by Ender’s Girl
Kimura Takuya, Matsu Takako, Abe Hiroshi, Otsuka Nana, Kadono Takuzo, Katsumura Masanobu, Kohinata Fumiyo, Yashima Norito, Kodama Kiyoshi
In a Nutshell:
Self-taught public prosecutor Kuryu Kohei brings his unconventional crime-busting methods to the Josai district office, much to the consternation of the other prosecutors and law clerks.
(SpoilLert: Moderately spoilerish. No biggies.)
I’m trying to rack my brains for something about this drama that I hated, or disliked — even just a teensy bit. Nothing comes to mind. Even the semi-crummy production values (which would seem more at home in 1987 than in 2001, the year the show aired), “spazzy music” (to quote my cyber-friend, ai*), and odd, quirky editing style — they all just GROW ON YOU. And to think these are just the technical aspects of the drama.
The soundtrack is SO effin’ catchy! By the end of the first episode I was jerking and twitching along to the now-familiar music, a sly throwback to those old-school detective comedies a la The Pink Panther: jazzy and off-beat, with just a hint of sleaze. Brilliant!
At first the directorial style caught me off balance: the actors speak directly into the lens while the camera swoops in for a close-up, and the dialogue ping-pongs from one person to the next at such a frenetic pace. But the style of Hero actually lends itself well to the screwball, sometimes campy atmosphere. I soon realized how much it reminded me of Baz Luhrmann’s Velvet Curtain oeuvre (Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and even Australia), dubbed as such because of his penchant for the theatrical. But you know what? I loved every Luhrmann film to freaking BITS (and wish he were more prolific) and he remains to this day my favorite director ever. So going back to Hero, it’s all good, baby.
The great thing about Hero was that despite the drollery and high dramedy, the actors were so completely into their character. Hero scores the best ensemble acting I’ve seen in a drama, in a loooong time. That easy rapport among the cast was undeniably there, the comfortable system of trust and reliance so apparent in the way they’d riff their lines off each other, scripted or ad-libbed, any which way. It’s also quite obvious how much the actors simply enjoyed being with each other, and what they were doing — otherwise, this renzoku wouldn’t have had that intangible quality that makes an ensemble drama truly… transcendent.
It wasn’t just the acting (which, paradoxically, was so unselfconscious despite the screwball treatment), but also the way each character was written, that I found to be so endearing. It may have taken me a few episodes to warm up to ALL of them (maybe because of the way they all treated Kimura’s character at first, heh — more on that later), but at some point I realized how deeply absorbed I was in each of their own little storylines, the details of their own little interpersonal dramas, filled with their own little hang-ups and insecurities, foibles and follies. Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!