08 October 2012

Piece Ep. 1 first impressions

So for this drama I plan on doing something a bit different. Because it is Nakayama Yuma, one of my favorite Juniors, starring in this and that the story actually seems interesting to me I do want to do a weekly review of it. Though I do not want to get stuck not being able to find subtitles and since my Japanese is still low level I know I am going to miss things as this is the kind of drama where it helps to know what people are saying. But I find my Japanese is good enough to follow the gist of what is going on most of the time. So what I have decided to do is instead of doing the reviews I did with Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou I will instead do kinda what I normally do for drama reviews but for each episode. So do not expect much detail as at most I will only be able to do a basic outline of the episode.

Without further ado then, here is my first impression of the first episode of Piece.

I think it is safe to say that these late night dramas must be doing well enough for some more money being put into them as this first episode is actually double length, so instead of a ~24 minute episode we get a ~48 minute episode.

The opening has most of its focus on the main cast of characters in the show, or who will be for some of them. The song, Missing Piece, is not bad. I think I need to hear the full version to really be able to judge it but so far I like what I hear and cannot wait to have the single in my hands.

Most of the episode focuses on the two central characters, Suga Mizuho played by Honda Tsubasa and Narumi Hikaru played by Nakayama Yuma. of course what sets things off and these two exes reuniting is the death of a high school classmate, Origuchi Haruka.

The funeral ends up looking more like a class reunion as friends meet up again. With Mizuho and Narumi meeting again it lets Mizuho reflect back to high school and the start of their romance, as well as gives us the viewer a chance to see the characters and their relationships with each other back then.

Mizuho and Narumi are the main focus of this, but we get to see glimpses of the other characters and it helps give a foundation for them to figure who they are and how they are involved with the story.

It is made clear that Setouchi Madoka played by Suzuki Airi and Suguwara Yuu played by Nozawa Yuki are going to be connected. I am a fan of Buono! which is one of the groups Airi is in, so I am happy to see her in this drama. Both their parts have been small and not very demanding so it will interesting to see how they do later if they have more dramatic scenes.

Skipping ahead a bit but for Matsumura Hokuto fans he does not have much of a showing himself. He is one of the main characters shown in the opening though so I am sure that will change eventually. Of course seeing that it looks like his character, Yanai Takashi, has a direct connection with Haruka it does not seem surprising he will be one of the main characters. Though from what I can tell they seem to both be in the student body council, and anymore has yet to even be hinted at.

In the flashback we get to see a bit of the relationship between Mizuho and Haruka, which is pivotal for the story. Yet from what we have been shown does not look like anything greater than just classmates.

The relationship between Mizuho and Narumi has a real feel to it. While there are certain shoujo tropes going on with it with the aloof series girl with the charismatic bad boy thing going on it still manages to have a natural feel to it. Perhaps because it is not shown as perfect and the two with the characters we are given for them do seem to be acting in accordance to those characters.

And speaking of characters I am so far quite happy with Honda Tsubasa's portrayal of Mizuho. While we get to see her more as a high school student than her college student self there is not a lot of time between the two, yet there does seem to be a more mature aura with her older self. As a high school student she seems like she is only just cracking out of her shell and she sells that well with her moments of being head strong.

I am so glad that Nakayama Yuma finally gets a role that does not make him act broody for the vast majority of the time. Sure his character is a jerk and a mess, but he has charisma. And you can tell it is that charisma is what is keeping him from getting into more trouble than he already has. Because he is the kind of guy you just want to punch in the face at times but don't because you know that for some reason people actually like him.

And that is actually probably a good thing seeing as he cuts a guy, with blood managing to fly from the wound, with a key. That with his earlier safe landing from jumping from three stories up makes me wonder if he came from another story where people had secret superhuman powers. If not then I have no idea how to explain these feats logically.

It is really easy to see that the relationship between Mizuho and Narumi is far from perfect. Narumi clearly has issues and a past that threatens to catch up with him and Mizuho comes off as having lived a sheltered life and trying to figure out what her limits are when she gives herself some freedom. I think their relationship works with these pieces in play but at the same time you can tell it cannot be a lasting one unless there are some major changes the characters go through. Whether or not the couple of years they have had post-high school is enough for that remains to be seen, as so far only Mizuho seems to have gone through some changes in her character.

Back at the funeral we get some more small reminders of the important characters of the series. I do hope we get into their stories soon, because even though I enjoyed watching Mizuho and Narumi I want to get to the mystery and the solving of it.

Haruka's mother recognizes Mizuho's name when she hears it and asks to speak with her. Mizuho reluctantly agrees and is surprised to hear that Haruka seemed to have spoken favorably of her to her mother. And even more so when she learns that Haruka had been pregnant during high school are her mother wants Mizuho to help discover who the father of that unborn child was.

This is where the episode ends and I am really glad this was a long episode as I cannot think of a better spot to end things. The relationships hinted at help set things in place for the mystery plot of the series. And the Mizuho/Narumi relationship is interesting with how rocky it is and after seeing how they got together it makes you wonder how they separated.

Now this is the kind of drama I would have liked to have seen come after Bakaleya. Even though there is a good deal of romance there is also more to it with this mystery thrown into things. Also all main characters seem to be strong enough that you can find reasons for them to do what they do instead of just watch them go through the usual romance tropes for the sake of it.

Of course there is still plenty of story to cover, the manga is eight volumes long for what I can find about it. So that is a lot of material to cover, even if this drama is given twelve episodes and a longer final episode. But at least it means the pace should move along nicely without much dragging.

Though I would like to know if there is something actually up with the stuff Narumi is able to pull off doing. If not I will be disappointed if he does not punch the wall of reality to bring Haruka back to life at the end.


Anonymous said...

Yuma is cool. But so watching this for Tsubasa and Hokuto. Her acting is good, better than most other young actress in her generation. Hope Hokuto'll get more screen times as u said too

Thennary Nak said...

I haven't seen Tsubasa in anything else but she so far has impressed me with this drama. I am looking forward to seeing how she does for the rest of the series.

Seeing as Hokuto gets shown the most in the op credits after the two main leads I think there should a good chance of his role getting bigger as the drama goes on. I just hope his character gives him the chance to show off his acting skills this time.