Untouchable is a bit of an odd one. The descriptions and promotional images lead one to believe it’s a comedy, possibly with a touch of drama, with Nakama Yukie playing one of her wacky, dorky roles. And on the surface it is, but it’s also a very serious and twisty drama with tons of secrets, plots, angst, double-dealing and reveals, with an incredibly determined and relentless heroine.
Narumi Ryoko used to be a reporter for a “first rate” magazine, but is starting at a “third rate” magazine after getting fired. In investigation skills border (and sometimes sink become) stalking, and because of that, she picks up on things and relentlessly pursues the truth until she gets to the bottom of things. She is a dog after a bone, and The Truth is her bone. (I started watching this while I was watching Fringe and had to put it on hold because so much relentless heroine can only handle one at a time!)
Thanks to her
stalking investigations, she discovers a conspiracy to take over the government. Which…sounds cliché, and is, but the way it plays out is frequently brilliant, and the twists and “small group vs. huge conspiracy” parts are extremely good. The metaplot is intricate and dark and if you’re me, you’ll think you’ve figured out what’s really going on, then decide you’re wrong because there’s just no way they’d be that cruel to her. And then you remember that you’re watching a jdrama. (Also, for some reason, I kept thinking of Rondo while I watched it, only more twisty and with less romance. They do have the big conspiracies and gut-punch twists, but that’s really the only resemblance, I think. Also, my experience with Rondo was basically “well, I enjoy you a lot for this kind of drama, and you don‘t annoy me with things that usually do“ and then there was That Twist and it was “OMG ILU 4EVER!!” whereas Untouchable was the same kind of appreciation, just at steadily increasing levels.) So, Untouchable: pretty awesome twisty drama.
But it’s also a drama being led by Nakama Yukie being wacky and dorky, and frequently finding herself in situations that should trigger my embarrassment squick, but don’t. (I’ve realized this is the case with Yukie’s characters because they…aren’t entirely unaffected by it, but they don’t lose steam, and shrug it off and bulldoze on.) I don’t really buy into the “only this person could pull off this role” thing that people pull out to indicate a great performance very often, but I think this is the case here. Yukie gets a lot of attention as a comedic actress, but her dramatic abilities are frequently overlooked, and I think Untouchable utilizes both excellently.
As a side note, this also looked like it might be one of Yukie’s roles where her dorky character is always pining over the attractive guy who barely notices her, and…it kind of is, but there are implications that Shiro, the guy in question may actually have harbored slight romantic inclinations at some point, but found her too overwhelming. But, more importantly, there’s her scruffy partner/photographer, who’s in the background of basically every scene where she out doing her reporter thing, looking at her in fond exasperation and clearly pondering his sanity for liking such an oddball. It’s a jdrama, and not one billed primarily as a romance, so there isn’t a lot in that vein, but what there is is pretty ace.
Also, Nakama Yukie is my favorite Japanese actress, and one of my favorite actresses period (part of me will never get over her not playing Sunako’s aunt in >em>Perfect Girl Evolution, but I’m coping). That may be reflected above.