I haven’t talked about S – Saigo no Keikan since its first episode but it’s another drama I’ve been following very closely this season. Episode 5 aired last night and the series took a break from action-packed terrorist-brawling scenes and shone the spotlight on Japan’s infamous suicide situation. If you didn’t know already a lot of people in Japan commit suicide and a big part of those suicides are work-related ones. Another major cause of suicide in Japan is bullying, which slowly drives Japanese children out of schools and into their bedrooms where they lock themselves up everyday and give up on communicating with the outside world. Keep reading if you want to know how this all ties in with this episode.
As you know if you’ve been watching this series NPS is fighting against international terrorist and they are specifically targeting a terrorist who refers to himself as “M” or “Masaki”. In this episode M targets the webmaster of a suicide community website who calls himself “Father”. M sends some of the special bullets that he has(which you would have seen in the other episodes) to “Father” to distribute them to the people that want to commit suicide on his community website. Father, who’s real name is Itabashi, also at one point wanted to kill himself and that’s how he became obsessed with suicide forums. The big difference between Father and his followers is that he personally has a terminal disease that has left him around 6 months to live.
Father distributes the bullets as he is ordered to and 3 people end up killing themselves. Another girl called Yuna makes a suicide attempt but fails and is rushed to hospital where she is saved. The police find a bullet in her possession and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The NPS team catches Father and detains him and during questioning they find out that Father actually started to want to save people from killing themselves during his pursuit. So sending them the bullets was actually his own way of trying to stop his followers from committing suicide. They tell him that 3 people have killed themselves because of what he did and he is shocked and starts crying. He also reveals to the NPS team that he actually sent out 17 of the bullets so around 14 people were saved through his actions.
The biggest point of contention in this episode was whether or not Itabashi’s actions were just. Ichigo thinks that Itabashi is a hero while Soga, who is now an NPS member, absolutely detests him. If you think about it Itabashi is like a symbolic representation of Ichigo and Soga’s contrasting stances about the value of life. Ichigo believes that no matter how bad a criminal is that they should not be killed, but captured instead. Soga believes, however, that criminals should not be forgiven and he has absolutely no qualms in killing them if that’s what it takes to do his job and save innocent lives.
But you’re probably wondering why this episode was so moving? The first time I was moved in this drama was in Episode 1 right at the end. Ichigo completes one of his first missions as an NPS member and it’s a success. He goes outside and the son(he’s like a toddler) of the mother that he saved is outside, when he sees Ichigo he immediately gets mad at him and shouts at him asking why he didn’t kill the criminals that took his mother and sister hostage. Ichigo hugs him and starts bawling his eyes out apologising to him over and over again for not killing them.
The moving scene in Episode 5 was one the same level as the scene from Episode 1. I don’t like spoiling things but right at the end the police are moving Itabashi and one of the people from the crowd runs in and stabs him before Ichigo can intercept him. Ichigo begs Itabashi not to die and starts holding his wound with his hand but eventually Itabashi stops breathing and his pulse dies. Ichigo spends what must be like 20 minutes or so pumping his chest trying to revive him but he shows absolutely no signs of coming back to life. During all of this there are cameras everywhere shooting the scene and the girl who made the suicide attempt calls a TV station to give them her testimony that Itabashi was actually trying to save people that wanted to commit suicide, not trying to kill them. Eventually Soga pushes Ichigo off Itabashi and tells him to just give up because Itabashi is long dead. Just as Ichigo starts to look like he’s about to give up Itabashi miraculously starts coughing and breathing again. We find out later at the hospital that Itabashi will probably not regain consciousness before he dies though.
This kind of scene has been done time and time again in movies and dramas. The most typical pattern is that the person that is being resuscitated dies and there’s a sad ending. The other less popular route is that the person being resuscitated is saved but everyone hates those endings because they’re “not realistic” or too “optimistic”. I think Saigo no Keikan took the perfect compromise between these two scenarios and chose an option where the victim was saved from death but not saved completely(and ended up in a vegetable state).
The acting in this drama is extremely convincing, probably good enough to be in a movie, and the choices that the writers keep taking haven’t ceased to amaze me yet. Ichigo is pretty much a perfect representation of what almost everyone in the real world is afraid to be: positive. I think that people in reality give up way too quickly. I probably shouldn’t go into too much detail about that because I’m kind of getting off track but if you haven’t watched Saigo no Keikan yet I really suggest you do. It’s kind of been a little under the radar this season but it’s totally worth watching.