Saturday, November 08, 2014


Winner of the 6th WOWOW Scenario Grand Prix, Kousaka Takahashi's Umoreru is a multi-layered drama examining the intrinsic value of one man's pursuit of the truth and the cost of exposing it. It's an evenly composed special that speaks of personal regret and corruption, packaged as a nifty character study flanked by a commentary on public trust and corporate responsibility. The story in itself is deceptively simple, but truly, it is bursting at the seams. Behind every incident and commonplace utterance is a mystery waiting to be unearthed, and it's up to the viewer to decide who is in the wrong and who's right. 

They say that still waters run deep---so don't let its placid exterior fool you. In this case, what remains covered and unseen, but heavily insinuated might turn out to be more daunting than what has already been brought to light. 

Umoreru finds its protagonist, Kitami Toru (Kiritani Kenta) settling into his new job at a ward office following a corporate misconduct exposé about his previous place of employment, wherein he figured prominently as the whistleblower. Dubbed as a local hero but despised by his former co-workers, he's now ruminating the merits of what he thought at the time was a righteous act; having fled to his hometown to start anew, after being divorced from his wife and being labeled as a tattler in Tokyo.

His first assignment as a city official is to check up on a condemned house owned by an elderly woman named Kayoko (Midori Mako) who is said to have suffered a tragedy and now refuses to speak, but for some unknown reason, has decided to hoard garbage on her property. After conducting an ocular inspection, Toru is surprised to learn that his first love, Asao Yoko (Kuninaka Ryoko), is now a single mother who lives next door with a 13-year old son (Mochitzuki Ayumo).

For its overall theme, the drama special challenges the wisdom behind the belief of the truth as a liberating force and a catalyst that brings about positive change. It essentially questions the value accorded to its pursuit and exposition as a necessary extension of what is deemed to be just and good by presenting viewers different instances that may argue for its suppression.

The story actually comes in two tiers, and as a springboard to the above premise, a scenario is offered---the most apparent one being a story of a man who has yet to come to terms with the consequences of his decision. Here, the writer levels good intentions and wide-eyed idealism against bitter pragmatism and harsh reality; first, in depicting the painful aftermath of the consumer scandal in which Toru was involved and second, in reiterating that sometimes, there are just things that one is better off not knowing.

Toru is shown to be a man looking for ways and means to assuage his personal guilt and self-doubt. He's placed in a position where he's asked to make the same choice both at work, when confronted by corruption in the selection of contractors, and his personal affairs, when indirectly asked to turn a blind eye to the commission of an unspeakable horror. Everything that he's lost and everything that he stands to gain boils down to a solitary plea to leave well enough alone. What makes this conflict particularly interesting is that the choice to be made will ultimately determine his true nature; this, after the fact that events have demonstrated that his moral compass has failed him before.

The second tier is slightly more elaborate than the first. It's the culmination of random images, seemingly unrelated events and offhand statements scattered all over this slow-simmering production. Umoreru for its first few minutes takes on the complexion of a political drama but while it has elements that refer to social issues, it's really more about the characters, their contrary point of views and individual motivations. 

The drama special takes on a cool, calculated visage, and although it carries a lot of weight, viewers that are used to fast-paced and stirring exchanges might find the show's slow countenance not much to their liking. Another thing to consider is that viewers are not made privy of its strong undercurrent until the last section of the show when the pieces fall together to reveal a story of two women and an ongoing conspiracy to cover up a crime. 

The understated performances of its cast matches the overall tone of the drama, adding a malignant air to an otherwise abnormally languid atmosphere. A single look or a few choice words, carry such great import to the extent that the central mystery is made out to be more chilling if given further thought. As a whole, the writer's main gambit of confining the screenplay to a question of what lies beneath works, even though it's mockingly too literal in some respects. 

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Nana to Kaoru: Chapter 2

The second installment of Nana to Kaoru retains the basic elements that made its predecessor both touching and controversial, decisively providing more of the same and then some. True to its title, it plays out like an excerpt from the manga, which, while wholly invested in providing some fun and mischief to counter its risqué and disturbing content, does very little to apprise viewers of the real score between these teenagers.

