TBS hasn't been going through a good patch in recent years with many of its drama offerings slammed for low ratings or poor quality while WOWOW is like a rising star in the TV drama genre with its short and often refreshing offerings which would challenge convention by using actors rarely seen as leads in the terrestrial dramas or talk about taboo topics such as corruption, cloning and the dark side of humans. Frankly speaking, even though both parties are working together on the same series, they are effectively rivals as well because seasons 1 and 2 would no doubt be compared by viewers at the end of the day. TBS should count its lucky stars that WOWOW doesn't publish its ratings information or else the comparison would be even less forgiving. However, it's not an even playing field for both though because TBS produced 10 episodes while WOWOW only did 5. In addition, since there is Season 2, Season 1 would never be able to give a satisfactory and conclusive ending which is precisely what is needed to get viewers to continue watching the next season. In this regard, TBS can afford to breathe a little easier due to these factors.
As I have not read the original novels, my review is based solely on the drama. Nonetheless, I would just like to talk a little bit about them. In the Mozu novel series, there are six books i.e. Uragiri no Hibi (The Days of Betrayal), Mozu no Sakebu Yoru (The Night when the Mozu cries), Maboroshi no Tsubasa (The Illusionary Wing), Kudakareta Kagi (The Shattered Key), Yomigaeru Mozu (The Resurrected Mozu), Nozuri no Su (The Buzzard's Nest) which were published between 1981 and 2002. Of these, Mozu no Sakebu Yoru forms the basis of Season 1 while Season 2 is based on Maboroshi no Tsubasa. However, besides these two volumes which were reprinted this March with Nishijima Hidetoshi and Kagawa Teruyuki on the covers to coincide with the drama's OA, the fourth volume was also reprinted with Maki Youko on the cover which seems to suggest that this book might be used for future sequels of the MOZU series.
From this point onwards, there will be lots of spoilers about the story so if you haven't watched this drama and do not wish to know the developments, please skip this review.
The story begins with an explosion taking place in a busy street within the city where many people were killed or seriously injured. Of those in the casualty list is Chihiro (Ishida Yuriko), the wife of Public Security chief inspector Kuraki Naotake (Nishijima) who was also from Public Security. While trying to find out why his wife was being implicated in the explosion case, Kuraki comes into contact with Public Security sergeant Akeboshi Miki (Maki) and Metropolitan Police Department inspector Osugi Ryota (Kagawa) who are also investigating this case from different angles. However, as the investigation progresses, it appears that the trio are not getting anywhere near the truth with the appearance of various parties such as professional killer Shingai Kazuhiko (Ikematsu Sousuke) and Athena Security's senior advisor Higashi Kazuo (Hasegawa Hiroki) who make the explosion case look more complicated than it looks on the surface.
What really got on my nerves was that the story threw up so many questions and a lot of them were not explained clearly nor convincingly. For example, it was hinted that Chihiro had killed her daughter Shizuku because Kuraki had found out that the child was not his. However, it was not clear why Chihiro had to hide Shizuku's parentage or whether she had given birth to the Shizuku while knowing about the parentage issue. Miki's father's disappearance was another issue that was never fully explained and it irritated me to hell when I heard Tsuki (Kohinata Fumio) tell her that she's still not in a position to know about it. Meaning that she has to climb up the ranks in order to get information she wants? Or how about Chihiro having a hand in Muroi's plot? Just the fact that she and Muroi were former lovers was enough to make her agree to helping? That sounds rather far-fetched to me though. Maybe these questions will get resolved in Season 2 but I wonder if 5 episodes from WOWOW is enough to tie up those loose ends when they have new characters and a supposedly new and slightly different storyline involving the same main characters. Besides, Season 2 is supposed to be based on another novel in the Mozu series so technically, it is not meant to be a resolution sequel for Season 1.
And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 5 out of 10 (There were some memorable points but alas, they were not enough to save the story from losing its direction)
Acting: 6 out of 10 (Due to the lack of character development, some of the actors did not have the chance to show off their acting chops which was a waste of talent)
Theme song/BGM: 5 out of 10 (The BGM was quite nicely done for scenes where there was action and tension but for the emotional scenes, the music didn't seem as memorable or engaging)
Visual effects / Scenery: 7 out 10 (Some of the action sequences were very well-done. Due to the nature of the story, a lot of the outdoor scenes tend to be at night or at dark places so there wasn't much scenery to see)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 5 out of 10 (The three main characters did establish a relationship based on trust towards the end but chemistry-wise, I think that's still a bit lacking. Perhaps Season 2 will show some changes in the dynamics of their relationships?)
Total: 28 out of 50