Thoughts on: Karei naru Ichizoku and A Million Stars Falling from the Sky

The first of my jdrama recs from way back when. Now better with caps. \o/

(LJ 28/6/2008)

A loooong post of doom about couple of jdramas.

I think I’ve finally put enough distance to Karei naru Ichizoku to write a few more thoughts about it. It is an awesome drama but definitely not for the faint of heart. As dangermousie said, it’s brutal – in a sense that it does not spare your feelings one iota. Like I mentioned earlier, it has this odd sort beauty and I don’t mean just the cinematography. I’m having a hard time finding a proper word to describe the pull of the story.

As dysfunctional families go, the Manpyos could go to bat for the title. Manpyo Sr is a man plagued by inadequacies and jealousy. He always felt that his own father looked down on him and his abilities, that he could never measure up. He’s also an autocrat, what he says goes – no exceptions. Then he gets a son who is the spitting image of his late father with the same kind of qualities. Teppei is courageous, intelligent, innovative, someone who is able to sense how the future is going to shape up and generally loved and liked by almost all he comes in contact with. He’s also the only one who has the courage defy to the father in any way. Then there’s the whole mix up with Teppei’s parentage, which is the main reason for Manpyo Sr’s antagonism towards his son. As much as I’d like to, I could not hate the father. I despised him and his way of thinking but hate I could not. He was just too blind and messed up to be more than pitiful.

The mother is a downtrodden pushover who has to tolerate her husband’s live-in mistress, even sleep in the same room with them. She meekly takes the abuse because of the Big Family Secret, which I guessed way before the first hints btw, ha. The girls of the family do what they are told, save for the youngest daugher Tsugiko, who at least tries to break through the barrier. The 2nd son Ginpei is daddy’s favorite, for obvious reasons, but even he thinks that he’s not appreciated at all and is more than aware of the fact that he’s weak. Too weak to go against the father he has grown to despise. Add one son-in-law who may just be even worse than Manpyo Sr. Aren’t ‘happy’ families just wonderful!

What it’s all about, is the struggle between father and son. The father is bent on destroying the son in the name of saving his precious bank (not entirely the real reason), whilist the son is determined to see his dream of a brighter future come true. Neither gives an inch but in the end it’s the father who comes off top, helped by fate and better backing. The victory, of course turns out to be pyrrhic. In the process he ends up loosing both the thing that really matters and the thing he thought matters. So, I guess he got his comeuppance.

Teppei was bit of a paragon but you couldn’t help but to like him. Still, he was flawed in his own way. His achilles’ heel is his deep seated need to be loved and accepted by his father. In the end he was not strong enough to go on and regroup. I’ve been mulling about his decision and I just can’t accept it as the right one. I do understand the reasons behind it, he wrote a letter about it after all.

One of the hardest and most awesome scenes was Teppei’s final meeting with his father, his last effort to make daddy see things his way. It wasn’t forthcoming, what he got instead was the father telling him how he had wanted Teppei not being born at all. Isn’t he a prince, daddy dearest? You can literally see the hope dying and the dream vanishing. Brilliant acting by both Kimura and Kitaoji Kinya.

I’d wanted to se A Million Stars Falling for a while now. But all these conflicting reviews made me wonder how I’d like it. From some statements I was rather expecting something I’d hate with vengeance. Well, it turns out it is nothing like that, thank god. In fact, it’s a pretty straightforward detective/suspence story, a good one at that with a doomed romance thrown in for a good measure. It has a triangle but not of the common variety.

Dojima Kanzo is a the good cop, a rather worn out detective. A bit kooky and somewhat of an absentminded professor in an endearing way. An incident in his past changed his life quite profoundly and he has not really been interested in advancing in his carrer since, which is duly noted by his superiors, who mainly ignore him. He is a good detective though and often notices things that others totally overlook. He’s also quite determined under that absentminded exterior. When he does get intrigued or interested in a case he’ll most likely follow it through. His female fellow detective totally has a crush on him but unfortunately, Kanzo just doesn’t see her that way. He’s past 40 and still unmarried as he has determined to get his younger sister marred first. Bit of a do as she’s really not interested, ha. He’s such a good, loving brother, taking care of her on his own since she was 3yrs and their parents died.

Katase Ryo is a mysterious being and we don’t get to know much of him in the beginning. With Kanzo what we see is what we get, he’s that open. Ryo on the other hand is all smoke and mirrors, never showing his true self. The way they filmed him underlines that fact, as he’s often half in the shadows and the only thing we frequently see are his eyes that are like polished glass and don’t give anything away. From the very beginning you get the feeling that this is a dangerous guy, in more ways than one. He does not come off as really threatening at first but little by little we get to see more and what we see ain’t all that pretty. Except he’s very pretty, in fact Kimura is simply stunning as Ryo. 🙂 He’s charming, captivating, mesmerising and sexy as hell without even trying. Of course Ryo is also a very broken person, a sociopath with no feelings for anyone. He sees people, especially women as pieces in a game he plays for fun. Because he’s bored and because he can. The money he wheedles out of his victims is only something extra, it’s all about the game. Things change when someone dies and then he meets Kenzo’s sister Yuko. For the first time he feels, deeply. Cares for someone. Loves. The tragedy is in the fact that Yuko is the last person he should have fallen for.

Dojima Yuko is the one that links both of these men. She’s somewhat flaky but sweet and rather innocent for a woman of her age, shy too. She comes off as someone you want to keep safe, to shield from the more nastier aspects of life. Yet, she isn’t a pushover, she can put her foot down if need be. Her life has not been easy, loosing both parents at such a young age and being physically (and quite likely mentally as well) scarred due to a fire. Without a loving brother it would probably have been even harder. Yet she’s generally optimistic and has a cheerful disposition. Like Kenzo, she’s totally herself, nothing hidden. No wonder Ryo feels so drawn to her, she is like a light shining and he’s the moth.

The funny thing about A Million Stars Falling is that in a way it has shades of Mawang in it. A good cop, a charming psyco, the girl in the middle and a buried past. The Devil is in fact what Kenzo calls Ryo. 🙂 Likewise, there’s the cat and mouse game the two guys play and the fact they feel a connection that inevitably draws them nearer each other. Both are fascinated by the other. In fact Ryo sort of has a hissyfit when Kenzo informs him that he’s resigning as a cop. Then there’s the twist and the ending. Both of which I saw coming, not that it stopped me from enjoying the ride nor angsting when appropriate. For some odd reason I found the ending very fitting this time, no qualms at all about the way it went down. Not that it wasn’t heart breaking, it just felt right. There was hope too, for some of them.


I haven’t mentioned the main supporting cast yet but they were great as well. The lady cop, Yoko’s lovely but tragic friend Miwa and Ryo’s unhappy, mixed up girlfriend Yuki. Of all the character my favourite is Kenzo, hands down. I just love him, he’s an awesome character played beautifully by Akashiya Sanma.

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