Jdramas Winter 2015 Sampling: Ourobouros Eps 1-2 [First Impressions]

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

Hello all!  I’m trying out a new post series where I write my first impressions on some dramas that I’m trying out.  Writing my first impressions does NOT mean that I will necessarily continue reviewing these dramas.  These first impressions are meant to give you a little ‘sampling’ of the current drama season.  Think of them as a follow-up to my anticipated jdramas posts.  😉  Let me know what you think of this format!

obe01-2.5

Ouroboros is about two childhood friends–Ikuo (Ikuta Toma) and Tatsuya (Oguri Shun)–who vow to get revenge for the murder of their foster mom, Yuiko. (not sure exactly if she was a foster mom or an orphanage/group-home supervisor?)  The murder was covered up by the higher-ups in the police.  Except ironically, the cover up was done so badly that the police didn’t even bother to hide it from Ikuo and Tatsuya? Huh?  And get this–the baddies are an elite group of people (in the police, government, etc.) who all wear limited edition gold Rolex watches.  The group is called the “Kintokei” which literally means…GOLD WATCH.  Not that subtle at all. T_T” So, Ikuo and Tatsuya infiltrate the ranks of the police and the yakuza to track down the baddies.  They become vigilantes who go around killing off criminals while looking for the Kintokei.

Already, just from episodes 1-2 alone, we’ve seen tons of:

  • Flashbacks to Ikuo and Tatsuya’s childhood memories
  • Ikuo and Tatsuya solemnly saying together “We’ll kill them”
  • Gold watches
  • Ikuo and Tatsuya ‘secretly’ meeting together and having a full-on conversation back to back
  • The Ouroboros symbol

I’m not a big fan of the flashbacks at all, already with episode 2 they are starting to feel repetitive.  Whenever a flashback starts I feel the urge to just fast forward it. T_T  We don’t need tons of flashbacks for the back story about Yuiko. Also the idea that the main characters have such a vivid memory of how Yuiko looked and every single word she said to them doesn’t fly by me.  This happened like 15 years ago, there is no way that Ikuo & Tatsuya’s memories are 100% complete.

obe01-2.2

Ikuo is generally a happy go lucky dork who seems really harmless and innocent.  But in fact, he’s an ace detective who is known for quickly solving crimes and apprehending criminals.  (note that he does this with the help of Tatsuya, though)  Plus he’s a revenge-driven vigilante who has no problem killing criminals. I think Ikuo has the potential to be an interesting character.  After all, he is very duplicitous despite his innocent persona.  He is pretending to be a law-abiding cop when in fact he has the ulterior motive of murder.  The problem is that the only signs of his duplicity is when 1) He keeps on dropping random, obvious hints that something fishy is up with him! TO HIS DETECTIVE PARTNER!! I’m surprised he hasn’t been found out already! 2) He goes on his vigilante missions with Tatsuya.  Aside from that, he doesn’t show his internal struggle between his two personas.

In terms of casting, I think Ikuta Toma is a good fit for this role.  Yes, it’s hard to see how Ikuo transitions from his ‘good detective’ act to his real, darker self.  But in terms of Ikuo’s dorkiness, Toma suits him so well, LOL.  Most of us can agree that Oguri Shun is the stronger actor out of the two, but that’s not to say that Toma is a bad actor.  I just think that Toma’s acting range is more limited and he tends to go for certain kinds of roles that suit him most.

obe01-2.3

Sorry Toma, I have to say that I still like Oguri Shun’s character better though.  >_> Tatsuya is undoubtedly the more compelling character here.  In contrast to Ikuo who’s pretending to be a righteous detective, Tatsuya is not posturing as a ‘bad yakuza’.  He IS a yakuza and he is fully immersed in the underworld in order to get his revenge.  I think the thing about Tatsuya that makes him more intriguing is that he’s more mysterious?  I don’t know what it is! Oguri Shun really looks like the original character in the manga and of course, his voice suits him as well.  (Oguri Shun has done voice acting for anime in the past) *W*

