10 August 2019 | lyntonadam
CLEVER and CREATIVE : GET INTO IT !!
As much as I love K Drama, it's great to have an alternative sometimes. J Drama can be great, and here are some reasons.
I'm very grateful that the Japanese don't constantly stick to a template/formula ( yes, you get used to it, but still...). Their actors are as good as those from Korea and so are the directors and DP's. They're also MUCH more liberal in depicting anything to do with the "S" word than their Northern neighbours. I just saw an odd little series called "Kakafukaka" about a share house, and in the first episode a hot young guy talks about his erectile disfunction. Or in an entertaining 2009 show called "Love Shuffle", a young woman asks a well-endowed older woman if she can touch her breast; which is fine with the owner. Imagine that on Korean TV ! .
That said, there's nothing naughty going on in "Time Taxi". The titular vehicle takes willing passengers back in time so they can "fix" a particular problem, though things rarely turn out the way they expect despite their initial enthusiasm. Plus the "fixing" can often take two or three trips.
And that's the best thing about it : there are surprises in every episode and the writing is consistently clever and creative, which is always a true joy to see regardless of the country of origin. Another treat is the layering : rather than the time travelling being the only source of interest, the café used as a base by the driver ( along with the staff and customers ) plays an increasingly important part in the show as it progresses. So, each episode features a new adventure/characters and my personal favourites are the singles mixer and the motorcycle gang. The thorny subject of sexual harassment also gets an airing on two separate occasions, and it's interesting that the points of view are radically different. The taxi itself provides a cute running gag as well, and ditto the silly show-within-the-show "Criminal Cop" series being watched in most episodes.
The role of the driver is obviously pivotal and in Yutaka Takenouchi we have an affable, avuncular "host" who isn't exactly as he seems. The other cast members are uniformly good and so is the music, though I'd have preferred the main theme ( always used when time stops ) to have a bit more variety : you could easily use other instruments such as piano, guitar etc and a wider range of synth sounds. Since I'm doing a tiny bit of complaining, I disagree with how VIKI have sequenced things. I think the final jumbo episode should be swapped with the second last one due to the origin story in the former.
Time travel is hardly a new concept for TV or movies, yet it continues to fascinate us. You and I have often wished we could go back and change some impulsive or unwise decision, so "Time Taxi" has the sort of universal appeal that guarantees an entertaining viewing experience if done properly.
Which it is.