Kazoku Game (2013) poster

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  • Score: 8.7 (scored by 3,048 users)
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Completed
mysecretsoul
66 people found this review helpful
Oct 24, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
Those familiar with Japanese culture may readily recognize the terms "honne" and "tatemae," clashing concepts which hold enormous importance in that society. These refer to feelings and wishes held privately ("honne") and the often opposing facade shown in public ("tatemae"). For better or for worse, this standard affects how most Japanese behave and interact with one another. Kazoku Game uses its nominal family as an example, jabbing at the hypocrisies of this societal staple with vicious satire. With the addition of bullying as a theme, this drama widens its relatability -- though it is already suitable for an international audience.

A difficult yet riveting watch, Kazoku Game turns the family genre on its head. As it adopts an uncanny, dangerous atmosphere, one is often left with the feeling something is not quite right. Even when things appear to be going beautifully, the viewer can never truly settle into a sense of well-being. This unshakable near-paranoia bolsters the mystery presented by the story, begging one to question why the Numata family is in such a state, and what the home tutor hopes to gain from his actions toward them. Because this is clearly a fantasy, issues are relatively negligible with the plot. Despite this, I could not help thinking that if anyone did a quarter of what is seen in this drama, they would be shackled in seconds. Potential viewers beware: triggers abound. Violence toward and between children (including intense bullying), sexual assault, and suicide, are concepts of varying visual importance displayed on screen.

Powerful performances from the ensemble must be applauded. Of the actors and actresses which comprise it, none are weak. Few seem to rant about Sakurai Sho as an actor, but his portrayal of the tutor was especially memorable. Whether through his manic cheer or vibrant cruelty, the character springs to (somewhat nightmarish) life with ease. One may never forget the way Sensei swings his arms childishly while walking, or the frozen doll-like smile he offers to others. And his catch-phrase, "Ii, ne!" ("That's good!") is simultaneously menacing and catchy.

Young actors Kamiki Ryunosuke and Uragami Seishu are also notable, capably carrying out their roles as the troubled Numata sons. Uragami-san as Shigeyuki has an honesty about his depiction, true awkwardness and immaturity (good and bad) many will see themselves in. Something of a screen veteran despite his young age, Kamiki-san has a meatier, more complex role. His character has less relatability, but remains fascinating and nuanced because of his fine performance.

Most tunes heard in Kazoku Game are used to boost its eeriness. Brass instruments and a lone, creepy saxophone lead almost all instrumentals. One particular track stood out, partially because it was played so often and also because it was somewhat sinister. Whenever it marked a scene, something cruel was realized or a strange event had taken place; but the tone was cheerful -- aside from the purposely off-tune lead instrument. I also rather enjoyed the theme "Endless Game," provided by Arashi, and the very suitable introductory piece. My only problem with the soundtrack was that it ultimately felt repetitive, but perhaps that was also intentional.

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Completed
sutekinanijinoiro
24 people found this review helpful
Jun 23, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10
When I heard about the casting of Kazoku Game before the season started, I hesitated because I never really heard about Sakurai Sho being a good actor. Although I've seen Kamiki Ryuunosuke before on Tantei Gakuen Q as a budding actor, I wasn't really curious about this recent drama of his when it started.

Then a recommendation came from a friend and the intense need to watch it, and... the rest is history.

Now, for my review:

Story: No one could contest that this was a beautifully written drama. I appreciate that they modified the themes to suit that of the modern generation, having bullying as the universal issue these days. I'm sure that at some point of the story we were able to relate to the characters' plights and mirror ourselves to them. I personally did.

Acting/Cast: This department was almost perfect, except for some side characters that felt stiff at some scenes, but the main characters, especially Shinichi and Yoshimoto-sensei, were practically having an acting talent showdown. Everyone in the family were superbly cast.

Music: I'm not a fan of somewhat cheerful music, but I like the satire in every note of the music to the scenes in this drama, thus still the high score. Endless Game's catchy tune got into me after a few episodes, and it was basically Yoshimoto-sensei's character song.

Rewatch Value: Since this is mystery, the enjoyment value goes down since you already know what happens after you've finished watching it for the first time. But watching it with friends, it was very fun observing how they react at the scenes in the drama (and being blown away with it).

