The Splendid Spy

For the past year and a half, there has been a steady stream of J-doramas focusing on special police forces and terrorism: Special Police, Koushounin, Kiina, Bloody Monday, BOSS, Mr. Brain. They were interesting at first, but they started to get into a rut. By the time they got to Mr. Brain with KimuTaku of SMAP fame, I was getting tired of all their tech gadgets and super intelligent heroes. This summer season, they have another one. Karei naru spy 華麗なるスパイ–The Splendid Spy.

It stars Nagase Tomoya’s, but that’s not what makes it interesting–although M will watch anything he’s in.  It’s actually a spoof of the spy genre. It has all this funky music from old spy movies, some of it sounding like James Bond background music, some similar to the riff of the bongo drums when the tension is high (like Mission Impossible). The opening credits seem to come to come straight out of a 60s Japanese gangster flick with a steel guitar playing in pseudo-Hawaiian mode and the sound of bullets firing–pthew!–every time an actor’s name appears on the screen, a la I Spy.

The main character, Yoroi Kyousuke (Nagase), is a convicted con artist, but his government calls on him to help the badly dressed special terrorism force–well except for Dorothy played by the always delectable Fukada Kyouko–fight terrorism across Japan, especially against Mr. Takumi (Mr. Scheming), who has oily black hair and a short comb-tooth moustache like Hitler. Hmmm. He even wears a khaki shirt. On his first day, Kyousuke wakes up to the ring of the phone and is surprised to find that the phone is in the sole of a shoe–sound familiar, Chief? Then he goes to the office but first needs to step into a locker that promptly drops through the floor, hits the bottom, after which he enters a hallway with sliding double doors in which, of course, he gets his foot stuck–Missed it by that much. As you might imagine, I am paying attention as to not miss any references to the spy genre.

The first episode centers on a lackey of Mr. Takumi who attempts to kidnap the Prime Ministers grand daughter, played by Inoue Mao, and Kyousuke’s con-artist talents help rescue her. But this is when I begin to think that this 90 minute first episode should have been edited more aggressively: The last half hour dragged out just a bit too long. There were were some funny jokes, but the pace slowed to a crawl.

Still, for a summer season in which I have yet to see a single interesting drama–Oh nooooooo! What am I to do?–I will keep my hopes up that the following 46-minute episodes will by as sharp and witty as it promises to be.