Posted in Drama Series, Review

CRISIS and its team of capables

Tired of watching a bunch of dumb inept cops/detectives in crime dramas? Then CRISIS will certainly please you.

The efficient team is the first thing i noticed and liked about this drama, and they never disappoint till the end. The newly assembled Special Investigation Squad consists of five members: team leader Yoshinaga Mitsunari (Tanaka Tetsushi), explosive expert Kashii Yusuke (Nomaguchi Toru), hacker Oyama Rei (Araki Yuko), and two ‘fighters’ Inami Akira (Oguri Shun) and Tamaru Saburo (Nishijima Hidetoshi). No words are mentioned about any of them being the top in their field, but they’re definitely adept, and together they become quite an invincible team. That doesn’t mean they never fail, but they hardly have any mission unaccomplished.

Another thing i liked about them is how no-nonsense their modus operandi is. Sharp, fast, and quick-witted, there is no time for goof. Every mission is dire there is no room for error. The tone is predominantly on the serious side, and despite the occasional dry humor, no character serves as a comic relief, which is much appreciated. There’s a female among the men, but she’s not there just for the pretty or becomes the weak link. Oyama is a kickass and in fact plays a major part as the informant; without her nimble fingers, the squad can’t accomplish much.

While Inami and Tamaru are on the spotlight more often than the other three as the duo stand on the frontline, each character has their time to shine. Unfortunately, CRISIS didn’t spend enough time on the backstory. Besides the fact that Inami was an ex-special forces soldier, Tamaru used to be in Public Security, and Yoshinaga is a divorcee, we didn’t know more about their life or at least the situation that brought them into the squad. The lack of insight prevented me from connecting with the characters and liking them beyond their job performance.

Such information is probably unnecessary since CRISIS isn’t a human drama, but sometimes i wanted to understand what was going on inside their heads when they had to go after someone they have an attachment with or protect someone not really worth protecting for. They’re carrying out the tasks since it’s their job but i was curious if they ever questioned their line of work after those instances. The couple of occasions where the squad went against the withdraw order proved that they’re not as cold as they seem and hinted at the possibility of them siding with their targets and eventually switching sides.

As in the case for shows from this genre, how interesting the tackled cases are plays a big part in boosting the drama’s watchability. Despite being a crime/police drama, CRISIS doesn’t deal with the usual — suicides, murders, serial killers — but with terrorism cases. I’m not sure under what police department the squad actually is (is it Public Security? Or Intel?) but their missions are mostly related to foiling the attacks and maintaining public order.

What sets those cases apart from the typical ones is the nature. The perps are good guys pushed over the edge that they’re planning the strike not to cause commotion but to retaliate against smarmy individual(s). The targets are the privileged and high-ranking officials who got off scot-free despite the crime they committed due to their rank and power. As a result, i kept finding myself seeing eye to eye with the offenders; i got their motives and shared their sentiments about the crooked society, injustice, and inequality. While i didn’t wish for them to execute their schemes successfully, i hated it when they’re nabbed when the real criminals are untouched by the law.

It is wrong to kill others; however, is it NOT wrong for the state to distort facts and cover up the sins of certain public officials?

This is something that must have crossed the squad’s mind. They come into contact with both the targets and masterminds during the missions and hear firsthand information as to why the former is targeted and the latter is out to seek revenge. There are moments when the squad is sympathizing with the perps — the most obvious ones are Inami telling them to try it again in the future — or is expected to since they were once on their side.

Cases in point:
1) Oyama was one of the conceptors of the underground movement which then became Heisei Restoration Army that is out to change the messed-up system and create a world with better social and economic equality. The two episodes spent on this rebellious youth group were also the more interesting ones.
2) Inami quit Special Forces after realizing the bitter fact that the soldiers were merely serving and protecting the state instead of the country and its people — that certain individuals deemed an inconvenience or threat to the state are unlawfully silenced. After a few missions, he should’ve realized that he’s basically doing the same thing in this squad. If not, the last two episodes spent on confronting his ex-comrade should’ve done the job.

A lot of elements fall under the grey zone, including the main characters. Not everyone is an outright clean person, like Tamaru who sent his ‘friend’ on a long undercover task because he covets the wife, or Superintendent Kaji (Nagatsuka Kyozo) who created Special Investigation Squad for a good cause but turned out shadier as the series progressed.

Unlike other crime dramas, there isn’t any main underlying mystery here, so the plot revolves around the day-to-day routine of the squad, consisting of 80% waiting around and 20% life-or-death situation. Heh. The downtime made my mind wander but the out and about kept my eyes peeled. The action scenes are quite impressive; not choreographed too neatly but packed with believable sequence and clever maneuvers.

The most notable one is the cult organization raid in episode 8, wherein the entire seven-minute three-storey brawl was filmed in one super long take. It had swift camera work and rigorous stunts, switching seamlessly between five fighters and the different storey without missing a beat. They even managed to add in blood stains in between frames! I could imagine the amount of preparation and rehearsal poured into achieving such a smoothly transitioning scene. I wonder how many takes it took? Hee.

All in all, CRISIS isn’t the most gripping crime show but is one with intriguing cases and competent police. The cast provided a great performance, directing was dynamic and coherent, writing was pretty solid too. It was never confusing although it felt as if the writer didn’t reveal all of his cards.

Character backgrounds aren’t always necessary, but here, they would help us understand the squad more — like what triggered each of them to seemingly cross over to the other side. I waited for this twist to happen all series long, and although we may never see what happens afterwards, i didn’t mind the open ending. There isn’t much more to the story anyway.

Rating: 3.5/5
Director: Kosuke Suzuki, Keiichiro Shiraki
Production: Fuji TV, 2017
Cast: Oguri Shun, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Tanaka Tetsushi, Nomaguchi Toru, Araki Yuko, Nagatsuka Kyozo, Iida Kisuke, Ishida Yuriko
Genre: Action, Crime, J-dorama (10 Episodes)



I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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