Overall: This is a drama that will be etched to my memory for a very long time, and unless I encounter another drama as intense as this (or more than that), this will stay at my favorite drama list's top 1 spot for a while.

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Completed
haha63
16 people found this review helpful
Jun 22, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
Now THIS is a perfect example of a Japanese drama done right. I finished the final episode earlier today, and was very pleased with the ending. Watching this drama was definitely a roller coaster. All the surprises and the twists and turns left me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire ride. The mystery introduced at the very beginning of the 1st episode definitely gave a bit of a feel of how the rest of the drama would play out. It was interesting, compelling and will leave you guessing every episode.

The acting was my favorite part. Sakurai Sho did an excellent job in portraying his character with all of his crazy antics and questioning teaching methods, but didn't necessarily outshine the other actors who I thought portrayed their roles just as well. Speaking of which, Kamiki Ryunosuke definitely stuck out to me with his portrayal of Numata Shinichi. I think portraying someone who was as psychologically unstable as that is not an easy task to take on, but I thought he did exceptionally well it portraying his character and was pleasantly surprised with his performance.

The music was very fitting for this drama.. Although, being an Arashi fan, I've gotta say I did fall in love with the ending theme "Endless Game"... But I generally tend to like their music, so that wasn't much of a shock to me.

Overall I highly, highly recommend this drama. If you like "mystery" type dramas, I suggest you check this out. You won't be disappointed. This drama will keep you guessing every week and the story plot is definitely something to stick around for. It has a very pleasing ending that wraps the drama up nicely and will actually leave you with wanting more episodes. I guess we can only hope for a future special, right?

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Completed
naoshi
17 people found this review helpful
May 1, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I know it is a bit early to be writing a review for this show, but I'd like to write about it while my first impressions are still fresh. I do normally wait until I've completed a series to review it, but this show caught me totally off guard. If the series does not live up to what I'm now expecting, I'll be back for an edit, but so far I don't see that happening.

Overall [10] - The story is (so far) an epic mix of creepy, comedy, and mystery, with very fitting music backing it up every step of the way. By creepy, I do not mean scary in any way, so no worries if you have an aversion to scary stuff. I think Sakurai Sho is absolutely amazing in this role; his smile and voice fit the idea of a happy yet slightly twisted person so well that this drama really did catch me off guard. Not only is the story different from what I expected, but Sakurai's character is played so well that I somehow get the feeling that this series is going to have me rooting for a killer or something, and I normally don't go for the bad guys! But that's just a guess! If you're thinking about watching this series, do it! You wont be disappointed. It's quite different, but in a good way.

Story [10] - The opening episode to this series was amazing, imo. Based on the description of the show, I expected something more Onizuka-esque (GTO), or even Sakuragi Kenji-esque (DragonZakura) just with a more "at home" setting rather than being based in school. I was extremely surprised by the opening episode though, and pleasantly so. There is a mystery built around Sakurai's character from the very beginning that is built upon throughout the episode. There were some funny moments but the creepy-ness of this story is really what stands out for me. It is so different from any of the other student based J-dramas I've seen, but it's also amazingly done.

Acting/Cast [10] - Sakurai Sho is absolutely amazing in this role, period. When he smiles and says "????" "(iine~)" it is wonderfully creepy. He very much seems like a happy yet twisted maniac, and I can't wait to see how that plays out! The rest of the cast seems well chosen as well. The family dynamic is quite interesting and I look forward to seeing the rest of the cast play their roles out. Uragami Seishu also played his role very well imo, especially considering that this is only his 2nd(?) role. With a lot of the focus on him during the first episode, you can see his talent despite his young age. He portrayed emotions very well in a few particular scenes (which I won't mention for the sake of not spoiling this awesome episode).

Music [10] - Music isn't something I normally take extreme notice of in dramas. Normally I feel that it goes nearly unnoticed; the shows be awkward without it, but it also doesn't catch my attention. This is NOT the case in Kazoku Game. The music felt to me as if it sort of took on the role of an additional character, an awesome and necessary additional character. Without the music, this show would be completely different. The music really sets the tone for the scenes in a very good way, adding comedy to otherwise standard and/or plain scenes and adding the sense of creepy-ness to others. For me, this is something I've only seen happen in movies (rarely even Japanese ones), so I'm glad this drama is able to make such an impact.

