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[Japanese Drama 2018] Signal, Shigunaru, シグナル


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Ep2 hits the mark for me as it brings us to the close of the Tashiro Ayaka case, and the introduction of the Josai District serial murders, in a relentless pace that matches the original. 

 

The Tashiro Ayaka case is brought to a tightly paced conclusion, from Yoshimoto Keiko's interrogation, her cat and mouse game with the police who are trying desperately to trip her up, to her adamant refusal to confess right up to the moment the statute of limitations expire and what transpires after. Saegusa's infuriated outburst is in direct contrast to PHY's bewildered grief in the original, but it is equally effective, mirroring Saegusa's relatively young age (he was 7 in 1995, making him 22 at the time of Yoshimoto Keiko's arrest). Unlike Yoon Soo Ah who remains chilling and controlled, Yoshimoto Keiko is far more flamboyant and openly mocking, in keeping with Saegusa's analysis of her need to be in the spotlight of the furore that she has caused, once she has ensured she is safe. I tear up once more when Ayaka's mother begs to know why justice was denied her child when it is clear who her killer was. However, I take issue with Sakurai's characterisation here - striding after the arrested woman without even stopping when Ayaka's mother cries out to her, until the older woman grabs hold of her arm in desperation. The compassion that I would have expected from her, especially as someone who understands all too well the pain and lack of closure a cold case brings, could not be seen, for which I feel to be extremely out of character and poorly conceived. On the other hand, we see Iwata deeply affected by the injustice of it all, and I am glad that it is he who gives the order to arrest Yoshimoto Keiko upon the reveal of the new evidence.

 

Unlike the original, there is a 8 year lapse in the present timeline following Ōyama's last transmission. During this time, Saegusa furthers his profiling training in the US, and is promoted to the rank of lieutenant by the age of 30. Apparently, he has kept the walkie-talkie with him all this time, but I find it hard to understand how he could have spent the past 8 years without once trying to track Ōyama down, especially after hearing the gunshot accompanying his final words. Likewise, there seems to have been no interaction between Sakurai's team and Saegusa in the interim, which is rather bewildering, seeing it was his help that enabled them to solve the Tashiro Ayaka case, and see the statute of limitations for murder abolished as a result.

 

The other point that rubs me the wrong way, is how the Cold Case team is portrayed to have been unsuccessful over the past 8 years, without cracking a single case. While I understand that supernatural elements played a major role in them solving the first case, I think it heavy-handed to show them to be so ineffective without Saegusa's contribution, which I feel to be a disservice to them as veteran police officers, particular Sakurai.

 

On the other hand, I love how Saegusa's reunion with Ōyama from 1997 is played out. The moment the walkie-talkie lights up once more after an 8-year silence, and Saegusa's initially tentative "Is that Sergeant Ōyama?", followed by a louder, far more demanding reiteration of the question, perfectly delivers his anxiety and impatience over the long-awaited transmission, and his palpable relief when he finally hears Ōyama's voice on the other end. It was just a few short moments, but it nails the tentative bond that has begun to grow between the two men, one that would irrevocably tie their lives together.

 

The iconic photoshoot is also well-delivered - with the nervous, hesitant Sakurai and initially grouchy Ōyama who finally gets into the groove with his many poses :D Nonetheless, as adorable Kitamura Kazuki and Kichise Michiko are here, I still think no one can beat the synergy JJW and KHS clearly had, as evident in their final pose B) 

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So far, the Josai District serial murders are pretty much similar to the South Gyeonggi serial murders, and I believe the victims' common denominator would play out to be the same too. Here, Ōyama's love interest Midori is a former drug addict who is already on very easy-going terms with him. I wonder if he was the one who saved her from her downward spiral, and is responsible for seeing her turn her life around. There is mention of the man who has not contacted her since, whom I presume to be her supplier. Is that man also connected to the serial killings, or merely an unrelated character? We'll see.

 

I find it strange though that Ōyama is not shown to be remotely curious of the lieutenant on the other end of the line who appears to have uncanny knowledge of where Kondo Mika's body would be found, as well as the location of a (yet unknown) 5th victim. As a detective, such glaring lack of interest would have been inconceivable, especially in a series of such horrific crimes, yet there we have it. Gripes aside, the gripping moments as the past begins to change and the effect on the present is revealed, is brilliantly executed, leaving me as breathless as Saegusa as he witnesses first hand the changing of the events. Well done!

