Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saki (J-Drama 2013)

This one was painful folks. Saki (サキ) is ridiculous on many levels and that's coming from a fan of the lead actress. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I'm just not the target demographic, but...

On the surface, Saki (Yukie Nakama), is a quiet, beautiful, successful nurse working in the children's ward of a major Tokyo hospital. However, when she's not showing that side of herself, she's living a much darker lifestyle filled with lies and manipulation. Hayato Nitta (Shohei Miura), is working for a local magazine and is approached by Saki who claims she is his older sister. Apparently they were separated years ago when they were just babies and he just happens to have been looking for his older sister. What a coincidence! Hayato is initially shocked and hesitant to embrace Saki and bring her into his life, but eventually, the two of them start getting close and he begins to feel as if he's truly gotten his sister back. Through their relationship, Saki  has a lot of questions for Hayato and she also seems to want a lot of details about specific individuals. Through a series of coincidences, or maybe not, Saki runs into certain men that she ends up seducing. They run the gamut from high-profile lawyer (Masato Hagiwara), to the chairman (Masanobu Takashima), of the hospital she works at! After the initial seduction, her not-so-sweet side comes out as she begins to prey on their weaknesses and manipulates them to the point where they feel like killing themselves. That's a powerful woman. However, why is she seeking out these specific men and wanting them dead? What exactly is their connection? As the proceedings unfold, Hayato grows more suspicious of his sister and you can only wonder if he'll have the nerve to eventually confront her. And if so, will Saki let him simply walk away?

There is drama and then there is DRAMA. Saki is over-the-top in so many ways, that at times it's a bit laughable. Don't get me wrong, Yukie Nakama is, in my opinion, one of the best actresses in Japan and her performance here is solid. Everyone else in the drama really does take a backseat to her ability as an actress. She's also the main reason I watched this series. It's just that the world her character lives in is so odd and far-fetched that you really have to suspend disbelief to find any enjoyment here. In regards to the other actors and actresses here, there really are no other stand-outs. Just a supporting cast serving their purpose. The musical cues, however seemingly insignificant, aggravated me, as did the song choices. My problem with them is that they didn't fit the mood of the show. Staying with the aggravation train, there are these moments throughout when Saki has finished mind-warping one of her victims that she celebrates by cooking herself a very expensive meal. I found it quite strange, but thought, "hey, that's just her thing", but frankly it annoyed me having to watch her eat, with close-ups of her mouth as she chewed. It felt excessive. I know, a small gripe, but a gripe nonetheless. The plot itself, the biggest thing a show has going for it, is Saki's biggest problem though. Once you, dear viewer, discover why Saki is hunting these men down, you'll either laugh out loud or shout an expletive at the screen. I opted for the latter and no, that isn't a good thing. It was just silly and to be honest, a huge let down when it all came to an end. When you painfully trudge through 10 episodes, you're expecting at least a semi-decent pay-off come episode 11. Sigh.

I can't find much good to say about Saki, aside from Yukie Nakama's performance, but even that isn't enough to warrant a recommendation. If I can make the analogy of a star baseball player being on a terrible team. His team loses all the time, yet he always performs well. You get the point, it's simply not enough. Some material is simply too flat for a star to elevate. (Lee)

Grade: D-

                                               (No clip, but here's a video for the theme song)

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