Drama Crack: Every Drama addict craves it, and we all know that finding it is harder than Hunting for a Snark. It’s also different for every one of us, but the thrill when finding it is the same. An innate sense of rightness, a longing for each new episode, and a lingering wistful contentment when the end finally comes. For me, Quartet was my latest dose, and what a solid hit it was.
The story of four social misfits who come together to play as a string quartet, I approached this Drama with much hesitancy. The writer’s only other work I had tried was Mother, a soul-crushingly bleak and depressing tale that I was literally unable to finish. For the first 3-4 episodes of Quartet, I kept fearing the worst.
Right from the start, this Drama kept me guessing. There was something off-kilter about every one of the four lead characters. All had secrets, and the Drama delighted at suggesting darkness in those secrets. Even the closing credits song seemed to be an edgy mix of glamour and malice. When I first heard it at the end of episode one, I found it VERY unsettling, reminiscent in atmosphere of Pink Martini’s eldritch cover of Que Sera Sera . Which brings me to subtitles.
The version of Quartet I fell in love with was of course, a subbed version. Whenever I crush on a Drama, I regret and resent not knowing its language. The closing song is a good example of the problem. In the final episode, the lyrics were subtitled, and even though the style and presentation in the finale were brighter and more fun, it’s likely that had I had an idea of what the words meant when I first heard it, my reaction would have been quite different. I am so very, VERY grateful to the dedicated fansubber who gave me the chance to get a taste of this Drama, and reactions from those who watched it raw confirm that it was every bit as good as the subber’s selfless work made it seem. Yet the very excellence of their work makes me certain I’m missing so very much more.
I love the Pink Martini cover of Que Sera Sera, and I grew to love the unsettling oddity of the Quartet. To the extent that in the finale, when they received a letter that was a lengthy attack on them, questioning the very point of their existence, I was raging in their defence. “If there is no hole, there is no doughnut” was the way the leader and founder of the group described them. In other words, they weren’t very good, and they knew it, but the Drama wasn’t about their music. It was about 4 people who may have been a doughnut’s hole, but who made each other whole.
That may have been corny wordplay, but I make no apologies for it. One of the many things that made this show Crack for me was the way it avoided the trap of going for “quirky is cute, quirky is fun”. There was a lot of fun, and they were VERY cute, but we were also shown their wounds and weaknesses, their frailties and failings.
There is so much right with this Drama and so little wrong that I’m going to end on a note of simple aesthetic appreciation.
Mitsushima Hikari is a very good actor and also one of the most strikingly beautiful people it has been my distinct pleasure to enjoy watching. Both the lead actresses were very attractive, but Hikari has that mysterious je ne sais WOW! factor. I’m looking forward to checking out some of her other works for both her talent and her beauty.
In conclusion, this is easily one of my all-time favourite Dramas, and has strengthened Japan’s place at number one in my Asian affections. I love it so much I am likely to buy the DVD/Blu-ray despite the near certainty that they will be both unsubbed and stupidly expensive. If the all-seeing Eye happens to overlook this upload, enjoy the closing theme from the finale, and if you haven’t already (or even if you have), DO WATCH IT!