* spoilers... *
One for the film students, this. Of course, everyone else can enjoy it, too.
This short drama ends on an episode that reveals that the murder in episode one was itself meant as a means of revenge – to get the mother to atone for a misdeed she'd done in the past. And while the drama held my attention, I found myself appreciating all the neat little touches that added to the look and feel of the show.
As the story unfolds, the director, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, makes great use of colour and light to illustrate the scene. The events of the present day are washed out and grim – almost shot in black and white, flashbacks to the past are in full colour, and the moment of revelation around which the final episode is based is shot in a glaring blast of dazzling white light.
Plus, there's a recurring theme in the last episode of empty institutions. The former training centre, abandoned and desolate, or the police station barely half full while work is being done on the building. This seemed to fit in with the theme of how the things we rely on are transient, like family and marriage. And how fragile the concept of revenge really is. Even us, as viewers, have spent the past four episodes seeing the mother as the wronged character only to find ourselves having to adjust our ideas.
This is, I think, the best looking Japanese TV series I've seen. It shows how important it is to take a little care with composition and an idea of what each scene is trying to say and getting that across in the camerawork and the photography. Perhaps a couple of scenes early on jar a little –sometimes people's reactions seem to be more about moving the story on rather than being about what that person is really feeling. But overall, the way the events move from one to the next towards the final confrontation with the murderer is fascinating.