Friday, September 9, 2011

Drama Review: JIN Seasons 1 and 2 (Spoilers)

So, you thought this blog was dead? I did warn you admirers out there that due to a myriad of responsibilities, I would not be able to post as frequently as I would like to. Of course, much of last week I was busy falling sick, and since I was stranded at home half dead (together with the Samurai who received the flu bug from me), we had nothing better to entertain us but watching Season 2 of my favourite historical-cum-medical drama series, JIN.

Those who have been following this blog, or those who know me personally will know that despite my overt Nippon-phile status, I have shown a marked preference for Korean dramas over Japanese dramas. For one, I think the Korean actors are infinitely better looking, with the exception of my dear Kimura-san, and Fukuyama-san.The Japanese dramas also conclude too speedily for my liking, usually within 10 episodes. Although this makes for speedy viewing and less endless plot dragging, it is difficult to get invested in the show and the lives of the characters. This is not too say that the Japanese drama scene is not without its gems, and JIN is one.

Oh JIN! How much I love thee! Even though the main lead is played by someone totally unfamiliar to me - Osawa Takao), we brought the first season last year based on the STRONG recommendations of the Evil One, and became engrossed hook, line, sinker. This drama series has all the elements that I love: time travel, period setting, political intrigue based on actual historical events, tight medical plots, realistic gore, unexplained mysteries and an unfulfilled love story (did not really like this part but more on that later)

In a nutshell, the main story arc was about a modern day surgeon named Minakata Jin (hence the title of the show), who was roped in to operate on the brain of a nameless injured man found in a park, and found a tumor which was shaped like a fetus (gross). Jin himself was depressed because he had just lost his beloved girlfriend, Miki to brain cancer and blamed himself for his inability to save her. The nameless man was then caught by Jin trying to steal medical supplies, and in a struggle, he fell down a flight of stairs and found himself transported back to the end of the Tokugawa period of Edo (Old Tokyo), in late 19th century, a few years before the Meiji restoration, where the samurai still roamed. The mystery of how and why he travelled back in time was not unravelled until the last episode of Season 2! (Imagine my frustration as we waited for Season 2 to be shown!)

In Edo, Jin found himself rescuing a young samurai named Tachibana Kyotaro and was taken in by his family, which included his beautiful and brainy younger sister, Saki (played by the gorgeous Ayase Haruka), who later fell in love with Jin and decided to follow him in learning medicine (a strict no-no for women in olden times). This was followed by a series of mini stories in which Jin used his modern medical skills to assist the Edo folks, which included scenes of bloody operations, and also his "invention" of penicillin to treat  injuries and diseases, making himself a phenomena and garnering a number of followers who together set up a medical hall "Jin Yu Do", to help the poor. Along the way, Jin got entangled with historical characters like Sakamoto Ryoma which resulted in a comical bromance of sorts, and met a dead-ringer of his dead girlfriend Miki, who was a famed geisha in Edo. Whoa!!! Many things going on indeed, yet they came together oh so beautifully.

Jin and Ryoma - An Edo Bromance

The individual stories were beyond moving, and the actors convincing in their happiness and grief. How many times did I find myself teary throughout the 22 episodes of Season 1 and 2??! Totally lost count. Jin himself was not the typical drama hero - besides his superb medical skills and soft heartedness, he was actually a bit of a weakling and a total waffling character, compared to the quiet determination and sureness of Saki. Their love was a love not meant to be, although many times I wished I could smack them out of their doldrums, and tell them to "go to bed already!" and stop their self-sacrificial nonsense. It just doesn't cut it with me that divided through time and space as they were, they were contented in their knowledge for their love for one another. Total and utter BS! Gah!

RIP Jin and Saki

But all things considered, Jin is one show with a lot of heart, and a totally superb script. Both the Samurai and I are concurrently watching the Ryoma series, acted by the delectable Fukuyama-san, but it bores us both to tears with all the slow moving action. So even a good looking actor cannot keep me awake if the script sucks.

So what else is there to do now? Go watch the damn bloody drama. You, the readers, I mean.

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