BORDER (2014) poster



  • Score: 8.3 (scored by 1,827 users)
  • Ranked: #728
  • Popularity: #885
  • Watchers: 4,250

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36 people found this review helpful
Jun 9, 2014
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 8
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
BORDER appears a touch late to the paranormal party popularized last year. We have met many “medium” protagonists since then. There have even been one or two ghost-seeing detectives, such as those depicted in Who Are You and the aptly titled Ghost-Seeing Detective Cheo Yong. But while this drama initially comes across as little more than the last gasp of a dying trend, it’s much better than that. You see, BORDER might be the first good paranormal procedural we’ve been treated to in ages.

As viewers are often reminded by the stylish introduction to each episode, Detective Ishikawa Ango walks the “border” between life and death. A mistake on the job lands him with a bullet lodged in his brain and a difficult decision to make: have surgery or leave it? BORDER begins when Ishikawa puts off the decision and returns to work. Each episode covers a different case, complete with a unique death and its matching ghost. Our hero interacts with the spirits and lines up what they have to say with the facts; oftentimes, the victim is even able to tell him who has done what. Though one might worry this takes away from the mystery, enough twists and turns are thrown in to keep things interesting.

Like with most procedurals, not all crimes are created equal. Some episodes are stronger than others, with the most uneven occurring smack dab in the middle. I did like that not every victim was likable or even a particularly good person; it allowed the story to go in different directions than expected. There was also a double-meaning in the word “border,” which factors in as added complexity to the theme.

BORDER struggles most because of its predilection for exposition. Even at the start, we zip right through the “how” of Ishikawa’s powers came to be. Only a few moments pass before he’s tossed into his first case. Case denouements come across as spoon-feeding at times, or like a snippet from a script outline. A good example can be seen in an entire character: our female coroner. She is described rather than developed, tending to speak in sentences full of exposition. When the narrative stands on its own legs with a bit more subtlety (as in the seventh case) this drama watches much better. Plus, the ending simply screams for a sequel which might be good or bad depending on the viewer.

Perhaps the greatest strength of BORDER rests in its solid atmosphere. Cold colors and dark lighting work to build a flawless mood which goes unshaken for the duration of the series. Famous composer Kawai Kenji lends his talents to the soundtrack, resulting in many instances of eeriness and memorability. There are few vocals as expected, but what we get is great (such as the theme evils fall by MAN WITH A MISSION). I particularly enjoyed the creepy choral theme which plays from time to time. However, the scope of music is a touch limited—it might get repetitive for some viewers.

Unfortunately, few cast members are of note. We have Oguri Shun who is gripping as Ishikawa, despite how stoic and lifeless the character ought to be. In one early scene, the character describes his life as waiting for the next big case—with little else worth mentioning. As time goes on and Ishikawa develops more, this talented actor gets more room to stretch his wings. He is particularly impressive in the last few episodes, where more range is necessary. The other performances are forgettable, with the exception of certain guest stars and those strange little hackers (Nomaguchi Toru and Hamano Kenta).

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12 people found this review helpful
Jun 6, 2014
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 8.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This drama was my introduction to JDrama and I am glad that I ventured outside of KDrama. Oguri Shun and the other cast members portrayed their characters very convincingly and I especially liked the dark undertone of the show. I also appreciated the understated approach of the show; the characters were not overly emotional or reacted to situations in an exaggerated manner. Each episode dealt with different crimes and most of them were quite original. I would recommend this drama to anyone who enjoys good crime dramas.
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6 people found this review helpful
Jun 10, 2014
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
It wasn't easy to rate because I feel this dorama has some constantly great things going for it going hand in hand with really bad ones

The premise is nothing new. We've seen it just recently in a couple of korean dramas, and the concept was used countless times. However, this dorama approaches it in a totally different, obscure manner which I found refreshing. At the introduction, we got a detective who deals with his job in a pragmatic way because if he's not out catching criminals, he wouldn't be doing much else. Then he got this power, and the more we watch him, the more we see how its been affecting him and his emotional state. Some episodes were better than others, some episodes had more interesting "victims" than others. Overall the dorama didn't give me this attachment that I MUST watch the next episode as soon as its available, but kept me interested in the development of the main character. I gotta say it was more of a one man show, all the other characters didn't add much, and are just here to accompany our hero in his journey.

Oguri Shun is the star here, everything about his character development, his actions, the acting were near perfect. He might not be in my top 10 fave japanese actors (I don't have one yet lol) but he gave it his all here and you FEEL it. The rest of the actors weren't really given much, and honestly didn't do much with what they're given. Even the 2 geeks, though their presence was entertaining.

I found the soundtrack a little too dramatic for my taste, but it fit the overall mood of the show.

I gotta say thats my favourite part of this dorama. That was a constant here. I loved the lighting and the dark colours used throughout the dorama. I love the mood it created. It added so much to the story, and though I didn't jump in to watch each episode, once I started 1, it engulfed me throughout the episode.

Finally, I found the ending fits perfectly with where the character was going, the story and its mood.

PS I don't put much on rewatch value, specially detective shows so ignore that :P

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7 people found this review helpful
Jun 11, 2014
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 5.5
Acting/Cast 5.5
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 3.5
This drama was mediocre, compared to all the crime related dramas I have watched.

Every time this drama hit a good climax in each episode, the resolution/ending would undo all the built-up tension and excitement. The crimes lacked good explanations, and were usually resolved with vague interpretations that had no details.

The story relied too much on the main character to drive the drama. I felt he was too calm for the events that were going around him, which made things less exciting. I wasn't sure if it was the actor or the role itself. However, throughout the drama, he actually developed a personality and emotions, which made him slightly more interesting. If the writers concentrated more on the developing the side characters, the drama might have been more interesting and the main character would not seem as boring.

I did like the uniqueness of the the villains though. They weren't the mainstream villains everyone is used to seeing in Japanese dramas. Everyone was super crazy and twisted by Japanese standards. I thought they were more interesting than the main character.

Most of the tension and excitement was due to the music. The choral music was placed at exactly the right moments, which intensified the events of the drama.

The people who would enjoy BORDER are those who like supernatural dramas, the actor Oguri Shun, and interesting villains. However, there are other dramas who did all the above a lot better than BORDER, like SPEC.

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