Final comment on BORDER, the ending.

You probably shouldn’t keep reading this post if you haven’t managed to watch the last episode of BORDER yet. I warned you. So yeah, I thought I’d make a last comment on what I thought of the ending of BORDER. I have to say that I was pretty surprised about what happened, and I’m sure that a lot of people probably didn’t actually like the way the series ended but the more and more that I think about it the more that the ending seemed natural to me. To explain what I mean I’ll have to go over a quick Japanese lesson. If you’re interested in reading it just hit the jump.

So here’s the quick Japanese lesson, the last 3 episodes of BORDER were titled Haiboku(敗北), Kestudan(決断) and Ekkyou(越境). Haiboku means to lose at a match or in a war, and that was the episode where Ishikawa wasn’t able to arrest the politicians son for the hit and run. Kestudan was the next one and Ketsudan is a word used when making a decision(usually a big one) about something, in that episode Ishikawa, Tachibana and their squad leader ended up springing Director Kamogawa. Ekkyou was the last episode and Ekkyou essentially means crossing some sort of line. When you think about it it’s all actually really simple, BORDER represents the line that Ishikawa crossed in the last episode.

What do I mean by a line though? I think it’s probably meant to be a line that dictates good and evil. Ishikawa’s sense of justice was made incredibly strong by his ability to talk to the dead and this also lead him to using unorthodox(and just plain illegal) investigation methods. He knew who the criminal was every single time and had to trick them somehow, either by springing them using the help of black-market experts or by planting evidence(or something of that variety). When Ishikawa was doing this he still hadn’t crossed any “line” so to speak but the first time he came closed was in Haiboku, he lost to the professional hired to clean up everything for the young criminal. He also made a lot of the people around him scared of him. His sense of justice got the better of him again in Kestudan when he sprung the Director.

And finally he broke in the last Episode, Ekkyou. I read a lot of theories about the ending, some people suggest that Ishikawa consequently ended his own life and “the other side” meant the world after death. Others suggested that because Ishikawa had resorted to killing someone that the “other side” was that of a villian character and their ruthless, evil methods. I took one important lesson from BORDER, and that is that nothing is ever really black or white. There’s so many grey areas in life and deciding whether they are black or white, or good or evil, is very objective. Does someone stop being a hero if they kill an enemy? Is someone evil because they use questionable methods to reach an overall goal, or a means to an end?


That’s just my two cents about the ending shown in BORDER. It’s just my opinion, and there’s no black or white about it. It’s grey too. I want to thank everyone who supported me up until now with subtitling BORDER. If you have any of your own comments please feel free to post them below. I’d love to hear about any theories other people have about the ending. Also stay tuned to D-Addicts and my blog this week because I will be announcing a new project to take up time between BORDER and HERO. I’ve already subbed the first episode of it, it just needs spell checks and some editing so expect that either tomorrow or possibly Sunday of this week.

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15 thoughts on “Final comment on BORDER, the ending.

  1. I havent read this post because I havent watched the episode yet… But why do those people above in the picture stare that way? -_- :v

    thanks so much, anyway. 😀

  2. I was pretty shocked by the ending of the Border as I had been trying to see Ishikawa as kind of inhuman hero, who might use slightly wicked methods to arrest a criminal (as he knows for sure who it is), but would never cross the line. I saw him as he was when arresting the Director, little bit reckless and questionable methods, but still able to control himself and not to shoot, and get that evidence and punish him according to the law… Even with politician son I just thought that yeah, he is little bit extreme and getting close to the border, but I was counting that he would learn from it and get himself together….

    After watching the end I was first like “USO!”, this cannot be, but after getting over the initial shock of my perfect hero image shattering to pieces I also saw how fitting the ending was, and how it proved that we are all just humans, and as you said, the border between good and evil is not defined, there are so many shades of black, white and gray in it… Very good drama with a message that makes you think! and Oguri Shun is amazing as always!

  3. Thanks again for your hard work…
    I think Ekkyou has an interesting meaning here. Passing from life, yes, and maybe passing to the evil side too, but I am not sure…. The conversation before was about killing for evil and not being able to kill for justice… I think Ishikawa went as far as he could, he killed for justice, but he couldn’t live anymore. This end was a relief for him. This black-and white thing is true, but I won’t go that far that the end justifies the means…
    Alltogether he was a hero for me who stopped the evil in his special ways.