Will these two ever officially get together or are they just destined to live out this dysfunctional relationship?  Will they grow as a couple or eventually outgrow each other? Beneath the childish outbursts and the silly misadventures, these questions are essentially the driving force behind the film. The relationship in itself appears to be special; it works cloaked in secrecy but if it will remotely survive once assimilated to a normal day-to-day relationship is something that these characters have to ponder. Sadly, the movie, like its source material, conveniently skirts around providing an easy answer. The fact of the matter is that it's simply unresolved and these characters are about to encounter a fork in the road.

*      *     *

Give or take a few months, the movie pretty much picks up where it left off---with the main pair still committed to having their "breathers", achieving a comfortable rhythm to their private S/M play while publicly assuming their respective positions in the high school social order.

At this point, viewers can be fairly certain that Kaoru's (Tochihara Rakuto)  feelings for his childhood friend run deeper but he's ever conscious of the fact that he's not a worthy match for her. He takes solace in the knowledge that Nana (Aono Miku) trusts and depends on him for her breathers and that he's seen sides of her that others have not. Nana, for her part, is genuinely fond of Kaoru and thinks of their breathers as something that's indispensable to her. She has no qualms about acknowledging Kaoru's presence even when she's with her own crowd.

And the current arrangement works. They get to meet intermittently and together explore their proclivity for bondage and sadomasochism without interference or judgment. The only problem is that they're about to commence their last year in high school and the thought of parting ways after graduation looms over them like a dark cloud.

If this were any other teen flick, any apprehension about the future could be easily dispatched through one last spring/summer outing, but given that this is anything but your ordinary teen flick, this supposedly sentimental trip to Nagano's power spots is as good as any excuse to further their bizarre relationship. Interestingly enough, the use of this tired device does provide some much needed comic relief and alone time for the central characters to interact outside of their usual environs. The trip in itself, aside from producing a hilarious segment involving the surrender of Nana's "heavenly vestments" and an overnight stay at a mystical cottage, sees Nana and Kaoru trying to push conventional boundaries on top of trying to define their relationship.

As a teen sex comedy film, Nana to Kaoru: Chapter 2, like its predecessor, is the cinematic equivalent of what blue-balled suitors nowadays would refer to as a cock tease. It's naughty and playful, and while there's a heavy sexual undertone to it, it's never truly malicious or unkind. Writer and director Atsushi Shimizu should be credited for maintaining that delicate balance of letting viewers experience laughter, mild shock and tender sentiment in the course of watching an odd tale of sexual awakening. And it's all cleverly done with the idea of infusing it with enough heart and contrived sincerity to make its ribald attributes a bit more tolerable.

As an exploitation film, it thrives on Kaoru's lurid imagination, his bag of toys and of course, Nana's willingness to play along. For the most part, it's all fun and games aside from that one pivotal scene in the Wandering House of Sarashina where the characters progress their level of play to spanking. It's the only scene that is truly uncomfortable to watch. Much more than the depiction of bondage, it's intrusive and off-putting, especially upon seeing that welt on Aono Miku's camera-ready derrière.

But then again, whatever misgivings may be had for such delicate scenes is consoled by a display of doubt and concern on the part of its characters. It seamlessly transitions raunchy encounters to doe-eyed attempts at earnestness, such that potentially scandalous and abusive behavior is effectively written off as an unorthodox expression of love. To soften the blow (pun intended), Nana and Kaoru are always shown to be unsure and insecure, and while they're able to voice their thoughts out loud for the audience to hear, the one person who's supposed hear it is shown to be equally lost in his/her musings. This is what makes the franchise such a good cheat.

The set-up allows for a complex relationship that is capable of progressing to new heights, exploring an evolved sense of intimacy, all the while being a paradoxically stunted romance between socially awkward teenagers. It must be pointed out that it's the blush of first love that makes the film appear harmless. It's unique in a sense that it is able to fashion sadomasochism as a bridge and an experimental dalliance---when in reality it's designed to blur the lines, serving as both hook and main attraction to an unfinished serial.  
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko

Here's a Takizawa Hideaki-led crime drama special that seems to have been conceptualized as a pilot than a standalone feature.  HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko is essentially composed of a series of nested but unformed plot lines, which raises more questions than it is capable of answering during the show's limited runtime. It provides bits and pieces of information that tease audiences into believing that it's part of a bigger puzzle, when in all probability, it's either one of two things---a promotional stint to introduce a future series or a last ditch effort to revamp material already shot for an axed project. 