 

Timeline comparisons:

Case 1 (complete)

Spoiler

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Case 2 (to date)

Spoiler

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Incidentally, can anyone tell me who this J-counterpart to LJH's Batman in the photoframe is supposed to be? I tried consulting my children, but no luck there! :tongue: 

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Since I am not particularly familiar with J-actors, I did not realise until @blueclueblue and several others mentioned it, that Hasegawa Kyōko who plays Yoshimoto Keiko is well-known. It certainly takes away the suspense and surprise of the plot if they continue to feature famous actors as the perpetrators, which in turn has me respecting PD Kim Won Suk anew for his shrewd decision to cast relatively unknown actors in the roles of the original drama. 

 

Thus far, the drama, while weak in certain areas, delivers in spades in others. I am surprised that Ep2 saw a dip in ratings, since I find it to be the stronger of the two. Still, I hope that this will be an indication of the standard for the rest of the episodes, and I am hopeful that it will be a worthy adaptation. Certainly, Sakaguchi Kentarō, Kitamura Kazuki and Kōmoto Masahiro (Iwata) are nailing their roles thus far. Kichise Michiko still has yet to impress me, because I find Sakurai's character to be less well-developed compared to the rest. Fingers crossed this will improve down the road.

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@liddi  So thorough in your research.  The picture in the photoframe is Kenshiro from the Hokuto No Ken (Fish of the North Star).   I googled 80's manga and it pointed me to that series. 

 

I do hope they address what the Cold case team did during the 8 years time skip; there are so many questions left open in ep2. 

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8 hours ago, liddi said:

Thus far, the drama, while weak in certain areas, delivers in spades in others. I am surprised that Ep2 saw a dip in ratings, since I find it to be the stronger of the two. Still, I hope that this will be an indication of the standard for the rest of the episodes, and I am hopeful that it will be a worthy adaptation. Certainly, Sakaguchi Kentarō, Kitamura Kazuki and Kōmoto Masahiro (Iwata) are nailing their roles thus far. Kichise Michiko still has yet to impress me, because I find Sakurai's character to be less well-developed compared to the rest. Fingers crossed this will improve down the road.

I liked episode 2 better the acting and the pace got intense, but what really stood out in this one is the same that stood out in the original that scene where they actually see that they have changed the past is so iconic to the sci-fi geek in me. I have to hand it to Kim Eun Hee for giving us such a brilliant moment. 

 

Here's the preview for episode 3 

 

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@blueclueblue Thank you for solving the mystery of the character in the photoframe! Read up on the personality of Kenshiro which says:

Although still emotionally repressed and stoic like many male heroes in 1980s media, Kenshirō is notable in manga/anime culture of the time for being a sensitive and kind-hearted man who broke the established "men don't cry" cultural stereotype. He is famous for openly lamenting, if not outright despairing over the suffering of innocents and the deaths of his few noble enemies. He is also shown to be more openly unhinged on the rare occasions where he does get angry, and rather than deny or attempt to rationalize it, he fully accepts his rage and his wish for revenge, along with the motivation they give him, disregarding any moral ambiguity.

 

cr. hokuto.wikia.com

 

Sounds familiar? I wonder if the allusion to Kenshiro is just a coincidence as an 80s manga/anime hero, or are they attributing his traits to Ōyama as well? We'll see.

 

@evie7 I know right? I love how they depicted that unforgettable scene - one which is shows, clearer than any explanation, exactly the repercussions their unknowing influence has on the past and future. 

I am curious how many of the original cases will be adapted. With 2 episodes in, they are currently at the same pace as the original, and if it is really meant to be a 12-episoder, I have to wonder whether the upcoming cases will be condensed, or filtered.

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On 4/23/2018 at 10:05 AM, liddi said:

I am curious how many of the original cases will be adapted. With 2 episodes in, they are currently at the same pace as the original, and if it is really meant to be a 12-episoder, I have to wonder whether the upcoming cases will be condensed, or filtered.

