Siren is currently one of the most heavily promoted dramas under FujiTV. I don’t even see this much promotion for their getsu9 probably because they’re confident it will score decent ratings with both Ishihara Satomi and Yamapi. One of the main reasons that I can think of why they put extra effort on getting Siren known to the public is because of the cursed time slot that is Tuesdays 10pm. Remember the disastrous HEAT that scored one the lowest viewership ratings in FujiTV’s history with a mere 3.84% last season and the one in Spring, Tatakau! Shoten Girl (4.69%). Before these two shows, Zeni no Sensou (13.27%) has the lineup of SMAP’s Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Oshima Yuko, Kimura Fumino and Watabe Atsuro. The high rating’s most probably due to Kusanagi’s starpower and decent plot.
With this, it’s obvious they’re desperately trying to save this time slot. Some of the elaborate promotions they’ve done were numerous posters along the stations including a temporary booth with some goods on sale. I’m not sure how well the reception is but it seemed to work. They also tried to give a longer lasting impact by offering a 2-hour special first episode. The viewership rating is 12.9%. Decent if you ask me. Good enough. The promotions probably paid off even if a little. It’s going to be a challenge though to maintain the ratings. Here’s to hoping they won’t screw it up in the future. Personally, I don’t care much about ratings but it doesn’t feel nice either to watch actors/actresses you like suffering low ratings. So I’d be happy enough if at the end of this, the average is around 8-10%.
I went the extra mile of getting the manga from Kinokuniya a few weeks ago and read all 7 volumes. It was pretty addictive. This drama is based on a manga by author Yamazaki Sayaka. I’m not in the best position to say this since I don’t read a lot of manga but I really like what Siren offered in terms of crime suspense, lingering uneasiness, the chemistry between the main pair and of course, the villainous herself. I will include a brief section of comparison between the original material and live-action later.
What did they offer in the 2-hour special first episode?
(Not gonna do a recap)
Brief episode summary:
The main pair, Satomi Shinobu (Matsuzaka Tori) and Inokuma Yuki (Kimura Fumino) work in the Mobile Investigation Unit of Tokyo MPD. They’re buddies and also a couple. They keep their relationship a secret from their colleagues in fear of being transferred. Their unit is responsible for initial investigations at crime scenes but they’re both aiming to enter First Division MPD. So in a way, they’re also rivals.
One day a woman died at a cabaret club and there, they first stumble into a beautiful mysterious woman named Tachibana Kara (Nanao), who also works at the club. At first glance, she’s already quite suspicious or at least Satomi thinks so. The dead woman is confirmed by the forensic to have committed suicide. Later on, another woman was killed who Satomi thinks should be the work of a serial killer considering his obsession with white socks.
His intuition is correct afterwards when they found a dead taxi driver’s body whose phone had photos of women strangled to death with white socks inserted in their mouths.
In the meantime, the mysterious cabaret girl, Tachibana Kara approached Yuki at the health center. They both become closer after Yuki catches a person filming secretly in the women’s changing room there. Kara comes to the police station to offer her statement. Kara is also seen moving in with another single man in an apartment just across where Satomi lives. Yuki is semi-cohabitating with Satomi there.
Another dead woman turns up with assaults on her face. Tachibana Kara proposes a suggestion to Yuki that the killer should be a woman. It isn’t long for the police to narrow down to a girl called Nohana who happens to have a thing with the dead woman’s husband.
Nohana is however found dead with a slit wrist at her own apartment. So the 2-hour special has quite a lot going on. The villain of the show is obviously Tachibana Kara, as presented as ‘kanzen akujou’ or total evil woman. She holds a certain fascination towards Yuki from the first time they met and what exactly is she after from Yuki remains a mystery, that’s the part viewers will be asking themselves throughout the show and most likely will only be revealed at the end (I read the manga already but obviously, I’m not going to spoil it here XD).
1) Splendid chemistry between the main pair
The chemistry between Matsuzaka Tori and Kimura Fumino is already off the roof. This is their 4th time co-starring with each other but the first time playing a couple. And yet, they look like they’re made for each other already. I like their ‘mature’ with hints of playfulness kind of relationship. It’s not like the mushy type of love which most of the time annoys me. I like all their private moments together. They’re very sweet and convincing as a pair. You already get to see them interacting like a real couple during their private time in terms of speaking, touching and kissing. Not a single awkwardness between them! It’s refreshing in the sense that we all know Japanese detective dramas usually don’t have romance in them as they focus on the cases and maybe just subtle hints. It’s the opposite here because in this show we already have a long-time couple. so that’s really nice to see. Watching them so comfortable with each other is even better. Japanese fans went wild on Twitter about their chemistry and it’s not hard to see why. Of course there are also a number of jealous ones lol
2) Quite fast-paced
Pacing overall is quite good. They managed to cram in about 1 and a half volume of the manga in the first episode. That’s quite a lot. They altered the sequences of the scenes a bit but the narration is basically still the same.
