"Saikou" refers to the "greatest" or "best" of something. So with the title referencing a "Great Divorce" how does everything measure up? While divorce itself isn't all that great, this is a great divorce drama. Though sometimes one may see it advertised as such, Saikou no Rikon cannot be called a true "romantic comedy". It watches more like a slice-of-life, centering around two couples (whose respective relationships may or may not be crumbling). The comedic aspect hits as often as it misses, despite passable delivery from involved actors and actresses. Emotionally rich and intense scenes outweigh these in sheer remarkability; in fact, the levity issues are approached with at times (such as the occasion divorce is brought up for one of the couples) actually leaves the whole product feeling a little inconsistent. Am I watching a zany Japanese relationship lark or this heavy treatise? Because some elements did not wholly jive (at least for me), those thoughts popped up frequently over the course of the series. Where the drama excels must be dialogue, which is razor-sharp and surprisingly natural. These characters speak like real people, even showing pop cultural awareness. An engaging way speech is used is also in the way characters loose their frustrations to others; they tend to tell strangers and service-providers in these long-winded monologues, unable to vent to anyone closer. What it lacks in stunning backdrops and visual candy, Saikou no Rikon makes up for in thoughtful camera work. With a sharp focus on the inner workings of married life in mind, shots often adopt voyeuristic qualities. For instance, we might see an argument from a fly-on-the-wall perspective in the kitchen, overlooking the entirety of a small apartment made for two. Eita headlines a solid cast, swinging all his powerful versatility behind the (initially) repellent Hamasaki Mitsuo. This is a character that embodies everything wrong in a husband, from his incredible pettiness to the selfish way he views most everything. The first time he tells his wife something between them was her "personal problem," even threw me back into some bad memories of my own. However, Hamasaki exhibits incredible personal growth throughout Saikou no Rikon (with Eita totally inhabiting the role). Ono Machiko, as his polar opposite and somehow wife Yuka, has a fantastic showing also. Whenever Yuka showed weakness or had something big to say, Ono-san knocked it out of the park. Her role, despite early episodes showing her through her husband's perspective, is lovable and sympathetic; women will definitely identify with her best. Ayano Go and Maki Yoko portray strange duo Ryo and Akari, whose tale most interests at first glance yet slowly is overcome by that of the main couple. Both are fine actors and do beautifully in their scenes. Unfortunately, paired with the "that's just how things are" attitude the characters take to one another and themselves, the too-fast wrap to their story leaves the entire relationship a little hard to watch and slightly unsatisfying to finish (unlike that of the main couple). If Saikou no Rikon is a hero wielding dialogue as its best weapon, music will be its Achilles Heel. Having just come down from a marathon of the series, I can scarcely remember any specific tracks. There was at least one quirky instrumental number, but the only truly memorable song is ending theme "Yin Yang" provided by the amazing Kuwata Keisuke. Despite not being a song to my taste, it suits the drama exceedingly well. And that wild ending sequence that accompanies it? Positively awesome.
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