Rewatch Value [10] - I can easily see myself watching this series over, multiple times even.

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Completed
ManaSura
11 people found this review helpful
Jun 21, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I've just finished watching the final episode and am greatly moved so I will make use of the moment to write a review while the impression is still strong.

Kazoku Game (Family Game) as the title suggests is a family drama.
It's a genre I believe Japan is very good at, even more than Korean dramas, well at least in my own opinion.
Japanese dramas depicting family matters, are of course fiction, but you can say at the same time they are non-fiction. Meaning to say they express real social issues and problems that only the Japanese family suffers from, and at that it does it with absolutely no refrains. The Japanese society is one that has many major issues more than the quick eye can see, issues the real size of which can be so big even family dramas that discuss them can not accurately express.

Back to our drama, Kazoku Game:
Story: I find most dramas and movies that are based on popular novels/comics to have a comparatively firm story than other ones with original stories, it's a not a rule though and there are exceptions. In case of Kazoku Game, and owing to the fact that it's not the first drama adaptation of the famous bestseller, this drama had a lot to show to appeal to viewers who have previously watched the previous adaptations or read the novel. The story is a very interesting and juicy one, full of question marks that make you constantly go through the circle of guessing >> doubting what you guessed >> finally reaching what at first you'd think is the truth only to create doubt inside of you once more.

The Acting: the Actors did a very good job expressing their roles, and let me tell you how most of the characters in this story can be considered psychologically unstable, with warped personalities and unbalanced thinking, so it's not by any means an easy job. I found Sakurai Sho particularly to have done a marvelous job in this one, especially if compared to his previous roles, we can say he has definitely matured as an actor. In a drama with long scenes with no or almost no lines, the facial expressions were they key, and I found all of the cast to have done a fairly good job at that field, especially the mother.

The Music: the BGM was definitely impressive, you can't help but notice it, it played a role in putting the viewer in a certain emotional state where mixed feelings of doubt, vexation, despair, grief all with the help of the direction of the scenes and montage accumulated inside of you, especially the abrupt cutting of the scenes, and the long segments of silence, the silent quick scenes of flashbacks...The directing in a whole made me feel like I MYSELF was starting to become emotionally unstable like the characters :D

Review value: I gave it a ten because while I was watching I constantly felt like rewatching it, but owing to the fact it is a story with a mystery and many questions that are only revealed near the end, watching it a second time definitely won't have the same glamour like that of the first watch.

This a drama, that I can recommend to anyone, especially Japanese drama fans, who want to watch a serious drama for a change, won't recommend to fans who only prefer romance/comedy dramas since this one has nearly none of both aspects.
If you enjoyed dramas like "Kaseifu no Mita" or "Freeter Ie wo Kau", please do give this one a try, you will definitely love it!

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Completed
inactive
7 people found this review helpful
Jul 5, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
The first time I heard this kind of story I had an idea what it would be like in my mind which is quite somehow a 'twisted story' knowing the roles of the characters already especially the main lead. I was able to watch other dramas of him and his role here as somewhat a 'psychotic' tutor made me reminisce the role he used to play before in an another drama which is The Quiz Show 2. I don't have any idea how the story will go though I have a feeling of its concept. Regardless of my impression of his role or an idea of what kind of drama will it be I decided to give this drama a try. As the drama goes from one episode to another I found myself glued and wanted to know more about the characters and how the story will eventually end. My curiosity brought me to watch one episode to another. At first episodes, I find this drama a bit dragging but glad after a few episodes before it ends it became interesting for me. I find the acting just fine but I can see Kamiki Ryunosuke could act as a villain in future acting roles and of course Sho Sakurai really played well. I was able to see Kamiki before in other dramas especially he began as a child actor but watching him now I could see his potential. Those two are the stand-out for me in this drama. I commend the whole cast for a job well done. I'm not too particular with the music but it fits enough the whole drama. I like Endless Game because it suits the theme of the drama.Maybe I can re-watch it with other people but not by myself anymore since the curiosity factor is already gone and I know how the story it goes. Overall, this drama is not your typical family drama which is why it's a must watch and it gives you something to ponder about at the end of the day. It's definitely not a boring drama. :)

