Recently seen TV shows #7

July 24, 2009

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (Japan, 2006) – 2/5

Shinji Somai’s all time great idol film Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (based on Jiro Akagawa’s novel) was followed by two television adaptations, first by Fuji TV in 1982 (with Tomoya Harada in the lead role) and then by TBS in 2006. The new version consists of seven episodes, each running 45 minutes. Masami Nagasawa stars as Izumi, a normal high school put in charge of a 5 man yakuza gang when her father dies and no other blood relatives are found. She tries to keep the men out of trouble while another gang is making attacks against them. This is the basic pattern that is repeated over several episodes to the point of frustration. Visual output is modern and occasionally cartoonish, lacking the merits of the original film adaptation.

The few strengths include some great humour, interesting Asakusa setting, and terrific theme song which of course is a new version of the original theme performed by Hiroko Yakushimaru. Nagasawa fares ok on her own right, especially when wearing glasses, but any comparisons to Yakushimaru would be pointless. The most famous actors appearing in the show are Ken Ogata, whose talent is not utilized, and Kyoko Koizumi, who brings down every scene she’s in. Tsutsumi Shinichi, who plays Sakuma, is luckier. His character is decently written, unlike the other gang members who only exist to bring in cheap drama. It is describing that while in Somai’s film each death became as a surprise, or was revealed to the viewer only afterwards, the new television show builds up for inevitable tragic deaths and spends entire episodes weeping after the fallen friends.

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