For the past couple months I’ve had computer issues, i.e., I didn’t have one.
I got a new computer just last week though, so I’ve been catching up on the Fall ‘05 J-dramas I missed the ending to.
First of all, keep in mind that I’d never heard of HYD, Meteor Garden, the manga or any of it until last November. I only learned about HYD because I was looking for another drama to watch along with Kikenna Aneki. I happened to read a review of HYD on J-fan.com, and decided to watch it because the story sounded interesting and because I wanted to see Gokusen alums Matsumoto Jun and Oguri Shun in other roles.
The series turned out to be not quite what I expected. The events of the first episode left me with the impression that it was going to be more of an action series than the soap opera with a love triangle that it eventually turned into. Let me explain this a little further by comparing HYD to one of my favorite American shows, one that may seem completely different from HYD at first, “The Shield.”
The Shield is a series about a group of four corrupt cops in Los Angeles. They do keep the streets in their neighborhood safe and help a lot of people, but they do plenty of bad things as well. In the very first episode of The Shield, the leader of the cops, Vic Mackey, learns that the newest addition to his team is actually an undercover cop who is being used by the feds to try and root out corruption in the LA police force. Vic responds while his team is raiding a crack house by shooting the cop in cold blood and making it look like one of the drug dealers did it. Even though Mackey turns out to be a very complex character in later episodes and seasons of the Shield, his despicable act in the first episode of the series left a tremendous impression on me. Two years later, I’ve never been able to entirely eliminate my feeling that his character simply is not redeemable.
Well, now you probably see where I’m going with this. We all know that in the first episode of HYD, poor Tsukushi gets herself in trouble with F4 and winds up with a red card. The hazing she receives at the hands of her classmates doesn’t seem too bad at first. I remember thinking, “OK, I get it, Tsukasa is an ****.” But Tsukasa then crosses any conceivable boundary of decency when he dispatches three of his underlings to rape a 17 year old girl, and then sounds upset when they fail in their “mission.” (Does anyone know if this scene actually happened in the manga, the anime or the other drama?) Tsukasa’s actions, like Vic Mackey’s, left me so disgusted I just didn’t think that Tsukasa could possibly become a good guy no matter what else happened in the rest of the series, and it made me hope that Tsukushi would wind up with Rui in the end. Admittedly though, it also made me cheer even louder when Tsukushi knocked Tsukasa on his ass at the end of episode 1.
Anyway, even though HYD turned pretty quickly into a soap opera type show (it still reminds me of Melrose Place), I was completely hooked by the end of ep 1 and knew I had to watch the whole thing. I thought the middle episodes were a little slow; my favorites were definitely 1&2, and then eps 7-9. The whole T.O.J. contest in ep9 was hilarious, especially when Tsukushi beat up the groper on stage.
Some other comments:
Inoue Mao (Tsukushi): She is definitely a cutie and I really liked her in this role. It looks like she’s a relative newcomer, too. I hope to see her in more starring roles in the future.
Matsumoto Jun: He did a very good job in this series as well. Unlike many pop/rock stars who decide to give television/movies a try, Jun can actually act. (Same with Oguri Shun.)
Matsushima Nanako (Tsukasa’s big sister):
My God, she is one of the hottest women I’ve ever seen!! Seriously, I’d put her in Misaki’s league, which is not praise I hand out lightly. What other good dramas has she been in? I heard she was in Great Teacher Onizuka, but I can’t find that one on D-addicts.
The sets on this show were really amazing. I thought houses in Japan were supposed to be small but Tsukasa’s especially looked like a mansion that could put a dent in Bill Gates’ bank account. Does anyone know where those scenes were filmed? A government building? A museum? Or are there really mansions that big somewhere in Tokyo? (I read earlier in the thread there was a special before the series aired that explained some of this stuff. Was that special ever subtitled?)
Overall, I really enjoyed this series. I’d give it an 8 out of 10. I doubt there will be a second season, but if there is, I’ll definitely watch it.