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Completed
Carolina
7 people found this review helpful
Sep 12, 2015
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
This drama is so good to the point that I find myself writing my very first review...So here it goes:
At the first it might seem like one of those family dramas that have nothing new going on,but we soon start realizing that "Kazoku Game" is far from those boring and "normal" tv shows. Why? That's the magic of the whole drama...
Even tough we think that we know what's going on, something seems to always suprise the audience, since the past of our main character seems to carry a lot of secrets that leaves us wondering if this character might hve good intentions or not, and in short time we end up just like the family by starting to trust too on Yoshimoto Kouya and hoping that beneath all of those strange tactics it's a good will.
Good or bad will we watch this family succumb to Kouya game,and just like them we witness a change without even realizing...That was what Kouya did. He changed both the family and me,that by the end of the drama was completely schocked by how I cried and cried by the change of the main characters and most of all by the lesson that was taken from watching this inspirang drama that will remain in my mind for a long time...In fact this drama carries a lot of lessons that can apply to everyone that is watching,since it has a strong empathy, leaving the spectator feeling that he's part of this.
Such lesson could only be done by the amazing Sakurai Sho. He's by far one of the best actors out there. His caracter was extremely hard to play ,but the did it beautifully ugly and cruel,but with a little bit of hope that made us empathize with him right from the start.
The rest of the cast was very well chosen and believable,to the point that it felt REAL, and that's something quite rare.
So,this is by far one of those dramas that will make you actually FEEL and carry the PAIN and JOY of this messed up family,that in the end might have a ..............ending .
If you're reading this and are not sure wether to watch or not, trust me and find out what lies in these space between" a "and" ending".

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Completed
BSOfficer69
6 people found this review helpful
Aug 12, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I have fallen head over heals in love with the drama. In short: the plot is fresh and original with a superb cast to back it up.

For the entirety of the drama you are left constantly questioning everything. What is Yoshimoto Koya's (Sakurai Sho)true intentions? Who is the true victim in this story about an oblivious and delusional family? Is Yoshimoto sensei even the good guy? My drama pet peeve is when the story line is cookie cutter standard and you can guess every twist. That is certainly not the case here.

The acting is even better. I was skeptical about Sakurai Sho's acting abilities, but he blew me away. He doesn't carry the show along though, Kamiki Ryunosuke and Suzuki Honami do a phenomenal job (along with the rest of the cast, but those two were my favorite.

This drama is a must watch. The only reason it gets a 9 and not a 10 from me is for silly dues ex machinas here and there. This is one of my new favorites and will probably rewatch it soon.

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Completed
AkitoKouyou
7 people found this review helpful
Jun 23, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 7.0
Iine~?
Now that this dorama reached it's end, I'm feeling really empty. It's a really masterpiece in the story of the doramas. The plot is ultra interesting, and totally unexpected. The cast, well, I loved every single character... except the father lol he's annoying as hell. About the music, I'm still searching for the OST, because it's really wonderful
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Completed
fanitha
4 people found this review helpful
May 31, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Kazoku game is a drama I postponed watching for a very long time, and I do regret it, First of all this drama is tagged on the genre of family, drama. Even though it is essentially about a family I would add suspense and psychological genre. Because of the genre being family and drama I thought this drama was going to be about family bonding and growing together and all that cheesiness. That's why I was reluctant to watch it, but don't be mistaken this is more than a family drama!
This a very good suspense drama were at first you think Yoshimoto sensei (Sakurai's character) is a good teacher kind of Onizuka on GTO, but then you start to think he is only a twisted teacher and then again you think he's good but a little mischievous. And at the end of the drama you don't know what to think about his teaching and methods and whether he is a good intentioned teacher or a bad one. I think they leave it to us to choose to believe if he is good or bad.
This is also quite a dark drama, were they use a deep dark psychological approach on every character.

The acting was really well done Sho Sakurai did a wonderful job with Yoshimoto Sensei's craziness and over the top methods. Kamiki was also good on his acting as this double faced student and son.

For the rewatch value I set the rating on 7 because you will lose the surprise fact of the story once you watched it for the first time.

