ATARU: The First Love & The Last Kill

What a loooong title for this movie. You know, I don’t know about other countries when they follow up a drama with a movie, but it seems in Japan that the movies really just feel like extended specials. They might have fancier sets and CGI at times, but most of them don’t give off a “movie” vibe. When I was a child, my older sister and I were in love with Power Rangers. We went to see each movie. Now those you could definitely discern were of movie quality versus television special quality in everything they did.

Having loved the drama, I was really hoping to love the movie, but from the previews I wasn’t quite sold on the plot and after watching the movie, I really felt it was completely pointless. I actually thought that how they ended the series and with the SPs, I didn’t like what they did with Ebina’s character quitting being an officer to become a private detective with no work. You would think she would continue to work on throw away cases as a policewoman, but no. That’s kind of a pet peeve of mine, but oh well.

AtaruMovie-00002This movie brings back our old cast with a few additions. We have Matsuyuki Yasuko playing Hoshi Aio, a wheelchair-bound commissioner with a bad attitude who appears to be Sawa’s ex-wife. At least that’s the vibe I’m getting from the two. And of course we have Horikita Maki who made an appearance in the SP taking on the villainess role in this movie as the computer virus vigilante Madoka.

So in this movie we have Madoka set on bringing Chokozai/Ataru over to her side since the two were really close when Madoka was actually part of the SPB which is the savant program of the FBI. Thinking that Madoka was a bad influence on Ataru, Larry had her ejected from the SPB and from then on she became a criminal.We learn in this movie that it was Ataru who led to her capture and subsequent prison time. One thing to note about Madoka is that she does target criminals. That doesn’t mean that what she is doing is right, but she at least wasn’t targeting innocent people and murdering them for no reason. Proof she isn’t rotten to the core.

This movie explores more of how Larry’s department created these people. There is Ataru, our beloved Chokozai, who is in pain with each case he works on and solved and then there is Madoka who was input with the data of tons of horrible criminals and thus she became the twisted person she is. Sawa is always one to get on Larry’s case and Sawa really does have some depth under his shallow exterior. He is right in his attacking Larry and throughout this movie you can see Larry really feeling apologetic for what he did to Madoka. I can’t completely hate Larry as he does really care for Ataru like he was his own son, but he’s done a lot of bad things in his pursuit of getting the savant program to fly.

AtaruMovie-00003One thing I really hated, besides Ebina being relegated to a completely useless blockhead at times, is how quick people turned on Ataru when Madoka sets him up as the fall guy for her recent rash of crimes. Larry and Sawa and the people who know Ataru don’t want to believe it, but with the mounting evidence, what can they do? I do like that Ebina smacks both Sawa and Larry for thinking Chokozai could do something so evil. Larry does point out that given Ataru’s condition, he really can’t differentiate the two, which we know is completely untrue. All you need to see is Ataru’s emotions when it comes to his family and friends, and how he resonates with each case he undertakes. He isn’t just doing things because that is how he’s been trained—he wants to solve the cases and help people. Doesn’t that prove he does have some sense of what is right and what is wrong?

AtaruMovie-00004Them beating the different Ataru in the investigation room was just crazy. Sure, he was going a bit out of control at the sight of the plane explosion, which he more or less believed to be beautiful fireworks, but the response was way too harsh and the fact that Hoshi did nothing to stop it and let it happen is just wrong. I don’t really like her character and I felt she was kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things. Of course she changes her ways when she realizes that Madoka is very much alive and controlling everything, but it’s a bit too late. She does sincerely apologize to Ataru who basically ignores that fact and just asks if her legs are okay. She can walk on prosthetics, but it’s hard on her so she mostly stays in her wheelchair.

I think the biggest thing I hated about the plot of the movie is just how they end things. Madoka idolized and loved Ataru. Besides the nun who raised her after her parents abandoned her in a church, Ataru was the one she had the closest connection to. Thus when Larry separated the two, it put her over the edge. She wanted Ataru to experience the same things she did and come over to her side so she won’t be alone any more. Ataru won’t do that as he doesn’t want Madoka to hurt people any more. He does agree to stay by her side forever since they are one and the same. Of course a concerned Sawa and Ebina rush in and that sends Madoka fleeing after giving them a nice jolt of electricity.

AtaruMovie-00005She and Ataru later meet up outside of Vegas where they solved their first case and Madoka sets up an elaborate suicide. Ataru and Ebina and Sawa seem to talk her out of it, but she does end up killing herself and Ataru follows suit…only his gun was empty the entire time, so he doesn’t die. Later he goes back to where Madoka killed herself with a convertible full of his beloved lilies. He covers the entire area with them while Ebina and Sawa look on. And…that’s it. The entire movie and hunting Madoka down and having Ataru targeted like a criminal…ends just like that and it feels muddled and pointless and like a completely WTF ending. If they were going to do that from the beginning, it makes everything seem rather trite and silly and did we really need a movie to see this? They could have done another SP and ended things like that with Chokozai parting with his first love as well.

I recommend the series. It is good. The second SP (the first part was just a recap of the series) was good since it showed Chokozai reuniting with family and his brother. I don’t recommend this movie. Not even my love for the actors in it and Chokozai in general can make me like it. I was overall very disappointed in how things turned out.

3 comments

  • Thanks for the review/recap. I just finished the series and specials. It was excellent, and loved the one with his brother. But I wondered if this one had gotten made. I’m glad to know it did.

    My pet peeve is similar to yours. Ebina’s character was dumbed down and more childish by the time the specials rolled around. Her antics often felt out of place, even if this was part comedy. It was just too broad and stupid. Ebina has the drive and ambition for being a Private Detective, plus the energy, but Sawa told her many times that she really didn’t have a good talent for detecting, and she used Ataru every step of the way. I agree with him. But how many times were the cops willing to take her back on the force and she declined? She desperately needs Ataru, in the drama specials there were simple things that she didn’t even know, bad English or not. If I can find this, I’ll definitely watch it because I love Kitamura Kazuki. And I’m not very familiar with Nakai Masahiro’s work, but his performance as Ataru was top notch and fascinating.

    • I, too, loved the series and I really did love to see the bonding between the brothers. So cute.

      I was very annoyed at how much they dumbed her down. Yes, she needed Ataru/Chokozai to help her investigations, but she wasn’t completely helpless and Sawa has relied on him as has the entire force and investigation team before. I really think that if they were going to make her so useless, they should have just left her on the force. Or else…let her have Ataru with her instead of having him always go back with Larry. Kitamura Kazuki is an awesome actor and this was the first show I saw Masahiro in, but other people talk about how he doesn’t do many dramas and is very picky and quite good. His portrayal in this series makes me believe that’s probably true. When you see him going back and forth between his real life personality and his character in this series, it was hilarious and very well done. I loved that BTS clip and he got scolded for promoting the drama so shamelessly.

      • True, everyone used Ataru. I liked when Sawa actually realized it and saw how much he was stressing out before anyone else. I think by that point I was frustrated because I saw the stress building up too. So when someone actually addressed i cheered, “Right on!”

        I just started a Masahiro drama called Konkatsu, it’s not bad. I’m still on episode 1, so I don’t have a major opinion yet. But I’m not finding it a ‘must watch.’ I recently watched ‘Yokai Ningen Bem’ with Kitamura, about good-hearted humanoid monsters, you’d think it would be cheesy, but the drama was pretty amazing, and I needed a box of tissues every episode. lol. It’s become a favorite. Thanks for the reply.

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