BG: Shinpen Keigonin/ Personal Bodyguard - Episode 1 (Recap)

Trotwood: Well, I am back to recapping. Cubic recaps are on hiatus (I’ll get back to those in the summer—if summer ever comes), and I swore I wouldn’t do anything else until then. However, this drama really grabbed me. Not for the reasons you would imagine. I am/was watching several other Japanese dramas while watching this: Aishi Girl, Final Cut, May I Blackmail You, Five, Unnatural, and Repeat. There was more discussion of Repeat than this show on my twitter feed, and I actually enjoyed Unnatural more consistently than this show. However, I rarely have a show that leads me to complete rage and then basically seduces me back to being its best friend again. This was that show.

There was quite a lot of buzz about this show when it came out because of the cast. I won’t go into the background of each, but they are top notch and have many devoted fans. Our lead, Kimura Takuya, has been in the business since the late 80s, he is a boyband member turned award-winning actor. And don’t get me started on the Eguchi Yosuke and Saito Takumi fan base. The show also led the ratings the entire time it was on by quite a bit, beating out the likes of 99.9 Season 2, Final Cut, and Anone. It even had its own twitter account (@bg_tvasahi) which has 37,000 followers.

Panda: I am still fairly a jdrama newbie, so I did not have any sentimentality towards any of the cast with the exception of Saito and his luscious lips :) However, I am a big crime/detective drama fan and jdramas so far have produced some of my absolute favorites--Border, Cold Case etc. I truly enjoyed this one, and I'm glad to chip in my comments. Let's go! 

Episode One

Cold Open:
The year 2012 at an airport. There is a gathering of quite a number of fans cheering and waiting while in the voice over we hear an announcer talking about the famed soccer player, Kuono Junya, coming back to Japan for some events. These fans are here for him. We do see him surrounded by bodyguards, and the camera focuses in on one of them, our hero, Shimazaki Akira (played by Kimura Takuya). You know he is good because when an antifan throws an egg at Kuono (calling him a traitor), he actually catches the egg before it hits his client and politely gives it back to the stunned fan.

Kuono thanks Shimazaki sincerely, so we know they are close, and moves on, but later Shimazaki hears something that turns out to be a falling screw. We focus on that and the screen changes to another screw in 2018. Remember this screw.

I had a premonition from the beginning of that scene that something ominous was going to happen. I am so curious though, because our hero is really so good at his job.

In 2018, Shimazaki is now working security on a road construction crew. He seems to be content and eagerly does his best. He is working with an older guy, who clearly likes him a lot, and they chat together trying to keep warm. They are turning people away from a stretch of road because of construction, but a motorcade shows up almost running them over. The driver (a fine, fine, fine, Eguchi Yosuke) asks to be let past and the passenger rolls down the back window, too. It is a woman (played by Ishida Yuriko!), who asks if they can let her through. She looks famous and is striking. He lets the car through.

The Aunt from Nigeru! And ohhhh, Eguchi right? Yummm. Shimazaki was bribed by the sad, scared doe eyes she turned to him. 

The next day, Shimazaki is called into the office of Hinode Security (his company). His boss mentions the incident, but instead of reprimanding him, he thanks him for helping the company out of an awkward situation. The boss also has another motive. The security company wants to start a bodyguard division because there have been so many requests for personal security. He, of course, wants Shimazaki to be one of them.  Shimazaki is very hesitant, seemingly traumatized by whatever happened in in 2012. 
I am so curious as to what happened to turn him from an elite bodyguard into a worker. I wonder if it was like events of The Hit-man's Bodyguard 