The special is about an ordinary cop named Natsuhara Shinji (Takizawa Hideaki) who, while in the midst of investigating a heinous crime, gets handpicked to join the public safety division. He soon discovers that the main suspect for the said crime, which he has been instructed not to apprehend, has been under surveillance by the division for being their only lead to uncovering a terrorist plot to assassinate a foreign dignitary who's currently in the country.

While serving under the public safety division, Natsuhara is appalled by the tactics utilized by his superior, Serada Souma (Ozawa Yukiyoshi), and his team to further their mission, but is nevertheless persuaded to recruit and handle an asset (Toda Naho) when the trail goes cold.

Screenwriter Hachitsu Hiroyuki piles on one case and one mystery after another, coming up with a fair to middling plot that's typical to the genre with convenient twists and a linear timeline but there's a multitude of problems to this special. Aside from the hammy portrayal of the modus operandi of homeland security agents that detract largely from the main drama, both the dialogue and execution of the action scenes are simply uninspired. And while it does try to provide some depth in discussing the professional and ethical issues inherent in the means and methods employed by those tasked to protect national security, it's still miles away from being ever truly good. 

It would be a grave injustice to even refer to it as a poor man's Gaiji Keisatsu despite any perceived similarities in the issues or conflict presented. HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko is too facile and laughable, and the fact that it takes itself too seriously when it is devoid of realism,  makes it tedious to watch.

Lines are delivered often at an urgent and argumentative tone, with Natsuhara displaying moral outrage for the majority of the show and Serada roughly pounding upon him the utter necessity of the actions taken to ensure the safety of their nation. It just lacks the cool, matter-of-fact delivery often expected of top brass that live by the notion that the end justify the means, making each confrontation an opportunity for over the top acting.  

The show also utilizes an unfortunate amount of second-rate foreign actors who were no doubt hired because their looks matched a certain ethnic profile and not because of their acting chops. It must likewise be noted that even though the special features a bunch of characters, played by familiar faces (e.g. Harada Natsuki, Kashiwabara Shuji, Jinnai Takanori),  they seem to have been randomly thrown in just to fill up the screen having been given very little to do, and over all, being neither interesting nor crucial to the story.

As a crime drama, it comes in many guises. The initial case involves a murder with the victim's corpse found dismembered, and then there's the primary case which is the ongoing investigation of the activities of the terrorist cell in Japanese soil. If that weren't enough, the special also delves into the personal lives of its characters, which in turn suggest a larger mystery or at least the beginning of a story arc for a series. For example, Natsuhara is shown to have suffered the loss of a loved one without never truly knowing the cause, while it's made quite clear that agent Serada had some hand in this person's demise. As for the extent of Serada's culpability and his motive behind getting Natsuhara to be a part of his team, well, the special never really bothered to feature it.  
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Sunday, October 12, 2014


"Is it real or is it counterfeit?"

It's a question asked of and left unanswered by museum docent, Osawa Maria (Hirosue Ryoko), by gallery visitors in discussing Vermeer's St. Praxedes shortly before being led away by the police to face criminal charges for the death of three men she's been involved with. It's also the same question that viewers are made to ask through the course of the series as they see lawyer, Nakamura Haruki (Nagayama Kento), struggle to find out whether the accused, Hijii Motoko a.k.a. Osawa Maria is really a sinner or a saint.

Is this woman merely a gold digger? Or is she a victim of circumstances and an unfortunate object of affection of rich and possessive men?  Moreso, is she a cold-hearted murderer with the face of an angel?

The scenario presented is rife with controversy and personal dilemma given that the woman on trial is shown to be Haruki's former tutor and one-time lover who suddenly disappeared from his life. He would still dream of her and often wonder if she meant it when she said that she loved him years ago when he was a teenager. Now that he's tasked to defend her before a court of law, he's faced with the temptation of rekindling an old romance despite already having a fiancée (Renbutso Misako) and risking his professional integrity should it come to light that he knew her intimately. 

Seijo suffers from an asymmetry in purpose and fractured storytelling, leading the viewer to eventually question if it's in fact a love story, a legal drama or simply a pity party of a character study. It provides two different narratives and therefore shifts voices midway. The first thread concerns itself with one man's recollection of his first love and the circumstances that would bring about an awkward reunion years later. The second plays out as a woman's confession---an account of misdeeds and an ardent but foolish declaration to live out a seemingly impossible dream.