  4. This is really insightful. I think now I love the drama more and I will rate it 10\10.
    I loved the ending, although I kept laughing hysterically for five minutes.
    But seriously I felt sad for Ishkawa. He got himself involved really deep with the victims
    imagine if doctors did the same, they would go mad in a heart beat.
    I think that the killer was kind of right, the evil and good looks the same from a far
    but the balance of power makes it faster and much quicker for evil guys to achieve their goals
    but I believe whether they’re good or evil they all should obey the law, it’s the only thing that can keep any one of them from crossing the line.
    the female doctor told him many times to not let the pain control him, he shouldn’t act according to feelings.
    Justice can only be justice if it’s done in the right lawful ways, other wise it’s just emotional acts done without calculating. Although If only Ishkawa didn’t act so fast and didn’t go straight to the killer the first time, his plan would’ve succeeded but he got blinded by emotions.
    I also thought for a second that Ishkawa might died but he looked down and the buddy was there and suddenly the killer is with him.
    He obviously welcomed him to the evil side as he did invited him earlier when he got out of the police department and told him “If you don’t like it then, maybe you should come to THIS side.”

    thank you so much for explaining the meaning of the episodes titles. It really helped in understanding how the writer wanted to tell the story. I think the novel will be a good read if it ever got translated to English.

    Thank you again for your hard work. It was really a good choice.
    I wish you all the good luck for your next work.

  5. The ending seems intelligent and interesting. I am glad they were original, for once. I really appreciate your comments on this. About the dramas in general, I am with you in watching Japanese dramas only. The American ones exasperate me these days!

    At least, Japanese drama makers don’t feel obliged, like American ones, to have a happy ending every time. I have seen several where the heroine or hero dies, for instance. Maybe on the other hand they like tear jerkers a little too much?…But even that is better than a stupid happy ending. I also prefer a drama that has a beginning and an end, like the Japanese ones, rather than some sitcom that goes on for years.

  6. Do you think there will be Season 2? I think there are lots of stuff left behind, not really satisfied with how everything ended. The drama seems ended in a hurry cause of the rating was dropping.

  7. total agreement with you & mit_souko. north american shows are just not as interesting. the pilot episodes for some shows sounds good, like the superhero stuff, but upon watching a couple of episodes, it becomes very ho-hum. Japanese shows, however, capture the attention. I wonder if it’s because there are so many Japanese shows in a year as opposed to north American shows in the same year? with so many shows, there is bound to be a lot of variety, & it would appeal to more people.

  8. That so-called ”perfect evil” man is just a sociopath in my humble opinion. He has nearly all the symptoms: He seems like a decent guy at first(sociopaths are known to be charmers), he is very intelligent and manipulative, he lacks empathy and love, he wants to be a winner no matter what, he never feels remorse or shame, etc. Our tragic hero unfortunately has been manipulated and provoked by this repulsive sociopath. I don’t believe he has become a member of the dark side now, because he feels remorse for what he has done. And the ghost sociopath tries to make him think he is now on the dark side. He wants Ishikawa to be hopeless and abandon the right path. That’s why, despondence is a sin in some belief systems. People think there is no more absolution for them and turn to the evil side more. I think there will be a special episode for Border, there must be one! Ishikawa may follow Dexter’s path from now on. Of course he should surrender himself to the police but this is a j-drama and show must go on, so…

  9. Ending surprised me too, but in a positive way? If we can talk about positiveness when someone’s killed… Well, the fact is that I’m rather pleased with the way things ended.

    For me this drama never was much about giving clear answers or more like was never meant to be “clear” if anything. As you wrote “nothing is ever really black or white” and distinguishing is a matter of personal beliefs. “Border” made me think a lot along these lines.

    As for Ishikawa – there were many not-so-legal things he did in order to not let the evil to prevail and well, these not-so-legal things were neither good nor bad, so it didn’t require much denial for him to justify his actions. But at some point he crossed the point where he could simply justify his actions and make them more white-ish than black-ish. For me it seems like the last scene, just as the awareness of what he did soak in, was the moment in which he found himself surrounded by pitch black.

