MOZU (Season 1): Eps 7-10 (Finale)

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

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If you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Kuraki, well you thought wrong.  First of all he finds out that his wife is actually the mysterious woman who met with Kakehi (the guy who had the bomb in his bag)!  Not only that, his wife was probably the one who placed the bomb in Kakehi’s bag, and she might have been in possession of the detonator.  I actually didn’t see this coming, but the very moment when Kuraki holds up the picture, I felt it in my gut that it had to be her.  There is just no way that the drama would pass up such a good twist!   Kuraki is a character who is constantly searching for the truth, always questioning reality and the people around him, so this kind of twist is very fitting for him.  He never really understood his wife Chihiro; he can’t understand why she died, nor does he understand who she really was before her death.  Chihiro is always shrouded in mystery due to the suspicious death of their daughter, the Glarke Alpha Mission, her daruma dreams…and now her involvement with the bombing incident.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Kuraki will ever be able to truly understand Chihiro’s motivations or feelings, no matter how deep he digs into her past or the bombing mystery.

The other big reveal that hits Kuraki hard is that his longtime friend, Muroi, is actually the mastermind behind the bombing.  AND he was the one who made Chihiro plant the bomb in Kakehi’s bag.  I think this was supposed to be a really shocking revelation, but it falls flat for me since I never really cared about Muroi’s character in the first place.  It would’ve had a greater impact if the audience actually empathized with him beforehand. Muroi also would’ve been a more interesting antagonist if only the drama had explored his motives for the bombing rather than making him go into full crazy bad-guy mode.  Ironically, even Hiromi is easier to empathize with than Muroi is.  O_O”  Anyways needless to say, Kuraki’s reaction is very violent.  He is literally 1-inch away from pulling the trigger on Muroi (such an intense scene!)..but the thing that struck me most is that he’s more concerned with getting answers than getting revenge.

“Why?” is the question that Kuraki is always asking all throughout the entire drama.  As I said before, Kuraki is very existentialist; everything that happens in his life just seems so absurd and hard to comprehend that he is always left asking ‘why?’…and this is why his search for the truth is all-encompassing in his life.  It is his only purpose now, because other than finding answers, he feels he has nothing else worth searching for.

Kuraki: “Those people who have become hollow, why do you think they go on living?”
Hiromi: “Isn’t that obvious?  They only go on living for the hatred and suffering, like you and me.”

I was having trouble finding other words besides ‘existentialist’ to describe Kuraki, but it turns out that Kuraki himself offers the perfect word that sums up his entire character: Hollow.  Totally true.  I love the scene when Kuraki asks Hiromi whether she is hollow inside, and how people like them can live on.  Until this scene it never occurred to me that Kuraki and Hiromi were alike, but after this conversation I was fascinated by how well they could relate to each other despite their incredibly different backgrounds.

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MOZU’s existentialist tone also extends to the other main characters.  I wouldn’t say that Miki & Ryota are existentialist like Kuraki is, but they still have this sort of ‘today might be my last’ mentality.  Miki and Ryota seem to have a purpose, people to live for–Miki for her family and for her missing father, Ryota for his ex-wife and daughter–but there is also something about them that feels aimless and uncertain.   I guess the thing that Ryota, Miki, and Kuraki have in common is that all of them have to face the possibility that everything they’re doing could be for nothing.  The threesome always has the awareness that they are just one peg in a giant system, that an unknown enemy could crush them at any time.  In this sense, sometimes their efforts may feel futile but I think MOZU is all about how they can go against the larger system to find their own truths.

In ep9, there’s a really great reference to the story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas that describes Miki, Ryota, and Kuraki’s situation very well. The story is about Omelas, a utopian city that can only exist based on the condition that one child is kept in misery for his entire life.  Most of the citizens of Omelas accept this condition in order to maintain their utopia, while those who do not end up leaving Omelas.  In this reference, Japan is equated to Omelas, while the PSB is tasked with preventing citizens from finding out the truth about Japan’s darker side, the ‘child’.  I’d say that Miki, Ryota, and Kuraki are just like the ‘ones who walk away from Omelas’ because they are rejecting the utopian lies of the PSB…Or perhaps they are the ones who are not walking away from Omelas, but rather, are confronting the PSB & the reality of the ‘child’.

