River’s Edge Ookawabata Tanteisha: Eps 1-3

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

EOY-jdr-13-meb

Everyone, remember my favorite Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi, with the ultimate bromance of Tada (Eita) & Gyoten (Matsuda Ryuhei)?  Remember those eccentric stories, the glimpses of random people’s strange lives, the slow smokes & the introspective feel of Mahoro?  You might be wondering why I’m even bringing this up when this is not a post about Mahoro.  😛 (it’s an excuse just to throw in a Tada & Gyoten picture.) Well, the same director & writer of Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi is BACK, this time with a new spring drama River’s Edge.  YES!!!!

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^MMM does this seem a bit familiar? 😉

I’m glad to say that River’s Edge has met the standards that its predecessor left behind.  The two dramas have their similarities–the slow smokes, the characters who are drifting through life, the strange and random stories, the mellow vibes, and of course the awesome cinematography!  But they also have their own distinct differences which sets them apart from each other.  Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi had a kind of half-baked, lazy feel to it which embodied the town of Mahoro where the main characters lived.  It was about two companions who were lazily going through life, living at their own pace, while still making a difference through their seemingly ‘trivial’ line of work.  River’s Edge is still about human connections, with the main characters being interconnected with each other & with the clients that they work for.  But its atmosphere is less lazy and more classy!  Literally, River’s Edge will always bust out with a random AWESOME slow-mo scene with the jazzy music playing in the background, one of the characters coolly walking by, AHHHH.  It’s just so much classier than Mahoro!  It’s something about the awesome jazz OST for sure!  😉

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And of course, River’s Edge has an awesome cast ensemble & very interesting characters.  It’s about a small three-person detective agency that consists of: the boss, the secretary, and the detective.  The boss’ name is unknown (at least, to the best of my knowledge it hasn’t been mentioned yet).  He’s an old-timer who seems to have connections to the underworld, possibly due to a yakuza past.  Still, his past is unknown but he has this kind of aura about him that makes him seem like he’s seen it all and done it all.  All he has to do is just SIT THERE and he already looks like some cool wise old guru that has the secret to the meaning of life.  LOL, ok I’m exaggerating but I am very curious about his life story since I bet you it’s good!  At first I thought the boss would not be a very important or interesting character (after all the main buzz has been all about Odagiri Joe..) but it turns out he has a great commanding screen presence.  I love his role so far, especially since he has kinda a bromance/mentor relationship with Odagiri Joe’s character.

The secretary is Megumi, a young woman who seems to be a bit out of place at the detective agency considering her 2 coworkers are an old guy and a sorta withdrawn detective, HEH.  She has a very straightforward and cheerful personality, and is unafraid to declare that her most memorable asset is…her boobage.  Ahaha!  The thing I like about her is that she has such an open personality that she can take awkward situations and make them seem natural.

And lastly, the detective is Muraki (Odagiri Joe).  He’s the one who mainly does all the investigating/field work, although he occasionally takes Megumi or the boss along with him.  Muraki is always either sleeping/napping, smoking, or investigating.  He lives a simplistic life in which he mainly focuses on his work and..sleeping.  He always has the big picture in mind whenever he takes on a case, as he considers the implications of what solving each case will have for his clients.  And the surprising thing is that he has a special ability of seeing premonitions in his dreams!  I think that might be part of the reason why he is always sleeping; perhaps he sleeps more to see more of the future in his dreams? Hmm.  So far his dreams have not played a huge role in the drama (not sure what genre the original manga was, but I don’t think it will go too deep into the premonitions) but they are a nice touch in the story-telling.

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Usually when we think detective stories, we’d probably think about more interesting cases, or an exciting investigation of a cheating spouse, etc.  But here we find that this private detective work is not nearly as glamorous as it’s sometimes made out to be (*cough* Lucky Seven *cough* 😛 ).  The three cases we’ve seen so far are all very random and could even seem mundane.  There are no exciting chases after the suspect, Sherlock Holmes deductions, etc.  Instead it shows us how ordinary Muraki’s detective work really is and how strange the cases can actually be.  The great thing about River’s Edge is that it’s not really focused on showing how brilliant the detective is, nor is it intent on always getting to the answer ASAP.  Instead it’s more about showing different sides of people through Muraki’s detective work, and how Muraki can only solve his cases by understanding human nature.