  10. Thanks again for your hard work and taking the time to sub this series.

    Your comments re the ending are very insightful.

    I enjoyed the series, but my immediate reaction to the ending was that I found the ending to be a little abrupt, almost like it was ending on a cliff hanger to move onto a second series, and thus was rather disappointed. But at the same time I did understand however under the context of the episode what he meant by “welcome to the other side”, i.e. the good v the bad, the detective investigating murders, with a sense of justice and wanting to do the right thing, ending up crossing the line to the “other side” only to commit murder himself. But regardless of this I still felt a little let down by the abrupt ending and thought that they could have gone further into the main characters themselves to make it a more rounded story, at least with the main character, and perhaps they could have made the series a bit longer, as I think there could have been a lot more to it.

    However, it was interesting to read your comments as it has made me reflect more on the series, and I understand that perhaps the main idea the writer had, was really centred around the title of the series: “Border”, and exploring the themes surrounding that, rather than any further exploration of characters themeselves and a more developed story.

    The title “Border” really does seem to have several meanings to it:
    I originally thought it meant the border between life and death, i.e. he almost died and came back to life and since had been able to speak to dead people. So he was able to almost cross that border where someone living was able to communicate with people who had died.
    But at the same time it was the border between the good v the bad, i.e. doing the “right” thing versus doing the “wrong”, “good” versus “evil”.

    Interestingly as you mentioned there was a fine line, that life is more about grey areas rather than simply black and white, as the main character himself ended up throughout the series going to the “other side”: the world of criminal acts in order to get justice for those who had been killed. So even though his sense of morality and justice set him on the world of the “good”, he was stuck in a system that revolved around much grey areas, and had to resort to going to the “other side”, to the criminal world in order to get help to bring those who had commited “evil” to justice. And as the series progressed he was getting further and further into the “dark” side, so much so that in the final episode, the self proclaimed man of “evil” who killed innocent children for the sake of it, pushed the main character over the edge, and the detective himself became what he had fought against throughout the series: he too became a murderer; someone of “evil”; someone who had crossed the line, and in a literal sense he turned it around and pushed the murderer off the edge of the rooftop and killed him.

    But then again, even though he killed the guy, what is to say that he did not do “good” in the end, as the murderer had made sure there was no evidence against him, and so would not be sentenced to jail. So would have continued to carry on killing, and thus the main character of the series had therefore saved many more lives that would have otherwise ended. However nobody should have the right to take the life of another, and so it put the detective into turmoil for doing such an evil act and thus betraying everything that he had believed in, fought against, and the morals he stood for.

    So yeah, definitely interesting the whole “border” theme; that the border between good and evil (the light side versus the dark side) is very fine; that sometimes people must cross at least into the grey areas when necessay and that one must remove certain values in order to uphold other ones on certain occasions. Also that the border between life and death is a fine line too, as with each of the characters who had been killed, they were one minute going about their general lives thinking they had their whole lives ahead of them, whilst next they were murdered and their lives had been taken away from them, crossing them across the border from the living to the dead.

  11. Not like mostly people who think the ending is weird or disspointed. I think from the start the writer is giving a clue that someday ishikawa will cross the line. Thats what i sense when i saw episode 2. I know there will be only to option: he kill himself to prevent himself from being an evil or he kill the killer and join the dark side.
    Imagine you become ishikawa: you know the killer, you feel the pain of the victim and the family, but you can not touch the killer just because we have a rule to obey. Ishikawa might hold it if this case happen once but if it continuo to appear infront of his eyes he will loose his sense of justice.
    Thank you for the sub. I really love Oguri Shun.

  12. What I enjoyed about the series was the way the lead actor portrayed a man who’s sense of justice was being broken down, from the very beginning. I felt the end, with him crossing the border between what society would normally term justice vs. revenge, was where the series was always going. The tension was if he would actually take that step to the other side. When he did, it was both disappointing and expected. Disappointing because as a viewer you want the lead character to be the hero. Expected because the narrative and the acting showed why and how someone experiencing what he did would act that way. I thought it was a really good ending to a really good show
    Thank you for the wonderful subs that allowed me to enjoy this show.

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