3) Action scenes
Since the drama promotes the action and suspense a lot, the pilot doesn’t disappoint. Matsuzaka Tori shows some moves. I especially liked the one in the beginning where he leaped from the stairs to below and walking along the sides of the wall before jumping down to capture the perpetrator. The ladies also did some action especially Fumino whose character is supposed to hold a black belt in Judo. We’ll have to see how much they can show us in the coming episodes because the manga itself doesn’t really have action lolz
1) The annoying higher ups
aka Satomi’s boss, Chief Ando. He’s the typical over-reacting boss that you always see in Japanese dramas. It’s so hard not to have such bosses in J-dramas, if you’ve already noticed.
2) Directing could be better
After watching brilliant directing in Ishi no Mayu, I just couldn’t help but think this show could’ve benefited even greater if Director Uchikata came onboard the production crew. While there is ongoing suspense in the show, the level just can’t be compared to how intense it is despite the lacking action scenes in Ishi. This is just my own minor gripe. Since this is not a WOWOW drama, this will have to do. There’s a loophole actually during that taxi driver murder scene. He could have just kicked Kara even when he is being hung on the neck, I mean his legs and arms are free anyway lol
Differences between the manga and drama:
1) In the manga, the designer, Kouhei who Tachibana Kara moved in with doesn’t stay across Satomi’s place. He lives across the Sakura Police Department women’s dormitory where Yuki is. I realize this setting is changed in the drama because Yuki is seen spending more time with Satomi in the drama version as compared to the manga. In an interview earlier, it is mentioned that they’re going to emphasize a lot more on the relationship between the main pair. In the manga, I can say that from Volume 3-6-ish, Yuki doesn’t hang much with Satomi. She spent more time with Kara lol while Satomi investigates on his own about Kara behind Yuki’s knowledge.
2) In the drama, Yuki is an adopted child. If I’m not mistaken, I probably should go through the entire Vol1 again (lol) but I don’t recall it being mentioned in the manga that she’s adopted. Plus, in her family, she has another two older brothers both in the police force too. But the father having an affair with another policewoman a while ago is portrayed as such in the both versions.
3) I’m trying to recall an officer by the name of Chibideka in the manga. I probably missed him but even if there is such a cop, Chief Ando’s subordinate, he doesn’t even appear much. In fact, Chief Ando rarely makes an appearance too in the manga. They’re probably just trying to spice things up in the drama by adding extra characters.
As far as the acting goes, I think most of the characters (especially the main 3) are quite good. They do bring out the characters in the manga to life. I like it when they used some exact lines from the manga itself without changing a thing. Some appearances as well for example, the disguises. Speaking of disguises, there will be PLENTY coming soon and I love it when they go on spy mode, especially Satomi. Basically it’s a pretty decent pilot. Quite a strong start. If they can work more on delivering the constant suspense it’d be great. The two theme songs featured in the show – Girl A by Alexandros and ending theme song Taiyou ni Warae by Anly (new artist) are actually quite good, exceeded my expectations ^^
I loved the manga. Even though the villain is revealed from the beginning, it still makes me drawn towards this character. I start asking why, how and who exactly she is. It’s really suspenseful and Tachibana Kara is such a well written villain. Her back story will only be revealed at the end and is necessary for us to understand her actions. She’s truly evil and ruthless, the kind that seems quiet and kind but once you fell into her trap, she’ll have her way. She’s really clever and the way she worms her way into Yuki’s side is both thrilling and gritting because you know her intention is bad. You also never know how far she will go once she marks her prey. Then it gets even more interesting when Satomi’s suspicion towards her rises and launches his own investigation to protect his girlfriend. The last two volumes are really good. All 3 characters are well balanced and have almost equal exposure so you don’t feel like any of the main characters are being left behind. While the main pair is obviously going to spearhead the show, the villain Tachibana Kara will also shine in her own way.