Junichi Okada Busan/Kohei
Sho Sakurai - Bambi
Okada Yoshinori - Uchi
Takashi Tsukamoto -Anniki
Sakai Wakana - Moko
Minamino Yoko Mirei sensei
Yamaguchi Tomomitsu Yamaguchi Senpai
Abe Sadayo Neko/the coach
Kohinata Fumiyo- Busans father
TV: TBS -2002
Theme song: A Day in our Lives by Arashi
I have to admit that Japanese dramas are rich with many themes. If you are an avid fan of J-dramas, there's no doubt you will find this the most hilarious and weirdest drama ever made. Kisarazu Cats Eye borders on the weird and hilarious. Its not weird in a dark way but rather unique and original. The story is about five guys who have known each other since high school. They live in a city called Kisarazu-Chiba Ken and have a baseball team called Kisarazus Cats Eye. The story revolves around Kohei a.k.a Busan (Junichi Okada), the leader of the team and the son of a barbershop owner (Kohinata Fumiyo). He has cancer and only has 6 months to live. His friends are Bambi (Sho Sakurai,) who likes to wear the Yukata (an informal summer kimono) wherever he goes; Masta, (sorry, I dont know his real name), a married guy with afro hair and two kids who owns a bar which becomes their hangout; and Ani (Takashi Tsukamoto. Ani = abbreviation of Anniki meaning big brother), a guy with dyed blonde hair and whose real name none of them seem to remember; and last but not least, Uchi (Okada Yoshinori), whose Japanese you can hardly understand. There's also a bum named Oji who lives in a van and who likes to tag along with them. He always starts off each episode with "Asa Da yo?" (Its morning!). He seems to get free stuff from everybody even from Masta.
Busan tells his friends about his health and how he will not live more than 6 months. He wants to do something outrageous before he dies so he decides to form a gang of cat burglars. His friends accept this ridiculous idea as they cannot resist a dying mans wish. So, Kisarazu Cats Eye is formed. They are a baseball team as well as a gang of cat burglers who steal from criminals. They steal a big red American car from their coach, Neko (Abe Sadayo), who is a part-time low level crook working for his low level gangster boss Yamaguchi Senpai (Yamaguchi Tomomitsu); a motorcycle from a motorcycle gang and even jewellery from another local gangster! Besides stealing, they also enter a silly contest and form a band. I personally thought that the song they sang was kind of cool. Well, the boys go on stage while the real band (played by Kishidan famous Japanese band with unusual Elvis-like hairdos) goes off to settle their business with their cheating manager.
Busan is very close to his former high school teacher, Mirei sensei (Minamino Yoko) who is actually quite an unusual character as well. She really hates the school she works at and also the bad girl students. She makes a bomb and threatens the school, steals her students mobile phone from her bag and exchanges it with a little octopus, puts wasabi into one of her students bras; and puts a big frog into one of the students lockers! Unfortunately she is caught red handed by Anis younger brother (Narimiya Hiroki) and Mirei sensei is suspended. Her biggest problem is actually the vice-school principal who always harasses and stalks her. Busan helps her to get rid off the vice-principal in the end and also manages to reveal the reason why the vice principal likes to harass her. Bambi, the closest to Busan among the five, suspects that Busan has a crush on Mirei sensei since Busan always goes to see her after hanging out with the guys. Of course, Busan denies this or maybe he just does not realize he has feelings towards her or vice versa. Meanwhile, Moko-chan (Sakai Wakana) has had a huge crush on Busan since God-knows-when but Busan does not reciprocate her feelings. The one who really loves Moko-chan is Bambi but he is too shy to tell her his feelings until Ani and Masta encouraged him to. Moko-chan seems to give up on Busan and later goes together with Bambi.
Anyway, Kisarazus last assignment takes place in Tokyo. They help a former classmate, Yamada (Satoshi Tsumabuki), a famous baseball player in Japan. He asks that Busan and his friends steal several pictures of him committing adultery with different girls and a video tape. Yamada is afraid that if those pictures and the video tape are revealed he would not be able to marry his girlfriend, the daughter of a very famous businessman.
