Season One(2008) and Season Two(2010), Broadcast Network TBS
When I first stumbled across this J-Drama on DA’s DramaWiki, the synopsis interested me quite a lot with it’s brain+action setting. However for a long time it lay forgotten on the bookmarks pages. I got back to it only recently and boy am I glad that I did! This show was almost everything I had hoped for with a dash of more.
The basic premise is this: Takagi Fujimaru(Miura Haruma) is a high school student who is also a genius hacker- Falcon- unbeknownst to many. Certain members of Japan’s Public Safety Special Third unit, code name THIRD-i, however, are aware of his abilities courtesy of his previous arrest records for hacking into the Third-i itself where his father, Takagi Ryonosuke(Tanaka Tetsushi) is a member.
DeathNote’s premise comes to mind. But the similarity ends here. Raito is a bored borderline to absolute psychopath who ends up getting both his father and his sister killed. Fujimaru on the other hand is generally a good son albeit at ideological odds with his father’s negligent behavior towards home in favour of work. He is also a devoted (be ready to go kyaa~) brother to the cute Haruka-chan(Kawashima Umika).
(Also, while BM is good, DN is insanely awesome and any comparison to DN would be unfair to the show)
The first season deals with a biological terrorist attack involving a deadly virus Bloody X and the second season deals with a nuclear weapon threat.
The cast is entirely brilliant with little exception. The actors are convincing and at ease with their characters. The police and the security force behave realistically and are not given to emo melodrama like some shows(read American TV-shows with weepy cops- Debra, Beckett, Booth et al). At a 11+9 episode pace, the show is crisp and not given to long melodramatic subplots of unrealistic relationships between random characters. The character interactions are true to life- subtle but touching. Fujimaru and Haruka’s sibling banter is natural, utterly cute and something that most people can relate to. Sato Takeru as Fujimaru’s best friend(or more? *wink wink*) Otoya Kujo (and later a brilliant nuclear engg. student) is an amazing actor as ever and their on-screen friendship is a cute reminder of their off-screen superfriendship.
On the topic of acting, it was only mid-way through the first episode that I realized I had seen Miura somewhere before. By the end of the episode I was fairly certain about where I had seen him, only I had to look it up becasue I was in denial. Yes, for those who have had the eh..misfortune(*desperately looking for a stronger word*) to watch Koizora, that’s “Captain Peroxide” from the angst ridden movie. From initial shock my feelings grew to abundant respect- Koizora wasn’t a terrible movie just for the bizarro plot; it was the generously aided by the atrocious acting. Far from being realistic, the characters bordered on loud theatrical mannerisms(remember the blackboard scene and the incessant outbursts of hormonal rage?) Frankly, it was painful to watch- and sometimes, inappropriately funny.
In contrast, Miura-kun’s acting in Bloody Monday is not just easy and realistic but also completely role appropriate. Talk about evolution!
On the subject of technical nuances, while I’m the farthest thing from a hacker with only basic knowledge of random computer programs, and therefore can not in any way attest to the authenticity of the hacking methods shown employed, the execution is not (as is often possible in TV-shows) a botched attempt. Every hacking detail is dealt convincingly and Miura manages to look like he knows what he’s doing. Similarly other technical aspects and dialogues seem well-researched- the national threat doesn’t seem childish and is detailed and terrifying enough to put you on the edge. Kudos to both the writing staff and the actors.
The suspense: Is like the cardiograph reading of an a mid level runner after a semi-vigorous round of practice. It goes up and down and keeps you guessing and 5/10 times you’ll be wrong with the first assumption. But that’s what makes the show all the more gripping. The suspense factor is not much forced or overly outrageous- it follows Aristotle’s dramatic rule of causal reasoning.
My favorite characters:
Besides Fujimaru, Otoya and Haruka, Fujii Mina as Fujimaru’s and Otoya’s classmate and friend Asada Aoi is a welcome source of warm fuzziness and light moments. -SPOILER ALERT- And tragically heartbreaking in season two.
Matsushige Yutaka as Kanou-san, a member of the Third-i, is hands down the best actor and despite his brazen looks, has a certain endearing charm about him.
Ashina Sei as Minami Kaoru is stunningly beautiful and stoically captivating- which is admittedly a bit unrealistic for a cop, but who wants real when unreal is such an eye-candy?
Without giving away the plot, Kichise Michiko as Orihara Maya is undeniably the best of the group of terrorists. What makes me fall head over heels for her even more is the faint resemblance to Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop- mercenary, individualistic and gorgeous with a stellar sense of fashion down to the way the character grows and develops in the course of the show.
Narimiya Hirkoi as J delivers a decent performance and while he isn’t by far my favorite- gets points for improvement. At the very least his acting here is endlessly better as compared to his lack of motor control in the sorry excuse for a movie- The Last Quartet, which not just killed Yazawa Ai’s well-written/drawn manga but also walked all over it’s grave with the lame acting (Hyde might be a decent singer, but his acting skills are, ahem- absconding).
