This Week in Tokyo Pop Culture | Oct 18: Love, Death & Ghost Towns

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In a world where so many shows and movies are based on pre-existing properties, it often feels like there are no more original stories left in the world. But that’s when Japanese TV comes in and… confirms that that’s true pretty much everywhere, with the past week in Tokyo pop culture being chock-full of comic book adaptations:

Sisters in Love

Marigold in 4 minutes (premiered October 11 on TBS) is one curveball of a show. Based on a manga by Kirie, it stars Fukushi Sota as Mikoto, an EMT with the power to foresee a person’s death whenever he touches them. And the show is about him using his power to help people, right? Nope. Marigold is actually a love story between Mikoto and his stepsister Sara who only has one year left to live.

Despite all of that, the show is actually somewhat… uplifting. As Mikoto decides to focus on making Sara’s last days as happy as possible, it turns Marigold into an engaging drama about the preciousness of life and making the most out of our short time here on Earth. Interestingly, that’s also the theme of You and I on the G-String.

Premiering on October 15 also on TBS, this adaptation of a romance manga by Ryo Ikuemi tells the story of Yaeko Kogure (played by Haru) who leaves her job to get married only for her fiancé to break off their engagement. She then tries to get her life together by joining an adult violin class with an older housewife and a younger student who might as well have the word “love interest” written on his forehead.

What makes this show worth watching, though, is Yukie the housewife (Matsushita Yuki) who’s being patronized and discouraged by the people around her. Because she’s a housewife, it’s almost as if she’s expected to not have any passion in her life when all she’s trying to do is experience a little happiness and have her own life. Her struggle will probably be the most interesting part of You and I on the G-String because Yukie isn’t defined through the lens of a male character.

Sadly, that cannot be said about the protagonist of Ex-Enthusiasts: MotoKare Mania (premiered October 17 on FujiTV), whose entire shtick is being obsessed with her ex… with whom she suddenly has to work. The show, based on Yukari Takinami’s manga, is almost like a Japanese take on a run-of-the-mill Western comedy with little heart and a plot that, after the first episode, doesn’t seem to offer anything we haven’t seen a thousand times before.

Sweet Shot, Dark Chaser

After a series of romantic and tragic love stories, it’s normal to start craving something darker, and thankfully Japanese TV did not disappoint this week. Nippon Noir: Detective Y’s Rebellion is an NTV show that believes in truth in TV titles. Premiering on October 13, it tells the story of Yusa Kiyoharu (Kaku Kento), a rough-and-tough Tokyo Metropolitan Police detective who wakes up one day with an extremely noir-esque three-month-long amnesia next to the murdered body of his supervisor. Did he do it? Is he being framed? Who can he trust? It will be a pleasure to find out.

But “dark” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “all serious,” as evidenced by TV Tokyo’s new show Shiyakusho (premiered on October 16). Based on a manga by Azumi Kishi, it’s a black comedy of sorts about a bureaucratic afterlife dealing with the dead, trying to get them processed into the next world. The show can get pretty heavy, both visually with the dead arriving at the Dead Office covered in blood etc., and story-wise, as it deals with some pretty dark themes like suicide caused by bullying and parental neglect. But underneath all that, the show has a satirical tongue-in-cheek feel to it, suggesting that it’s way smarter than it lets on. I’ll keep watching to confirm it.

Shinjuku Ghost Town

Typhoon Hagibis was one of the worst disasters to hit Japan in the last few decades, with the death toll from it reaching 74 and still climbing. But amidst all that destruction, Twitter user @yako_FLPR3 managed to find something beautiful. In a tweet that has been liked over 400,000 times, @yako_FLPR3 posted pictures of an abandoned Shinjuku as the city braced for the typhoon, giving us a rare glimpse into how one of the busiest parts of Tokyo looks like without people. As it turns out: eerie, overwhelming and breathtakingly beautiful.

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