Saturday, March 23, 2013

JDrama Review: Bloody Monday

*Note: This review will be rife with spoilers as the show is built on plot twists*

The Gist: When Japan is threatened with the release of a deadly, contagious virus, anti-terrorism unit Third-I calls in skilled hacker Falcon to help catch those responsible and stop the attack. Falcon is actually Takagi Fujimaru (Miura Haruma), a high school student and son of one of Third-I's members. When his father is accused of being part of the terrorism group, things get personal for Takagi as he tries to protect his sister, a weak link the terrorists are happy to exploit. Flanked by overly supportive friends at school, Takagi is called up again and again as the terrorists start to release the virus into Tokyo in preparations for their ultimate attack: Bloody Monday.


1. The Action

The whole reason to watch a drama like this is to enjoy the suspense and the quick pacing. The structure of the show harkens other crime show formats, making me think of CSI or Criminal Minds. The threat is looming from the beginning and with the constant reveals, every episode keeps the tension running high. There's never a dull moment for Blood Monday and each moment builds smartly on the one before it. The plot keeps you wondering what's going to happen next, so I watched the show pretty quickly, luckily it's not that long.


While the villain in this drama is really every changing, Narimiya Hiroki's J was particularly striking. Many of the others were kind of difficult to understand, but I thought J was developed nicely with an interesting charisma. I like that the ending left a little wiggle room for J. Really, J was the only person who seemed to win at all at the end of the show and I'm ok about it.


1. The Friends

I really wanted Takagi's friends to be more involved. Otoya (Sato Takeru) helped out with the teacher/terrorist, but until about episode 7, Takagi's pretty much dealing exclusively with agents and terrorists. I thought when we got to the episode when they were all held hostage at the school, that was one of the best episodes and it got much better after that. Also, Hide's (Hisano Masahiro)death was strong and Anzai's (Tokunaga Eri) betrayal, then death were also poignant, but I thought they would have been more striking if they had been more consistently involved. I also felt that Aoi (Fujii Mina) was underused. So ultimately, I would have like to see more of all of them. That said, I thought this role was one of the best I'd seen for Sato, much better than Mei-chan.

2. Plot Twists

Ok, Bloody Monday seemed to have a quote of plot twists it was trying to fill. While that keeps the story very interesting, when there's a plot twist an episode, you start to expect them and not trust anything, which I think takes some of the punch out of the later episodes. For instance, the leader being killed by Maya (Kichise Michiko) and K's identity being revealed were not as shocking as say Hosho's (Katase Nana) betrayal because we weren't really expecting it yet. So really the interest of the plot twists dulled just as they should have been more shocking. Still, the show is by no means predictable.


1. The Fundamental Problem

I don't know if this is an over arching issue or if this is just me, but I really wanted to see some widespread panic. I think that if the show had opened with a terrorist attack rather than leading up to one, the tensions would have been better because I knew the terrorists wouldn't succeed. Watching eleven episodes of a show building up to Bloody Monday, I just wanted to see some damn Bloody Monday and I felt that the level of containment that Third-I was able to keep on the situation was kind of boring. The show did it's best, killing off some people and infecting key characters, but you never get to see the massive Bloody Monday. Of course, I might just be a little vindictive. It's sort of a problem when you kind of want your protagonists to lose for the sake of entertainment.

2. Miura

While I love Miura as an actor and he was generally a good fit for the role, I felt you could really see his limits as an actor in this show. Takagi needs to have pretty intense emotional scenes over and over and while I applaud the attempt, opening your eyes wide every episode doesn't convey a real meaning of shock and terror. I love Miura, but I think someone else may have been able to add a bit more depth to the character.


So... Bloody Monday is all about action and it's definitely a well thought out story with a bunch of plot twists, but the story lags a lot in the middle. When your main guy's skill is hacking, his key scenes are a little boring, consisting of watching him hammer away on a computer and a poorly animated falcon. I thought some character development would have helped a lot, so we cared more about too many characters. Also, you never really get to see Bloody Monday, which is good for our protagonists and kind of sad for the viewer.

Final Grade: C-

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