Jdrama Review: MR. BRAIN
Broadcast station: TBS
Broadcast dates: 23 May to 11 June 2009
Cast: Kimura Takuya, Ayase Haruka, Mizushima Hiro, Kagawa Teruyuki
Guests: Gackt, Nakama Yukie, Kamenashi Kazuya, Sato Takeru
Theme song: “Jump” by Van Halen
Synopsis: After an accident, host Tsukumo Ryosuke turns into a neuroscientist and joins the IPS in hopes of showcasing how neuroscience can be useful to current crime scene forensics.
Wow. I had avoided this drama all summer because I thought the premise sounded a little silly, but boy was I wrong. This drama turned out to be highly entertaining and interesting. Kimura Takuya of SMAP stars as the lead Tsukumo Ryosuke, a brain scientist. Tsukumo was a host who was involved in an accident that did considerable damage to his brain. After he survived and began to heal, he became fascinated by the complexities of the brain and henceforth studied neuroscience. The IPS (like the ultimate in criminal and forensic investigation in Japan) hires on Tsukumo to see how neuroscience can help police investigations and forensics.
And thus MR. BRAIN is born.
This was a drama I was very sad to see end. Not that it should go on forever, but it could have stood to be a little longer to tie up some of the loose ends and to delve into some mysteries that weren’t completely solved. Kimura was hilarious as the former host Tsukumo. He did a wonderful job playing the highly (and I mean HIGHLY) eccentric character of Tsukumo. I loved how he always acted crazy, said inappropriate things at the wrong time, and had a habit of invading people’s personal bubbles so he can look them in the eye (literally nose-to-nose, WAY too close for comfort).
In each episode, Tsukumo goes against the grain of IPS, which operates externally from the police. Their job is to take the evidence, analyze and give the findings to the police who do the dirty work and the arresting. Tsukumo doesn’t like this “hands-off” approach and is constantly joining in the investigations with the police, much to the dismay of detective Tanbara (played by Kagawa Teruyuki); however, he is usually asked to help by the junior detective working with Tanbara, Hayashida (played by Mizushima Hiro).
Tsukumo is joined by his assistant Yuri Kazune (played by Ayase Haruka) who he usually has to force to help him due to her unwillingness to go against the “rules.” Originally, Yuri was working for a different department and was not at all thrilled to be made into an assistant to the eccentric doctor in an area she knew nothing about. Yuri is quick to develop a crush on the good-looking Tsukumo, although their relationship never develops into anything more than friends with a student-mentor relationship.
Through his unorthodox ways, Tsukumo gradually begins to affect the rest of IPS, making them more gun-ho and interested in investigating hands on and to keep investigating even if it seems the case is closed. I liked the evolution from a stodgy no-nonsense group, to a fiery, impassioned group who did their best to find the answers to the mysterious cases they took on.
Besides an original (and at times rather educational) plot and great leads, this series boasted a star-studded series of guests. Music star Gackt appeared in episode 2! If the plot and great acting from episode one wasn’t enough to hook you, seeing this megastar would definitely be a reason to keep on going. Gackt plays a cannibal. An honest to goodness cannibal. And I am not giving a secret away, they tell you that from the beginning. Trust Gackt to play such an interesting (for lack of a better word) character. As much as I loved that episode, I admit it was cringe-worthily disturbing and not for the faint-of-heart or those with weak stomachs. Gackt did a great job in playing the crazy cannibal – he definitely sent shivers down my spine.
From cannibals to invisible killers to teleportation to dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), Tsukumo uses his neuroscience to catch the bad guys and to show the truth (really, an invisible killer and teleportation?). Sometimes he stumbles along the way, but it was always enjoyable to see Kimura’s actions and facial expressions. He did a great job playing an adult who was equal parts serious and playful, but who acted like a a giant kid more than anything else.
I enjoyed the third episode with Kamenashi Kazuya. He did a good job in acting his role and making you feel for and understand his character (although, I believe his best acting came at the end of the episode – you’ll have to watch it yourself to see why). It was definitely a new kind of role for him and he did it justice. Although, I enjoyed Sato Takeru’s performance even more as a young pianist with a memory disorder. If you have heard of the Guy Pearce movie Momento or seen/heard of 50 First Dates then you should understand just what kind of memory disorder. Nakagawa Masaru can’t really remember any new information. He has to have pictures and notes for his days because his memory spans only about an hour before being “reset.” Sato did a great job in portraying this character who uses his music as his memories and feelings. This episode will keep you guessing so much it is insane. You really don’t know until the beginning/middle of episode 4 just who killed who and why.
Enter Nakama Yukie. I swear her character embodied all the characters she’s ever played. From the tough girl to the quiet, meek girl, to the outgoing, go-get-em girl. Quite the performance to put them all together and roll them into one character.
I am really glad that I watched this series. I just finished it today and was definitely sad to see it go. Especially since there were questions left unanswered. Is there something wrong with Tsukumo (physically, the warnings of his own brain doctor in episode 2 makes me wonder)? Just who is detective Takei? Was he involved in the wrongful accusation of an innocent man 17 years ago? Is he a cop on the take? What exactly does he want? Oh, and the big question: What did Tsukumo say to Yuri when they were parting ways? I really want to know. A special or a movie would be nice. A second season would be good too, but who knows.
If you are interested in a CSI-esque drama with more humor, nuttiness, disturbing behavior, a great cast, and getting educated about the human brain, then this drama is a must-see for you.