The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Karei-naru Ichizoku / 華麗なる一族

The Grand Family


2007, 10-episode melodrama that stars Kimura Takuya AND Nakamura Toru and is loosely based on a novel about the real-life story of Manpyo Daisuke; a banker at the time of Japan's reorganization period in the late 1960s.

The drama, however, delves into the life of Daisuke's son, Teppei - played by Kimura-san.

Remember when I said I was getting bored with the sameness of the characters Kimura-kun tended to portray onscreen?

Forget it.

THIS was what I was searching for, and I haven't had this much fun watching a JDorama in a good, long time, either.

What a magnificently portrayed rendition of an amazing family struggle!

Corruption, greed, thoughtlessness, and power all converge on this household and tear it apart slowly but surely, until all that is left to do but to weep - and, weep I did.

Teppei is the first-born son of Daisuke and his high-born wife, whose family ran into trouble early in their marriage; thus relegating her to 'nothing' by societies over-bearing standards.

Daisuke takes a mistress, whom he invites into the Manpyo household and beds right under his wife and the kid's noses.

He also has a second son and two daughters - the eldest daughter being married to the head of finance ministry in Parliament (Mima Ataru is Nakamura Toru) and Teppei being married to the daughter of another Parliamentary figure.

It is the mistress who arranged the marriages with the intention of helping to secure power in the Manpyo household.

Teppei was in love with another woman, but once married, became a devoted and loving husband to his pretty wife and a great father to his adorable, little boy.

Grandfather Manpyo had instilled in young Teppei the benefits and value of becoming a steel man, so when he grew up, Teppei studied metalurgy in college and ended up running a steel mill once owned by his grandfather, who also started a small bank that Daisuke quickly inherited and made it larger and more powerful in the circle of financial things in Japan after the war.

The steel mill is doing well, and Teppei's special metals are garnering interest from companies in the United States while the banking business is taking a hard hit from the government, who are in the planning stages of merging all but the four, most powerful banks in the entire country under the guise of it being more of a help to Japan's economy in the global arena.

Naturally, I don't get it and didn't, really care, but it was a major catalyst in this story, so watch it yourself to better understand that aspect since I am hopelessly inept at explaining such matters with any amount of clarity.

Daisuke doesn't like Teppei, and Teppei is well-aware of the animosity his father has toward him, and this situation comes to a head in the drama, where the father works behind the son's back to take him down with deliberate and hateful calm, destroying Teppei's livelihood as much as his life.

The struggles our poor, innocent Teppei went through on account of his father tore at my heart and made me shed tears while also hating his father even knowing that the poor, old man had as legitimate a reason to behave as he did as anyone else would under the strangely disgusting yet unproved circumstances that led to his despising his first-born to begin with.

Daisuke is determined to jump from position 11 to position 3 in the banking realm with the aid of his dastardly but handsome son-in-law Mima-san, who sees and knows what is going on inside the Manpyo household yet doesn't, seem to care, even as his Manpyo wife grows more and more suspicious and angry with what she sees and hears between husband and father.

In the end, Daisuke gets everything that he set out to devour, including the 3rd place position of his bank and the destruction of Teppei's steel mill - but, as things go, fate had a strange and more perverse way of intervening at the eleventh hour - and it is Mima-san who triumphs, of all people.

The story took place in the late half of the 1960s, and it was funny to note the laptops, printers, and cell phones - but, only in the first episode, and then the continuity people probably got reemed big-time for their lack of ... well, continuity, I guess, and for the rest of the show, it resembled Japan in 1968-69.

(pay attention to the scene where Daisuke peers through a window above the ground-floor action of his bank - it's funny stuff)

LOVED the streetcars!

Teppei Manpyo also had built on his father's property the coolest, most welcoming Frank Lloyd Wright home ever, too - absolutely thrilled to bits about the way the house was decorated from within.

The Grand Family was SO worth the time, and I highly recommend you watch this if you haven't already.

WAY thumbs up on this one, and not just because of Taku-san, either (or Nakamura-san for that matter).

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