Anyways, I was able to write a lot about Kuraki but not so much about Ryota and Miki.  The problem is that Kuraki has the most character development, whereas Miki and Ryota barely have any.  Kuraki’s portrayal could be better (he repeats “I want to know the truth” way too many times) but at least we can infer & understand his motivations and feelings.  Miki, on the other hand, is the most disadvantaged by her lack of character development because we know close to nothing about her.  Ryota is more fleshed out than Miki, but is also stuck with the same line “The truth is shrouded in darkness” over and over again.  T_T”  These three are interesting characters, and they are fun to watch…but I also feel like the drama isn’t really using them to their full potential.

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Although the finale is gripping and suspenseful, overall it is not enough to pull the entire drama together.  There are just too many loopholes and unbelievable moments.  For one, Muroi somehow weasels his way out of every situation by manipulating everyone with his blatant provocations.  i.e. He reveals a shocking truth to Miki and it catches her off guard so much that Muroi is able to disarm her of her gun.  *facepalm* Miki should’ve known that he would try this on her in the first place!  The other problem with Muroi is that he has 9 lives.  The guy is still able to dominate Kuraki in a fight even after he gets stabbed multiple times.  =_=  As for Hiromi and Kazuhiko, I think there is still an unexplained mystery about their super-strength and resilience, like how Hiromi survived falling from a cliff.  O_O  Unfortunately the drama never explains this, so I was only left in disbelief when Hiromi somehow survives after being shot many times AND getting impaled.  If Muroi has 9 lives, Hiromi must have 3x that. T_T”  Also, the ending clip in ep10 shows that Kazuhiko is rising from the dead coming out of the sea?  What the heck!?!?!  How is he still alive?  Another thing that irks me about Hiromi is that she’s supposed to be a professional assassin, and yet she never anticipates that her opponents are armed.  Maybe Hiromi’s judgment is clouded so she’s not considering the consequences..but still, it’s a fatal mistake.

Lastly, I just wanted to comment on the very last scene with Ryota and Kuraki together.  It is so simple & understated but very satisfactory despite all of my other gripes about the finale.  Kuraki breaks into a smile at the ending.  A SMILE!  I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen him smile in the drama (aside from his flashbacks). O_O  I take this to mean that even though Kuraki hasn’t gotten to the bottom of this case and isn’t over his wife & daughter’s deaths, he’s still gotten to the point where he can finally genuinely smile once again.

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Overall

MOZU is a good drama, but not a great one.  Unfortunately I cannot call it ‘epic’ like I did for Double Face and Gaiji Keisatsu.  A lot of us went into MOZU expecting a Double Face 2.0, but that is obviously not how MOZU turned out..and I’m fine with it.  I don’t view MOZU as an utter disappointment or a let down, because I still think it has solid cinematography, OST, and acting.  I also love its overall tone and the cast.  But it also has a lot of room for improvement, particularly with its script and pacing.   I feel like the drama would’ve been much tighter if only it had combined everything into one season rather than dragging out the story into season 2.

Of course, I will still be watching season 2 to find out the FRAGMENTS OF TRUTH, but without super high expectations this time.  I fear that the mystery behind daruma and Hiromi/Kazuhiko’s ‘mozu’ power will end up being too cheesy and unbelievable.  But I also hope that the second season will be an improvement now that we only have 5 episodes left to wrap everything up.  Plus I’m really looking forward to seeing Aoi Yu join the cast for season 2!! (Note that this is just like how she joined the cast for the second part of Double Face!)

Fragments of the Truth (Shinjitsu no Danpen)

Quote Translation Credit: Miharu-Rush

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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  • Couldn’t let this go without commenting on the end of MOZU 1. Hei’s original post already says a lot of what I would regarding cinematography , music, production value, etc, so I’m going to talk about one specific point.

