15 September 2013

Ataru SP first impressions

With the movie of the series hitting theatres in Japan this is probably not a bad time for me to finally get to the SP.
Honestly the first half of the special can probably be skipped for anyone who has seen the show. Most of it is recaps of it with only bits of new scenes mixed in, and most of the new scenes suffer from the writers trying much too hard to be funny. It is really only when Inoguchi Ataru (Nakai Masahiro) finally shows up in the second half do things feel like they are going somewhere and the story begins to truly move forward.

Nakai is great as Ataru, which is no shocker considering how he did in the series. And he continues to show that he has more agency than before as he chooses to return to Japan to deal with the murder case and refuses to leave when Inoue Larry (Murakami Hiroaki) wants him to.

If any characters are stuck where we last left them it is Ebina Maiko (Kuriyama Chiaki) and Sawa Shunichi (Kitamura Kazuki). Even though there has been a change to Maiko's life, as she has quit the force to start up her own detective agency there seems to be no progress with her as a character. Since it is difficult to figure out what is going to happen with her the character just seems lost and it is hard to get behind her. And it does not help that her failures are played up for laughs. But she is still good to have to play off of Sawa and is really the character that gets things to happen with how she plunges into things head first.

The story is mainly on Ataru and his family, namely his younger brother Inoguchi Tasuku (Okada Masaki), who gets wrapped up in the murder mystery of the special. This is probably one of the stronger parts of the special as we never did learn much of anything about Tasuku in the series other than that he existed and his parents decided that with another child on the way it would be better for them to hand Ataru over to Larry. So taking a look at how that affected Tasuku and how the family is to move forward with Ataru wanting to be a family again was great.

Shimazaki Haruka is added to the cast to be the replacement for Mitsumune Kaoru, who suffered from illness for a while which lead to her having to leave AKB48. Paruru was probably not the best choice for this as her acting is no where on the same level as Kaoru's and she brought no life to her character, which in a drama full of characters with big personalities made her seem very out of place.

That said it made me happy to see that the writers/director must have really loved Kaoru as even though she did not have a single scene in the film they managed to work her in by having her be the new face of the department, Maiko's old role at the station. And when they had Atsumi Reiji (Tanaka Tetsushi) tell her to come back I felt it was meant to be a meta moment. Most likely as I too was wanting her to return.

I guess if I am on minor characters that are/were idols I should mention Tamamori Yuta as well. His part is quite small in this as the case really does not involve the Ebina family. He does get some small moments though, the biggest being searching Wikkypedia (I guess the did not want to spend the money to actually use Wikipedia).

While most of the case is tied up in the SP there are loose ends that tie-in to the movie that recently came out in Japan brought out, leaving those unsolved. I think it may not be a bad idea to wait to watch this until the movie can be viewed shortly afterwards if you want to avoid feeling like you need to rewatch the SP at least. But if they ditch trying to tack on a recap like they did with the SP then the movie should be good as from the little tease about it from this that we get definitely has my interest.

And on side note I do want to praise the series for knowing what a cracker is and that it is different than a hacker. I cannot recall any other time I have seen a series make this distinction so it gets kudos from me for it.

If you liked the series you will probably like the SP as it is much of the same. You may want to just skip the recaps in the first half though. But it looks like if you want to watch the movie you should at least watch the second half of the SP.

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