21 March 2015

N no Tame Ni Review

This was my second attempt at watching this drama. The first time, I didn’t like the opening because it was too dark for my liking at that time. The second time, I still didn’t like the opening but trudged on through because of all the year-end awards it got.  I mean there had to be something about that drama that got mass attention, right? Otherwise, I would have missed out on Kaseifu no Mita

N no Tame Ni was a pleasant surprise for how light it actually was contrary to its dark premise and dark undertone. I was happy that my ship never sank. More into the narrative, it wasn’t as brilliant as I had hoped but the interconnection between each scenes and the intricateness of each character’s resolve was tied neatly to one another making this an interesting watch that reeled me in one episode after another. I will definitely be keeping tabs on Kubota Masataka’s and Eikura Nana’s future projects.

One more thing! For those looking for an alternative ending, this review might give you a little hope. 

What was so bad about the opening? 

It wasn’t bad. It’s just…to each their own. Right from the start, the show declares its intent on keeping the audience in the dark and N no Tame Ni does exactly so for its entire run. Although I finished the drama and loved it, I still have an aversion to that aspect of mystery dramas.

It's really annoying seeing characters act a certain way because of their "dark past" but then I'll never get the full story until the last episode yet I'll be constantly teased with useless tidbits. This drama is excellent at teasing you with scenes that will lead you astray making it impossible to decipher the truth until the very last episode. So frustrating.

However, N no Tame ni didn't feel that annoying but they sure made you go around in circles guessing what actually happened. I mean a puzzle is a puzzle, but a drama, I like to believe, follows a journey of how characters experience the situations and develop from them. The drama capitalized on creating an almost ingenious puzzle but neglected the drama part; I felt like I was watching isolated developments: one in the hometown, the other one before the crime scene, and the last one 10 years after the crime scene. It's like I'm watching parts but I'm not getting the whole of it. I guess I just prefer watching my favourite characters mature and develop. 

What kept me at bay?

Once I made myself sit tight for the first few minutes of that opener, it was the potential romance that kept me checking in. Yes, I’m superficial like that.

Naruse Shinji, played by Kubota Masataka, jumping into the ocean after seeing Sugishita Nozomi sealed the deal for me. In that scene, Naruse-kun was so frustrated that it was so cute. 

Kubota Masataka as Naruse Shinji.  

I’ve never seen this guy before. Let’s be honest, his pictures aren’t very appealing. But man was he good looking in the show. When he smiled to himself after being complimented by Sugishita I was smiling like an idiot too. Although, I have to point out when he smiles too big, he has too many wrinkles-that-aren’t-wrinkles.

His quiet demeanour complimented his looks and I became really fond of his Naruse Shinji. When he’s there I feel the reassurance that everything will be alright. I really missed him for the episodes he wasn’t there and really hated it when he couldn’t get himself together. It’s weird how his absence in the drama benefited his character’s dependability; his absence made his dependability evermore present. Make sense?

Love the pen clicking.

Love Jdramas and how subtle they are in expressing love. A-ma-zing!

The ending.

[Major spoiler alert! I’ve kept the spoilers above brief so it doesn’t give much away but these ones below are the massive spoilers. So, do NOT scroll down if you have an intention of watching it.]


What the heck is with Noguishi Naoko (acted by Konishi Manami)?

I never quite understood Naoko’s logic, if she had any that is. If she had thought Sugishita was trying to seduce her husband why did she initiate all those encounters? She’s the person that invited Sugishita over for the Christmas Eve dinner, no? And then she desperately calls Nishizaki for help to take Sugishita away? Where’s the logic in that? Is Naoko’s "lack of logic" the logic behind why we should accept the trajectory of that night? Cause I’m not satisfied with that kind of logic.

I still can’t wrap my head around how Naoko could deal that deadly blow to her husband if she had “loved” him so much. I think the show tried to justify her reasons to be the same as Nishizaki who voluntarily, dumbly, and of zero necessity took the blame for the crime. Nishizaki didn’t want Naoko to be labeled as a murderer; Naoko didn’t want her husband to be a murderer. An added factor was that Naoko was able to free her husband from his sufferings while Nishizaki could atone for his sins of leaving his mother to die. So both Nishizaki and Naoko killed their loved ones, the former lived bearing his sins while the later died but still loving. Complicated mess.

Poor Sugishita.

She got dragged into this mess when she technically had nothing to do with the dysfunctional couple and yet became the prime suspect. She also didn’t have anything to do with the fire fifteen years ago. She thought she had shared a crime with her ultimate love but turns out she couldn’t even be considered a bystander. What the heck? Our protagonist essentially had no fault in any of the crimes. Not even Naruse. I mean, especially not Naruse. 

Great show, really; set up the protagonists being involved in two crimes but in reality have zilch liability for the crimes. What did I watch? 

 The cancer (highlight to see).

I should have known you would betray me when the father said their family had a tendency to die early. Even though he stressed that short life expectancy was a characteristic of the men in the family, I should have known it would apply to females as well. It did feel unnerving when Sugishita stuffed her refrigerator with all that prepared food but I didn't think it foreshadowed a health issue… And I should have known it when Naruse stated one of his life goals was to live longer than the one he marries. Seriously, poor Sugishita. But! If that's the case then can I assume they're married? It's almost guaranteed that Naruse will outlive Sugishita. Since Sugishita completed her life goal, why can't Naruse's goal be achieved too? Right? Right. 

If I could broaden my perspectives and understand that her cancer, being her ultimate problem, illustrates her unending reliance on Naruse because she chose to tell him over everyone else, I would appreciate this course of narrative much more. Like Sugishita's definition of ultimate love is to share the crime, I would justify and broaden that definition to sharing the pain and she chose to share the pain with Naruse, her ultimate love. 

As my resolve, I’m just going to imagine that she lived to be like her father who well surpassed the age of 50 because of her a-ma-zing health and revolutionary medical discovery. Plus, her food hereon will be all prepared by Naruse, so obviously her cancer will subside and fail to relapse. Obviously.  

Last Comments

Despite the fact that I had an aversion to these types of narratives, I was still glued to the screen.

I like Naruse more than Sugishite but I can't deny how captivating her character was: her strength and optimism wasn't overdone; her weaknesses were obvious; combined, they made her genuine. And I loved her idea of playing shogi to hitch a rich guy and loved it even more after the technique was actually employed.

P.S. If the writer had actually foreshadowed the ending as how I predicted the open-ending meant, then I might just love this drama even more.