[drama] the dark side of dramas: SHINIGAMI-KUN & ALICE by the RIVER’S EDGE

The Japanese dramas that I am watching this spring season are all dark in nature: there’s the angel of death, a doctor who is out for revenge and a shabby detective agency by the Sumida river. Aside from the dark themes, they also have awesome soundtracks and feature three of Japan’s top actors.

I’m not really fond of dark themes especially those that border on the macabre and SHINIGAMI-KUN is exactly that. But I gave it a try anyway and I loved it. Arashi’s leader, Ohno Satoshi, is known for taking “non-human roles”. Let’s just say it’s his niche and he wings (no pun intended) the role as an oftentimes naive, pushover and soft-hearted angel of death.




Look at that sweet, innocent smile. If he comes to you with a business card introducing himself as a shinigami and telling you you’re dying, would you believe him or even be scared?

If there’s anything that I wish, it’s for Riida to be given more screen-time. I do understand that it’s a character-based drama with a new story in each episode and we can’t have the shinigami all the time there when we’re looking at the lives of those people who are about to pass on. But I’m sure that we’d learn more about his character and how shinigamis are chosen as the drama progresses.

And can I say that I just love his costume.



[Just an aside on Daremo Shiranai: The theme for SHINIGAMI-KUN, sung by Arashi of course, is along the styles of Monster and Truth so I was expecting a single cover that’s dark to match the drama’s theme… not this one that’s as colorful as, well, spring.]



ALICE NO TOGE (Alice’s Thorn) is a medical drama centered on the revenge of a doctor played by Ueno Juri. Juri-chan’s Mizuno Asumi here is so obsessed with getting back at those who caused the death of her father, who was also a doctor, 15 years ago. Her vengeful character is so different from the sunny Nodame Cantabile or the recently dreamy Watarai Mao in HIDAMARI NO KANOJO, and it’s a refreshing change.




Of course it doesn’t hurt that Odagiri Joe is here as the journalist Nishikado, who doesn’t look like he washes his hair but who cares, he’s a rather sweet presence against Asumi’s hardened existence. I wish there would be a love line between their characters too.




Joe is also in RIVER’S EDGE OKAWABATA DETECTIVE AGENCY where he has another hair problem. This time, he has a Domyouji-sama hairstyle going on as the detective Muraki who always has these weird dreams. The agency, located at the edge of the Sumida River in Asakusa, specializes in weird requests from their clients. But weird is an understatement considering that their clients range from yakuzas and perverts in the old side of Tokyo.




Muraki’s hair makes sense though since it’s how the character in the manga, Ribasu Ejji Ookawabata Tanteisha, looks like. It still makes me think of Domyouji-turned-detective of weird cases.




Watching the drama is kind of nostalgic especially since I stayed in this area the last time I was in Tokyo. It’s also quite different to see the old part of this city as opposed to seeing the brighter, more glitzy parts that we often see in other dramas.

RIVER’S EDGE also has  French cinema feel to it from the cinematography to the soundtrack.

This is the opening theme Neon Sign Stomp by Ego Wrappin:



But I love the ending theme more, Sunnyside Melody, though this is the only one I can find online:



Lastly, a note on Nino’s YOWAKUTE KATEMASU: I gave this drama a try not only because, hey, it’s Nino’s return to dorama after about four years, but the premise was interesting. It reminded me of WATERBOYS and SWING GIRLS. Unfortunately, it’s not even close. I love Neen, but the production could not match the potential that the cast and the story presented. Perhaps it looked good on paper but the director and writer are not obviously translating it well to the small screen. A pity that NTV is just wasting Nino’s talent in this drama.

Soshite, this spring… welcome to the dark side.

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