The issues that propel the series forward entail viewers to wait for characters to make a decision even though events as depicted suggest a more dramatic or scandalous form of reckoning. The first two episodes do manage to stir up some intrigue, evoking the memory of a bittersweet love affair and the crushing reality that all of it may just be a deception. It has a fair amount of emotionally-charged scenes that are beautifully rendered but a bit too commonplace and predictable to be actually memorable. Its temperate approach, though successful in handling its more cliché elements, serve only to confirm that there is nothing truly radical or surprising about the series as a whole.

Indeed, the more interesting bits of the series involve the defense panel's line of strategy. The only downside to it is that witnesses are discredited rather too swiftly given that the case is built entirely on circumstantial evidence and any uncertainty regarding Motoko's culpability is dampened by an inkling that she will eventually be unmasked as a cold, calculating opportunist. So while it is but natural for the show to play on the idea of giving the touted villain an acceptable back story, the writing is simply unable to wipe out any lingering suspicion to maximize the impact of this revelation.

Furthermore, Seijo takes it sweet time to confirm things that have been alluded to earlier in the show. Despite having only seven episodes, a lot of things are left unresolved till the last minute, to the extent that long anticipated confrontations between characters end up being unnaturally lukewarm and abrupt.

With the exception of the surviving lover (Otani Ryosuke) and his inconsolable wife (Nakada Yoshiko), all the characters are quite subdued in reacting to stimuli. For instance, Haruki is, for the most part, shown to be on the verge of succumbing to Motoko's advances but is held back rather unconvincingly by his principles and his loyalty to an uncomplicated woman with a sunny disposition. He doesn't make a decision until the penultimate episode, and when he does, he does it without hesitation or regret, thus making light of the central dilemma presented in the previous episodes. The same can be said of the motivation and the vindictive act of the spiteful brother (Aoyagi Sho) and the fiancée's harried yet momentary reaction upon learning how Haruki's heart wavered.

Key scenes in the story as well as the performances of the actors would always suggest a looming threat to the protagonist's character or reputation but it never truly delivered. It's like being given a storm signal warning ahead of time and finding out later that it was an inaccurate forecast. The cast is serviceable, in fact, Hirosue Ryoko hasn't done anything quite this interesting in a while--- but the series, while initially engaging, somehow sidestepped into telling a more conventional tale. At the end of it all, no matter how many potential conflict is thrown in, there's somehow an assurance that all the characters in it will get what they deserve, and with that, one can take comfort.  
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Satsujin Hensachi 70

An act of desperation forces a young man to relive his childhood insecurities and cope with societal pressure in a manner that pushes him to his breaking point---which, coincidentally, is a point of no return. Satsujin Hensachi 70 plays out as a cautionary tale and an admonition of one nation's fixation in equating or measuring a person's worth according to his social standing and/or education.

In concept, it's a clear indictment of the perceived necessity indoctrinated on the youth to get into certain institutions of higher learning and the corresponding prestige attached by Japanese society to it. The featured presentation even goes on to argue that while the current system in place is facially built on meritocracy, the same has a tendency to substantially increase inequality by limiting opportunities and further marginalizing those who from the onset are already in a disadvantaged position in society.

This message is delivered making use of an extreme case, providing some suspense and psychological drama similar to the style of movies like Fight Club and Black Swan with a mentally fragile character at its center.

Satsujin Hensachi 70 is the story Miyahara Keisuke (Miura Haruma), a university hopeful who has been trying for the last two years to gain admission to Tokyo University. He's about to take the entrance examination for the third and last time, knowing that he could no longer impose upon his father (Takahashi Katsumi) to financially support him for another year of intensive preparation. Furthermore, he doesn't want to disappoint his girlfriend (Takimoto Miori) who's been nothing but patient with him, despite his indefinite status as a NEET and coming from a poor, broken family. So the pressure is on for him to succeed.

Unfortunately for Keisuke, he oversleeps on the day of the exam and even though he makes haste, he knows that there is no way that he would make it on time. In a desperate effort to salvage his final shot at getting into the said university, he sends a bomb threat via email to delay the administration of the exam.

His plan works and he is able to not only sit through the exam but also pass it. Keisuke's overcome with joy, at least until he is approached by fellow examinee, Tanaka Hiroshi (Shirota Yu) who's figured out what he did and is now demanding hush money.

Driven by anxiety, Keisuke turns over all his savings to Hiroshi, and soon finds himself peddling dubious merchandise in an underground rave club just to come up with the extortion money. Cornered and unable to grant the increasing demands of Hiroshi, Keisuke decides to confront him with the aid of a woman (Kuriyama Chiaki) that he met at the club.

