(2/21/2021) Gin to Kin (2017)

Gin to Kin (or Silver and Gold in English) is a drama based on Nobuyuki Fukumoto's manga of the same name. I mention this because I'm going to be doing a lot of comparisons to the manga, but I'll try to avoid a lot of the "they changed this plot point slightly" because there is a decent amount of that in here. It's unavoidable, being a live-action adaptation and all.

I feel like the main thing worth mentioning about this drama is that it's a bit hard to feel invested in the characters. Like Morita, we really get thrown into the story, and Ginji's world, just a few minutes into the first episode. It's not overwhelming, but we have about two minutes to get a teensy tiny grasp on who Morita is, and seeing how easily he decides to go with Ginji is shocking to say the least. I guess that's just what makes him Morita, but still. It's obvious that money is a big factor, but Ginji doesn't reveal all that much right off the bat what he's doing, so Morita's motivations are kinda weak. I really feel like they could have improved on the story here by maybe giving us a little more time to spend with Morita in the first episode before he meets Ginji. Another issue is that I feel Morita is more closed off in the drama than he was in the manga... seeing Morita smile and look so smug was a huge charm point in my opinion. Ginji seems even more charming in the show though, so I guess it cancels out.

In general, the show is less about the characters themselves, but more about the different schemes our two main characters get involved in. That's not necessarily a bad thing though. Things drag on a bit more in the manga due to all the internal thoughts and whatnot, but things in the show progress at a fairly appropriate pace. The first few episodes feel a bit fast due to all the different characters being introduced and whatnot, but having Funada be a bit more of a recurring character helps things feel a bit less hectic.

This is also a good point for me to say that by the time we get to the Cezanne part is when things start to pick up. The stories being told get a bit more interesting and the characters (especially Morita) become a lot more charming. It's pretty much the first part I can really call an "arc" in terms of it lasting more than one episode. Also, there's the fact that things get more interesting beyond the more mundane political negotiations. It also helps that the episodes are suddenly based around gambles, the stories that Fukumoto-sensei really excels at writing.

I know I said I'd try and avoid complain about manga changes, but there is a lot more sexual harrassment in this series, particularly in the poker arc. There is a solid chance that I might have just filtered it all out, since I tend to skip over these things when it comes to reading, but it's also just much more blatant here. A lot of the time, women end up being props to show that a character is a bad guy, when it was already clear enough without them having to grope or assault the closest woman in the vicinity. It's a very unncessary addition. A few characters have been turned into women as well, the main one I actually liked being Tatsumi. Having her be the hostess of the bar our main boys frequent was a nice touch, and I like her a lot more than manga Tatsumi. However, having the painter's apprentice be a woman kind of rubs me the wrong way, since the original character is pretty submissive and prone to going along with Nakajima's whims. Changing that character into a woman has some unpleasant implications because of that, and it also comes with the addition of them being in some sort of relationship. If you also think about the power dynamic here, it really proves to be another unncessary addition.

The ending of the series also felt very abrupt as well, since it really actually felt like things were finally picking up. It also ends on such a cliffhanger, but it also never got continued, so... Again, it's another change from the manga, and to me it really changes the dynamic between Ginji and Morita. To me, their bond kinda bordered on homoerotic with how much they relied on each other, but cutting their story short here really changes how you see them as a unit. Even though the manga was cut short with the cancellation, I still appreciated the resolution of Ginji and Morita's relationship. The ending in the drama just feels unsatisfying and leaves you wishing there was more... If they were gonna change that aspect of the story, they at least coulda kept things going for a bit longer.

Also, this isn't a big deal, but the general production wasn't too impressive to me. I don't watch enough j-dramas to understand if it's about on par with any other shows, but certain things were a bit noticeable. For one thing, there aren't a whole lot of fixed shots, and you can tell someone is holding the camera in certain scenes. Sometimes people love the handheld camera, but that's usually in more intense sequences, but you'll see that happening very often in this show. There are also some times where you can really tell they're on a set, and if they're not, then something is happening to rly make the vibes feel off. On the flipside, I did really enjoy the scenes where they are just outside running around town or something- it felt really organic. Other than that, I actually did like some of the cinematography, especially in the Cezanne episodes, even though I didn't particularly like Sano Shirou's acting (he played Nakajima, the art dealer).

Honestly, the main reason I watched to hunt this down and watch it is because the cancellation of the manga has me craving more Gin to Kin content. As a Gin to Kin enjoyer, I think this is definitely worth a look if you had a good time reading the original at all. The faster pace makes some of the political parts feel a lot less boring. The more grounded tone of the show (due to a lot less internal monologuing) takes away a bit of the Fukumoto-esque intensity, but it definitely still works in its own way. Even though I complained a fair bit, I still dig it!

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