I’m not the kind of fan that would watch my faves’ drama out of loyalty. If the plot or the cast doesn’t appeal, I reckon I’d be happier doing other things instead.
To be honest, I was skeptical at first with 99.9 Keiji Senmon Bengoshi. A legal drama? How different would it be from other Japanese legal dramas? With Kagawa Teruyuki and Eikura Nana sharing top casting with Matsumoto Jun, it looked like another serious drama that was in danger of being generic. And no matter how much I love MJ, I won’t sit through a snoozefest. That goes for other Arashi members.
But I was wrong. So wrong. And I was so happy to be wrong. (My blog on Season 1 here.)
[The conviction rate for criminal cases in Japan is 99.9%. However, this hides a big danger. Once indicted, there is a tendency to accept the prosecution’s story at face value. There are also extremely few lawyers that specialize in criminal cases. Therefore, a thorough verification is very difficult. This is a drama about a team of expert criminal lawyers who pursues the truth that may be hiding in the remaining 0.1%. (Source)]
And not only that, TBS gave the drama a second season!
It’s not really rare for Japanese dramas to have sequels. Yonekura Ryoko’s Dr X has had six seasons so far; Fukuyama Masahiro’s Galileo had two seasons and three movie spin-offs; YamaP’s Code Blue had three seasons, an SP and an upcoming movie. Even MJ’s Hana Yori Dango had two seasons and a movie.
Having sequels may be a barometer of the drama’s appeal and ratings obviously play a big part. But not all the time. Kimura Takuya’s dramas usually enjoy high ratings but they never got a sequel except for Hero, another legal drama with an ensemble cast. Surely, there are many considerations and factors that come into play on why certain dramas get another season, while others don’t. Factors like actors’ availability and willingness to do another season, budget, mass appeal and if there is something else that the drama can explore beyond what it already offered.
The first season of 99.9 focused on the criminal team’s battle with prosecutors while the second season pitted them against judges (which put Japan’s judiciary system under a very disturbing light). In the first season, there was also the backstory of Miyama Hiroto’s father, who was convicted for a crime and died without getting justice; in the second season, Miyama received a lead to clear his father’s name even if it may have been useless at this point.
There were also cast changes in the second season: Eikura Nana, who played pro- wrestler fan and corporate lawyer Tachibana Ayano, and Watanabe Makiko, who played Sada sensei’s paralegal Togawa Natsuko, were not in the second season (though Makiko did a cameo for two episodes). Nana-chan had just given birth last year so that was apparently the reason. They were replaced by Kimura Fumino and Babazono Azusa. Otherwise, the rest of the main and supporting cast stayed the same, which was a good thing because it is really the ensemble that made this drama worked.
Season 2’s two-hour finale had an average rating of 21.0%, the highest for the season. Below is a comparison of the ratings per episode.
Season 2 had one episode less than Season 1, but it made up for it with the two-hour finale that also doubled as an SP and was highly anticipated because of several cameos, including that of Nana-chan. The second season also achieved higher average ratings, which gives many hope that there will be a third season. Or who knows, a movie spin-off.
To be honest, I enjoyed first season more but that is not to say that the second season wasn’t as fun.
Here are 9 reasons why 99.9 Season 2 is worth a watch:
- MJ as Miyama sensei: I used to think MJ was a method actor but that would be a difficult thing to achieve since he does not have the luxury to just focus on a single acting job at a time; he has other works to do as part of Arashi. So I’d say he has combined Meisner, Chekhov and Spolin techniques as an actor: he displays raw honesty in imaginary circumstances, draws on psycho-physical techniques (he changes his physical appearance and develops “tics” based on his character) and he also improvises a lot, especially in 99.9. MJ’s Miyama is a man-child who is passionate about finding the 0.1% hidden truth behind a case (he doesn’t even care about whether his clients are guilty or not) and yet loves to play pranks on his colleagues, especially his boss Sada, who is always short on sucrose. Many fans have said that Miyama’s dorky side is actually Matsumoto Jun but then we also said the same for his Taiga in NatsuNiji. It’s safe to say then that MJ brings a bit of himself into his roles, which makes it always interesting to watch him because it feels like peeling another layer of his persona.