You raise a good point since most jdramas will start w/the first episode being 1hr and the rest 45mins, sometimes the last will be 1 hour too. I would think condensed but who knows? I'm at the point this Friday afternoon that I'm missing it and that doesn't happen a lot w/remakes/adaptations for me :D  

 

 

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9 hours ago, evie7 said:

You raise a good point since most jdramas will start w/the first episode being 1hr and the rest 45mins, sometimes the last will be 1 hour too. I would think condensed but who knows? I'm at the point this Friday afternoon that I'm missing it and that doesn't happen a lot w/remakes/adaptations for me :D  

 

@evie7 I just finished subbing Ep3 (which incidentally is yet another strong episode) so it should be available hopefully soon :tongue: It will definitely be condensed, as based on current pacing, the Josai District serial murders will conclude in Ep4, which again is similar to the original. I read somewhere that it will be 10, not 12 episodes :( If that were true, I wonder if they will get rid of the luxury house break-in cases, and just jump right into the Hongwon-dong serial murders and Injoo school girl gang rape case. In the original, these two cases took up 7 episodes, so that should roughly be sufficient to cover the remaining J-episodes without overly rushing through the narrative. Either way, I really hope that it remains strong to the end. 

 

It is gratifying that the series is gaining love through the J-adaptation for those who have never watched the original. Hopefully it also means that they will be interested enough to try the Kdrama once this finishes airing.

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21 minutes ago, liddi said:

I just finished subbing Ep3 (which incidentally is yet another strong episode) so it should be available hopefully soon :tongue: It will definitely be condensed, so based on current pacing, the Josai District serial murders will conclude in Ep4, which again is similar to the original. I read somewhere that it will be 10, not 12 episodes

Thank you:heart:

 I meant to post this compliment I found on twitter  

 

 

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@evie7 Thank you for sharing HPriest's very kind comments, especially since HPriest is one of the J-subbers whose works I really admire, particularly the notes that gives insight to the nuances or cultural background of a particular dialogue or saying.

 

Have you watched Ep3? I am now revisiting the same episode from the original once more... and again, it is uncanny to see two different versions of what is generally the same story. Incidentally, the music for the remake, from the BTS song to the background music is also beginning to grow on me, and I hope they will release the soundtrack as well.

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@liddi I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I couldn't sleep last night and saw it at one of the sights it had been already uploaded. I really like @HPriest 's subs too and thought it was such a great compliment to you since I love the work done and end up enjoying this person's choice of dramas since they are not always the ones I'm waiting for but they end up being good ones.  I appreciate you taking the time and on the work, you are also doing so that we can enjoy this drama.  I have a few errands to run this morning so I'll be back in a few hours to watch the episode.  I'm tempted to rewatch the original too but at this point, I think I would really start to compare the 2 more than I have been trying not to. (I hope this makes sense:tongue: ) I'm having the most trouble w/ our female police officer. 

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Took me longer than expected to finally get around to putting my thoughts down. It has become quite a fascinating study for me particularly when I do the version comparisons, to note just how on par the remake is so far in terms of pacing, particularly since it is consistently shorter by 15 minutes compared to the original, and this still holds true in Ep3. While there is inevitable loss of details alongside the divergence of certain storylines, the remake continues to do well with the time it is allotted, and the male leads are nailing their performances, drawing me in along with them in their frantic race against time. Sakurai again is the weakest of the three, but there is a slight improvement in how she is portrayed, so I am holding hope that she will continue to improve, and while not necessarily be a second CSH, but at least be believable as the woman who has evolved from the rookie of almost 20 years before.

 

Again, I won't discuss the plot as it is overall the same as the original. Instead I will talk about the differences. Here, Ōyama's relationship with Midori is more of care than love on his part, though it is clear that Midori has feelings for him, which the oblivious man does not appear to have much inkling of. The movie tickets make its appearance here at a different time, with Midori purchasing it just before she is attacked. As such, I wonder how Ōyama will know it is meant for him, as evident from the preview of the cinema scene. Similarly Midori inveigles Ōyama to purchase her a hairclip, which she is seen wearing leading to the attack. Will this hairclip be the item that provides the proof leading to the killer's capture in the end? Am interested to see how that would play out. That being said, if Ōyama was never in love with Midori, that would explain why he would come to love Sakurai 3 years down the road, as compared to LJH, who nursed the loss of his love at least 8 years before he learnt to care for CSH.

