Jdrama Review: The Quiz Show Season 2
English title: The Quiz Show 2
Broadcast network: NTV
Broadcast dates: 18 April to 20 June 2009
Cast: Sakurai Sho, Yokoyama Yu, Maya Miki, Mizusawa Elena
Theme song: “Ashita no Kioku” by Arashi
Synopsis: A popular game show is the vehicle for a PD’s quest for revenge over the death of his beloved. This is essentially a reboot of the original Quiz Show with a slightly different plot and guest spots from the original actors.
Sakurai Sho of Arashi stars as Kamiyama, an amnesiac host to a popular variety show, The Quiz Show. Each week, a new guest appears hoping to have their dream realized. If the guest can clear 7 questions, they can earn 10,000,000¥ or trade it all in for a final question. If they can successfully clear the 8th questions, the television show will then do their best to make sure their ultimate dream is realized.
Of course, the plot turns out not to be quite that simple. Instead of your basic run-of-the-mill questions, The Quiz Show delves into the personal lives of it’s contestants asking hard-hitting, extremely intimate details of their lives, revealing the secrets that many of them have desperately tried to keep hidden.
When I first read the premise of this show, I thought it sounded stupid and didn’t want to give it a chance, but I broke down and finally watched it and am glad that I did. You do not need to watch season one to understand season two. Season two has a new leading cast and there is no solitary connection between the two, so they can operate as stand alone dramas; however, I must admit curiosity to incidents mentioned about season one. I have tried to locate a good English version of the first season, but have not found one yet, so I am left to wonder just what exactly happened in the events they are referencing, but they play heavily on the current plot so there is really no need to really know what happened in the previous one.
I have not seen many of Sakurai Sho’s dramas and was quite let down by his latest with Horikita Maki, but I absolutely loved him as the host of The Quiz Show. He has a very expressive face and he is an excellent host. Really. Sakurai was basically the main host of Vs. Arashi and he does quite well in that role, so I think it was a rather easy transition from him being a host to acting a host in a drama. The character of MC Kamiyama is intriguing. Seemingly fun-loving and playful, there is a deadly serious side underneath that he unleashes as the players come closer to their dreams. He wants people to be able to realize their ultimate dream, but he does believe that they need to be “worthy” of their dream. That is one of the reasons he goes along with Yokoyama Yu’s character of the director of The Quiz Show.
The live shows are the highlight of each episode, though as the show progresses, Kamiyama’s flashbacks begin to figure more prominently into the story. Each episode, more pieces begin to fall into place in Kamiyama’s memory. The fragmentary pieces are so random, we really don’t know what’s going on until the final 2 episodes, which is just where the production team wants the viewer to be. I can honestly say, I had a vague idea of the truth, but when the ending came I definitely was surprised. It was, to me unexpected, which is a good thing. You never want a plot to be too obvious.
Sakurai did an excellent job of portraying the confident host and the bewildered, suffering amnesiac. It is not any easy task, and he did a great job in making the viewer believe how much he suffered and I was rooting for him to find out the truth and wanted to comfort him when he was in so much pain. (Seriously when he was in the asylum, he was just like a whipped puppy begging you to hold him and tell him everything was going to be alright.)
Yokoyama Yu also did a great job in his role of the director. I honestly never quite knew just what was going on inside Honma’s head. We were always left guessing. Although, you did pretty much figure out Honma was using the show for revenge, it was hard to guess why. I knew the girl Misaki had something to do with it, but I didn’t understand the relationship he had with her until the last of the episodes. Yokoyama is great at playing dark characters, I loved his one episode stint in Koishite Akuma, and I do like his currently airing drama Hidarime Tantei Eye. His portrayal of the devious, and yet caring, director was spot-on. You could sympathize with his anger, though I really didn’t like his crazy moments in the last few episodes, and I wanted to cry when he had the raw emotions and tears. Here is a male who is a great crier. You honestly wouldn’t think a guy would be able to cry as good as he does, but it is utterly believable. No eyedrops for him.
I could try to go into the plot even more, but it is definitely better to watch versus reading about it. Each episode kept me wanting more and I finished this series in only a day and a half. It is definitely worth a gander, and if you can find season one, it would be good to watch first, but it is definitely not necessary to the plot. Although the ending was unexpected (and not bad), I wasn’t quite happy with it, but oh well. It was definitely good and I will probably re-watch this series again someday. But not right away as I still have WAY too many other dramas to watch.
In a nutshell: This show is great for people who want a darker version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire where the guests bare their souls and secrets to get what they want (of course not everyone can clear the final round. Who does or doesn’t is always an interesting guessing game).
Key phrase: I know everything about you (this sends shivers down the spine when Sakurai says this with that intense look of his).