroboros

Status: Completed, 10 episodes

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Growing up together in the orphanage of Mahoroba, Danno Tatsuya and Ryuzaki Ikuo found love, inspiration, and strength in their caregiver, Yuiko-sensei. . . . That is, until one night when she is murdered and the case is covered up by a police man wearing a gold watch. Young Tatsuya and Ikuo vow to find Yuiko’s murder and exact their own justice. Twenty years later, Tatsuya is a leader in the yakuza and Ikuo is rising through the ranks of the police, working together to ferret out any clues as to Yuiko’s killer. But will they be able to handle the truths they find?

Ouroboros is probably the best J-drama I’ve seen to date. Of course, part of that is the fact that it stars both Shun Oguri and Toma Ikuta, two of my favorite actors. They have a really great dynamic when they work together, and their part in this show was definitely a huge plus for me. But I think that even for those unfamiliar with these two, the show has a lot to offer. It’s a cops and yakuza story, with lots of interconnecting plots, tragic backstory, and a nice balance of drama and action. There are some nicely choreographed fight scenes, even. And an adorable but tragic love story (more than one, depending on how you look at it). Of course, being a J-drama, there’s a certain amount of just plain goofiness, especially at the beginning (then again, can you put Toma in a show without some goofiness?). But again, it balances out, and by the end of the show, it’s just plain heartbreaking. This is a tear-jerker, to be sure, but I think the writers did a great job of making the story fall the way it needs to, not the way you necessarily want it to. . . . It feels like hitsuzen when you get down to it, I guess. Also just have to mention that the character development is remarkably well done–especially for this sort of show–and even the relatively minor characters are interesting. And one last point of note: the casting for the childhood versions of Tatsuya and Ikuo are fabulous. So often, kids seem just picked at random, but the kids chosen for the roles here are perfect, both in appearance and in how they act. Ouroboros is high on my list of recommendations, both for those who enjoy J-dramas and for those who like detective stories in general.

Note: At this point, I don’t know of an official English version of this show, but there are some quite decent fan-subs available.

Based on the manga by Kanzaki Yuya/Directed by Yasuharu Ishii/Music by Kimura Hideakira/Starring Toma Ikuta, Shun Oguri, & Juri Ueno

 

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Hana Yori Dango

Directed by Yasuharu Ishii/Starring Mao Inoue, Jun Matsumoto, Shun Oguri, Shota Matsuda, & Tsuyoshi Abe/ Music by Yamashita Kosuke/Based on the manga by Yoko Kamio

In pursuit of her dreams (and her parents’), Makino Tsukushi is attending the prestigious Eitoku Academy. Unfortunately, the high school isn’t exactly what she had expected. Because of their families’ power and money, four young men–styling themselves the F4–essentially dominate the school, including the teachers. All Makino wants is to lead a quiet high school life . . . so naturally, she manages to let her strong sense of justice get her on the wrong side of F4’s leader, Domyouji Tsukasa. Just when Domyouji is making Makino’s life unbearable, another member of the F4, Hanazawa Rui, steps in like a knight in shining armor to save the day. Of course, Makino falls for him. And just when her life couldn’t get any more complicated, Domyouji decides that he actually likes this gutsy girl?! Will Makino ever be able to graduate smoothly or have a reasonable love life?

I found Hana Yori Dango to be quite an intense emotional roller coaster–and I loved it! The story is full of drama, with lots of complicated relationships and emotions. If it were American, it would be a cheesy soap, and I would hate it; the Japanese writers and actors pull it off beautifully. The story is based on the manga of the same name by Yoko Kamio, which I haven’t read yet. As for the actors, they were brilliant in their portrayal of the characters. Of course, the reason I watched this to begin with is that Shun Oguri was playing the part of Hanazawa Rui, which he did wonderfully–my favorite character in the story and the one character I cried for. But the actors for Tsukushi (Mao Inoue) and the rest were also well done. I think Jun Matsumoto in particular did a brilliant job with Domyouji, who is a difficult character to get across. Regarding the other F4 members, they seemed relatively colorless for most of the first season, but as Makino became more involved in the group, they fleshed out their characters a lot and really grew on me. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack–it fit well and was pleasant to listen to. All in all, I’d recommend Hana Yori Dango if you enjoy romantic dramas and don’t mind watching subtitles (or if your Japanese is just that good).

Note: This is a Japanese drama TV series. The first season comprises 9 episodes, the second, 11 episodes. The series is completed in a final movie special.

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