Busans last days are getting closer. He becomes weaker and weaker. He lays himself on the beach near the bay on a beautiful morning. Ani, Bambi, Masta and Uchi come to get him and to persuade him not to take part in the baseball match. But Busan is quite persistent and insists on joining them. The game begins but Busan has no strength left. He faints in the field and his friends panic. They take him to the hospital.
At the hospital, Busan's friends and family surround him. Usually, death is always the saddest bit of every drama. BUT, this is not the case with Kisarazu. Busan actually gets annoyed with them for talking so loudly and at the same time too. This makes him want to scream at them to shut up. However he does not have any strength left to do so and finally passes on. His friends prepare his funeral and even dress him up in his baseball uniform. When the coffin arrives at Busans home, they hear a funny sound coming from inside it. Of course everybody drops the coffin in fright. They hear a boy's scream, so they open it, but find Uchi instead of Busan. Where the hell is Busan? Is he still alive?
Review and Comments
I absolutely love Junichi Okada here. After watching him in Kisarazus he instantly became one of my favorites. I like Busans character very much too because Junichi Okada played it very well and made him so lovable. Busan is cool, funny and courageous. Junichi also managed to show every detail of Busans character, such as his leadership and courage to accept the fact that he had cancer. Instead of being depressed he decided to do something outrageous. He saved Mirei sensei from the perverted vice-principal who confessed to them that the reason he kept harassing and stalking Mirei sensei was because he was unhappy at home - his wife had been abusing him. There wasn't much delving into Busan's relationship with Mirei sensei. Although Busan did manage to ask her out and they did go on a real date but that was about it. As for Mirei senseis feelings towards him, that was a bit of a blur to me. Even though she did manage to show her jealousy towards Moko-chan when she found out that Moko-chan was actually still in love with Busan even though she went out with Bambi. I guess, Okada-san is not just eye-candy after all (Junichi Okada is one of the members of a famous Japanese boy band called V6). He may not be Takuya Kimura but he's also cool, good looking and has a good singing voice. He's got my respect!
Bambi is another cute character played by Sho Sakurai (another member of a famous Japanese boy band called Arashi, whom I personally think is the brightest hes in Keio University majoring in Economics. Tough school!). Anyway, among the five boys, Bambi is the only one who goes to university. Although he seems aloof, Bambi is actually very sweet. His sweetness shows toward Moko-chan, plus Bambi is also afraid of her. There were a number of times Busan had to remind him not to reveal what Kisarazu Cats Eye does but it always fails since Moko-chan always threatens to break up with him if he doesn't tell her what they do. Of course, at the end Moko-chan is almost always involved in their work.
Their most hilarious job was to steal the jewellery. This assignment was given by their baseball coach and also as vengeance for Ojis death (Ojis death was the saddest ever). Oji was killed by a gangster who killed his twin brother a long time ago. Oji suddenly remembered the death of his twin brother and he barged into the headquarters of the gangster and tried to kill him. He ended up dead and his body was thrown into the garbage field. Busan and his friends got mad but before they could do something, the coach sent some men to beat up the gangster bodyguards. The coach is sent to jail for the assault but before that he requests that the boys steal a necklace as vengeance for Ojis death. The coachs order was taped in a porn video tape (ha..ha.ha.) which took the boys by surprise when they saw it. Later on they saw the coach giving them information about the gangster's whereabouts and what he does for a living in a Mission Impossible manner, which I found quite amusing. So, Busan ordered Uchi to rehearse the scene from Mission Impossible, you know where Tom Cruise did a sort of acrobatic stunt with a string. Well, the mission to steal the necklace was accomplished with a lot of chaotic stunts here and there such as Uchis panic attack when he did not have time to think of where to hide the Blue Sapphire necklace; he decided to swallow it and later he has to dump it from you know where (too gross to describe). The Blue Sapphire stone ended up as the eye of Ojis statue.