The initial buzz (not to mention the poster) on Satsujin Hensachi 70 provides some misdirection on what it is really about. Its first section is put together like an ordinary thriller, with Keisuke being incessantly stalked and taunted by a bitter and sadistic, Hiroshi. It's a device that is however invalidated by the show's title sequence which quickly alerts viewers of Keisuke's growing mental instability. 

The special in itself is watchable, with middling performances from Miura Haruma and Shirota Yu but there's a noticeable lack of subtlety required to shock and bamboozle audiences into believing its surprise twist. The depiction of conflict is a recurring theme not only between Keisuke and Hiroshi but also between the have and have-nots in society. It tries to replicate that sense of creeping paranoia that often drives cult movies of the same genre and in part manages to achieve it by utilizing visual cues. 

Some scenes are set up like eerie, psychedelic visions, augmenting the emotional turmoil and abject helplessness of the main character. What it lacks however is that sinister element to complement the overall mystery that's built around Keisuke's personal and internal struggle. From a technical aspect, there appears to be a concerted effort to make it look edgy and well-thought out. A rather telling shot that's consistently utilized is an image of Keisuke crossing a bridge that's literally taken sideways to show that his world has tipped over. Those who pay attention will realize that this is just one of many creative shots incorporated to clue people in on what's going on. As the color blue makes a prominent appearance and recurring motifs are effectively strewn all over the show, there should be no doubt in the mind of the viewer that no matter what direction Keisuke takes---he's crossed a bridge and is headed on a downward spiral. 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kaseifu wa Mita!

A tale of  festering greed and deceit in a renowned family, Kaseifu wa Mita! is a dramedy that is told through the eyes of a housemaid whose services are engaged by the underdog of a household that's in the midst of a power struggle. As a one shot special, it operates on the conceit of having the story rest on not just one but two premises, both of which are, unfortunately, not strong enough to warrant the suspension of disbelief. In fact, one can even go as far as to say that the end product is downright ludicrous.

Sawagura Nobuko (Yonekura Ryoko) is a beautiful and statuesque woman who prefers to disguise herself as an awkward, shabby creature when performing her job as a housekeeper. Clad in black and hiding behind large-rimmed glasses, she catches the eye of Nakamura Akemi (Kitano Kii)---the professed illegitimate daughter of patriarch, Uehara Hidemitsu (Shito Ito), who's about to lose her standing in the Uehara Family after her paternity and status as an heir is challenged by her so-called brothers.

Nobuko enters the Uehara household after being offered an exorbitant amount of money and becomes witness to Akemi's quick wit and use of feminine wiles to secure her place as the reigning queen of the family. And though Nobuko frowns upon Akemi's choice of tactics, she can't help but play the part of confidante and ally to this desperate and shunned child.

Despite attempts at gravity, Kaseifu wa Mita! is a highly predictable drama that is tonally defective, as if it never really made up its mind on whether it's a comedy or a tragedy. It awkwardly shifts from one mood to another in the same way that Nobuko transforms herself from a condescending goddess to servile housekeeper. There's a lot of physical comedy in it that serves no actual purpose, neither does it derive any laughter. The characters are prone to sudden outbursts and all the scurrying about gets old quite fast after the first half hour. It can't even be classified as a parody since it's too serious about upholding dignity and justice as virtues, nor can it be considered an allegory since the characterization of the Uehara household is too cartoonish to demand further reflection.

But perhaps the biggest hurdle to the enjoyment of this special is that it requires a wide latitude for artifice. For example, viewers are asked to believe that to be born beautiful can be a tragic curse, such that a woman so blessed with good looks would go through great lengths just to hide herself on the supposition that her appearance has brought her nothing but trouble. This irrational contempt that the main character has for her natural beauty is utilized not only as a comedic device but as a major plot point which would allow her to become an unwitting participant in a scheme that would decide the standing of members in the said family. Much like Kaseifu no Mita, it posits an extreme explanation for why its main character behaves a certain way, the only difference is that this special does not have the same consistency as the former, having Nobuko change both her looks and demeanor at her own convenience.  

Second, and the cardinal of the two premises offered, is the suggestion that housemaids are duty bound to keep in confidence everything that they see and hear in the exercise of their occupation. This is invoked as a matter of principle; a given, that is forced upon its viewers as a source of conflict. The apparent dilemma created by this tacit agreement between master and servant, however, is later shown to be inconsequential as it is negated and dispatched with ease by the show's resolution.