The Soundtrack: By Flumpool, S1- Hikari no Hashi/ S2- Zanzou- is lyrics-appropriate and addictive and well timed in the duration of the show. All in all it adds to the poignancy of a scene instead of drowning it out. Recommended!!
Warning(With vague Spoilers)
The show can get dramatically intense and heartrendingly tragic at times. What’s one of the good things about the show is also one of the painful things- it’s realistic at the basic level. And in reality people die. The show does not deny it- not everyone can be saved, however innocent. Bad guys do get away. On the bright side, unlike shows that build on angst and self-torture, Bloody Monday, like most Japanese shows, is not about the death and mayhem. It’s about hope and continuity of life(damn, I sound like my classics teacher).
Even in the worst of circumstances, it is not easy to wish death upon people. Polic officers are good shots, but they flinch when they shoot. They don’t act like babies about it, but sometimes, they do cry. And a high school kid can not pull the trigger on his friend even if she ruined his family. That’s just life.
Everything said, the show is not without plot-holes and absurdities.
Glitches: SPOILER ALERT
Why’re the police/Third-i people so darn incompetent and ever-dependent on the brains of a 16-year old kid? I mean, how was Japan surviving without Fujimaru? Ah well, as long as I can drool at his unblemished face and the godly teen-smile….off-topic alert!! (-__-)
Did the virus hit Hide first because he was not very pretty? Or was it because it knew Anzai was K and therefore should not be killed before the season finale? o_O
How did Orihara manage to put the virus on her lips and go around kissing people to death without swallowing some herself? Ninja training much?
Why didn’t Takagi-senior just tell Takagi-junior about what he was upto? Why so hush-hush, man?
Alright, major confusion here: If J knew who K was- and there’s no evidence to the contrary, how come Takagi senior was dragging Anzai around in handcuffs and had her locked up in a car just outside of where he was meeting J? Odd. @_@
OOC(Out Of Character) dumbness: If Takagi senior knew that Anzai was K and was going to shoot her anyway why make a ceremony out of it and haul her ass to a church to do it?
Why would Fujimaru NOT kill Anzaki after she just killed his dad?
So, finally J, the ruthless terrorist, just randomly decided to not let Japan blow up because it pissed him off that his little sister had one-upped him. Way to go, brat.
Unless it was a symbolic imagery, why was Anzai living in an elaborate lunatic mansion with creepers surrounding it, playing Othello with herself? Does Japan actually have fancy white lockups for crazy people? I’d want to live there. (o.o)
If J was pretending the whole time, was the bit-character security guy in on it? If not, how come his revolver had no bullets in it? Hopefully that’s not a general statement on the condition of ammunition for security.
Why didn’t Hibiki just tell Fujimaru the truth about the Professor and herself instead of acting all cryptic and beating him up? Poor kid, he should get free self-defense classes. Or learn to use the laptop as a weapon- literally.
Does no one report attempted rape in Japan? This yaoi-manga fashion seems more and more realistic. Kirishima walks in and sees Kurano all disheveled and looks away like he had just walked in on two people making out. (Random parallel: Both central villains in the two seasons- K and Kurano, ah! they’re the same alphabets too, hmm… anyway, so both of them get molested by weird men wearing specs, and both of them are “Sensei”. Creepy connection?)
Not a glitch but: Kano-san gets electrocuted in the Orihara fashion- they treat a confirmed terrorist and a possible traitor(a member, still) equally. I SO don’t wanna get caught doing illegal stuff in Japan. >__>
So, what’s with the “Orihara Maya” name-mystery? Geez, clear it up before you end the show!! Another reason for a third season.
And finally, why the hell would Fujimaru want the crazed lunatic Kurono Risa to live after she’s thoughtlessly and pointlessly killed off one of his best friends? And even if she lived then, doesn’t she qualify for a capital punishment? o.O
Why has J gone all wishy-washy, and what’s with the bogus “kubo” conclusion? S1 he didn’t even like Anzai, from what I could tell. He left her to get killed. Now he suddenly grows a brother complex? :/
Some of the bad can be classified as ugly, I guess, but I’m too tired to sort that out.
Bloody Monday is fast-paced, action packed with a wide range of characters- gunslingers, hackers, and genius evil masterminds, patriotic cops- all packed into one show which is at the same time also a human-drama. There are certain issues owing perhaps to the fact that none of the creators would be as intelligent as Fujimaru. But the bad and the ugly can be otherwise explained(explanations are welcome, I’m too dang tired to cook anything up) or overlooked in favor of decent acting and crazy good looks swarming the screen.
In any case if you’re a fan of J-Dramas, good acting and a fairly logical compact plot, this show should make it to your list. As a Bonus it offers two of the prettiest and fairly talented faces of Japan and an equally good (and pretty) cast of supporting actors.
Technicality/Details/Plot Intricacies: 7
Entertainment Value: 8
Cuteness Factor: 10
*Hoping for a third season and ordering the manga*
*miura haruma and sato takeru wallpaper & video rampage*
Till the next show!