Hello everyone! I know it’s been a long ass time since my last post, so I sincerely apologize. Between my hectic personal life and my lack of interest in most of the currently airing Korean dramas, I decided to spice things up a bit and try something different. I recently finished「コールドケース～真実の扉～」also known as Cold Case Japan, which is a remake of an original American Series I was a huge fan of back in the day. Despite having studied abroad in Tokyo, minored in Japanese language, and listened to J-pop for over a decade—I’ve never actually seen a J-drama prior to this. I am a huge J-horror and Miyazaki fan, so consequently, my focus in Japanese media has always been on film rather than drama. Crazy, I know. This is purely by accident and I assure you this first J-drama won’t be my last.
[Be Forewarned: Spoilers Below].
Respects the Original: Unlike some other remakes I’ve had the misfortune of seeing lately (I’m looking at you Criminal Minds), this show actually pays homage to the original in all of the best ways possible. While keeping key elements that made the original show so engrossing, Cold Case Japan manages to preserve the heart of the original, but also provides a unique charm of its own. The remake changes a few small details in some of the cases, and doesn’t necessarily go in order, but none of this corrupts its coherence, nor does it take away from the stories. I actually preferred some of these small changes over what the original had done. For example, in CASE #5 “POOL,” it is not clear if the scene of the boy moving his fingers at the end was real or only in Lilly’s imagination, since she was seeing the boy’s younger version at that moment. In the Japanese version, we see the boy’s fingers twitch in present time, giving viewers a more legitimate sign of hope that he may awaken from the coma.
Perfect Length: With a mere ten episodes total and a forty-eight minute runtime, this show is not only approachable, but manageable. The episodes don’t contain any extra unwanted filler material, which is something that cannot be said for most Korean dramas I’ve watched. The episodes are also consistent in both pace and plot from beginning to end, and remain engaging throughout.
Strong Cast: Since I am a J-drama virgin, all of the actors in this show were new faces for me. However, I really enjoyed that, because it allowed me to appreciate the show for what it was, without having any pre-determined thoughts or ideas about the cast beforehand. Basically, I went into the show with no big expectations, because I had absolutely no idea what the cast would be capable of. I was very pleasantly surprised and am happy to inform you that this cast delivers. Yoshida Yo didn’t disappoint as lead detective Ishikawa. Grounded, thoughtful, and elegant in her portrayal, Yo did justice to the role. Though all depicted their characters well, another standout actor for me was Kenichi Takito. His personality came through and his eccentricity allowed for some occasional comedic relief between the morbidity of the cases.
Effective/Thoughtful Cases: There wasn’t a single boring case in this show. All of them were compelling and emotional. Each felt pressing, and it was impossible not to become invested, as the weightiness of the stories always felt genuine and well conveyed. Each case not only had appropriate closure, but was unraveled in a manner that never gave away clues too soon or too late. There was just enough suspense to keep you hooked, but not to the point where it could become off-putting. The storytelling aspect of this show is so engrossing and well done, which sets the show apart from other lackluster attempts made in the crime genre.
Nice Cinematography/Well Edited: The frames had a sleek, clean appearance, which really matched the overall tone of the show. Transitions betweens scenes were smooth and thoughtful. Every scene felt arranged and filmed carefully, which made the show visually pleasing to watch.
Complementary OST: The music is a large part of what made the original show stand out, and that was not lost in this remake. With a combination of both English and Japanese tracks, the musical score really centers the show and transports you into the time and world of these cases. Each song was so carefully matched to each moment, to the point where the music always perfectly complemented the respective scene at hand. Not only that, but the tracks were enjoyable by themselves as well.
Perfect from start to finish; I have no complaints about this remake. To put it simply, Cold Case Japan is a must watch. Whether you like the crime genre or not, I assure you these ten episodes will leave you with a lasting impression.
Have you watched Cold Case Japan? What did you think of the film? If you haven’t already, you can check out the trailer here.