Drama Review: MAY I BLACKMAIL YOU?

May I Blackmail You? is a 2017 Japanese drama series that tells the story of a man named Kanji Senkawa and his private blackmailing business.

img_2308Kanji Senkawa takes up cases which cannot be handled by the police or private investigators and he solves them by blackmailing people. While handling a case, he meets the wealthy university student Mio Kanesaka. Kanji and Mio get involved in various cases including voice phishing and kidnappings.

Going into this drama I expected a short and sweet romance story. I also had a strong feeling I was going to enjoy it because I love the lead actor Dean Fujioka. My first time watching him was in the Taiwanese drama series Just You and he was really fun to watch, he brings his characters to life. I did not know much about the lead actress before watching this drama but I had faith in the Japanese drama formula. Japanese dramas tend to have very few episodes, so everything is fast-paced and character development and growth is a sure thing by the end of the show. So I was entirely sure that I would not be too disappointed.

(Warning – spoilers ahead)

This was a very short and straightforward drama. It had only nine episodes and each episode lasted for a maximum of one hour or less. Also, the main characters had great chemistry and there were hints for something to bloom between them in the future but it did not happen. Maybe if they do decide to make a second season then there might be some romance. So do not expect any romantic scenes from our leads. Since the drama only had nine episodes, it was obviously fast-paced and straight to the point and I enjoyed that a lot. But I also feel that some essential background information for a better understanding of the characters were omitted due to the short number of episodes. A good example of this is Mio Kanesaka and her grandfather. Right from the beginning of the show, it was made clear that Mio was not on good terms with her grandfather but the reason for it being so was not clearly stated. They did show how their opinions differed on various occasions but I would have preferred if they gave us a flashback on the actual event that caused the hack to their relationship.

Another thing I really enjoyed from this drama was the timeline setup. The drama started from the present and then flashbacked to the past to provide more depth to the characters. Now back in the present time, we are at this critical point where the characters have to make important decisions based on past experiences and their current learnings. I really enjoy when this style of timeline setup is used in dramas because it leaves me guessing, so that means the series is not completely predictable from the start. That little mystery left by the timeline setup really made this drama more interesting to me. Plot-wise, this was a well-written drama. When I read the synopsis it came off as the usual cute romantic-comedy but I was wrong. It definitely started out light-hearted and filled with dry humour but towards the end, the characters became darker and had more depth to them. Just to clarify on the dry humour statement, I do not mean that the comedic relief moments were not funny enough but rather such moments were quite mellow and sarcastic in nature, so not many people might pick up on the jokes.

Also, this drama gave me the number thing I always desire which is character development. Every character showed some essence of growth by the end of the show. So let’s discuss the few characters that really stood out to me.

#1. Dean Fujioka as Kanji Senkawaimg_2305The one and only blackmailer, Kanji Senkawa. Kanji at first seemed like a very nonchalant person without much to worry about except getting his assigned contracts completed. He is cunning and very money driven but there is more to Kanji. He actually harbours great regret regarding the death of his girlfriend. We later come to know that Mio Kanesaka is very much alike in behaviour to his ex-girlfriend and that is why Kanji always disagrees with her. He feels that she is too naive and that her belief in the good nature of people is very unrealistic. At some point in the drama, I could tell that Kanji was hiding his anger and regrets behind the nonchalant attitude. There was definitely something hunting him because he would sometimes go very dark with his words and actions. But what I really liked is that at the very end he understood that revenge is not always the best option but people who do wrong deeds still deserve to be punished.

#2. Emi Takei as Mio Kanesakaimg_2292I definitely share the same opinion as Kanji, she starts off being way too naive and unrealistic with her belief in the good nature of people and their want to redeem themselves. At first, I was really thrown off by her behaviour but I came to admire her because she did something that many people including myself fail to do when we hit a breaking point and that is, the ability to stand by our initial decision. After a few fails, Mio Kanesaka realized that people are not always true to the image they portray in public but she still stood by the idea that everyone should be given a chance to redeem themselves. So in a way she remained the same but by the end of the drama, she definitely was not the same naive Mio Kanesaka from episode one. She admitted to her flaws but stood by her belief. To me, that makes her a really confident character and I LOVE HER FOR THAT.

