J-Drama Review: Bloody Monday – Seasons 1 & 2

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save the earth - bloody monday poster   Bloody Monday 2008

bloody monday 2Bloody Monday 2010

  • English title: Bloody Monday
  • Japanese: ブラッディ・マンデイ
  • Years released: Season 1 (2008)  Season 2 (2010)
  • Episodes: Season 1  – 11 episodes / Season 2 – 9 episodes
  • Director: Shunichi Hirano, Takafumi Hatano
  • Writer: Ryo Ryumon (manga), Mitsuhara Makita, Yusuke Watanabe
Bloody Monday2-Haruma Miura.jpg Bloody Monday2-Takeru Sato.jpg Bloody Monday2-Michiko Kichise.jpg Bloody Monday2-Hiroki Narimiya.jpg
Haruma Miura Takeru Sato Michiko Kichise Hiroki Narimiya
Fujimaru Takagi Otoya Kujo Maya Orihara

J

Bloody Monday2-Umika Kawashima.jpg Bloody Monday2-Yutaka Matsushige.jpg Bloody Monday2-Mina Fujii.jpg
Umika Kawashima Yutaka Matsushige Mina Fujii
Haruka Takagi Ikuma Kano Aoi Asada

Bloody Monday is an adaptation of the Japanese Manga series written by Ryo Ryumon and illustrated by Koji Megumi Season 1 of the television adaptation hit the airwaves in 2008. After its success, a second season was screened in 2010.

Both seasons of Bloody Monday chronicle the exploits of Takagi Fujimaru, a talented and brilliant hacker known as “Falcon”. Fujimaru is recruited by the secret agency his father works for, Third-i – a branch of the Japanese Public Security Intelligence Agency – to try and stop terrorists from carrying out an attack on Japan. In Season 1, Fujimaru – who is still in high school – is recruited to try and stop terrorists from unleashing the deadly “Bloody X” virus on an unsuspecting Tokyo, while in season 2 he races against time and another brilliant computer hacker to stop the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Both seasons of the television drama do a great job of keeping the viewer on their toes, revealing information about the terrorists and their plans on a drip feed. As the plot unfolds, we start to piece together not only the full extent of the terrorist plot, but also who the terrorists are and their underlying reasons for carrying out the attack. The script writers manage to include a good number of plot twists, many of which you don’t see coming – which is great. As a result, the scripts for both seasons are strong and offer a lot of suspense and tension. My key complaint in relation to the script, particularly in Season 1, is how many times can one character be kidnapped? (I won’t say which one, but it got a bit tedious after a while)

Both seasons star Miura Haruma as Takagi Fujimaru and Sato Takeru as his best friend Kujo Otoya, along with Kichise Michiko as hired gun/mercenary Orihara Maya and Narimiya Hiroko as the resident villain, Kanzaki Jun or “J”. Overall, the entire cast, both leading and support actors give terrific performances. While the early episodes of season 1 are marked by some over acting from some of the support actors, overall this is balanced out and kept to a minimum.

I am a big fan of Miura Haruma and he does not disappoint in either season, giving a strong, confident performance as Fujimaru. However, as much as I enjoyed his performance as Fujimaru, my favourite performance and character in the Bloody Monday series is by far Kanzaki Jun or “J” played by Narimiya Hiroko. As the chief antagonist and leader of the terrorists in season 1, “J” is a brilliant, charismatic sociopath. What is wonderful about Narimiya Hiroko peformance is that he brings a gleeful scariness to “J”, making him both terrifying and child like at the same time. While many of the other characters are portrayed as overally serious (well they are trying to stop a terrorist plot after all), “J” gets to deliver most of the witty lines in both series.

A special mention should also go to Kischise Michiko who plays Orihara Maya. While the character compliments the villiany of “J”, Kischise never lets the character drift into his shadow.  Instead in both seasons Orihara holds her own, making it clear that whatever she is involved in it is always on her own terms and never anyone else’s terms.

Season 2 of the series does a great job of building on the relationships developed in season 1, bring a depth to them that was not quite there the first time around. While I would have loved to have seen more of “J” in season 2, his role is still a crucial one and its great to see him come face to face with Fujimaru and the Third-i team once again.

While one can find some faults in this series, just as you can with many other television programs, overall it delivers. So if you are into strongly scripted, tense and suspenseful action thrillers, you can’t really go wrong with either of the Bloody Monday seasons.

** I wasn’t able to find the official trailers for either season, so here are a couple of fan made videos.

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