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Like many staple WOWOW dramas, Rakuen caters to crime suspense lovers. The drama features Nakama Yukie, Shigeko Maehata, who works as an investigative journalist. The pilot starts with a shocking revelation when a couple admitted that they murdered their daughter and buried her underneath their house after a fire broke out. That had kept me going because besides being intrigued by how the two seemingly unrelated simultaneous cases have in common, I also want to see the process of Shigeko’s investigative work. Investigative journalists as depicted in this show seem to get a lot of flak for being nosy and ruining people’s lives. For Shigeko, a wrong report regarding an old case caused a young woman to commit suicide. That has haunted her ever since and we see her struggle to come to terms with that.
I like the story about the kid (too bad he died so early). I was shocked because I didn’t expect him to go so soon. I didn’t read the synopsis and went in blind, you see. I sympathize his mother who lost her son way too soon and so sudden. This becomes Shigeko’s motivation as she feels partly responsible as the kid was on his way to meet her when he got hit by a truck. In that sense, I can relate to Shigeko’s sense of responsibility and motivation to investigate the murder case. Also thumbs up to the mother for volunteering at the society to assist Shigeko. The sorrow she has go through working at the place full of kids, having lost her own child.
Another case about a kidnapped girl is also happening in a neighborhood. The villain, Miwa, reminds me of Johan from Monster anime. The mannerism and haircut seem so similar I immediately thought of Johan. There are some graphic scenes too which may cause anxiety. WOWOW has never skimmed on the vivid and grim portrayal of provoking scenes such as rape, beating, murder and such. Personally, that’s exactly the reason I watch WOWOW series. The more the better. I want to see things I don’t get to see in other shows. The lighting for this show is pleasing too, especially during the night where the colors pop out.
I thought the scene between Miwa and the kid is more disturbing compared to the kidnapped girl. The way he lures her into his comfort zone and begins to corrupt her by stealing. But this is also frustrating to watch because I really thought this kid is smarter. When she got the handwritten message from the kidnapped girl to call the cops, I was thinking, “Okay girl, you got this. Just go to the cops and ask them to check the house out.” But no, she didn’t! And to hell with her parents who doesn’t even listen to her when she tried to show them the message.
The cast is very convincing particularly Kobayashi Kaoru as Doizaki who really stands out for me. Not only is his backstory compelling as a father who killed his own daughter on impulse, then buried her underneath their house, he’s able to give us such a subdued performance even when he doesn’t speak. Just look at his face and you can already feel the torment he’s going through as he tries to lay low in public. Maybe the wrinkles help too lol. But really, I don’t think anyone else could’ve portrayed this as well as he does.
Kaho portrays his daughter who is also shun from the society. She had to quit her former job and even at the new workplace, her coworkers would suggest stuffs like getting an exorcism. Like what the hell? I’m not sure why it’s such a big deal in Japan, but I guess being related to a criminal does give a bad vibe to others. Especially in such a judgmental society we’re living in now. Harsh truth. At least, the ex-husband is still very supportive and doesn’t give a damn about her family’s issue.
What I don’t really like is how they used the trite excuse of protecting public image for Director Kanekawa to continuously protect his nephew and sister. It’s such an overdone reason and could’ve been better if Miwa is to pressure him over something else.
There’s also a scene where neighbors are chatting about the usual screams coming from Miwa’s house and nobody bothered to call the cops. In fact, they should’ve just cut off the entire neighbor scene because this just adds more questionable actions which seem illogical.
I’m surprised to find out that this show has 6 episodes. I thought the pacing could’ve picked up a bit somewhere in between. Anyways, I’m following this every week and even with the few plot holes, it’s still holding my interest. Especially when Doizaki still seems to hide something from everyone. It’d be nice if there’s more to Akane’s death than what he told.
Onto the next episode!
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