He tells his boss that once a bodyguard makes a mistake, he/she can never return to the frontline, but his boss isn’t having it. He tells Shimazaki that he won’t tell anyone about the past and wants to let Shimazaki start anew by trying out like everyone else. Shimazaki also talks about being old and too out of shape to become a bodyguard, but his boss scoffs at that. Really, the only thing I can see that is out of shape is the horrible wig they have Shimazaki wear. (Sacrilege because Kimura is known for his hair—really I could do a whole post about the hair of the men in this drama over the years).
LOOOL. Tbvh I am still amazed this is the famous KimuTaku. For some reason, I had him pegged as someone taller and more handsome--someone like Eguchi. Also I like the boss. He clearly knows how good Shimazaki was before and knows he is wasting away directing traffic.
Next we get a montage of Rocky-like training for Shimazaki training, interspersed with glimpses of future team members doing other jobs. All of them work for Hinode Securities. Saguaguchi Seitoro, played by Mamiya Shotaro (I only know him from the movie Tori Girl, but I think he’s got a lot of young fangirls), works for Hinode Security's Risk Management department. He's shown finding some bug hidden in a girl's wall outlet. Takanashi Masaya (played by Saito Takumi) works for Hinode Security in the Cash Transport department. I say it’s a crime that he is wearing a helmet over his hair (warning: this show does not give his hair enough love). Suganuma Mayu (played by Nanao—I can hear her fans screaming, too) works for Hinode Security Guard division, and they show her catching a shoplifter. And finally, Murata Goro from the Hinode Security Facilities Department, played by Kamikawa Takaya, who looks like he is doing security rounds.
I like the look of our future team a lot.

We get a training of them all together with Murata as the boss. They are trying to disarm Murata who wields a knife while pretending to hold Sugamuma hostage. Saguaguchi goes first and fails. It’s a great scene because Shimazaki is very hesitant to put himself out there and clearly feels humbled by even being in this space. He lets Takanashi take the lead, and when he does and only succeeds in freeing Sugamama, Shimazaki goes into auto pilot and does a really nifty take out of Murata. Everyone is impressed. Shimazaki is embarrassed. Takanashi is suspicious. Because really, no new person could have done what he just did. Everyone has the same look of disbelief on their faces as our darling Saito does below, except the boss who smiles:
He so did not want to draw attention to himself but his instincts took over. The others should have looked even more disbelieving- obviously, he is no newbie. 
                                                                  Sweet Lips

After opening credits (which we always get after about ten minutes of the episode), we get to meet the other players in this drama. We are introduced to the person in charge of the MPD Guard Division/Secret Police who is doing target shooting; he was the driver in the politician’s car earlier. He is Ochiai Yoshiak, played by the ever dynamic Eguchi Yosuke (I admired him on twitter and was threatened to back off by many who have already claimed him). He has a reputation for constantly training even though he is in charge of the force.
He looks very stern and by the book. I foresee fireworks between him and our other guys.
He is informed by his boss that the politician has received a potentially damaging package. They do full on bomb threat response, but it turns out merely to be a package of batteries with a threatening note. They decide that the note specifically targets her at a marathon she is going to be attending. They want her to cancel her appearance as does her secretary, but she won’t do it. Something suspicious is going on with her. There is also clearly more to Eguchi’s attitude about her, but he is too professional to show it.
It is Obvious he has FEELINGS for her, and I have an intuition that she knows and capitalizes on it. Btw, this is why I couldn't be a BG or guard in any way. If you are warned not to go somewhere and you insist on going, you will be on your own. Finis.

On his first real day as a BG, Shimazaki gets ready while trying to talk to his son who appears to be living with him only so he isn’t a pest to his mom who has just remarried. The son makes a comment about how he hopes his mom will be happy this time, which clearly hurts Shimazaki, but he doesn’t disagree with this, so Shimazaki lets it go. Before walking out, he sees the news about the false bomb threat and now sees who that woman in the car was, the PM Tachihara Aiko.
His son is a smart mouth.

The team’s first mission is connected to her. The sponsor of the marathon is Sasuke Foods, and the owner hires them to protect him at the opening of the race. He believes that the threat is not a joke because he got some information from Tachihara’s Secretary. The whole set up reveals the differences in personalities of all the team, especially the antagonistic relationship between Shimazaki and Takanashi (but also between Takanashi and the other team members). 

