Quartet Episode 1 Recap
Romanized title: Karutetto
English title: Quartet
Broadcast station: TBS
Broadcast dates: 18 January – 24 March 2011
Cast: Fukuda Saki, Matsushita Yuya, Watanabe Natsuna, Kamikawa Tamaya
Based on a novel by Arimasa Osawa (known for the Shinjuku Shark series)
Synopsis: Three youths go undercover into a drug den in China Town – all with different motives. Can they bond as a team and trust each other enough to take on the cartel?
I don’t recap a whole lot of Japanese dramas (as you can see by the long list of unfinished Kdramas I need to finish) but after watching the first episode of Quartet, I decided to recap it.
It’s a TBS late night drama so it has the more risqué stuff going on and we get to see lots of violence and drug usage. The main basis of the plot revolves around a quartet (hence the name, but it seems to be there will be 3 young people doing the actual fighting under the supervision of an older person who is in charge of the unit) of people who have been affected by drug use in some way shape or form. They come together to form an undercover unit to stop drug dealers and slave traders.
This drama stars actress/singer Fukuda Saki and singer Matsushita Yuya in his first drama role (he’s pretty good looking and not that bad at acting thankfully). Watanabe Natsuna rounds out the young cast and the boss is played by Kamikawa Tamaya.
We start this series with statistics about drug related crime in japan and how the undercover officers going after drug crimes is steadily increasing. Queue narration from Fukuda (who plays Shun), talking about how difficult living is and how people choose to embrace the death gods and a peaceful death versus struggling to survive anymore for to try to survive is a constant fight that is eventually lost. During this narration we see a little girl and boy watching people in a drug den. Cut to Fukuda cutting off her long hair and then getting tattoos up and down her arms, her hair now short and blonde. Then we cut to a street fight where a young man kicks some serious butt.
We then cut to a beautiful, sunny day where a young man named Takeru (played by singer Matsushita Yuya) approaches a girl about work. He calls her special and asks for her email, but she initially rejects him. Since she refuses to cooperate he pretends to leave after giving her some grand speech in which she then calls after him and stops him. Just as they are about to exchange emails, his phone rings and it is a call from an old man in underwear who complains that a model took some drugs during the break and is now unable to work. Takeru then gets the girl he approached to take on the case (I must say at first I thought it was the sex trade, but I was wrong).
We then are in a fight club where we get to see drug usage and some people in the sex trade. We also see a nicely built young man take on a guy almost twice his size and completely whip his butt. Shun (Fukuda) watches from the sidelines smiling. She also gives him advice during the right (such as to show his full strength in order to be able to go against the major players). Rin then promises saying he always listens to her advice.
Now the old man is in a bathrobe and he thanks Takeru for bringing the new model. Apparently they are just taking ero pictures. Takeru asked what happened to Hanoi (the model) and the man says that he just had her dragged out. It seems like young kids are turning to drugs more and more these days. Taker says that if the older generation is bad, then the younger one will follow suit (true unfortunately). The old man agrees and then asks for some older girls next time. The new model then comes out complaining about the school swimsuit. Takeru takes his leave while she kicks the old guy (who keeps asking for more…eww).
Back at the club Rin easily wins the fight. Shun excitedly congratulates him and they are complimented by a viewer. They thank him and move on while the boss watches and makes a comment on how a wild dog is still a wild dog no matter how hard you train it. In the locker room, Rin is changing while Shun prepares treatment for his minor injuries. She then says that if Rin can succeed overseas, then he can get a green card and the two can leave for a better, warmer place. Shun asks where they should go and Rin says it doesn’t matter (the sentiment being that anywhere is good as long as they are together?). Shun thanks him and he tells her to quit being weird. Shun then tells him that he is the only one that makes her feel proud (meaning Rin will be her Achilles heel or the catalyst to her joining the undercover team). Rin is the one who gives her hope and without him, she would have given up a long time ago. Rin then says they can’t keep hiding from Tskukamoto. If he finds out that they want to independent, he won’t let them off. Shun tells him not to worry as there will be a press conference in a week’s time and after that Tskukamoto won’t be able to do anything. They have a very cute relationship.