ouro-ajdr

So, it’s obvious that I’m really enjoying seeing Oguri Shun & Ikuta Toma collaborating together once again.  The downside of the Ouroboros is that for me, these two are the only reason to watch it.  I took a peek at episodes 3-4 and they  follows the same format of eps1-2 with Ikuo & Tatsuya bringing down a bad guy together at the very end.  Already the plot is really predictable.  On top of that, I can’t take the Kintokei seriously.  HEH.  I also think that the story could be told in a better way.  As I said before, there is waaay too much use of flashbacks in this drama!!!  T_T   Lastly, my gripe with the story is that pretty much makes out  the vigilantes to be heroes of justice when in fact, they are revenge-driven killers.  Just because they bring down criminals doesn’t change the fact that they do it through murder.

Overall

Bottom Line: It’s great to see Oguri Shun & Ikuta Toma together, but I’m not sure that they are enough to keep me watching.  If you are a fan of Shun & Toma, it may be worth checking this out to see their characters.  But don’t expect an amazing plot.

Will I keep watching? Probably not.  I have peeked at episodes 3-4 and they don’t seem to improve much from the first couple episodes.

More about Ouroboros:

  • The drama is based off of the original manga  Ouroboros: Keisatsu wo Sabaku Haware ni Ari.
  • The theme song is “Sakura” by Arashi.  (See below!)
  • Ikuta Toma and Oguri Shun have collaborated 8 years ago in the hit jdrama Hana Kimi and the Hana Kimi SP.
  • Popular actress Ueno Juri rounds up the cast as Ikuo’s detective partner.  I didn’t have much to say about her character, so I didn’t mention her in my review.  I’m pretty sure her dad is a member of the Kintokei.

Sakura (Theme Song) by Arashi

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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  • I didn’t try this drama yet… and your comments don’t compel to me either! Just the two actors isn’t enough, also because neither Ikuta nor Oguri are on my absolute-fave list (they are on the worth-watching-if-in-a-good-drama list).

    Wondering which other dramas you’re going to tackle in this new series. I’m watching Gakkou no Kaidan (love it! mostly for Kamiki, but he’s on the always-must-watch list 😉 ) and Mondai no Aru Restaurant (with Maki Yoko), which is quite interesting. A little exaggerated, highly frustrating at times (every male character in that drama!!! kinda hard watching Higashide Masahiro play total jerk….. so much a jerk that I don’t want him to have a redemption arc even!) but also a bit different in a good way. It actually uses flashback too, in the first 15 minutes of the first episode – but in an usual way that made me think that this drama is actually quite daring.

    I’m rambling!

    • I think I should just give up on saying that I will definitely watch a drama for so-and-so actor/actress. Because most of the time..it doesn’t happen. T_T Hmm I don’t think Oguri Shun & Ikuta Toma are enough to make me watch every single one of their dramas either.

      I’m planning to also do first impressions for Ryuusei no Wagon and Mondai no Aru Restaurant. Heheh I figured you’d be watching the Kamiki drama. I feel like I’m not really connecting with Mondai no Aru Restaurant? I like the concept of them starting up their own restaurant together though.

      • I’m not sure I “connect” to Mondai no Aru Restaurant yet either, I’ll just call it “interesting” for now… they’ve pushed certain things to the extreme just a bit too much (as much as I find all the men frustrating, the women are too, with their never-ending self-blaming for things that are obviously not their doing – I get they are trying to show zero-confidence women, but the housewife that takes any shit from her husband is overused in jdramas. Which wouldn’t be so bad if that was eventually overcome, but even when the housewife sets herself free, it always seems to involve her forgiving the husband rather than her saying “No, that was your doing, not mine. I’m not going to be part of that anymore and I don’t care how you live for the rest of your life either”. I’d like to see a bit more variety and nuance in this sort of character, but that rarely seems to happen.)

        Kamiki’s being a wonderful maniac in his drama, that’s a role he does superbly.

