Jdrama Review: N no Tame ni
It’s actually amazing that a plot can be created that wasn’t boring and kept you guessing. What you thought was the truth really wasn’t and who you thought was innocent was guilty while the guilty were innocent. Oh…the feels this drama created! That is not to say there was no faults. There always is, isn’t there? But the good parts of the drama far outweigh the problems which is always good in my book.
This drama is told in flashbacks mixed with the present day. The flashbacks go from 1999-2004 while the present day is 2014. You don’t get any scenes that cover that 10 year gap, but those years aren’t all that necessary in reality. We don’t need to know how the characters lived in those years and how the incidents shaped them and haunted them. It’s clearly seen.
Okay, the basic plot…is anything from basic, lol. There are two incidents that occur. One incident occurred 15 years ago and one incident that occurred 10 years ago. The main focus is the 2004 incident, but at its root is the 1999/2000 incident, too. So, I shall try to explain. On Christmas 2004 a double murder incident happened in a posh high rise apartment. The victims were a married couple, the Noguchis. There were four people at the scene of the crime—Sugishita Nozomi [Eikura Nana], Naruse Shinji [Kubota Masataka], Ando Nozomi [Kaku Kento], and Nishizaki Masato [Koide Keisuke]. Nishizaki confessed that he murdered Noguchi Takahiro [Tokui Yoshimi] as Nishizaki was having an affair with Noguchi Naoko [Konishi Manami] and he witnessed Takahiro stab Naoko.
The other three present don’t, or can’t, corroborate this story. Sugishita was there, but says she only entered the den and saw Nishizaki standing there and he said he murdered Mr. Noguchi. Her high school classmate from the island was there by chance as a caterer for the Noguchis’ small dinner party and was the one that called the police and reported the crime. Ando, who is Sugishita’s college senior and lives in the same apartment as her was Noguchi’s work colleague and he came in after the police had already been called. Since Nishizaki confessed, even though there were things that didn’t add up, the case was shut and Nishizaki served 10 years in prison.
We pick up the story in 2014 when recently retired police officer Takano Shiferu [Miura Tomokazu] starts digging into the 2004 murder case. Was he involved in that case? No. He was living on the island still at the time. This case caught his attention because Sugishita and Naruse were at the scene of a crime, too, 15 years ago on the island. As much as Takano wants to know the truth about that bloody Christmas, he’s mostly interested in what happened 15 years ago as the arsonist remains at large and the statute of limitations is fast approaching.
I like the pacing and the overall plot reveals. At the end of each episode, we get just a little bit more shown to us about the murder incident that happened. For the most part, the story is told through the flashbacks, with only a few forays into the present. Even at the very end of the story when the audience is made aware of everything, only two of our main cast—Sugishita and Nishizaki—know the full story of what happened.
Throughout this story, you will probably think you know exactly what happened, at least with the arson case, but not so much. You’ll find out you only thought you knew the truth when it’s actually the opposite and I like how that was done. Half of the time you can get things figured out and can easily predict what happens next. Not so in the case of this drama. And while these two incidents are at the heart of the story…it’s actually the relationships between the people—friendship and love and family—that is really what the drama is about.
The cast acted their characters well. The interactions between the friends was nicely done. You could feel the chemistry as if the actors were really good friends and you could feel the tension between Sugishita, Naruse, and Ando in the romance department.
Eikura Nana’s Sughishita was the wealthy daughter of the island’s mayor. Her father had a mid-life crisis and threw his wife and children out into a run-down house high on a hill. Her mother couldn’t handle this and Sughistha was forced to manage the money and try to keep her mother in check while providing for herself and her brother. This built up a lot of resentment towards her father, his mistress, and her mother. After this happens, Sugishita vows to make it off the island and make something of herself while relying on no one but herself. Sugishita may come off in a certain way with her pursuit of a higher life, but she’s a simple girl at heart.
Kubota Masataka’s Naruse Shinji seemed to have a crush on Sugishita before all the heavy incidents happened. All of these incidents bring the two closer together, but is also what keeps them apart at the same time. He’s the son of traditional Japanese restaurant owner who won’t say it aloud, but who always planned on taking over the family business. When the restaurant fails and has to be sold, his mother dumps his father and the restaurant burns down mysteriously. When all of this happens, he and Sugishita bond with one another and both work hard together to make it off the island and get a scholarship to a Tokyo college. His character was one of the most straightforward and consistent from beginning to end.
Kaku Kento’s Ando Nozomi was from a small island like Naruse and Sugishita, but he had a happier outlook. We actually don’t learn much about his past. His character seems to be the only one without too much darkness in the background. He quickly develops feelings for Sugishita who also seems to develop an affection towards him as well…but her shared experience with Naruse proves to be too strong to break free from. Ando pretty much keeps out of the main plot while Nishizaki and Sugishita does all the plotting and acting. He’s pretty positive and a hard worker. Of course, he’s not as innocent as he may seem.
Koide Keisuke’s portrayal of Nishizaki Masato was interesting. He was a law school student who wanted to be a writer. He craved a simple life and desperately loved Nobara—the apartment complex where he, Ando, and Sugishita all lived. While he became friends with the other two and even tried to help push them together, he kept his scars and past to himself…while Sugishita did the same as well. Nishizaki had his ups and downs. His obsession with Naoko who was being abused by her husband was probably his greatest downfall. Since he shared the same type of painful abuse experience only with his mother and not a lover, that drew him to her and made him want to save her. Too bad she was beyond saving. Nishizaki is also obsessed with love and learning what everyone’s “ultimate love” is.
Miura Tomokazu’s retired Takano Shigeru was persistent in finding out the truth of both incidents. The arson that happened nearly killed his best friend and wife. He feels he failed those two and the island and himself. Thus, he needs to find the truth and close the case before the statute runs out. Discovering what really happened at the murder is only secondary. It is interesting since he really seems to suspect something rotten in Denmark since it’s the second time Naruse and Sugishita were at the scene of a crime. Of course, the drama and story is set up to make the audience believe there’s more than meets the eye as well.
One thing I am extremely not happy about is the final reveal with the murder and what really happened. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t do the big reveal. Just watch it for yourself and expect to be happy that people are more innocent than originally thought and unhappy with the whole picture. Naoka turned out to be a character not to sympathize with at all. Ando…you can understand why he did what he did, but it really led things down an even worse path. Of course, you also have Sugishita to blame as well for exacerbating the situation to save her precious N, but if Ando hadn’t interfered, there would have been probably a better ending for everyone on a whole.
I am happy to have Sugishita and Naruse finally able to be with one another after 15 years of separation. As cute as Ando and Sugishita could be together and as much as Sugishita did for Ando, I just shipped her with Naruse. It’s not a super happy or romantic ending…but I like that things end for them as they had begun and after fifteen years of going off course, they finally find their way back to where they really belong.
My last words besides you should definitely check this drama out? The music was awesome! I especially loved “Silly” which is the main theme. It’s more of a rock sound and really suited the drama. The artist is Leo Ieiri. Of course I can’t find anything but covers for this theme. So check out this male version that’s pretty good.
You can also buy the song on iTunes. I recommend checking out all of the albums she has. They are pretty good.