Takanashi volunteers to be team leader on this case, and Shimazaki get assigned to be his second. Takanashi seems to look at everyone with disdain and makes belittling comment throughout to the point that Murata has to calm down Sugamama, who looks like she wants to hit him.

He's particularly impatient with Shimazaki’s meek behavior and that he admits to being a little afraid. He’s got no patience for this and believes that Shimazaki isn’t fit to be a BG; however, Shimazaki counters that he’s not sure he wants to partner with anyone who isn’t afraid because that is the same as not being careful.
I am on Shimazaki's side on this. A dose of fear is important in being careful.

The SP are resentful that they have to protect her so much when some believe it’s really a prank, but Ochai recognizes that if something happens, it will the SP’s reputation that is on the line. Thus when, Shimazaki shows up at the station/headquarters to submit Hinode’s security detail to the police; he looks it over himself. He clearly thinks it is lacking and also that BG’s are really not qualified to do what they are doing. He indicates this but won’t give Shimazaki any clues, only tells him to relook at the plan.
Shimazaki goes to the venue to check it out and revises plan.
However, when he goes to report the revision to the boss, he finds out that Takanashi has resigned and now he is in charge of the event. Pfft. Don’t be a spoiled quitter, Takanashi!
Why did Takanashi quit? Is he a 16yr old? Pfffft. 

MP Tachihara has something sketchy going on with a reporter and calls him up giving him some “exclusive” cryptic information about her threats and how she’s not sure if it’s real or not. Even though there is nothing specific, her conversation seems like a threat/dare.
I’m still trying to find her sympathetic at this point, but I realize it’s because I like this actress not because of this character. 
She is super sketchy. My wariness grows by the minute.

The team continues to prepare for the event and the morning of the event finds Shimazaki nervously reviewing directions with them. He is painfully uncomfortable about being the leader. We know it's nerves from this being his first time really back in the thick of things.  Sugamuma asks him if he is nervous, and he honestly answers in the affirmative. Our newbie, Saguaguchi (but whom I will call Newbie from now on), scoffs att this. He still believes it’s a prank. But their boss warns him of the dangers of belittling potential dangers and also thumps him in the chest, of which I very much approve.
He clearly needs to learn that this isn't a game.

At the event, their client is super freaked out, which would almost be funny if I weren’t nervous, too. He is practically glued to Newbie and asks him if he will take a bullet for him.
This is only important because it looks like it’s Newbie’s first time considering that this job might actually be dangerous. Pfft. Shimazaki covers for him by saying that he’ll take the bullet because Newbie is too skinny.

When they are all seated, Murata greets SP leader Ochai, who looks surprised and frankly dismayed at realizing that Murata is a bodyguard. He quickly recovers and goes into his usual superior mode, which clearly hurts Murata’s feelings. It seems these two have a history. 
The plot thickens...
Shimazaki seems suspicious of reporter guy (the same reporter that the MP contacted) when he walks by but shakes it off and doesn’t think about it more because he gets a phone call from Takanashi!
He is calling about a suspicious comment he has found online connected to the MP threats because it contains language that only they and the police should know.
The reporter is definitely a POI. I am glad Takanashi called as it shows he can rise above his fit of pique, but it was bad timing.

The race starts fine, and people start to relax a bit. The SP boss calls (Pfft. In the middle of the mission?!) with a snarky comment about how Ochai must be happy to be in a high profile case. It seems to me that he knows that Ochai is better at the job than he and though proud views him as possible rival for power.  Ochai leaves his post to take call (Pfft.). Of course, right when he does this, something explodes at the end of the seating. People are relatively calm though until the reporter starts yelling about a bomb and causing a panic.

Chaos ensues, but while our gang are leading away their client, Shimazaki notices that MP Tachihara has broken free from her own bodyguards to run away. He decides to follow her under cover of looking for other bombs.
How am I meant to feel pity for someone who runs away from people that are meant to protect her??