 

The highlight of the episode for me, has to be the scene when Ōyama is told who the last victim will be - perfect execution of Ōyama's sinking dread and mounting frantic desperation when he realises the truth; intersected by Saegusa's anguished pleading for him to stop the killings and the tragedies once and for all - in the past, and by extension, the future. Kitamura Kazuki's spot on performance of Ōyama's disbelief and distraught sees a perfect counterpoint in Sakaguchi Kentarō's delivery of Saegusa's waning hope as his desperate pleas ostentatiously are unheard at the other end, complemented by the background music that accentuates the heartache as we move relentlessly into the inevitable. Tears.

 

Timeline comparisons:

Case 2 (to date) [Parts 2 to 4]

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Ratings continue to dip, from 8.7% in Ep2 to 8.4% in Ep3. It is truly a shame as despite some obvious weaknesses, it is gradually finding its footing and delivering every single week. Hopefully it will draw in the audience as subsequent episodes unfold.

 

@evie7 I definitely understand what you mean about trying not to compare. I think although I am doing the comparisons, it helps that I stay away from the same episode of the original until after I have subbed and watched the remake, so I am at least more assured of a more objective reaction to the J-version, one hopefully a little less clouded by my recollections of the original. To date, I have been very pleasantly surprised to find scenes in every single episode that leave a strong emotional resonance with me, so that tells me it is doing something right. And it is good to see that it is gaining a following too, at least among the international fans, who are captivated by the drama and its storyline :) 

 

@jongski @lee-chan @igniculus @blueclueblue Please do share your thoughts on the drama too if you are still watching!

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@liddi i'm still watching this! omg you did a lot with time line comparison. I did check out the korean version, well just read about the cast and summary. I just realize I know the actor who is Kentaro's counterpart. It's Lee Je Hoon! I've seen him act in another drama with Shin Min Ah, because of this I'm going to watch the korean version after this.

I just recently finished episode 02 actually, seems like only Lt. Saegusa senses that the past has changed because of his communication with Oyama. And I'm also very curious how Oyama got hold of the walkie talkie and all, I'm not going to indulge in the spoilers of the korean version to keep me on the edge of watching this version. 

 

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@lee-chan Glad to know you're still on board, and that you are planning to catch the original because of LJH. Please share your thoughts with us as and when you do watch.

Yup, as of Ep2, only Saegusa notices the differences from the original history, with everyone else in the present being totally oblivious that there has been a change. 

As for the walkie-talkie, the one that Ōyama has been using to communicate with Saegusa should be one that he has been issued to on the job. On the other hand, as we saw from Ep1, Saegusa picked up his walkie-talkie from a trash bag of items to be disposed.

 

By all means, please watch the drama without spoilers - that's the best way to enjoy it! I will try to keep my discussion here spoiler-free too (or at least in spoilers). Do keep posting so that we can watch it through your fresh eyes too :) 

 

Special event with Saegusa, Yamada, Kojima and Midori (Sakuma Yui) just before the airing of Ep4 yesterday. Midori looks so different from the drama here... :)  

 

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@liddi I'm still watching it.  I do agree with you about the 2 male leads acting and the female lead.  The guys are really bringing it and I'm still disappoint with the female lead acting.   Is it too late for them to change another actress for the role?  I do like that they changed things up a little bit. 

Not looking forward to ep5.  That story line was very heart breaking. 

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I don't want to watch it, except now I feel like I have to since I'm curious how the Japanese version will play out. Jdramas are famous for the cynical and raw portraiture of scenes. But watching the homicide scenes will be exhausting no doubt.  Also I'm a fan of Kentaro Sakaguchi.  Thanks @liddi for subbing it!

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@blueclueblue I think it highly unlikely that there will be a change in cast halfway into the show, so we can only hope we will see an improvement in performance. And ditto here. It is interesting how they manage to put a slightly different spin on the story while being predominantly faithful to the original. 

If it is 10 episodes, and the luxury break-in cases start in Ep5, I am hardpressed to believe the Hongwan-dong serial murders will be featured unless they keep it strictly to 2 episodes per case leading to the finale. Certainly will be a tight squeeze, since the original had 12 episodes to cover the remaining cases. Let's see how they do it.

 

@nearsea You're welcome! Didn't expect to be subbing the drama, yet here I am :tongue: So far, the pacing is pretty much on par with its Korean counterpart, but I expect it to speed up, especially if there are only 6 episodes left. 