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Completed
DevilsAdvocate
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 28, 2018
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
After the near-perfect reviews occupying this drama's ratings, I thought I'd offer a more contrarian, Devil's Advocate position on the drama. I wouldn't say it's bad, but it didn't live up to expectations for me.

"Kazoku Game" seemed like the perfect storm for my drama drought. After reading the rave reviews, I expected a drama that tackled school issues and also would critique societal structure and life in the rigid and indirect Japanese society, while still being grounded and free of cliches.

My advice: Don't expect that to happen. My experience was wildly different. To me, Kazoku Game is a black comedy / satirical drama, but not a life or societal critique drama.

I want to focus on what I believe people are reading this for, my perceived flaws of the drama:

1) GROUNDEDNESS. If you believe the drama the entire way through, you'll love it, as most people here did. My suspension of disbelief stopped at the 2nd episode; I just didn't buy the cause-and-effet sequences the show was trying to sell. Just because the descent is slow and characters have motives doesn't mean they'll jump off the deep end so quickly.

2) CHARACTERS. If you're a fan of the often-overexaggerated Japanese characters pervasive in the film industry, again, this is no problem. But I think the drama tries to sell these characters as grounded symbols of people from our society, and I disagree. The three neighborhood moms, all of the middle school students, the brothers, and the main character all felt like caricatures, mostly due to their convenient move-the-story-forward decision-making.

3) SCHOOL ISSUES. This is my most contrarian take, but I've rarely encountered a drama that tackles school issues "well". This drama is no exception; it's the repetitive cliche of "student gets bullied/shunned by literally everyone, and he turns it around way quicker than it should have been". Look, bullying is a problem, but the way dramas portray bullying always feel too "Hollywood" to me, like they can't show the more subtler emotional bullies that I believe pervase Japan more.

4) STORY / DIRECTION. Look, I usually don't know how dramas will go. I called the outcome by Episode 3-4, which for a mystery drama isn't good. Every plot point felt predictable and just a waiting battle of when the episode would reach that point. Despite the show portraying the antagonist as a mastermind, he's really just an omnipotent god who nobody can escape. I feel like the antagonist literally has the show script embedded in his mind as he makes his decisions with seeming transcendence. Even that couldn't rid the many other plot holes.

Once I treated the drama more as a black comedy / satirical drama, I liked it more, hence why it's a 6.5/10, but I just don't see the masterpiece other people see, even when under that lens. Most people who've viewed this drama will probably disagree with my takes, and that's totally fine; I just thought I should offer a more critical perspective to this drama for prospectives considering it.

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Completed
Kristal
3 people found this review helpful
Mar 15, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 6.0
Maaan, I loved this dorama, it was awesome.

Let me start this review by saying that this is definitely NOT a dorama for everyone. I'm pretty sure 90% of you will hate it in the end. It's just one of those. In my case, it's just my cup of tea, my raison d'être.

We have the classic, perfect Japanese family: father, mother, two sons. Father works and brings home the big bucks, mother is the perfect housewife, first son is a straight-A student and amazing athlete. The only problem is the second son, the hikikomori who won't go to school because he's being bullied. Enter Yoshimoto-sensei, the home tutor with 100% success rate of getting his students into what seems to be the most prestigious university out there. But we soon discover that, as Yoshimoto-sensei's mask fades away, the family's pretty façade crumbles as well, because nothing is what it seems.

About the acting--
At first I was quite sceptic about Sakurai Sho's (Yoshimoto-sensei) acting, but as the episodes went I understood that he captured the character's essence, and he probably couldn't have done it any other way - nor would I have wanted him to. As for the rest of the cast, man, it was stellar. I loved every single one of them, especially the two sons. Both played their part so convincingly and amazingly. None of the roles were easy, but they all just made them come to life with no hesitation. I was stunned.

The music was great because it was soooo off. I know this sounds weird, but, look, the whole series is about a supposedly ''happy'' and ''perfect'' family and so the cheery music is used to create the contrast and the paradox. As for the ED theme - dammit, not I have that Arashi song stuck in my head!

Rewatch value is meh. This is one of those series you can only watch once, I'm afraid. Giving it a non-committal 6.

I can honestly say I wouldn't change a thing about this dorama. 10/10, and I'm seriously considering adding it to my favourites. II, ne~!

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