Posted tagged ‘mr. brain’

Drama Review: Mr. Brain (TBS, 2009)

October 30, 2009

(Neuro)Science Fiction

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Ayase Haruka, Mizushima Hiro, Kagawa Teruyuki, and a blinding array of Japanese TV stars! stars! and more stars!!!

In a Nutshell:
The Institute of Police Science’s resident forensic eccentric Tsukumo Ryusuke uses his unique nose (and brain) for detective work to help crack the most perplexing (and sensational!) crimes in Japan.

(SpoilLert: Veryyyy…)

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I Come with the BRAIN!!!

Police procedurals can be a great source of edutainment — or entertainment with some educational or instructive value — so long as you don’t expect well-rounded character development, thematic complexity, and profound philosophical insights about Life, lol. The upside of police procedurals is that their episodic nature requires little emotional investment in the main characters, be they homicide detectives, forensic investigators, counter-terrorism operatives, or what have you. After all, the crime-solving process is the Main Attraction here, and the human characters are just, well, tools of the trade. Hence, police procedurals are considered howdunits as much as whodunits. But even the best police procedurals have inherent plot loopholes and unrealistically prompt (and conclusive) evidence recovery/analysis and case resolution. Many procedurals suffer from lazy writing, using slapdash deduction and expedient deus ex machina revelations/confessions to tie up the elaborately laid-out, *cough* convoluted *cough* plots — all in just one episode! Wow! BUT whatever lapses in content or credibility are made up for in STYLE. Procedurals these days don’t stint on production design and tend to overcapitalize on sleek, well-stocked designer labs, futuristic techie gadgetry, and the inordinate use of CGI just to glam up police work and forensics — when in reality these professions are probably more toil and drudgery than anything else, lol. Well, that’s television magic and escapism for ya.

As a police procedural, Mr. Brain is — well, really just that, a police procedural. Typically slick and soulless, yes, but also flashy and splashy, snazzy, pizzazz-y, and all that jazz-y. Some cases are more satisfying than others, and overall the drama is an entertaining (if mindless) watch. You’ll probably fuhgeddabout each case once the end credits start rolling (lol), but no worries, you won’t be missing them at all.

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“They call me MISTER Brain!!!” (with deepest apologies to Sidney Poitier)

When news first broke that Mr. Brain was in production, my eyebrows shot past my hairline. Holy hippocampus, Batman! Kimura as a science whiz? A walkin’ talkin’ noggin? Fo’ realz? Heh heh. Now, why did I consider it a stretch of the imagination for Kimura to play an intellectual? Maybe it’s because I’m just so used to seeing him in average-joe roles, characters who are talented in other ways (e.g. sports, music, etc.) but always of normal intelligence. (I’m trying to sift through the jumble of Kimura dramas I’ve seen, and I can’t recall him playing someone so exceptionally smart; the closest he ever got was his character on A Million Stars Falling from the Sky, a person gifted with a photographic memory.) But I was truly hoping his latest turn as a crime-busting brainiac would be a well-written one, and not some 2-D caricature laden with all the annoying egghead stereotypes.

The prologue of Episode 1 lays the groundwork for his character: good-hearted gigolo Tsukumo Ryusuke meets a freak accident (fortuitous or not? you be the judge) that somehow re-wires his brain and renders his post-surgery self exceptionally bright, but also with a radically altered personality. As the titular Mr. Brain, Tsukumo Ryusuke feels like a hybrid of a few familiar faces in Western police procedurals, each one with his unique brand of “requisite quirkiness.” Tsukumo is 20% Adrian Monk of Monk (The Benign Crackpot), 20% Charlie Crews of Life (The Nonconformist with a Fruit Fixation), 20% Gil Grissom of C.S.I. (The Science Geek)… and 40% Giddy Schoolboy, all skips and giggles and childish innocence. (It’s ironic that for someone who used to dispense sexual favors for a living, Tsukumo’s post-op self is so… neuter, the freak accident having suppressed his sexual urges.) I was still very much entertained for the most part, and Kimura did manage to keep his performance whimsically funny at times… But ICONIC? Uh-uh. Kuryu (Hero) was iconic. Halu (Pride) was iconic. Sena (Long Vacation) was iconic. But Mr. Brain? Nopee. Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

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