Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review: Mop Girl

Alternative Title: モップガール
Genre: Crime, Mystery
Episodes: 10
Broadcast: Oct. - Dec. 2007

  • Kitagawa Keiko as Hasegawa Momoko
  • Tanihara Shosuke as Ohtomo Shotaro
  • Asami Reina as Ookouchi Hina
Hasegawa Momoko works for a wedding planning company, but after a workplace incident, she is transferred to Little Angels, a subsidiary of her former employer that provides funeral services. When she was a child, Momoko was involved in a traffic accident but was saved by a mysterious woman who gave Momoko the ability to travel back in time. When she becomes an adult, she learns that in order to use her ability, she has to touch an important item belonging to a deceased person. Working for a funeral planning company, she often comes into contact with dead people and uses her power to travel back in time to save that person’s life.

Mop girl is probably the biggest surprises I’ve seen and I consider it to be one of the most underrated J-dramas ever. I decided to give Mop Girl a try after reading the summary. It seemed like a very original storyline in terms of J-dramas. However, I didn’t expect much from this drama. I didn’t know most of the cast and I’m not a huge fan of mystery/crime dramas since they’re too episodic for me. After watching the series, I was thoroughly surprise.

The thing I liked most about Mop Girl is that even though it is largely episodic, there’s an overarching plot. Every episode features a different mystery with different secondary characters, but there’s an overarching plot about Momoko’s powers. We don’t know anything about the women who gave Momoko’s power and why exactly did that person have time-travelling powers in the first place. This overarching mystery entices you to continue watching.

Another plus for Mop Girl is that overall, each mystery was fairly good. Most had an unexpected plot twist at the end and I think it’s fair to say that each one was enjoyable. I have to say though, it does get a bit repetitive. All episodes start with a scene briefly showing a mysterious culprit and all episodes end with more or less the same plot twist. However, there’s a lot of variety in each episode that makes up for the repetitiveness. Each mystery features a very different setting and very different characters that we haven’t seen in previous episodes. One episode features a very bad rapper while another is about a group of authors. In terms of setting, one episode takes place in a maid café while another is set in a school.

In addition, I thought Kitagawa Keiko played her role excellently. She’s good at those humorous scenes, but she’s equally good at acting in those sadder scenes. This was the first time I’ve seen her in a drama and I definitely look forward to other J-dramas that feature her.

The biggest upset for me was the last episode. The mystery in the last episode was a bit less enjoyable than the other episodes. The characters introduced in the episode were a bit bland and the story was predictable. Also, the episode only explains the overarching story for less than 5 minutes. I wished they went into more detail about the incident when Momoko received her time-travelling powers. I can only hope a special will be made that will go into further detail and fill in the plot holes.

  • Surprisingly good episodic mystery J-drama
  • All episodes were fairly enjoyable
  • Largely episodic but overarching storyline keeps you wanting more
  • A lot of variety in each episode in terms of characters and setting
  • Kitagawa fits her role well
  • Good mix of comedy, mystery, romance and drama
  • Last episode didn’t go into much detail about overarching story
Mop Girl is one of those undiscovered gems. It’s unpopular, but in my opinion, you should give this drama a try, even if you’re not a fan of mystery dramas.

Rating: 9/10

Video Preview
Here’s a clip from the first episode.


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