Speaking of Uchi, his geeky and uncanny character was actually quite amusing at times and he was also always accidentally saving his friends from trouble. Uchi was the one who found the LV bag containing a gun belonging to Yamaguchi Senpai. The boys were really curious about his residence because he never revealed to anyone of them but at the end it was Busan who got invited by Uchi, one day on a very boring day. Uchi lives on a yacht with his family and they always converse in English which made Busan so confused since he does not understand any English. The yacht was completely equipped with radar and computerized gadgets. Of course this drew Busan's attention who asked what Uchis dad's occupation was. Uchi did not reveal his dad's occupation until Busan was in the hospital in critical condition. He told him that his dad worked for the CIA, that is why he spoke English fluently.
Ani! This blonde hair boy is quite an absurd character. He likes to gamble and gets into trouble with a local gangster. Unfortunately for Ani, he has to repay it by selling himself to the boss gangster who loves young man. Of course he runs off and asks his friends for help. Ani manages to escape from the gangster and thanks again to Uchi who accidentally helps them out. The local police catches the big guy (he is as fat as a sumo wrestler). There is also this amusing part in the hospital when Busan is dying - that was when they were asking Ani about his real name (hey, I was quite curious to know Anis real name too, which by the way wasn't revealed at all). And as for Masta, the afro hair bar owner, well I dont have much to say about him. There was nothing extraordinary about him except his hair and the fact that he was so afraid of his wife. Oh, there was another character I forgot to mention. She is Rose, a middle age woman, full of confidence and who used to be the towns beauty. She works as an exotic dancer and usually forces the boys to watch her show which they feel sucks big time. However, her overconfidence still manages him and becomes with Busans step mother.
Kisarazu Cats Eye managed to get high ratings in Japan. Well, I guess its because of the uniqueness of the story and also the way the story was told. I had to get used to the way they captured the scenes at unique camera angles. They also used flashbacks to explain incidents that were not told in the middle of the drama. For example (well I guess I have to give some spoilers here), one of the scenes at the end of the drama explained why Uchi was in the coffin instead of Busan. After the boys had paid their last respects to Busans body in the mortuary room at the hospital, all of sudden the scene went straight to when the coffin arrived at Busans residence. To explain why that incident occurred, we flashback to the mortuary where Uchi was the last person to pay respects to Busan. All of a sudden, Busan wakes up the moment Yamada arrives. Both Uchi and Yamada freak out seeing him wake from his death. Uchi gets knocked out by something (I forgot) and faints. Busan asks for Yamada's baseball uniform and they go off to the baseball field leaving Uchi on the floor. A couple of minutes later Uchis body was mistaken as that of Busan's and that's how he ended up in that coffin instead of Busan. Did Busan really die in the end? Well the drama said a year later at the age of 22 he did finally die but did not elaborate any further.
For this particular drama, I dont know if should suggest it for everyone to watch but I personally think that this drama is hilarious and good. I prefer to watch something happier rather than depressing. Actually, this drama sort of gives you some courage to live life to the fullest like what Busan did. He does not sit and feel depress about the fact that he would not live much longer in this world. Busan still manages to live as carefree as his friends and enjoy every minute of his life. He even refuses to sleep because he does not want to miss a thing. I found this drama touching at times. There were moments when you could see the sensitive side of Busan such as when he got so lonely and confessed to Ojis statue (the statue was made to commemorate him). I have to admit Ojis death really shocked me because I liked Ojis character - a bum with a surprising past - he was very amusing. The way Oji tagged along with the boys and joined them yelling "Beer-Beer!" as they marched to Mastas bar to hang out.
So, after all these comments and review, my personal rating for this drama is 4 and a half stars. It couldve been five stars if Oji did not die in the middle of the drama and also if they had made some room for scenes where Busan had to take his medication or even treatments. For God's sake, he was suffering from cancer, couldn't somebody have paid attention to his well being? OK..I got a bit too emotional. Or perhaps it was their intention not to show such parts because it would have made it too draggy and ruined the spirit and the wackiness of this drama. Last but not least, the theme song from Arashi was great. It is a mix of hip-hop and rap (by the way Sho Sakurai is the lead rapper of Arashi) and I enjoyed it a lot. This drama is something different, it even got nominated for best drama of the year 2002. So did its theme song. Well there you go!
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