Overall

River’s Edge is a very enjoyable and quick watch so far.  This isn’t the kind of drama that will become super popular and it will probably seem slow and strange to some people.  But if you like a more off-the-wall and unique drama with some great story-telling, I’d say you should give it a try.  So far we haven’t gotten to know any of the main characters very well, but I’m sure it’ll come with time.  I appreciate it a lot that we were not given some life-story narration in the beginning or anything like that.  Instead we’re just thrown straight into a random time in the character’s lives, with little knowledge of their pasts or even their present. There’s something kind of refreshing about it..I guess because it feels like we really are outsiders looking in, unable to see much deeper into the characters’ perspectives until we get further into the drama.

I watched episode 1 raw and then rewatched with subs since it was harder to understand, but I’d say that eps 2-3 are easier to watch raw.  Note that ep2 does have some more mature scenes.  I also think people will inevitably say that they want longer episode lengths, so I’ll say it again..I think the shorter episodes actually do dramas a lot of good.  There are a lot of great jdramas that have this same format of approximately 20-minute long episodes.  I think the reason they’re so great is that they eliminate all of the unnecessary filler scenes and they just don’t have time for any crappy moments in the drama.  It makes the drama succinct and straight to the point.

And you have to listen to River’s Edge’s OST, it’s AWESOME.  I just discovered EGO-WRAPPIN’ through it and I love them already!

Neon Sign Stomp (Opening Theme Song) by EGO-WRAPPIN’

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • So glad that you will be reviewing this drama. I started with Ep1 raw and so far enjoying it so much. I am happy that you were able to finish Ep3 and commented on it being the best of the series so far. I was a bit underwhelmed with Ep2 but the adult scenes were done in good taste so it was a good Episode for me as well.

  • I love it!! Best drama on air now I daresay. Love the mood, it’s melancholic but not depressing, a little bleak, but also with good humor. OJoe strutting down the street in a suit?? And OJoe staring into space smoking?? Honestly half the show is spent appreciating his beauty xD I love how the cases really don’t matter that much lol, like they’re not really detectives and the cases are solved really easily and quickly. I love Megumi and Old guy too. The whole team is cute. Then EGO WRAPPIN is so great.

    • Oooo melancholic is a good word to describe it. I had such a hard time coming up with words to describe it…all I could think of was…cool and classy HEH.

      Omg I loved that part in ep1 when he and the client yakuza guy were just walking down the street in slow-mo with the awesome music playing in the background. I love those kinds of moments in River’s Edge!

  • I heart(<3) the music!!!!!! I've been casually following this drama and while not all stories manage to capture me, the simplicity itself is moving enough, It's eccentric, the lazy atmosphere and the members of the strange detective agency. I've been following quite a number of jdramas this season, MOZU, borders, black president, roosevelt game, etc… this season is a lot more promising that last season imo.

    • I like how all of the stories are things you wouldn’t expect in a drama. They aren’t very predictable since they don’t use lots of drama stereotypes. :3

      CAROLIE I bet you get to watch all these dramas with Chinese subs, eh? Lucky! I’m waiting for subs for Black President. I didn’t know about Roosevelt Game but I looked up just now and..Karasawa Toshiaki is the lead!?!? *W*

      • Yeah, chinese subs are really fast :p. Hehehe, I just watched ep 4 of river’s edge yesterday (Yeah, I’m trying to make you jealous, lolll).

        Roosevelt game comes from the same producer and screenwriter behind Hanzawa Naoki but I don’t think the same type of “underdog” formula can work the 2nd time plus it’s set inside a big company, the lead is already a president, working against internal competitors and other companies who try to crush him. I think more people can connect with Hanzawa Naoki because he’s a normal worker like most people. Ep5 of MOZU is SO violent and the action is intense, the episode was over before I knew it.

  • This is the best show in the season so far! By far even better than Mahoro, virtually in almost every aspect. I’d give the first episode a rave review, really love the plot depth and subtle surprises especially when it comes to why the yakuza boss loves the dumpling noodles. Even a scene at the beginning of episode 1 hits us that it gives a homage to Mahoro (when the costumer spits “hey does this agency resemble Benriya” LOL. The second episode is also in high quality albeit not as good as the first. Well, at least I love the way they convince that such form of prostitution still exists into the modern day.

    My only small rant on this show is that the ending soundtrack isn’t as catchy as the opening. It’s a bit mundane since Mahoro’s soundtracks, opening and ending-wise, are equally enticing and I found it a bit odd since this show is at the same veins as Mahoro.

    • I’m not sure I’m ready to declare River’s Edge better than Mahoro. 😛 But so far I think they are of equal quality. I also liked the part in ep1 where they talked about the difference between the benriya and the detective agency.

