CREDIT FOR ABOVE PICTURE GOES TO ITS UPLOADER
I just recently finished watching the Japanese drama Hero 2014, which aired on FujiTV. This was the second season for a drama that originally aired in 2001. While the main actor, Kimura Takuya, came back as the main character Kuryu Kohei, and some of the side actors returned as the same characters, the majority of the cast was changed for season 2. This is what I believe led to a disappointing second season, and a largely boring watch.
The drama uses the format of a mystery of the week, which is identical to what we had in Season 1. Kuryu Kohei has come back to the Josai Branch to work with his new colleagues, although there are a couple of familiar faces. We get the same formula every week. A criminal comes into the Josai Branch of the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office, and Kuryu Kenji (meaning prosecutor) goes out to investigate, which is not the actions of your average prosecutor. He finds out the truth and then decides whether he will prosecute or let the defendant go free.
His actions surprise, annoy and then inspire his coworkers, who begin to move outside of their comfort zone/offices to investigate and actually care about their cases. The climax of the season has to do with the prosecutors calling into question an old conviction and going back to fix the mistake of one of their own. Despite the high stakes in each of the episodes and the finale, I found myself unable to drum up any sort of enthusiasm for the events or the characters.
The drama itself was in the same format, but the chemistry was missing between the actors that I had enjoyed the first time around. Also, romance is a huge part of a drama for me. And if there is no romance, the drama must be damned good for me to forgive the lack of romance. In this drama, not only did we not have any romance, the writers actively destroyed the understated, yet sweet, romance we got in the first season! That was unforgivable.
Additionally, I found that I couldn’t ignore things like I did the first time around. The drama’s tendency to revere prosecutors and to demonize the police force/lawyers was annoying. Police officers were shown as lazy and uninterested in finding the true criminal, while lawyers were shown as money hungry individuals, who would defend the devil if paid. I don’t know if there are only two types of attorneys in Japan, but thirteen years later a lot has changed in my own life. I have become a lawyer. Thus, that personal bias also caused me to dislike the drama a bit, as well.
There were no problems with the acting or the actors themselves. I like Kimura Takuya. I still liked his character, although it was exactly the same and there was no growth, whatsoever. I like Kitagawa Keiko. I liked her character of the self-involved paralegal who grew and wanted to be something more. But I didn’t feel their chemistry, the way I did between Kimura Takuya and Matsu Takako. It didn’t even have to be romantic, but they didn’t keep me riveted. The other characters weren’t too winning, either. The whiny, young prosecutor, the self-interested prosecutor who married to get ahead, the female prosecutor who pines after that loser were just not likable. In the paralegal pool, we had one pretending to be a prosecutor on goukons, and another perpetually pining away for the female prosecutors in his life.
It was just the same tired story in the same tired format. For any fans of the original Hero, I would say just skip this season and enjoy your memories of the first one.