After a light run with romantic comedies in the last Staff pick of the month, we decided to go with a darker theme for this issue.
While you’re reading this article, you will probably notice that Japanese dramas dominate this edition. That is because mystery dramas are Japan’s specialty. Now time for the good stuff! Enjoy!
AmandaMarta (Trailer Staff) recommends:
Based on a Japanese shojo manga series, this fragmented, coming-of-age drama brings you a taste of various genres in which its plot revolves around a funeral and a favour. It starts off with the cold, alienated protagonist, Suga Mizuho who happens to attend her former classmate’s funeral who passed away from cancer. Jumping from present to past, Suga looks back on her previous secret relationship with Narumi Hikaru, the complications of their high school lives, and the search for the unknown boyfriend of Origuchi’s to fulfill the wishes of Origuchi’s mother. Together, they unravel the mysterious pieces of their former classmates’ lives.
Along with top-notch acting, a killer plot full of twist and turns, and an intriguing soundtrack including the opening theme song “Missing Piece”, Piece leaves you a deep and layered impression that contains supreme satisfaction. The well-written characters are decidedly complex and offer the 3-D representations of typical high school students. It plasters all of the elements of young love, life, family, friendships, secrets, past and present experiences, mysteries, and courage into one. Don’t be surprised if a second watch is needed! This drama is unquestionably worth investing into.
rosefae72 (Editor) recommends:
Kaseifu no Mita is not a typical mystery with detectives and crime-solving. I really liked that because I tend to get bored if I watch too many detective dramas. It's basically about a family that hires a mysterious housekeeper who doesn't show any emotion whatsoever and who will do anything that is asked of her. Throughout the entire drama I was wondering if Mita, the housekeeper, would ever break down and reveal that she does have emotions. Watching the family trying to figure out the past of this woman was also interesting as well. I'm not sure why I didn't watch this drama sooner, because I had it on my PTW list for the longest time. (Actually, if you look at the MDL reviews you'll see that other reviewers say the same thing). This drama wasn't one that I was drawn to when I read the synopsis, but once I finally got around watching it I was amazed by how good it was. It may be a bit slow paced for some watchers, but for me it was wonderfully done. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes this genre.
Taylorgg12 (Editor) recommends:
Mop Girl is about slow but hardworking Momoko (played by Keiko Kitagawa) who recently got a job cleaning up crime scenes with a funeral service company. Momoko happens to possess a strange ability. Whenever she comes across an item owned by a deceased person who has left strong feelings behind, she travels back in time to try and save that person from his or her fate.
The mystery portion of this drama is why she goes back in time and how those specific items let her do so. Also in each episode, she tries to discover why the owner of the item died. I was surprised that I enjoyed this quirky drama since my reasons for watching were kind of shallow. 1. Shosuke Tanihara 2. Shosuke Tanihara 3. Did I mention Shosuke Tanihara? But Momoko grew on me, her love of body building made me laugh more than once and the relationship she shares with Shotaro (Tanihara) is endearing and hilarious at times. I’ve never come across another drama quite like this one so even though this wasn’t a 10 for me, I'd still recommend it. I still go back and rewatch my favorite scenes; even three years later they still manage to make me laugh and cry. So check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Ari_Lee (Forums Moderator) recommends:
I thought for this month's theme, I'd go for something different from what I usually watch and this drama is it. Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou is a mystery solving drama. Shinokawa Shioriko, and her new friend Goura Daisuke, solve riddles thrown their way through the knowledge she has acquired from the many old books she has read.
I'm a reader and I have to admit that sometimes shows, and films, centered around books can be a bit tedious. So, I really liked that a story dealing with books and "book people" was so good and interesting. I think what made it interesting was that they didn't just focus on the books, they focused on the people. The writing was good, they chose the perfect OST to accompany it, and the acting was really decent. Also, the cast, especially Gouriki Ayame and Kurosawa Ryohei, had great chemistry. They were able to make me care about what was happening.
While I did enjoy Biblia, I do have to admit that it can be slow at times. That being said, it still had my full attention from the moment it started till the moment it finished. Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou is definitely one of 2013's most underrated dramas. And while it might not be for everyone, you lose nothing giving this one a try.
Geanina (Trailer Staff) recommends:
When asked to pick one mystery drama that I would recommend, "God's Gift - 14 Days" instantly came to mind. Maybe it’s because I watch way more Korean dramas than series from other Asian countries, maybe because it's a 2014 production. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because it is one of the dramas that will definitely make it to my top 10 of this year. The trick with any good mystery is to keep the story unpredictable/the viewers guessing, and God’s Gift’s director and writer certainly outdid themselves: to the extent that, for 3 months, no member of the cast and crew was told who the culprit is, except for the actor playing that role. Talk about determination!
