Director: Tatsumi Yukihiko
Format: 10 episodes
Dates: 1 Jul 2000 – 8 Sep 2000
Synopsis: Yamada Naoko is a down-on-her-luck magician struggling to make ends meet. Driven by her need to pay the rent, she responds to an ad in a magazine challenging spiritualists to prove that they are real. Using her skills at sleight-of-hand, she manages to trick the challenger, a physicist named Dr. Ueda Jiro, into believing she’s the real thing. The reward, to her dismay, is accompanying Ueda on his adventures as he tries to solve the tricks of other fake spiritualists. But the further she goes, the more she begins to wonder if maybe there are real spiritualists out there after all.
Mysteries: Intriguing and unique.
Ueda and Yamada: The quintessential Odd Couple.
Supporting cast: Hilarious.
Comedy: Adult-oriented and very culture-specific, which might leave some viewers in the dark.
Some people have compared Trick to The X-files. In actuality, though, the only thing the two shows have in common is the fact that they have a male lead and a female lead with different beliefs who play off each other. The X-files was focused around finding the Truth, with each clue supposedly leading closer to that Truth. Trick, however, starts right off the bat with the audience knowing the truth: each “spiritualist” that Yamada and Ueda encounter is a fraud. The fun part of this show is working out exactly how they manage to pull off their frauds and catching them in the act.
Trick is a very episodic series, with almost every mystery spanning a few episodes. The mysteries are a highlight of this series. Each fraud features magic tricks that are unique and interesting to try to figure out. Of course, these tricks are eventually exposed by Yamada, and the answers are intriguing and sometimes even thought-provoking. Anyone who has been curious about magicians while growing up would find these mysteries and the methods behind them fascinating.
The characters are another highlight. Yamada is a strong female character, with a moralistic drive to expose the frauds who exploit others for money. She is brilliantly brought to life by Nakama Yukie, who manages to instill just the right combination of intelligence and oddity into her portrayal of Yamada. Abe Hiroshi‘s Ueda proves to be the perfect foil for Yamada, making up the other half of Trick‘s Odd Couple. Ueda is an arrogant physicist prone to believing in the frauds that he can’t figure out… and also prone to fainting. The two main characters are quirky and comedic in an intelligent way, and they carry this series very well between them. The side characters, detectives Yabe Kenzo and Ishihara Tatsuya (played by Namase Katsuhisa and Maehara Kazuki respectively), add much slapstick hilarity through their actions and bungling crime solving methods.
There are flaws to this series. The largest one for Western viewers is that the comedy is very cultural in nature, meaning that there are many jokes that, unless you know Japanese pop culture very well, will probably fly right over your head. Some of the jokes are even puns on the language, which will also leave some viewers stumped. The cinematography is extremely different from the majority of live action series, choosing strange angles and effects that might not sit well with other viewers, although I found it an interesting way to add an edginess to the drama. However, the cinematography is also almost unpolished, sometimes giving the feel of a series produced by a film student rather than by professionals. The characters themselves get little background information; the series chooses to focus on their reactions in each case rather than develop their pasts. Viewers looking to find out more about their favorite character will be disappointed.
Overall, though, I found Trick to be a very unique series featuring a livelihood that is rarely in the spotlight for these types of TV series: magicians. The mysteries were fascinating, and the comedy was unique and hilarious. The characters are memorable and it was a lot of fun to follow them through their adventures. I definitely recommend this.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: dheu