Tsumi to Batsu: A Falsified Romance
Original Title: 罪と罰: A Falsified Romance
Warning: Some viewer discretion is advise.
Tsumi to Batsu — literally meaning Crime and Punishment, as in the Dostoyevsky kind — is the WOWOW drama of the season (following in the steps of Shokuzai). Apparently, it’s been considered a bit risky… even by WOWOW standards, which isn’t much, if you compare it to something like HBO or Showtime, though. It’s an adaptation of the manga of the same name by Naoyuki Ochiai (落合尚之), which in turns takes themes and is pretty similar to Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
The series of six episodes follows Miroku Tachi (Kengo Kora), a socially awkward young man who’s facing the harsh reality — people aren’t good by nature. When he meets the cold Hikaru Baba (Ai Hashimoto), a high school girl who’s a prostitution ring leader that enjoys making weak people suffer, Miroku takes on the task of eliminating the vermin of the world… starting with Hikaru.
Yes, Tsumi to Batsu is pretty risky. I actually haven’t run into a jdrama like this before, dealing with these subjects or shot this way. This is the best I’ve seen Kengo Kora on a show or movie, and it has a lot to do with the material he’s dealing with. Miroku is clearly not the first anti-hero wanting to rid the world of its parasites. It’s a common theme that’s been done many times and has been done in the mainstream quite recently with Dexter and Sweeney Todd.
The challenge that Tsumi to Batsu presents us as a viewer is to follow Miroku, who isn’t necessarily a charming lead like Dexter Morgan is. Miroku is a troubled man — his moral compass goes wonky with his superior (Tetsushi Tanaka, who’s been EVERYWHERE on TV this year: ATARU, The Holy Monsters, The Pioneers, and Shokuzai), as well as his mother (Hisako Manda) and his sister (Ayumi Ito) — he’s not leading a normal life and is unable to escape the web of deceit that he not-so-unintentionally created.
Add to that Detective Kuroudo Goi (Masato Ibu) who’s onto his case and an unseemly relationship with Echika (Asami Mizukawa), who might or not be as broken as he is. Of course, I have a bias for Asami Mizukawa. I’m glad to see her doing something so off-beat for her, who’s often relegated to supporting characters in light dramas or comedies. Kengo Kora and her play really well against each other in their scenes together — they go in great contrast to his scenes with Ai Hashimoto (who, by the way, is going to be playing the latest version of Sadako on Sadako 3D).
Worth your time. Completely. If only there were English subtitles available.