Frequently Interesting and Thought Provoking, Thanks to Gifted Actors, Characterization and Moments of Emotional Depth
Nanase Futatabi (otherwise titled Nanase Once More) is a Japanese television program based upon the book by Tsutsui Yasutaka, about a group of friends, each gifted with unique paranormal abilities, who strive to discover how they came to be blessed, or cursed, with these mental powers.
The program, which conveys themes of love, friendship, acceptance, peer pressure and rejection, discusses how blood is irrelevant when it comes to family, blending traumatic events with suspense, drama, fantasy, crime, science fiction and humor, to create a uniquely entertaining show. Though initially appearing to be aimed towards a young adult audience, Nanase Once More gradually becomes more thematically dark as the show continues.
The very beautiful, and very talented Misako Renbutsu brilliantly brings Nanase to life with exceptional skill: during one scene when a character is severely injured, although no wound is visible, Ms. Renbutsu's acting suspends audiences in the moment. A sympathetic, sweet and enjoyable young woman, viewers ought to be forewarned, whenever this young lady smiles - their hearts and televisions will equally melt. Despite this, Nanase finds herself under-appreciated and resented for her abilities, that immediately establish her as a social outcast.
Although Nanase originally does not exhibit telepathic abilities, the death of her mother triggers her hidden powers to be revealed, and in so doing, sends her on a journey to discover more about her family. Investigating her history, Nanase discovers Sunadori (Miki Mizuno), an attractive scientist who used to work with her father (Fumiyo Kohinata), who has an avid appreciation for those who exhibit supernatural powers, while at the same time, Pax Scientia, an organization, whose agenda is largely hidden, has an equally potent interest.
Along her journey, Nanase meets Akira (Kenta Miyasaka), a young boy with a similar gift, Kousoke (Shun Shioya), a handsome telepath, and Henry (Tomohiro Kaku), a telekinetic magician with a crush, all of them often congregating at a bar, alongside Nanase's best friend Mayumi (Kanako Yanagihara), who is, not only kindhearted, but largely unaware of Nanase's powers. Although each of the actors are impressive in their roles, Detective Takamura (Kamejiro Ichikawa) is often the most interesting, in his search for answers, while Nishio (Tomohiki Imai) is especially villainous in his role as one of the shows antagonists.
Over the course of the series, Nanase is largely resentful of her abilities, and is caught between using them for beneficial purposes to help those closest to her, and the fear they are inherently evil, which stems from the reactions she receives from others, which seem unnecessarily over-exaggerated. The notion of whether she is heroine or villain is frequently considered by other members of the cast, and thus, becomes a topic applicable for the audience.
The thoughts of others, and those that Nanase acquires, assist in furthering the plot, and occasionally provide comic relief, with lighting and camera techniques being employed to represent the different mental powers being utilized at any particular moment, thus, assisting the audience in acknowledging when something pivotal is being telepathically acquired. With this in mind, the special effects are hardly special at all: one scene involving a train caught in a landslide resembles a child's toy, though the effects are only ever in the background, with plot and characterization effectively at the helm.
Kenji Kawai's mysteriously eerie soundtrack compliments much of the series, and the song, Kimi Omoi from GReeeeN, in the closing credits is exceptional. Although by the end of the series there is still much left unresolved, a conclusive resolution is provided for all the central protagonists. Despite lacking the budget presented by a number of Hollywood programs, this Japanese drama proves that quantity is no substitute for quality, when it comes to ensnaring the interests of viewers, and though it obviously won't appeal to everyone, Nanase Once More is a show that deserves to be watched.
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