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Partners by Blood Review

Partners by Blood Review

OTHER TITLES: Bitter Blood
TYPE: Japanese Drama
YEAR: 2014
WHERE TO WATCH: Dramafever
MY RATING: 4 out of 5

I’m really excited to post my first J-drama review! In DramaChallenge: Day 2 I touched briefly upon my favorite J-drama at the time: Tokyo Dogs. Now I can definitely say Partners by Blood has tied with Tokyo Dogs for my favorite J-drama!

Natsuki Sahara
The story follows Natsuki Sahara a rookie police detective who’s been assigned to work in the Ginza Police Station. The bad news: he has to become the partner of Akimura Shimao, his father. Shimao left Sahara and his sister while they were kids after he divorced their mother, leaving Sahara and his dad’s relationship distant if not strained. Together, the father-son bicker and learn to work together all the while hiding their true feelings about each other.

Sahara and Shimao
I was really pleasantly surprised by this J-drama! It’s got a similar vein to Tokyo Dogs with a buddy cop storyline and follows the same episodic setup typical of cop dramas. Probably my favorite thing about the show is the humorous conflicting natures of Sahara and his dad Shimao. Sahara is adorably introverted, quiet and extremely polite. His dad on the other hand is hilariously charismatic who obsesses about dressing well, is a clean-freak and something of a playboy. One of my favorite moments between them is Sahara planting a bug in an apartment and Shimao constantly chattering in his ear through an earpiece. Their comedic beats are so natural and there were a couple episodes that had me in stitches at the hilarious craziness going on.

Sahara is really the reason why I love this drama so much. I’m a sucker for ridiculously sweet and gentle characters and Sahara is the most innocent little marshmallow guy that was ever written! Actor Sato Takeru artlessly portrays bumbling sincerity and I adore Sahara’s little mannerisms and subtle actions especially with the girl he has a crush on, Hitomi Maeda. His inability to turn away anyone who’s suffering just makes him so endearing. I also loved seeing him grow from hapless rookie to a police detective who can handle himself by the end.

Shimao was definitely a character that grew on me. Initially I didn’t care much for him as he didn’t make an effort to let Sahara know his true feelings. However, as the drama progressed to the end, Shimao’s feelings were slowly unpacked. While everything would’ve been easier if he’d just said it at the beginning, it’s really Shimao's nature to not speak about the things he truly feels. Indeed, he’d rather joke, laugh or change the subject than honestly talk about his emotions about anyone; probably because underneath, he feels deeply. I found Shimao’s peculiarities pretty funny, particularly with his cleaning obsession. The playboy side of him was slightly annoying, however I was relieved that it was never really pursued that much.

Hitomi Maeda hugs Sahara
Maeda was another great character. She was one of the few female roles in the show and I thought she was strong and endearing as a character. I especially enjoyed her moments with Sahara and while I would’ve liked a stronger romantic angle, I enjoyed the sweet and funny moments between them.

the police "family"
The police officers in Sahara’s division fill up the rest of the supporting cast. Out of the five supporting guys, Officer Inaga was probably my favorite but mainly because he was quieter than everyone else. Lol. The supporting officers were mainly there for humor and while I did find them amusing from time to time, I definitely could’ve used less of the scream-talking they all used. I mean seriously, not one of the officers (except for Sahara and Shimao) used their normal talking voices; they just maniacally screamed everything (seriously, everything) which drove me a little crazy. And while still on the subject of crazy, this show will stretch your disbelief about police work soooo much. I was often left wondering why the officers were unable to simply look up security footage from cameras – or stop one killer loose in the police station full of officers. Lol. Yeah, there’s a lot of that.

I was super happy with the climatic ending which delivered the best moments of the series with action, humor and lots of peril as Sahara and Shimao faced the evil villain Takehisa Kaizuka, who murdered Shimao’s former partner. Overall, it was a short, fun romp that gave me plenty of laughs and left me with a grin at the closing credits. I’d call that a win!


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