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Friday, March 7, 2014

Ikebukuro west gate park (2000)



Country: Japan
Format: drama in 11 episodes and Sp
Genre: comedy, suspense
Cast: Nagase Tomoya, Kato Ai, Kubozuka Yosuke, Sato Ryuta, Yamashita Tomohisa, Morishita Aiko, Nishijima Kazuhiro, Sakaguchi Kenji, Yazawa Shin, Koyuki, Kitaro, Watanabe Ken, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Sugita Kaoru, Sakai Wakana, Watanabe Tetsu, Yusef Lotfi, Ikezu Shoko, Waki Tomohiro, Kawasaki Mayo
Synopsis: Majima Makoto is an usual guy from Ikebukuro, an area which is known for gangs and delinquents. His is best friends with G-boys gang leader Takashi, without being in the gang himself. After Makoto's friend Rika gets murdered he starts to find the murderer, because nobody believes in police. Soon Makoto discovers that he is helping the whole Ikebukuro to investigate many problems and mysteries. 
Rating: 4/5
I was impressed by this drama. On 25th Television Drama Academy Awards it won 7 categories of 13th and was the best drama of this season. "Ikebukuro West Gate Park" is based on same-named manga by Ishida Ira.

Even though Makoto rather is alone and is not part of gangs, he is the most respected guy in Ikebukuro - mostly because Takashi respects him. Makoto might look lowbrow, but actually he is clever, tough and caring. He cannot leave people into trouble, which is the reason why he gets involved into everything. Makoto is almost impotent and does not feel sexual attraction for most women, which brings more funny situations. At the same time, he still cares about women who are close to him. For a long time he considers Rika as his girlfriend, even though they were not officially together for a long time. I think these kind of roles are best for Nagase Tomoya - he has this kind of comedy-gene where he can be really funny while being serious and yet he looks amazing.
Masa is Makoto's close friend, who kind of a wish he would be like Makoto. Most of the time he does not understand the real situation, but despite being a bit stupid, he is really kind and caring. At first he is not part of any crews either, but with changing life he has to make a decision. 
Hikaru is one crazy immature girl, who is in love with Makoto. She was best friends with Rika. She get jealous over every little thing, which makes her really delusional. She is one character who from the start annoyed me. Compared to Rika she was way too childish and just wanted to be more like Rika, who knew what she did and what she wanted.
Shun's character is really easy to like. He is a bit "geeky" and "manga-lover" (would say "otaku", but at that time "otaku's" did not have positive meaning). He rather quiet, sometimes does not show emotions and keeps a lot of things to himself to know, which will become dangerous for him. It is nice to see him trying his best and most of the time his actions will drop other jaws. It is perfect chance to see chibi Yamashita Tomohisa and I must say that I cannot believe that he is the same person as he is nowadays. It is also his first big drama as part of main cast.
My favorite character was Takashi, the King of G-boys. He follows his own rules and everybody else follow his rules, because he has divided the "laws" so that they do not go much against police and yakuza. He is an easy-going guy who does not not seem to take anything seriously, but that is only his appearance, because his actions show how serious he actually is. He has a really close relationship with Makoto and always tries to recruit him into gang. Takashi has a really weird taste in women. He is dating Jessie who is seems to be half foreigner, older than him and with outstanding fashion sense. Nobody actually knows who Jessie really is and it brings a lot of confusion when Jessie would appear with out her usual appearance. Kubozuka Yosuke won a best supporting actor award for this role - well, being able to kiss different men and beating up a lot of people has its beauty. 
If I should describe Kana with one sentence, then she is wolf in lamb's skin, because gyoza how well she can mislead you. Never trust a beautiful woman - I leave the fact how beautiful Koyuki is decide for yourself. Kana seems really nice and kind woman, someone who could take Makoto away from this lifestyle, but that is until you get to know her.
I also should mention Tsumabuki Satoshi''s role Fujio "Saru" Saitou, because he became well-known actor only later. He is Makoto's former classmate who in school was really weak and got bullied, but now works for yakuza. He was the protector of yakuza boss' daughter and secretly was in love with her, but the life went other ways and he ended up losing the girl and his pinky finger.
As usually in these kind of dramas the police is never normal. There are Hamaguchi, Sakurai, Yokoyama. Hamaguchi is young perverted police officer who everybody make fun of, even though he does not understand it himself. Sakurai is in love with Makoto's mother and would do anything for her. That is also a reason why he frequently goes to their house, but never arrests Makoto. Yokoyama at the same time is new in Ikebukuro and considers Makoto as the most evil guy there who controls everyone. Of course he is right in some things, but most of the time he is just annoying while trying to bust Makoto. He seems really strong guy, but his weakness is his wife, who has been in hospital for years.
Makoto's mom is a very young in her heart and wants to find a nice handsome man, because most of the time she has raised Makoto and worked hard. There are many mysteries around her about what even Makato does not know. Another character who should be mentioned is Chiaki, who is like a family friend to Makoto. She works at "love-shop", so in rough words she is prostitute, but as she says "It is just a work and it pays well". She has a several men until she finally meets with her "true-love" who happens to be in Japan illegally.
I was so annoyed by Kyoichi Ozaki . Basically he came back from France from studying ballet, but back in Ikebukuro he thought that he would make life interesting by creating new gang Black Angels - unfortunately he does not know the rules of Ikebukuro, which are the reason why G-Boyz have been able to exist without much trouble. No matter what he is always dancing ballet., even if it has nothing to do with situation. Nishijima Kazuhiro is a real ballet dancer.
Yamai "Doberman" is rather psycho. At first I did not think that he would be important character, but as the story got rolling the more I understood that the guy who is always on the background of the screen needs to have a bigger importance. He is independent, but as usually every guy will lose to a beautiful woman.  
I was really hooked with this drama and finished it with 3 days, though I had finished it sooner if I had not had to show that I am social person who likes to go out. (Life as Erasmus). I was so attached that I even did not have a moment to cry properly and even during lessons and parties I only thought of different reasons of who and why is the murderer.
I think the whole drama is really genius! There is so much happening all the time and the characters are priceless. There is so much comedy, but at the same time it shows a lot of serious things. I found it interesting to see how much Japanese street culture has changed with last 14 years. You cannot see so nampas anymore walking around in big groups, nowadays gyaru's are getting more natural looking (at least it looks like this to me). Besides, Ikebukuro is considered now as a really great and peaceful region to live.

SPOILER-review:  I started to think that Hikaru is a bit weird from first episodes, but I did not believe that she could kill someone. I do not know why I did not come to think that she was controlling Yamai. I do not want to know how horrible it would be when your other side wants to hurt everybody around you just to hurt yourself..

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