- Miyama sensei’s puns: They’ve talked about how he would practice the puns a hundred times to make them sound more natural, but yes, Miyama without the puns would be Bando without his afro. The puns have also became a trademark of the drama.
- Oyaji jokes: I had to separate this from the puns because this involves Miyama’s dynamics with his boss, Sada, and the rest of the team. An article even said that even children enjoy the jokes in the drama.
- Inside jokes: Props to those subbing the drama because they are all over the place and spotting them may not exactly be challenging (i.e. you don’t have to look too hard) but they’re too many that they add another layer to the translation work. But hey, they give more charm to the drama and demonstrate the involvement of the staff in the production. Come to think of it, it’s not easy to build a set or create props that would be seen only for a few seconds in the drama just to incorporate an inside joke, but they still do it. Imagine the amount of hard work that goes into that.
- Ensemble cast: I love ensemble dramas, I can never say that enough. And 99.9’s ensemble cast is one of the best I have seen. The chemistry and the seamless teamwork can be seen in the final product. It’s not only about Matsumoto Jun or Kagawa Teruyuki as Miyama and Sada, respectively. Their characters won’t be as interesting and fun without Katagiri Jin’s Akashi, Magi’s Fujino (whose name Miyama always always makes a mistake with; trivia: Magi-san is actually a sceenwriter with a movie, six dramas and two TV-movies to his credit), Ikeda Takafumi’s Bando and even Baba Toru’s Ochia (the law firm’s resident Lothario; I hope Toru gets bigger roles in the future).
- Food porn: In this age of Instagram, Miyama’s dishes that he cooks in his cousin Bando’s izakaya while thinking over the cases are an interesting fixture of the drama.
- Cameos and quirky minor characters: The cameos are endless, from the main guests per episode that include members of younger idol groups, to the real professional wrestlers and manga artists who frequent Bando’s izakaya…this drama never runs out of character surprises.
- The joke’s on Sada: There is a recurring gag about Sada’s love for horses as well as horse-related accidents in his office. In fact, there are many jokes at Sada’s expense, including his only daughter’s lovelife and his difficult personality that often gets him in a bind. But it’s also his character that has shown a lot of development, from the money-faced corporate lawyer to a bleeding heart fighter of truth and justice. I can’t imagine any other actor playing this role than Kagawa-san, but maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise considering that despite his stature as one of Japan’s respected character and stage actors, he doesn’t have qualms appearing on variety shows wearing an insect costume and educating people (including MJ) about insects.
- Theme song: Arashi performed the theme song for both seasons (Daylight for 1 and Find the Answer for 2). I prefer Daylight but FTA has grown on me.
I am proud of MJ too for leading an ensemble that has made TV viewing on Sunday evenings very enjoyable. Where is that boy who used to be the baby in drama sets (Kinki Kids spoiling him on the set of Minan City comes to mind)? Well, he has grown into a capable actor whose work behind the scenes is as important as in front of the camera. And he doesn’t have to play a romantic lead to prove that. (If this were a Korean drama, want to bet that Miyama will have a love line? But he’d probably kill the girl with his puns.)
I did miss Nana-chan whose chemistry with MJ has been tried and tested through several collaborations already. But her cameo in the final episode made up for that. Should there be a third season, I hope Tachibana will be back. Truly, her role as a female lawyer in a male-dominated world who stood her ground and often served as a balance between Miyama and Sada with her rationality, not to mention her wrestling skills and cool factor, really made a huge difference in the first season. I really loved her character, who was also a fangirl by the way (even if for pro-wrestlers).
But the drama’s success is all thanks to those factors mentioned above, not just to a single actor or element, and I am very happy for the raves they’ve been getting because the cast and crew deserve no less than that for all the passion and hard work they’ve given to the production. And for their sake, I hope that there would be another season.
In the meantime, thank you TBS for bringing back 99.9 for a second season. And otsukare to the cast and crew! Job well done 100%!!!
© Orange Jasmine Purple Yam (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in this site without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.