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J-Drama Review: Sakura (2014) - Cephus' Corner

J-Drama Review: Sakura (2014)

April 16th, 2015

SakuraI will admit to going into this series with a fair bit of  trepidation, after all, from people who had seen it, most that I saw were critical, saying that every single episode was exactly the same.

Well of course it is, this is a trope-driven procedural detective show!  I guess these people don’t recognize specific tropes when they see them, the knowledge that the cases are all going to end the same is part of the charm!

So let’s take a look at this 9-episode detective series about Sakura, the woman whose ears solve crimes.

Mizusawa Sakura applies her good listening skills to a lot of different aspects of her life.  In the morning, she’s a radio host that hears the pleas of her audience. After that, she’s a police officer at the complaint desk of the Metropolitan Police Department where she’s charged with listening to the complaints of the elderly. In reality though, she’s an undercover cop who reports straight to the chief of police, who uses her special talents to solve difficult crimes.  All of her different jobs are completely separate, she takes on different identities for each, but all of them contribute to her amazing crime solving abilities.

Sakura2Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of spoofing of the whole detective drama genre going on here and that leads to a lot of the absurd tropes they use.  At the start of every episode, Sakura, under the name of Kokoro, reads a letter from her fanatical audience on the radio and the letter is *ALWAYS* from the person involved in the case.  In fact, it’s not only from the individual involved, it predates whatever bad happens to them and points the way to the crime. After that, she rushes to her police job but is always late.  Always.  She hears some chatter around the police station and rushes off to solve the case, where she runs into Takeuchi Masato, a new detective who has won numerous judo championships.  When she discovers a company she wants to infiltrate, her boss, Igarashi Kyoko, gives her permission, then she sends a ridiculous excuse letter to her supervisor at the complaints desk for why she needs time off, she gets into costume, she gets evidence and then confronts the criminal.  She is weak and cannot defend herself and the criminals always have minions. Masato leaps to her rescue but is always overpowered, leaving Sakura’s sister, an ass-kicking cop/martial artist named Kaede comes and saves the day.  Masato always body slams the bad buy, Sakura gives her tagline and the case is solved. This happens in every single episode.  I’m wondering if the people who complained about it were unaware that this is a spoof of the genre.  Once you accept it as a spoof, the repetitive elements become funny, not annoying.

Okay, on to the cast.  Of course, Nakama Yukie is Sakura and pretty much anything she stars in is wonderful.  She’s probably my favorite J-drama actress ever, having been in the Trick saga, Ghost Mama Sousasen and many, many more.  I’m pretty much guaranteed to like any show she’s in.  Then there’s Sato Ryuta who plays Masato.  Amazingly, even though he’s been in a ton of shows and movies, nothing really jumped out that I’d seen him in.  Then comes Takashima Reiko who played the  “Iron Lady” Igarashi Kyoko.  I knew that I’d seen her before in shows like Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, as well as showing up in the fifth series of Hancho, but I expected her to be more prevalent in detective dramas I’d seen than she was.

I really hope this show gets a second series, I was really impressed with it, far more than I thought I would be.  At the end, Sakura leaves to go to New York to hone her listening skills, she could easily come back, just as Otonashi Tsukiko did in Toshi Densetsu no Onna 2, re-team with her old friends and have some more great adventures.  This one is highly recommended.


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Cephus' Corner

A Place to Share my Geeky Side With the World. Comics, movies, TV, collecting, you name it, I indulge in it.