Monday, June 9, 2014

First Impressions:// Border

BORDER ボーダー graphic with Oguri Shun 小栗旬 (おぐり しゅん) as Ishikawa Ango, running.

Although BORDER is listed as a mystery/suspense, it's more of a supernatural crime drama. It's dark with offbeat characters that stir your interest. The first episode seemed rather simple, but I gave it another shot and was glad I did. Though episodic, it seems that the cases will be varied, and there are a couple questions that I suspect will string us along until the end.

Ishikawa lays on the ground in a pool of blood / a graphic of a skull with a bullet in it.

Ishikawa Ango (Oguri Shun) is a competent and ambitious detective with a serious personality. He has no personal life due to his career, and possibly his cold demeaner. The series starts with him hanging between life and death after being shot in the head.

Ishikawa falls back against the wall as he sees the married couple that just died, standing before him.

Ishikawa recovers and gets back to work, but is surprised to find that he can see and communicate with the case's dead victims. The ghosts don't have a special appearance and it feels a bit like The Sixth Sense where ghosts appear as normal people.

Ishikawa with Ichikura played by Kenichi Endo 遠藤憲一 (えんどう けんいち)  and Tachibana played by Aoki Munetaka 青木崇高 /  Akai played by Furuta Arata 古田新太 (ふるた あらた)  watches from the shadows

Ishikawa's unpersonable disposition is further emphasized, contrasting with detective Tachibana's (Aoki Munetaka) boisterous character.

Akai (Furuta Arata) is a mysterious underworld figure who does favors for a price, and is surprised when Ishikawa approaches him. Whether they have some significant connection is yet to be seen.

Ichikawa meets Higa Mika played by Haru 波瑠 (はる) outside the first victim's home / Ishikawa and Higa working together in the office.

Higa Mika (Haru) is the coroner who works with such thoroughness that she seems like another detective. She's smart and serious, the female version of Ishikawa and they collaborate well. This being a Japanese drama, I don't expect any romance to develop, but it would be interesting to see if their composures would crack at all in a social situation.

Ishikawa stares at Hacker Simon played by Hamano Kenta 浜野謙太(はまの けんた) and Hacker Garfunkel played by Nomaguchi Toru 野間口徹 (のまぐちとおる)  as they sit in front of a huge photo of themselves.

A bit of comic relief is subtle and comes from quirky characters that Ishikawa interacts stonefaced with. His silent prolonged stare does, though, speak volumes, and you can't help but feel affection for him.

The police observe as Higa performs an autopsy.

I was surprised at the outfits in the autopsy room and I wondered if they really wear those clear plastic getups in Japan. Although the police work doesn't always feel authentic, it does follow a logical progression and moves the story along smoothly.

Ghost Murakami Kazuo played by Maruyama Tomomi 丸山智己 (まるやま ともみ)  points and laughs.

After the first episode, I was afraid that Ishikawa would just go around being helped by ghosts, and his main challenge would be to find evidence to support what he already knew. However after watching episode two, I am reassured that the ghosts will be varied and can complicate matters.

Overall, my first impression of BORDER is that it's a low-key series with a bit of eccentricity to make things interesting, and definitely worth a try.

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