While everyone is fleeing, he finds her alone in and underground weight/training room clearly waiting for someone. He’s annoyed while she tells him to mind his own business. The reporter shows up, too, accusing her of planning the threats to regain favor after her comments. It looks like he sent her a trick text to get her there, which she would not have followed if she hadn’t planned this all.
Shimazaki is disgusted but still goes into bodyguard mode. This ends with him fighting the reporter and trying to get her to run away, which she repeatedly doesn’t do. (I officially begin to hate her in this scene; I was just suspicious before).
SEE?!!! Shady Pants. I felt so unsympathetic to her.

Her regular SP guards show up while he’s down. They pull their guns, and the reporter puts a knife to her throat.  Shimazaki starts to signal to Ochai and to talk the reporter down about how much he must have admired MP Tachihara, lulling him into listening so he can basically do the move with Ochai that he showed he could do so well in the training—disarming a knife wielding hostage taker.
Phew, that was a tense moment.

Once the dust settles, Ochai really wants to know why Shimazaki is there, but he just says he got lost. Noble idiocy. I would have ratted her out or at least said, “ask your boss.” This clearly strikes the MP. She’s got to wonder why he chooses not to sell her out. (I do, too. I'd sell her out in a heartbeat, especially after her nasty taunting of the reporter after she's safe).  He limps out. Ochai follows him but really only to tell him that he hates private bodyguard and that he doesn’t believe they have any place in protecting people. Shimazaki doesn’t get mad; he just makes him think about whether the reporter would have pulled knife if they hadn’t pulled out their guns.
She could have gotten people seriously hurt, yet all she cared about was her own skin. I have skipped from being wary to actively disliking. It's surprising that Eguchi is instantly so antagonistic towards Shimazaki. He finds him really annoying and beneath them just because they are private guards but with Shimazaki there is an added personal layer. Interesting. Maybe he caught the vibe the Minister is giving off to Shimazaki because I am catching a faint whiff of one too.

The client is very happy with the team although he teases Shimazaki about running away scared and then hurting himself by falling down stairs—the story he obviously told to explain away his injury. Murata clearly doesn’t believe this. On his way home, he calls Takanashi to thank him for the heads up, but Takanashi is as prickly as ever and tells him that the reason he quit was because he didn’t want to work with him and hangs up. We see Takanashi looking at a news article about Shimazaki and the soccer player. Takanashi says aloud to himself that he can’t work with a liar.
Ohhh! I should have trusted you sweet lips. You were not just being petulant for petulance sake.


Kakashi said that she doesn’t think we have recapped a Japanese show before, so I decided to jump in. I will probably do another Japanese show (Crisis) later. The thing about Japanese shows is that subs are not reliable. They are often not subbed or the subs come out with long waits and then mysteriously dropped. So unlike the other shows, recaps for Japanese shows may have to wait until after the drama finishes airing. I don’t know any Japanese, and I don’t want to start a project and not finish it because the subs are never completed.
Yeah, jdramas are a good test for one's patience. Luckily, this is done and readily available.

There are lots of character details here that I like. For example, I really appreciate how they have Shimazaki have to go into the back of his closet to find his suit--it’s his BG clothes, but they are still in the dry cleaner plastic like he had put them away forever. I like the focus on them checking that their watches are in sync. It becomes not just a necessity but also a team bonding moment.
The watches thing is one of my absolute favorite things in this drama. And yeah I appreciated the little touches too. Most importantly, I felt connected to everyone in this drama by the end of ep1. Although I saw majority of our secondary characters in small scenes, I was able to get an adequate feel of them. Like when that happens.

I like the little bits of dry humor in this show. He really is out of shape and exercises at the playground while children are besting him at stuff, but with each return to his training, he is getting better. I like this; it’s not all roses. He is out of shape for a BG, and I like to see him gasping like I would if I were to try to get in shape for this. He is not young anymore and getting back into shape once you are past 35 takes a lot longer.