    I think the best way to understand what happened here is to compare the show to HBO’s True Detective. If you haven’t seen it you NEED to. It is the single best show/movie/anything to come out in the past 3 years. (very very mild spoiler follows)

    In TD we’re presented with a serious and intense world, amazing mood music, and a disturbed and well acted lead detective following a crime in search of a culprit. At one point information is presented that reveals that the crime is part of a much larger, deeper conspiracy that dates back for many generations.

    That’s the very distilled and simple version of the plot up to about the halfway point of the show. It’s essentially the same as MOZU as well. The real difference between the two shows in terms of direction (not stylistically; that’s a whole other matter) is what happens when things are revealed to be part of a larger conspiracy. TD does the correct thing while MOZU does the very opposite and very wrong thing.

    A writer has two ways to go when it comes to introducing that plot point. One option is that they can run with it to the ends of the earth trying to tie up every loose and and satisfy all questions, which is all well and good if you have like, 40+ episodes to work with and the style matches with that kind of project. Or, they can not go into ANY further details of that conspiracy and instead focus on the immediate lead characters’ struggle to deal with their own small piece of the world puzzle with witch they are confronted. If done right we share in the character’s helplessness and struggle.

    Either option is actually fine if done correctly. TD did it right by realizing that one season of 8 episodes is suited for a highly focused, intense experience. Unfortunately MOZU did not understand it’s own format. A Japanese drama is perfectly suited for this kind of show but they went the wrong way with it and overcomplicated things. Can you just imagine if this show got rid of the whole Dharma subplot and instead focused on

    It’s really sad because MOZU could have, should have, would have been Japan’s version of True Detective. It would have REALLY put Japan on the map again with their dramas. Unfortunately, it got lost in it’s own overreaching attempt at fitting in 5 seasons worth of plot into 1 and ended up not knowing where it was going or where it would end up.

    I do have to note though that the final scene of MOZU is fantastic which is so strange because that scene would have perfectly fit into, and capped, a truly focused story. It almost seems out of place in it’s quality, like the writers somehow had that scene in mind when they started creating the story and decided to keep it despite the direction the show went in the last half. On one hand it’s enjoyable to watch but on the other it’s just another reminder of what MOZU could have been. I’d be interesting to find out more about MOZU’s production process and see exactly where it made the wrong turn.

    • MOZU is watchable but definitely not on the level of some of Japan’s other detective dramas like Gaiji Keisatsu. It doesn’t get much better in season 2 either, in fact I think it just gets more confusing. T_T Even though it is trying to have a bit of a supernatural twist (with the daruma, etc.), I think it’s going too far because there are way too many unbelievable things happening.

      By the way, I haven’t seen True Detective so thanks for the recommendation! :3

      • Yeah, I’m not watching season 2 at all. They really ruined this potential winner past the point of no return. And yes, do yourself a huge favour and watch True Detective. You will NOT be disappointed.

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What’s New?

-Quartet ep4: Seems like the drama is focusing on one character's story in each episode. Now that we've gotten to see each main character's background story, I wonder what direction the drama will take. Each episode leaves me still impressed with each lead actor...seriously. Matsuda Ryuhei is 100% Beppu here. I even forget that Beppu is acted by Matsuda Ryuhei when watching his character!

-Kamenashi Kazuya, Kimura Fumino, and Yamashita Tomohisa will be starring in an upcoming spring jdrama called Boku, Unmei no Hito desu. Kamenashi and Yamashita are reuniting again, after their popular roles in the high school drama Nobuta wo Produce.

-EVERYONE. I highly recommend watching the Taiwanese romance movie Our Times, starring Vivian Sung, Dino Lee, and Darren Wang. It is TOOOOO GOOD. It's your usual high school-first-love-story but it does it SO WELL. GOOO WATCH IT.

-On an indefinite hiatus.

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