Kimura Takuya Regains the J-dorama Ratings Crown with the Entertaining Sequel to Hero

Japan’s undisputed television ratings king hasn’t had the same success the last five years as he did the first fifteen of his acting career. I still don’t get the Japanese media’s fixation on Kimura Takuya‘s new doramas tanking in ratings because he’s never really had a genuine flop. At most a middling rated dorama is spun into some sort of bottom barrel career disaster for him. KimuTaku still churns out watchable fare and I’m always going to check out his new work no matter if I stay to watch it all. His biggest crap in recent years has to be Tsuki no Koibito (Moon Lovers), while Nankyouku Tairiku (Antarctica) was overly nationalistic, but both Priceless and Ando Lloyd – A.I. Knows Love? were decently entertaining. KimuTaku got his ratings crown stolen in the last two years by Sakai Masato with Legal High and the unexpected raging success of Hanzawa Naoki, but going back to the tried and true formula appears to vault him back to the top as his new dorama Hero 2 (the sequel to the massive 2001 hit of the same name) debuted with 26.5% ratings last Monday.

Half of the original cast is back despite the thirteen year break, except leading lady Matsu Takako has been replaced with Kitagawa Keiko. I want to temper the rush to rage about Takako in her forties being replaced with Keiko in her twenties, the way Shibasaki Kou was replaced in Galileo 2 with Yoshitaka Yuriko since this case is different. The Hero leading lady is always going to play KimuTaku’s paralegal assistant and I would hope to god that Takako’s character in the original Hero would be a prosecutor of her own by now rather than having some reason to come back as merely the assistant to the leading man. It would have been nice if she was in the cast as a prosecutor in the same office but her not being in the sequel doesn’t bother me. Plus Takako is less known for being in Hero with KimuTaku as much as their iconic pairing in both Long Vacation and Love Generation are what they are remembered most for. I watched episode 1 of Hero 2 this week and was vastly pleased, it feels both intensely nostalgic but with a fresh breath of air in new cast members and new cases for rebel prosecutor Kuryu Kohei to solve. This one is win for KimuTaku and a win for the audience to have another solid Summer offering to check out. Continue reading