#3. Kashara Hideyuki as Takanomi Nami img_2310Takanomi Nami, a politician and uncle figure to Mio Kanesaka due to her grandfather being his mentor. Takanomi played a big role in making Mio realize that people are not always true to the image they portray. In the public eye, he was the righteous politician and a hero. To Mio, he was also like a family member but she was greatly disappointed when she discovered the monster behind the perfect face. He had her kidnapped and almost killed her grandfather just to make sure he won the upcoming election.

#4. Ozawa Hitoshi as Fuwa Tetsuoimg_2314Fuwa Tetsuo is the major gang leader in the neighbourhood. He is corrupt and capable of many wrongs but his character stood out to me for two major reasons. Number one is that his character was a great contrast to that of Takanomi, the politician. Here is a gang leader who the public clearly fears but he was willing to help Kanji and his team on many occasions. He is bad but has some unpublicized good to him. Secondly, his character was also a good show of odd friendships. The friendship between him and Kanji was very interesting to watch because they were initially against each other due to a case Kanji had taken but the truth is that friends can come from very unexpected places. Also, an extra bonus to his character is that he was a great comic add to the drama.

#5. Maya Kyoto as Tominaga Ayako img_2296Tominaga Ayako is the founder and leader of a very influential charity organization in the town. She is a very twisted character because she uses the members of her organization to commit various crimes including murder. For her defence, she claimed that she was helping the less fortunate to get rid of the people that once tormented them and anyone who stands in her way will also be killed. She was the one who adopted Kanji’s girlfriend and nurtured her till she was old enough to be on her own. Unfortunately, Kanji’s girlfriend found out about her ongoing crimes and so she had to be killed. This was a very sad character to watch because she honestly started her organization for a good purpose but over time she had lost her way and failed to admit her wrongdoings. It just means that no matter who you are, it is possible for you to lose the essence of yourself at a certain point but once you realize the problem, try to deal with it immediately. THE EARLIER, THE BETTER.

There were many other characters in the show but these were the few that really stood out to me. Now as always, I have a few of my favourites scenes to share with you all.

Kanji and Tominaga Final Confrontation 

This was the final confrontation between Kanji and Tominaga. Tominaga killed Kanji’s girlfriend and he plans to kill her as well. I really love this scene because of how well I could feel their anger, regret, and self-realization. The emotions were vivid and that made it a very powerful scene.

Mio’s Initial Reaction To Being Blackmailed

Now, this scene is the perfect example of the dry humour I mentioned at the very beginning. It was a moment of shock and disbelief that somehow amused me. Mio’s initial reaction to being blackmailed was way too calm and unusual. Although this clip does not show it, she actually calls the blackmailer to negotiate the ransom for someone who has no connection to her. She also sends him a selfie just because he asked for a picture. I mean who sends their picture to a blackmailer?

Kanji and Fuwa’s Game For Information

Here we have the iconic duo. A gang leader and a blackmailer betting important information on a game of building bricks. Not exactly what you will expect from such people but it was a very funny scene to watch.

Mio Faces Her Parent’s Killer

Mio is given the opportunity to kill the person who caused the death of her parents but she does not believe in revenge. She admits that she hates him and likes the idea of getting rid of him for sure but that will never bring her parents back to life. I already mentioned that I love how she stands by what she believes in and this scene really sums up Mio Kanesaka’s character.

Alright, that is all I have to say about this drama. Overall May I Blackmail You? is a really great drama and my rating for this is a 9/10, VERY SOLID. I recommend that you all take some time to check it out. It has only nine episodes, so that makes it a fast watch and I guarantee a very enjoyable series from start to finish. It is available on Viki, here is the link: Full Episodes Of May I Blackmail You?

So until my next post, have a lovely week

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