KAZOKU GAME is for real

Since I heard that Sakurai Sho was taking on KAZOKU GAME, and after checking the plot, I’ve always wondered why the Keio boy and News Zero caster would accept this role. I’m not saying he should do squeaky clean roles to fit his image (THE QUIZ SHOW was not exactly along those lines either) but the premise of the drama is such a touchy topic in Japan, where school bullying is such a big problem.





But after watching the first episode, I can only guess why Sho would do this drama and among Arashi or even Japan’s young actors,  he would be the best choice to tackle such a role. Why? Because, Keio or not, he finished school and would know what it’s like to be in that environment. Also, he has credibility as a newscaster so bringing up an issue like this through a drama would make people sit up and pay attention. Hopefully. And such an effort is commendable, in the same way that Matsumoto Jun taking on the role of Bito in SMILE is equally commendable, but that is for another post.

Working in the news business, it’s horrifying to read news about school bullying cases, not only in Japan or South Korea, or Asia, but elsewhere. We’ve all been through or are going through school so we know what it’s like to be in an age when all we wanted was to belong. And when we start to attract unwanted attention, when all we want is to blend in with the wallpaper.

Why are some students bullied more than others? Why do people bully anyway? And what constitutes bullying? Why do teachers and fellow students look the other way and pretend nothing is happening? Why are families scared to bring this up? Why is the victim scared to speak up? KAZOKU GAME–the episodes so far–has been providing answers to these questions without being preachy. It’s not KARATE KID for sure. Sho’s Yoshimoto Kouya is an eccentric character with his own dark past, that obviously will be unraveled as the story progresses. And that’s what makes it interesting. We are often left to wonder what he will do next, and at the same time reflect on whether the scenes we are watching onscreen look familiar because we have heard or read about them before, or because we have witnessed them ourselves in real life.

I once tried to do a special report on this in Japan and spoke with two families whose kids were victims of school bullying. They were not the extreme kind, because no one wanted to come out and talk about the issue. I only found them because I was recommended by friends, and even then, they were wary talking about the incidents. It was also difficult asking questions because one has to respect other people’s personal space and I ended up scrapping the whole report and writing about something else instead.

Bullying is a real problem, not only in school and in Japan, but in society in general. KAZOKU GAME is for real. Props to Sho-kun for taking on this role.

And as Kouya would say at the breakfast table, “okasan, where’s my breakfast?” And tea, please, YELLOW, onegaishimasu.

Copyright © theasianpopculturist. Blogging since 2001. All rights reserved.


9 thoughts on “KAZOKU GAME is for real

  1. I’m loving this series too! I don’t know if it’s my Sho bias or what but I do think he’s up to the task. I’m not the number one fan of his acting but since his first few ones, he has improved a lot (Karute, Blackboard), so it’s all good.
    I also love the unpredictability of Yoshimoto: he’s equal parts scary and silly (minsan pa-cute!). One minute he’s your ally and the next minute he seems to side with the enemy.
    I’m looking forward to how the rest of the story unfolds.

    side question: I never got to finish Smile. Does it get better in the end?


    • SMILE ended happily. he got out of prison. but I had to admit that I skipped so many episodes. it was just painful to watch. in the same way I also skipped the middle part of BAMBINO coz it was painful to watch. lol


      • the exercise scene was very screencappable hahaha! ’twas creepy but that smile was contagious!
        The movie version is also now out for download. I’m getting it but reserving it for after the series. I don’t really want to watch Sho’s version while comparing it to the older one.

        I watched every bit of Bambino! I love the cooking portion and i like Sato Ryota so I didn’t really hate him even if he was bullying Jun. I think I’ll watch SMILE and try not to get too carried away with the sad theme. 🙂 maybe my main beef with it was that Oguri Shun portrayed such a scary character fresh out of his Rui role from HYD. Guess that’s a testament to his versatility though.


  2. I got hooked in this drama more than I got hooked on TQS. Yankumi and even Onizuka can’t compare to Yoshimoto’s teaching. He’s scary, creepy and dorky all rolled into one. That part when he does the morning exercise thing is kinda creepy for me though >_< I want to watch the movie for comparison's sake though =P

    On the topic of bullying, yeah… It's pretty much of a controversial issue in Japan to the point that even those in the school board/admin can't even fathom why bullying reached to that extent (I mean, to the point na naging suicidal na yung student? Haller?).

    Oh, nag-skip din ako ng bongga sa SMILE and Bambino 😛 Lolz!!!


    • that part when he’s exercising is my fave scene from episode 2. lol does that make me creepy? even now when thinking about Sho’s dorky, creepy face as Kouya, I LOL.

      SMILE and BAMBINO… I think it was disconcerting to see Domyouji being bullied. but for the episodes I watched in SMILE, I was always crying over Jun’s portrayal of Bito. I have to say I loved Jun even more for taking the risks, even if some feel those roles and dramas were flops. I will blog about it, been wanting to blog about it since I saw someone’s “confession” on tumblr on how she feels bad for MJ over those career decisions…


  3. But I read on others site, they said Sho gave an over acting in Kazoku Game,,,but I don’t think so. I love him in Blackboard too.


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