First a confession. I love Arashi to bits but I can never claim I have watched all of their solo dramas, not even Jun’s, who is my ichiban. And the only other drama I fully watched of Sho’s is NAZOTOKI WA DINNER NO ATO DI. It takes more than liking an actor to keep on watching the drama till the end though I did say that I watched LAST CINDERELLA more for Fujiki Naohito than anything else; but part of it was also out of curiosity on how it will all end. Of course my ass got bitten royally because the ending just totally rendered three months of my time to nothing more than vexation.
But I digress.
I was drawn in to KAZOKU GAME because of the positive reviews I read, and not just the gushing fangirl kind, but even from those who are more level-headed. And I was hooked. The plot itself was compelling and seeing Sho playing a role that was the anti-thesis of his public image as a Keio boy, newscaster and an idol was refreshing to see. To be sure, he’s not the first Arashi member to challenge himself this way. Jun did through SMILE, Nino through FREETER and Ohno through MAOU, among other roles that were un-idol-like. Sho has to be commended for taking on the role of Yoshimoto Koya/Tago Yudai. Otsukaresama deshita, Sho-kun!!!
Again, I say that KAZOKU GAME is not only about bullying. To do so will be a great disservice. In the finale, we see the deeper message to the story: the family as a basic unit of society. The environment within that unit can either make us or break us. There is so much to life and its reality that we won’t know unless we experience it; such realities are not taught in textbooks or in school. That was what Tago-sensei wanted to be: the kind of unconventional educator who prepares his students for harsh realities that they are bound to encounter. And such realities can shake one’s core so unless the foundation is strong, one can easily crumble. Some choose the easy way out by committing suicide, while others transform into beings that they hated in the first place–like Tago or the boys who bullied Shigeyuki first. For the rest of us, we turn to our family, but there are families that do not have “kizuna” (bond) that can save us. In the case of the Numatas, the kizuna came soon after their downfall, and that was the biggest lesson from Yoshimoto-sensei.
There were moments in the finale though that I felt were not compelling enough and the revelations looked half-assed. But it’s just a mere quibble to a drama that did good in unraveling one layer of sub-plot after another in the previous episodes.
And is the ending hinting at a second season?
As Yoshimoto-sensei would say: “Ii ne.”
But to be honest, I’m not really too hot on a sequel or a movie version because this body of work was already outstanding on its own for various reasons: the sensitive topic it tackled, turning an idol into an anti-image of himself, the effective acting of the cast especially the young actors who played Shigeyuki and Sonoda, and of course Sakurai; and the experimental drama-making feel that the series had overall. It’s best to leave it at that, with 16.7% ratings for the finale no less. Because should there still be any doubt that KAZOKU GAME is a game-changer in drama relevancy and in Sho’s acting career?
I’ll have GREEN tea, please. Ii ne.
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