[After the long elaborated post on Kazoku Game‘s plot points, what follows is my final verbose comments on the drama. Bear in mind that everything listed below is opined the way i see and comprehend it. Proceed at your own risk xp]
Some elements of this drama are giving me the aura of Quiz Show 2 with Yuudai’s troubled past (the bloody hand) and ‘split personality’ (perky when around people, sulky and conflicted when alone), also that of Maou with the takeover of other’s name and identity and self-sacrifice towards consummation of an ultimate goal. These enigmas keep us secondguessing what his real motive is. He repeatedly and pointedly says that he wants to break/crush them, but I cannot see him in bad light. He is mean yet affectionate, his words are piercing and spiting yet so spot on. It’s the truth that’s why it hurts.
Another point that sensei’s particularly fixated on is the Numatas’ hypocrisy. He finds it exciting to peel each character’s true face because the image people have of them is not the true representation of their intrinsic selves. Well, of course it would be different because once we face people, we’re consciously and designedly projecting/creating a certain image we’d like others to see/have of us, whether to fit in, or be acceptable, or be liked. Our unfeigned selves is the us when (we think) no one’s around or giving a damn to what we are or we’re doing. Because, hey, “we see two sides of people: what we want to see and what they show us. We hardly see who they really are.” (author unknown)
So, sensei strives to bring this to everyone’s attention. This is reality, this is what’s happened. Through eccentric methods he slaps them hard so they wake up, open their eyes, and admit that their family is dysfunctional to the point that they seem more like strangers living under the same roof. Problems won’t disappear if untended, time won’t solve anything if no action is taken, and bonds doesn’t exist naturally unless nurtured. Most importantly, nothing will change if uninitiated.
It took them forever to realize this, even after repeated attempts on sensei’s part who blatantly and emotionally told them so. He’s pushing them to the limit reaching breakdown but since no one’s ever learned anything or changed to save the sinking boat, they crumble following its own course. I get that. You can renovate or refurbish the house, however if the foundation is flimsy, there’s no way but to demolish the whole building and start from scratch again. Or leave it in rubbles and seek new path because I seriously thought the Numatas is a such helpless case there’s no chance of rebound for them.
Zooming out, we discover that everything is sensei’s doing. He schemes the gameplan and plots each ploy along the way. Whenever we think the characters, mostly Shinichi, get the upper hand, it’s soon revealed that he masterminds that too. They didn’t outsmart him, it’s him who chose which secret to leak and in turn let them get a hold of that piece of information. Dang!
My head might be twirling but the show answers pretty much any question it throws at us viewers: why Tago Yuudai became home tutor, why he embodies his nemesis’ devious legacy, the intent behind what he did to the Numatas, and whom he really killed. Like what Asuka says: he was testing them, to see what they would do if such-and-such situation occurs, and what choice they would make. Thus the intriguing “ii nee~” pet word breathed by sensei every time they behave as figured. This is my hunch judging from the smirk and satisfied look accompanying the catchword above.
What I like about this drama is that every main character has comparatively equal portion and significance to the whole story. Shige has less and less screentime once the focus shifts aways from him, but still he’s doing the best he can to change himself and the people around him as well. It’s also refreshing to see non-stock portrayal of parents that isn’t wise or patient or an ideal figure. Transgressors don’t appear overnight, they are byproducts created by sick society and family over time – as reasoned out and proved by sensei. Family is every social member’s first fortress as well as the last resort one turns to. Growing up deprived of these essentials causes cracks in characterization.
Am I overanalyzing things? I guess I am… Enough with this amateurish dissection! Onto the next topic~
Anyway, not to be overlooked, of course, is the acting department. I daresay every single character was personified convincingly, especially the younger ones like Shige (always thought he’s a grader, not a junior-high-schooler due to his
height appearance) and his peers, Shinichi, even Sanada. However, there are still times when I wish they pushed the act further, emoted a bit more – or less – especially during angst scenes. That being said, for the most part they played out well. So kudos for that =)
Thematically, Kazoku Game’s setup is simple, but the writing is… wew. It isn’t an easy watch, neither is it a family drama whose content is kids-friendly, yet it’s something many families would find relatable. The topics undressed and issues confronted are the ones highly likely encountered in real life setting there are times when I feel that sensei’s jeer imbues through the screen and pokes fun at me. Which also means a lot of lessons are learned and taken home by the end of the series. Kazoku Game presents a riveting, hypercoaster-y journey through this psychological, mind-boggling game.
If anything, I feel that the revelations in the last two episodes were kinda lazy with Mizukami Sara spilling every bean out. The blow may hit Shinichi hard, but to the rest who have no clear picture of the whole Sanada-Yoshimoto’s backstory, the impact shouldn’t’ve been that profound. Yet, everyone was shell-shocked at sensei’s final assessment. The denoument seemed easy and too-good-to-be-true; the turnaround was rather quick and drastic too, though wasn’t unbelievable. Regardless, the finale is a heartwarming episode whereas preceding installments put my heart and emotion all over the place.
Episode 9’s phone call in the woods brought me to tears and episode 10’s face-off in that very woods got me tearful.
“Anta no yarikata wa machigatteru! Machigattendayo!! […] Zenbu anata no sei nandayo! Anta no sei de, ie wo ushinatta. Anta no sei de, ore wa koukou wo yameru koto ni natta. Anta no sei de, kazoku ga kowareta. Anta no sei de, kazoku ni… kizuna ga umareta. Arigatou gozaimashita!”
“Yoshimoto Kouya.* Akui no taigen-sha to shite seito to mukiau. Zutto, soushite ikite kita. Kedo kyou, hisashiburi ni waratta. Tago Yuudai to shite, kokoro kara waratta.”**
How can this exchange NOT moved you? EVEN THEN the production team chose to put that equivocal response to Shinichi’s burning question as sensei’s parting word. Can’t end the series on a happy note, can you?
Director: Sato Yuichi
Production: FujiTV, 2013
Cast: Sakurai Sho, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Uragami Seishuu, Itao Itsuji, Suzuki Honami, Kutsuna Shiori, Oshinari Shugo, Yoshii Hajime, Kitahara Rie
Genre: Family, Mystery, Psychological-drama, J-dorama (10 Episodes)
~stills captured from the video uploaded at plotbox~
*) Why did he identify himself as Yoshimoto Kouya, even here? *puzzled* Well, i bet he’ll continue living as him and tutoring other families, so yeah…
**) That was a weak smile, but still one legit moving smile.
Fuller excerpt (in Japanese) of the final showdown quoted above can be found here