We then meet with Takeru who has stopped at an older woman’s house who runs a massage parlor. She complains about not getting to see Takeru often now and then asks to do it since her husband and kids are gone. Takeru says it’s only meaningful to do it at the store and keeps an eye on the river. He then sees the man who goes fishing, but never really fishes. The woman tells him that she still has a stash and that Takeru can have that. Takeru says he doesn’t want to do that and runs out. Takeru asks the man how much and he is told. When the guy gets ready to hand over the drugs, Takeru opens up a can of whoop ass on him. I kind of did and yet didn’t expect it because he seems sleazy at times, but then when mentioning drugs earlier, he seemed rather angry about it (even under his devil may care exterior). He learns where the drugs originated from and seeks out the supplier.
At the supplier’s house, he is punishing a distrubutor who is not pushing the drugs like he was supposed to. Just as the guy was going to be in a world of pain, his lackey comes in and punches him (well, Takeru makes the guy do it). Takeru then drops him and goes in where he fights the other guy and demands to know where he got the drugs from. He wouldn’t tell and fought back. Takeru totally kicked his rear and made his lackey burn the drugs (even after the lackey offered the drugs as payment to save himself).
We then cut to Shun who is a bar and smiling. The bartender notices the smile and asks if something good happened as two thugs come in and ask for Takeru. The bartender states that he doesn’t know anyone by that name. We then see Takeru leave. He seems started by a car where there is a man with his brains blown out, but he then ignores it and walks on (perhaps he couldn’t see that inside. He was being watched by a man who puts in a call to Kuchinawa (Kamikawa) and says that he just left. Kuchinawa tells the man to watch him and the man complains about how he didn’t even notice the driver – a fatal mistake (did the watcher take care of the driver who may have gotten to Takeru?) Kuchinawa then tells him he knows what to do and the man replies that people who can’t control violence are trash and trash aren’t worthy. Kuchinawa smiles and says he will leave it to the other guy who hangs up and puts on some medical gloves. Uh-oh?
Back in the bar Takeru shows up and the bartender calls him Hiroshi (but the thugs recognized Takeru anyways). Takeru then says who he is and the bartender manages to trip one of the thugs before the fight breaks out. Takeru, like before whips some serious butt. Shun gets involved and helps out a little. Apparently she can fight pretty well, too. Takeru compliments her and then puts his arm around her and asks for a drunk. Shun responds by fighting him. They have a cute little battle which ends with Shun staking off and Takeru asking the bartender what is with her (is it a surprise that his charm didn’t work?).
The bartender ushers Takeru off saying he will clean up. Takeru apologizes for the mess and the bartender tells him not to worry and get home safely. Up pulls Kuchinawa who asks the bartender about “if you had a second chance in life…” isn’t there a song like that? The bartender replies that there are lots of chances in life and then invites Kuchinawa in for a free drink. Kuchinawa declines saying he is still working and drives off. The bartender turns to go back inside, but his face does not look happy at all. Does he know something is going on?
Shun is walking home and recalling her childhood where she watches a woman go off with a man at the drug den. Was that her mother? Did she give up on life and leave Shun all alone? The episode ends here and we get to see Matsushita’s PV for “Paradise,” the theme for this series.
All in all, I do like this series thus far. My only problem was that it was hard to gauge past from present at the very beginning. I pretty much knew that the girl was Shun as a child, but then I guess we fast forwarded to when Shun becomes an undercover and then we have another shot that I don’t know is past, present or future where it looks like Takeru is fighting some people and then boom, we have the sunny day and Takeru approaching the girl. It could have been handled better so it didn’t flow seamlessly leaving one wondering what was what and what was happening when.