        Have you tried Second Love yet? Had an interesting first episode (a brooding Kamenashi Kazuya is a good thing), though I’m not sure where it will be going. It could potentially come with lots of scheming from love rivals, which I wouldn’t enjoy. Well, at worst I’ll drop it and rewatch Tatta Hitotsu no Koi instead!

        • I also felt like Mondai made everything go to the extremes. I don’t really know what I was expecting but…I guess I thought it would be more multidimensional? BTW I was also surprised seeing Higashide Masahiro in a jerk role.

          Based on the synopsis for Second Love, I don’t think I will be very into the drama. This is random but…is it only me or does Kame always have the same hairstyle? O_O

          • I guess the extremes are to make a point… but I just don’t think it’s needed. It be more realistic to have some nice guys, and some that might be nice but have no power to speak up (and the show revealing that, not just presenting everyone as a jerk).

            Haha, I think you are right about Kame! The fringe is too long too, I kept thinking he needs to cut it (even if I don’t mind the hairstyle in general)!

  • I’m on the fence with this dorama too! After 3 episodes it hasn’t really grabbed me (despite my overwhelming love for Oguri Shun & Ikuta Toma). I still have a lot of doramas from last year to power through (not to mention my ever growing backlog of ones that I’ve missed), so this season may go on the backburner for a while. I’ll definitely be interested in your impressions of anything that’s good! (or what to avoid…)

  • I agreed with your impression. I’m getting bored with the drama. I’m interested with another Jdorama by Kamenashi called second love with Fukada. Adult theme and beautiful cinemagraphs. Haha…

  • I’ve finished this drama.

    I agree with every single thing you said. The first couple episodes were so predictable. One case per episode and the cases were rather easy to guess. I only stick around because I wanted the know the truth behind Yuiko’s death plus I love the cast.

    Episode 7 was the least predictable and least repetitive episode. I feel they were just filling up each episodes with a lot of flashbacks and long dialogues after that to fill up time throughout the episodes. They don’t have enough content for 46 minutes per episode to begin with.

    The last episode was meh too. I thought OUROBOROS would be much more interesting than this. OUROBOROS was my most highly anticipated drama and it’s such a huge let down.

    My favourite drama for this season is still Ghost Writer. The acting, cinematography, character driven story, fleshed out characters, BGM etc. were all fantastic.

    • Maybe I’ll check out ep7 then. Too bad that they continued to use a lot of flashbacks in the rest of the episodes. T_T” I’m curious to hear whether the live action of Ouroboros is faithful to the original manga or not….if Ouroboros was in fact faithful to the manga then..I guess there’s not much more it could’ve done.

      • All i know is they added a lot of scenes where Ikuo and Tatsuya met up in the public.

        In the manga, what I heard was they contact via phone or something and didn’t meet up in public as it’s way too obvious.

        Perhaps scriptwriter wanted to put both of them in the same scene together but that resulted in even more loopholes.

        The manga hasn’t ended yet though. I hope the ending for the manga would be much better than what scriptwriter did.

        • Their public meetings were so obvious, omg. I wish they hadn’t had so many public meetings in the drama version…but you’re right, they probably wanted to show the two together rather than just having them talk on the phone all the time…

          • Me too! It was kinda dumb actually! The whole thing was rather dumb. How they wanted to take revenge but they basically shouted it out to the whole world that they’re gonna take revenge.

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What’s New?

-Wrote up 10 New Year's Resolutions for dramas! Read it here.

-It took me a really long time, but I'm finally done with my end of the year 2016 dramas review! Check it out here. It includes Good Morning Call, Juhan Shuttai, Princess Weiyoung, Imperial Doctress, and so much more! Happy New Year!

-Tried the new WOWOW jdrama Rakuen, starring Nakama Yukie (Gokusen). It's a suspenseful, dark drama that has some mystery to it. Will watch ep2.

-Started Quartet 2017, written by Sakamoto Yuji and starring some of my favorite actors/actresses Mitsushima Hikari & Matsuda Ryuhei. The drama so far has some humorous moments that I could laugh at, even without subtitles. Fingers crossed that it'll get subbed!

-On an indefinite hiatus.

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