**Subtitle available here.
Suna no Tou is good if you like family drama with child kidnapping in the background. I still feel the script could have been better. I find it upsetting in a bad way every time the rich mothers are so bitchy towards Kanno Miho’s character. It gets less tolerable in ep2 when the rich housewives, especially the leader, plots and bullies Aki more severely this time. These are grownups and I find it all a bit too much and super childish. Even in Mother Game (I can’t help comparing since it displays similar situation), the rich mothers aren’t this bad. Their characters actually have depth and pride, not as one-dimensional as the ones in Suna no Tou.
Biggest problem I have with the show is how the screenwriter is really pushing the bitchy mothers and makes Aki the damsel in distress. Then it’s either the young fella, Kouhei or Nanako who comes to her rescue every single time. Aki’s character is believable and I understand where she comes from, but as time goes, I really wish she’d grow a bone and stand up for herself. When it’s time to say no to stupid childish requests, she should say no.
Some of Aki’s actions make me go ‘Eh? Why would she do that? It doesn’t make any sense…” I think episode 3 is the worst because I really can’t find any sensible justification for her to leave her daughter alone in a Halloween parade full of strangers for a grownup who’s drunk (otherwise perfectly fine and safe). Even if the shop owner threatens to call the police, what could possibly happen? Maybe just a warning?
It’s not like Kouhei is being arrested for murder or anything that spells….EMERGENCY. He is just drunk for god’s sake.
What could possibly be more important, Kouhei who is a grown up, drunk at a shop OR a young daughter alone in a parade full of strangers? Downright terrible choice. Episode 3 is the worst episode and I almost couldn’t finish watching because of the blatant absurd decision made by Aki (surely the screenwriter could find better reason to make her leave her daughter alone than a drunken grownup. Even an accident would’ve done the job.)
FORTUNATELY THINGS START TO IMPROVE
The pacing picks up in episode 4 and I’m glad Aki finally begins to take action on her own. Yumiko pretends to establish a rapport with Aki’s daughter, Sora. When Aki hears from her that Yumiko’s room has lots of TV screens and children’s toys, Aki grows suspicious and launches her own investigation. Though of course Yumiko hears every single thing they talk about through the CCTV and cleans up the room.
Episode 5 is by far the best episode because of the major twists involving Aki’s son and Yumiko. Kazuki isn’t as innocent as he looks. Stalking, taking pictures of irresponsible mothers and supplying stuffs to delinquents. I thought this is a pretty neat and shocking revelation. He also seems close with Yumiko. I won’t be surprised if Yumiko lures him to be her accomplice against useless mothers. Another revelation at the end of this episode is about Yumiko knowing Aki’s husband. Looks like she’s probably his ex-wife. As for the toys in Yumiko’s secret room, she probably had a child but lost him/her.
I still have doubts about Yumiko’s true intention. As much as they try to make her look like a villain, it can still go both ways – so she may not be involved at all with the kidnapping. If she’s the ex-wife of Aki’s husband, she may be taking some kind of revenge towards his family and nothing to do with the kids who disappeared. Judging from Aki’s husband’s behaviour and conduct so far, I won’t be surprised if he hurt Yumiko in the past.
So far, the cast is doing a good job but some of the characters are poorly written, biggest victim is Kanno Miho’s Aki especially the disastrous episode 3. Fortunately, she’s starting to grow in ep4-5 and I’m hoping it will only improve and not dive into that typical ‘damsel in distress’ role. The housewives are still one dimensional. As for the ongoing kidnap case, there’s no sense of urgency because of how little investigation we see in each episode. Although it’s kinda sweet that Kouhei cares a lot about Aki, I don’t really care for the intended ‘romance’ between them. The series can go a darker route but since it’s not WOWOW and perhaps, they’re still aiming for family audience, it can only hover in the 50-50 dark/light atmosphere. It’s good if you don’t want a heavy drama, personally though, I wish it would go for it. But that’s just me, especially when it concerns a crime in the background.
I am happy with the twists in ep5 so I’m looking forward to see where they go from here. I hope to see character development especially for Aki. Maybe she’ll start taking action, not weep in self pity. Instead, stand up against the vain housewives and maybe find out Yumiko’s true intention.
Onto the next episode!