Cast-wise, I was not familiar with Sakaguchi Kentarō before this drama, but he is nailing his role as the J-counterpart to PHY. My only introduction to Kitamura Kazuki was Neko Zamurai which had me worried about his portrayal of J-LJH. However, he has been consistently delivering a strong performance, with Ep4 being the pinnacle so far, so I am very hopeful that this will continue all the way to the end.

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Ep4 continues to deliver narratively and emotionally, very cleverly weaving very convincing differences between the overall similar plot, punctuated by strong performances. The highlight for me has to be Kitamura Kazuki's heartbreaking delivery, bringing me to tears more than once in scenes that I am already so familiar with from the original. It is a testament to his performance that I find myself tearing up while subbing those scenes - the discovery of Midori's body, and the iconic cinema scene at the end, feeling his grief just as surely as if it were my own.

 

Once again, the differences to the original fascinates me far more than its already acknowledged similarities. Unlike LCG who is relatively mild-mannered while stubbornly protecting his child to the last, Tanaka Shūichi is far more confrontational and defiant as he reiterates Ōyama's inability to arrest Hitoshi due to lack of witnesses and evidence. However, in the end, he is the one that displays the greatest remorse as he kneels on the floor, clutching the photos of the victims and crying bitterly.

 

On the other hand, Hitoshi's accident is shown here to be of his own making, rather than a deliberate act on the part of Ōyama. This gives us a different interpretation from the original, in that Ōyama, however grieved, has not gone past the brink yet, unlike LJH who would go as far as murder to stop the killings. I feel the choice to make this distinction is right, since unlike LJH who loved Won Kyung, Ōyama's relationship with Midori is one of protectiveness and caring.

 

Yasuda, the owner of the ramen shop where Midori works, is the stand-in for the role of Won Kyung's aunt. I am unsure what exactly is the relationship between him and Midori, to have been the one she would confide in regarding the movie tickets, to having a memorial place for her, and ultimately, giving Ōyama the tickets. Was he just a kindly boss, or was he related to her in some way? I have no idea. 

 

It is interesting that Iwata continues to be shown as sympathetic to the Cold Case team, far more than ACS was initially. Case in point being how here, he is the one who brings Sakurai to the press conference, and he is the one who interrupts Nakamoto to inform him of the new findings that the Cold Case team has obtained.

 

The iconic cinema scene is just as devastating here as in the original :bawling::

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Timeline comparisons:

Case 2 (completed) [Parts 5 and 6]

Spoiler

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0VxQK3Dwe_3kqzoEMWmDty4lsJuHje55EfLIX9BCaiL9hKvcuSd_QGFkC6A3l7RmmZjlr2Tqrq-Re2iMJP0FgY5aSsyagce-lh42KXWKq89wnNz3YfUuWYw_F0aZb805HV7CtHf2ZqDNsHoU0FIlmH-vEtTtEBlPuh6VewYL_bE50of5yI0QlssKU9Mpzs7MAivPGj_F60HSArfSRTvKGNhHRxm61v76YA8IcHn015kOe4VYqcakaxAglkGAs6cQ0ZNBFdDJNcoJjsvC2FNPCfQqTjRLB6pmKflmeJSLzETy9ZmAqDc4x1eJFZ98rAkdz4bSUVYI0YcApqJ7in_bDLLpGl26zkkSPU0F-A0KAZ2I9xMpUPldPoN-odCt1HaSD4SGFR3nTp1ZHbEfc1XKXg83sJokLDw1EnRQiy8IycDBGQ635M932YSTE7Qj_ERf9eGE-Ah6h3znTTnV0ZN6DalkU8q2FrTu0D2vp_xSzunaxq31xKasBUjvt6nTc7y4ApmvgEA5AuhRl-UVi4Ki4U74D8KxImJSlZ5UNC8hagTJhkFp074DW0qgksGLksGc-g_hjNlrwE6XwQN3O3aCrow5O27SubcVUW2tiPJYE-afSW-GmF9Qn-2g_gXLfTLjY720fuHrW3wny9TiH2FJSJ_PMDbk7b2YwDTYeYbGJjxoyoxjHvJwPzJZ0aeHs-PgiPSQWwJtGhcGmYamghgd5FLevultg2C1ALIrjjoaYpQfRDE=w1462-h577-no

 

 

Can't find any information about this week's ratings. Regardless, this version is definitely finding its footing and establishing itself as a worthy adaptation that is bringing its own flavour and appeal. Eagerly anticipating Ep5.

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