  • Hello, I am a pretty new reader here and this my first time to comment. I just want to recommend Long Goodbye which is also a detective series and also has an awesome cast (Asano Tadanobu and Koyuki), cinematography, and directing like River’s Edge. The plot is really awesome because it’s also based on Raymond Chandler’s novel with the same title. I’ve been watching a lot of detective dramas this season including Border (no.1 for me so far). And other dramas that are not detective series too – Alice no Toge with a stellar cast, Odagiri Joe and Ueno Juri (the plot is just okay (watchable), mostly I’m watching it for the cast), and Shinigami-kun (Ohno of Arashi), and Nazo no Tenkousei (because of your recommendation ). By the way, it’s taking me forever to finish Nazo no Tenkousei because I need the subs. I shall learn the Japanese language someday…

    • Hi Liri, thanks for your recommendation. I also heard that The Long Goodbye is supposed to be good. Hehe I’m adding it to my watch list! I haven’t finished Nazo either because it is hard for me to understand it without subs. >_>

  • Wow so yeah, as I said in the chat, this is the year of the JDrama. Mozu, River’s Edge, Nazo; so much to watch!

    River’s Edge. I think this can be summed up in one phrase;

    Cowboy Bebop.

    I can see the conversation now…

    Producer 1: “Man, remember Cowboy Bebop? That anime had the best vibe ever.:

    Producer 2: “Yeah for sure. It’s a shame it didn’t come out now that the internet is no longer in it’s infancy.”

    Producer 1: “Oh, we’d make MAD bank off of that.”

    Producer 2: “Live action repackage?”

    Producer 1: “Done. I’ll have my people call your people.”

    And river’s edge was born. Admittedly it’s not EXACTLY the same but it’s very very close. The sort of bounty hunting / private eye jazz house vibe. It’s got the Old wise guy,young main, and the busty sassy chick. Obviously it’s very different in a number of aspects the the vibe is very similar. It’s a very good mellow-out viewing after the supper intense MOZU.

    Ohhhhhh YEAH Mozu. My vote for king of 2014. This is the un-cut hard stuff here, mainline right into the vein. You know a show has true intensity when at the end of the episode you look down at your hands and realize that you’ve dug your fingers an inch and a half into your thighs. Thank God this show came out this year instead of last when it would have had to go head to head against Hanzawa Naoki. I fit had then I thin Hanzawa would have been overshadowed by the acting tour de force on display in Mozu.

    Every aspect of Mozu is superb but one thing I want to mention is the music. In all of the JDramas I have watched very seldom is the music memorable. With the exception of the opening theme of Majo No Jouken, one common track in Taiyo No Kisetsu, and the score for Nazo No Tenkousei no JDrama music has been of any noteworthiness to me.

    One thing you have to understand is that I am a MASSIVE fan of Tangerine Dream and I really feel that kind of ethereal other-worldly synth music is the ultimate source of symphonic mood setting. With that in mind I can say that Mozu does not disappoint. The best way I could describe it is if Tangerine Dream did a film-noir score with major emphasis on key moments of the show. It functions as a powerful supercharger strapped to an already tricked-out V8 and really amps up the intensity of the show.

    On a side not, what happened to the Nazo No Tenkousei subs? One group was doing them steady then they seem to have stopped dead in their tracks. Sucks, as that show has my vote for 2014 prince status behind Mozu.

    • Lol Colin, this drama is actually based off of the original manga River’s Edge…

      I’m also enjoying MOZU; it’s OST is very fitting for it and it really adds to the intense mood! For Nazo, it is possible that the subbing group dropped it but I’m not sure.

      • But the homage to Cowboy Bebop is hard to ignore, OP reminds me stylistically of Cowboy Bebop opening (Tank!): http://youtu.be/T6zDfxZ4NcE.

        Love the nuanced life morsels grandpa detective drops whenever they have a drink. Food for thought. I love the ED toi much, it was perfect the song is simplier when it is accessory to the Kunizada woodblock and an Odagiri Joe enthralled in his dreamscape of perhaps summoning his own a hundred skeletons in his clients closet fighting their demons/obsessions. This is more awe-inspiring and minimalistic than Maharo imo, saying just enough with barely a story so gorgeously, effectively.

        • Eh Mookie you always say things just right. I love the conversations between the boss & Muraki! *W* I also like the simplicity of the ending MV, it kinda reminds me of the Mahoro ending MV as well. And for the Bowboy Bebop, the OP does seem rather similar to the RE op. Hmm!

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