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This is the TV version of the film "Sailor Suit And Machine Gun", the Hiroko Yakushimaru vehicle that is well remembered in Japan, about a high school girl who through bloodline becomes the leader of a yakuza organization. Except for the always in control Mr. Sakuma (Shinichi Tsutsumi, who is good)the group is a ragtag group of misfits that does not accept her at first but grows to accept her. In order to enjoy this series, which is roughly three times the length of the film, you have to like the lead actress. As Izumi, the very cute Masami Nagasawa does more than fine. She is full of angst, compassion and some naiveté, much like the film's character. Ms. Nagasawa has been in many TV shows since, especially J dramas, and she is fairly accomplished for a young actress. I would watch this first if you haven't seen the film. This drama gives you much more back story, you get to know everyone a little better. I'd give a nod to the film for sentimental reasons, but I liked this also, its just more of a good thing.
Some good acting and not a bad series, but it ultimately gets bogged down in hand-wringing and guilt, with everyone trying to put on their 'super-serious' face and squeeze every drop of drama they can out of things. A schoolgirl becomes the leader of a yakuza gang. Sound implausible? It is, and its not played much for laughs either. The series just becomes uncomfortable trying to make the characters' motivations and interactions seem believable. Of course, these yakuza gangsters actually have hearts of gold; in fact, the series goes to such lengths to play this up that issues you're expecting to be raised never are. There's also little action or narrative momentum. By the end, I was getting bored. Don't be misled by the cover.
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