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i[Excerpted from Daily Yomiuri, November 29, 2000 - Wm. Penn] Kimura will team up Matsu for the third time in a new series called, appropriately, Hero (Mondays at 9 p.m. on the Fuji TV network). Unlike U.S. TV where series are often a group effort written by a dozen people, Japanese dramas are usually the work of just one writer. In a rather rare exception, two screenwriters (Ken Otake and Yasushi Fukuda) have been brought in to write Hero, which concentrates on the pursuit of justice in Japan. I suppose a weighty project like that definitely demands more than one pen at work. Kimura plays a public prosecutor from the Aomori District Court who has been transferred south to serve the cause of justice among Tokyo's most elite. He should be up to the challenge. The young prosecutor never graduated from high school but went on to pass the bar exam anyway. While a lot of other top actors seem intent on signing on for roles that do little for their reputations, Kimura is smart enough not to take a role that diminishes his own hero image.

[From Rick Frankum]: Kimura stars as Kuriyu Kouhei, a public prosecutor ("kenji") from Aomori Prefecture who is transferred to Tokyo. He gets treated by the rest of the prosecutor's office as a country bumpkin and enforces the image by bringing apples (the most stereotyped image of Aomori is that of apple orchards), being amazed by the infomercials on Tokyo television, and generally not wanting to do things in a 'professional' manner. His main foil is the career-climber Amamiya Maiko (played by Matsu Takako), who can't believe the things that he does - that is, until he manages to nail a government official through some sharp deductive work.

[FUJI TV Synopsis]: Kohei Kuryu, played by Takuya Kimura, is a former juvenile delinquent that drops out of junior high and goes on to earn a high school equivalency diploma. After passing the law board exams, Kuryu becomes a prosecutor. Not your typical prosecutor, which is quickly seen through the clothes that he wears, Kuryu possesses quick instincts and a kind of cleverness that only someone raised on the streets could have. Takako Matsu plays the role of public prosecutor Maiko Amamiya. The shrewd Amamiya, who has her eyes set on passing the exam to become a deputy prosecutor, tries her best to be noticed by her boss. Kuryu, on the other hand, after earning a reputation for doing top-notch work is transferred to Amamiya's division, and finally opens his eyes to the possibility of promotion. Unfortunately, his unprecedented work behavior abruptly brings things to a halt. Although earning a reputation as a bad apple, the influence from Kuryu's strong pursuit of justice slowly begins to change things around him. This drama is filled with it all; love, laughs and lots of emotion.

STARRING: Kimura Takuya, Matsu Takako, Ootsuka Nene, Abe Hiroshi, Katsumura Masanobu, Kohinata Fumiyo, Yajima Norito, Kadono Takuzo, Kodama Kiyoshi, Iijima Naoko, Ryo and more.
THEME SONG: "Can you keep a secret?" by Utada Hikaru
DURATION: January through March 2001.

(The dorama has surpassed "Love Generation" and "Long Vacation's" ratings. This may be the hottest drama in the last five years!!) This drama is #9 in ratings for top Japanese drama of all time with a TV rating of 36.8% for the series including the final episode.

[From Rick Frankum]: It's easy to see that this will be the big ratings hit of the season - Kimura has been in at least three of the top five rated dorama, and two of those ("Love Generation" and "Long Vacation") co-starring with Matsu. They've painted the characters such that it would be tough to get a romantic storyline going (Amamiya even goes so far as to utter the line "I have no interest in love or romance"), but the situation looks like a good scenario for a detective-ish story.

[From Jane]: I've seen 2 episodes of HERO and I'm really dissappointed. What was the big deal about the show?? IT's not that great despite having the Matsu and Kimutaku. The Matsu character is really dull; and Kimutaku as a sort of Columbo type bubblehead who figures out crime isn't doesn't really work. I can see the influences- Alley McBeal, Columbo and Abarembo Shogun! and it doesn't work. The pacing is a tad to quick and the crimes are so obvious. Quite frankly I can't buy Kimutaku as a criminal prosecutor. I doubt anyone really can get away with baggy clothers at the office in Japan. Final verdict: Overated.

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