Bloody Monday is 2008 Japanese action TV series based off a manga of the same name. Before watching this series I actually did read some of the manga but I found it to be more directed at kids so I didn’t follow it too heavily. I didn’t really have high hopes for the series but the first scene of this show pulled me right in. The show opens in a Russian village on Christmas when suddenly the town’s inhabitants start bleeding and moaning in pain as a woman in sunglasses walks away carrying a briefcase. What was apparently an extremely successful biological terrorist attack leaves the whole town dead. I really love how this series opens, as a fan of “24” this got my hopes up. It is a no nonsense opening that doesn’t shy away from the pain or emotion the victims experience as they die, not even a child is spared, and you immediately are drawn in wanting to see whoever’s responsible brought down.
It cuts to a year after the terrorist attack to Tokyo. Japan’s public safety unit, THIRD-I, believes that the terrorist organization responsible plans to unleash the same virus known as Bloody X into Tokyo. THIRD-I calls upon a master hacker “The Falcon” Takagi Fujimaru played by Miura Haruma who is actually a high school student and estranged son of the director of THIRD-I. One thing I did find endlessly funny was that before and after each episode there is a disclaimer that encourages views to not partake in the act of “hacking” as it is illegal. I guess there wasn’t room for a disclaimer against terrorism. The Falcon soon finds out that he is in over his head and that the terrorist influence reaches not only his school but the police. Fujimaru must now rely on his impressive skills as a hacker to unravel the organizations sinister plot and find the truth behind “Bloody Monday. I liked Takagi in the show, and I’ll get into how he’s used within it a little later, but I have to say he is very smart and calculating and it is fun to watch him succeed and fail when he does. The relationship with his father is a very complicated one and I thought it was handled very well.
Much like “24” every episode contains quite a few plot twists so the show does stay engaging for the most part. I don’t want to talk about specific plot twists but suffice it to say if you skipped even a single episode you would have fallen pretty far behind in the plot. What I found to be exciting was that each episode balanced the twists with the drama of the characters involved. That is to say every character reacts and changes from each event, and there intentions along with their personality progressively change with each episode. Very rarely are the characters inactive, which in turn lead to a very investing story.
Bloody Monday’s episodes could very easily be broken into five separate sections: Takagi’s school, THIRD-I, the terrorists plotting, Takagi’s hacking and a bizarre storyline about a prison guard. Four of those are exciting plot elements and when they are involved the show is awesome, and the other of those things is the school sections. Seriously the plot comes to a crashing halt pretty much anytime Fujimaru goes to school and he’s in school through most of the first two episodes. While the scenes are mildly important for later, and the intention may have been to contrast the intense drama/action with the calmness and reality of the school, but the story falls flat here. THIRD-I makes for exciting scenes because they have a two pronged approach to the terrorists, they have computer analysts lead by Hagiwara Naotaro played by Takashima Masahiro and then they have their field team lead by Kano Ikuma played by Matsushige Yutaka. Kano is the Jack Bauer of this show, he’s the badass you want in your corner and Matsushige performance was excellent. For the most part their ambition is obvious, they mean to stop the virus Bloody X from being released by any means.
The terrorists are formidable, smart, calculating and absolutely ruthless and damn they are interesting to watch. I mentioned Matsushige as the standout performance of the “good guys”, in the same respect I cannot just choose one villain of Bloody Monday, they are all that good. They want to release the virus and deliver death to Japan. Takagi’s hacking isn’t the primary focus of the show but it’s still cool to see how smart this guy is, he is always trying to be one step in front of everyone. Both sides try and use him to accomplish their own ends and it’s interesting to see his loyalties tested, stretched and broken. About 6 minutes of every episode deals with what is at first a completely unrelated story about a prison guard whose job is to guard a nameless man. Early in the season the story seems like filler and completely out of place but I was hooked in by episode three to this side story. I will say that this story became one of my favorite parts from each episode and the nameless man is the most interesting character I think I have ever seen.
I loved the first season of Bloody Monday and I definitely recommend you find it and watch it now, especially if you’re a fan of action. To put into perspective with “24” one last time I would compare it to a combination of season 3 and 5. The twists are great the action is great and the characters are developed very well. My only complaint is the school scenes, but hey if “slice of life” is what your into then you should have no issue fully enjoying this show. I think an episode breakdown would be redundant and would have to be spoiler heavy for this particular season review but I will rank my favorite episodes. In order from favorite to least favorite, 11, 10, 9, 6, 5, 4, 3, 8 , 7, 2, 1 in my opinion the series get better and better as you go along a trend that continues into season two.