I’m back! I realize I haven’t posted a regular update in quite a while (excluding my recent feminist rant), so I’m attempting to get back into my normal type of blogging by giving a short review of the Japanese drama Piece. I have very conflicting emotions on this drama, so please bare with me. Also, this review will contain spoilers, so if you’ve not watched it, beware!
The plot of this drama seems a bit confusing at first, but really isn’t as the episodes progress. Basically, a girl named Mizuho Suga, played by Tsubasa Honda, is a university student who suddenly gets a call from her friend saying someone from their high school, Origuchi Haruka, has died. While at the funeral, Suga is confronted by the mother of the deceased girl, and discovers that Haruka had fabricated a friendship between the two of them. Suga is intrigued, and decides to help Haruka’s mother find out more about her dead child, especially the mystery surrounding who Haruka’s boyfriend was in high school, and why she got an abortion at such a young age. While Suga attempts to uncover more about this mysterious past, she begins to remember her own high school days, and the people she spent her time with, most notably Narumi Hikaru, played by Nakayama Yuma.
The first few episodes of this drama seems to be an exploration of human character, and at first focuses on Narumi, who is a fascinating character. Yuma plays a charismatic playboy who harbors a much darker past. Raised in isolation by a house-keeper, monitored at all times by his psychotic mother who uses his life as a case study in her psychology experiments, and constantly flipping between the polar extremes of violent anger, hostility, gentle depth, and charismatic sarcasm, Narumi is one of the most layered and interesting characters I’ve seen in quite a while, and I loved the relationship between Suga and Narumi in the first few episodes. Both of them are flawed characters, but they seemed to complement each other. Narumi forced Suga to come out of her cold disinterested world, but Suga forced Narumi to confront his inner problems and darkness.
As the drama progresses, we find out he has a brother, who looks exactly like (and is played by the same actor) Narumi. This character is the less interesting, meek and timid version of Narumi, who paints but occasionally breaks and becomes violent. We eventually find out that this brother is the boy who was dating Haruka. However, as hinted in the very first episode, it was not Haruka who got the abortion, it was Suga’s friend, the cheerful Remi. This revelation comes as absolutely no shock to any of the viewers, but it seems to be a chance for the two main characters, Narumi and Suga, to reconnect their past flame.
However, like so many Japanese dramas, the romance that was so beautifully portrayed in the first few episodes is ignored throughout the later ones. What began as a layered portrayal of human emotions quickly turns into badly acted sobbing and a very vague, unresolved ending. There is a hint that Narumi and Suga may end up together at the end, but it seems to be an attachment wholly on Suga’s part, rather than Narumi’s, which ignores all the other hints the drama dropped throughout the beginning episodes that she had affected him just as he had affected her.
I think what annoys me so much about this drama is just how much POTENTIAL it started out with. After watching the first episode I was ridiculously excited for the next one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been so impatient for a Japanese drama in about a year. The first few episodes were fascinating, dark, romantic, and had an awesome soundtrack. This song, by Nakayama Yuma, called Piece (shocking, I know, what a great original title), is actually really quite good, and echoed a lot of the intense feelings of the first few episodes!
Honda Tsubasa was really bad at acting, however her character was winning enough to make up for the actor’s deficiencies. On the other hand, Nakayama Yuma was so good at portraying his character’s depths that despite my own age difference with him, I was melting every time he showed up on screen.
Let’s face it, the guy is pretty frikkin sexy. And he’s legal. Just. He’s just barely legal, but as long as the law is fine with it, so am I. I’m not generally a fan of Johnny’s boys who get inserted into dramas just for the idol name, however I am officially a fan of Yuma’s now. His performance was spectacular through to the end. He managed to show the differences between Narumi and his brother’s character adeptly, and he was so insanely charismatic that I kept rewatching some of his early scenes. The first few episodes of this drama are some of my favorite episodes ever, which is why I’m so disappointed at the failure of the last ones.
However, what originally was a romantic thriller quickly turned into a badly acted sob-fest (from the rest of the characters), which ignored Narumi for episodes and attempted to focus on this ‘epic mystery’ which I had guessed within the first few episodes. Honda Tsubasa’s character quickly went from winning to just plain boring and, frankly, annoying.
Her ‘revelation’ that she was in love with Narumi, had it been acted by a good actress, could have been spectacular, however, because of Tsubasa’s own deficiencies, quickly escalated into ‘pathetic’ territory, and she became borderline obtrusive when it came to finding out about Narumi’s family history. Let’s face it, while Tsubasa is a very pretty girl, she does not have the acting chops for any sort of real emotional depth. Quite a few of the times she was attempting to act ‘intense’, she just ended up looking wild-eyed and crazy, like a cyborg trying REALLY hard to feel something but just being incapable of doing it.
Overall, therefore, I’m extremely disappointed by this drama. What started out so awesome turned into a boring snooze fest that didn’t use it’s best character (Narumi) as well as it could have, and focused on stupid trivial plot points instead. I wish they had kept with the vibe of the first few episodes, because those were truly spectacular. But, they didn’t, and instead left us with a vague unromantic ending that left me at least banging my head on my desk so hard I almost managed to knock all memory of this disappointing drama out of my brain.
I am now going to go look at pictures of Nakayama Yuma and watch some fanvideos of the first few episodes, when the drama was awesome. If you guys have similar feelings to me, here’s some pictures that might make you happy.
And if you’re interested in some fanvids… these are really good. Let’s console ourselves with some of the pretty!!
Anyways guys, lemme know what you think. Did you like this drama? Did you hate it? Did you like the ending that I despised so much!? Comments are truly loved!!