This is not an easy watch. For one, the emotional charge (the plot involves a little girl being abducted and killed, while the mother desperately tries to rescue her). Secondly, the story has so many twists, it really requires you to focus on every single scene or you might miss an important clue. Not to mention, the time travel approach (the mother gets a second chance to save her daughter, going back 14 days prior to the fatal incident) has your head spinning, going back and forth, rewriting the scenario in your mind while actively trying to solve the puzzle. Excellent writing, directing, camera work, CG effects blend with outstanding acting (Jo seung Woo, Lee Bo Young and Kim Yoo Bin - KUDOS!) into one amazing drama. Oh and special mention for the action scenes, you'll enjoy every second of them. But what's really important is that God's Gift took a risky bet, stepping outside of the verified patterns and going for the pure thriller genre which is uncommon in K dramaland. And I assure you, you won't feel cheated after spending 16 hours watching the end result.
MinMin (Trailer Staff) recommends:
Even after watching it several years ago, Ryusei no Kizuna still sticks out as one of my favorite mystery dramas. It follows three children who saw their parents being murdered and so they vowed to seek revenge. Little did they know that there were so many hidden details about the murder that never came to light. It had just the right amount of mystery, comedy, and romance.
The actors in this (Nishikido Ryo, Toda Erika and Ninomiya Kazunari) were a perfect match up for the casting. The drama is also one of the best roles Ninomiya has taken on. The dynamics of their relationships are well written and interesting.
Be warned though, with all the food shown in the drama I stayed hungry. With that fact aside, it is a great murder mystery that keeps you intrigued from beginning till the end. I would really recommend it to mystery lovers, and even people who don't normally watch mysteries. This drama is just that good..
Elisabetta (Editor) recommends:
Bloody Monday is one of those dramas that I skipped many times while browsing through titles. However, when I finally started watching it, I was so hooked that I couldn’t stop till I finished the whole thing. The plot starts off pretty predictable, but don’t let that fool you. Midway through the show, you have no idea whom you can trust - I mean, whom the protagonist can trust. Fujimaru, played by young Miura Haruma, is not only a good-looking genius (eye-candy is always appreciated), but he’s also amiable and convincing enough for you to get moved by everything that happens to him and wishing for his success.
However, what kept me on edge of a seat are the villains. Throughout the whole show it’s hard to guess what their goals are and what their next step will be. And no matter how despicable their acts are, you can’t help to think they are somewhat kakkoii (cool) and to sympathize with them at moments.
The show doesn’t lose the tension for the second season. So if you are craving for something with a lot of action and riddles to solve, I'd highly recommend you this exciting 20-episodes long ride.
Cheer (Approval Moderator and Editor) recommends:
When my fellow staff members and I were discussing this month’s theme; Ice World was the first drama that came into my mind. Being a big fan of this issue’s theme, there are plenty of dramas to pick from, but none of them even come close to outclassing this drama.
Ice World is an older J-drama (1999), but that doesn’t reduce its quality at all. As a matter of fact, it's actually more appealing than any recent productions. The plot revolves around an insurance agent investigating a case of possible insurance fraud. However, this is no ordinary case, and it leads to his life changing drastically, especially when he meets a mysterious woman whose three fiancés all ended up dying... The insurance investigator teams up with a hot-blooded police detective to uncover the truth behind the many deaths linked to this woman.
The plot may not seem very encouraging to jump into, but the drama is absolutely worth it. The tight mystery build-up, the characters interactions, and the overwhelming suspicious events will leave you on the edge of your seat. Nothing is what it seems like in this drama, you will be surprised countless times by the unexpected flips and turns. There’s also a nice touch of dark romance that suits the drama’s tone, the feelings and the mysterious events are strongly connected. Ice World is by far my favorite Asian Mystery drama and I can’t help but recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a consuming Mystery/Psychological drama.
Tha's the end of this edition. We hope it was a pleasant read. Feel free to share your thoughts about the dramas mentioned above as well as any mystery dramas you love.
If you have any genre/theme suggestions for future 'Staff Picks of the Month', please leave them in the comments below! Thanks!
(Skye Note: I don't say this enough, so i'd like to take this opportunity to thank all MDL staff members. They put in so much time and effort to make MDL into what it is just because they are fans of Asian Dramas and Film. Thank's Ya'all! )