To make matters worse, none of the characters are likable. Akemi is both victim and perpetrator, while the head of the family is a sleazy old fart who does not pay his taxes. The members of the household are money grubbing sycophants and the law enforcement officers are bungling idiots. Even Nobuko is a hard pill to swallow---she's prone to pontificate about how superficial and materialistic people can be while she herself is leading a life of duplicity. In the end, all the talk about beauty being skin deep and the confidential nature of housekeeping is nothing but a useless pretense to get Yonekura Ryoko to look dowdy, perhaps in a futile attempt  to demonstrate her range (or lack thereof) in acting. 
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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kamisama no Beret

Networks, in general, have been known to produce television specials to commemorate a historical event or an illustrious figure, at times, even an iconic artist and his work. In celebration of 40 years since the manga Black Jack hit the stands, Kamisama no Beret shines the spotlight on its creator, Tezuka Osamu and the circumstances that led to his comeback in the 1970s.

Tracing the inception of this popular manga would have obviously been the more interesting feature, but the special itself seems to be more than satisfied with merely extolling the virtue of hard work. It disputes the commonly accepted notion of the said artist's God-given genius and instead offers a portrait of a man who perseveres amidst times of failure.

Set in a period when emerging young comic artists exhibit their own style and readers are on the hunt for something new and interesting, Black Jack is acknowledged as a product of Tezuka's tenacity and one chief editor's unwavering confidence in the former's ability to craft a story.

Designed for the appreciation of kids and young adults, Kamisama no Beret is an inspirational but fantastical account of Tezuka's inquisitive nature and relentless energy. Detractors can argue the same to be a sanitized depiction of a revered personality's troublesome work ethic and questionable management skills, but his talent, his quirks, and whatever shortcomings as depicted comprise two sides of the same coin. Those who want more insight on the man and his work habits are better off watching the 1985 NHK Tokushu Tezuka Osamu: Sosaku no Himitsu documentary, but as a primer, the special does well in keeping things light and palatable.

Using unexplained time travel as a narrative device (just like in Superbook), the special is told through the point of view of new hiree, Odamachi Sakura (Oshima Yuko) of Akita Publishing, who is transported back to 1973. 
A crucial time for Tezuka (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi), the renowned mangaka hasn't had a hit in years and is saddled by debt with a company that's on the verge of bankruptcy. Through the help of Chief Editor Kabemura Taizo (Sato Koichi) of Weekly Shōnen Champion, he is given a break and commissioned to create an original 4-volume manga.

From hereon, Tezuka is shown to diligently work on conceptualizing Black Jack on his own. He gathers materials for his background research and spends hours contemplating on how to make his stories interesting and current. Despite having a team of artists working for him, his most productive hours appear to be spent working alone. And it's in his private workroom that the so-called magic happens, where he relentlessly and personally drafts each installment of his manga to his satisfaction.

Ever conscious of feedback, he strives to keep his work fresh; not thinking twice about delaying the submission of his work should he find it unfit for publication to the utter consternation of his colleagues and editors. He is said to be famous for missing deadlines and is often criticized for accepting more work than he is capable to deliver at any given time, but all misgivings about frazzled editors and over fatigued subordinates are brushed aside, seemingly justified by the magnitude of his body of work.

As an editorial assistant, Odamachi bears witness to the amount of time and work that goes into putting out a volume of manga. She is also made to realize---by having observed Tezuka's indefatigable spirit---the virtue of dedicating one's self to one's work. The primary tenet of this special argues in favor of "talent" and "perfection" acquired through persistent practice and revision as opposed to it being an inborn trait.  It's just a shame that for a special that recounts how a famous manga is made, Kamisama no Beret  provides absolutely nothing about the thought process and inspiration behind the composition of Black Jack as a character and a serial.

With thick black frames and the signature beret (not to mention a lumpy pillow for a belly), Kusanagi Tsuyoshi is able to replicate the familiar and amiable aura of Tezuka to moderate effect. Together with Tanaka Kei, Okada Yoshinori, Kohinata Fumiyo and Asari Yosuke, all playing bit parts but with equal reverence, this is one drama special that curiously pays tribute to a man who's been dubbed as "the god of manga" by making him appear ordinary when clearly, he's anything but. 
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