Whenever watching dramas, the ones I usually keep myself away from are medical dramas because I’m not particularly fond of the sight of blood. At times, though, I get convinced of watching them because of other reasons that make me overlook people’s bloody state. That’s what happened with Unnatural.
Unnatural is a Winter 2018 medical mystery drama written by Nogi Akiko, the woman who penned the scripts for Okitegami Kyoko no Bibouroku, Juhan Shuttai!, and the hit drama of 2016 Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu. She’s also the scriptwriter for the live action films Ore Monogatari!! and Library Wars. And guess what? I loved these shows! Especially those three drama series! There’s no way I won’t watch this one!
This drama is about Misumi Mikoto, a forensic pathologist at UDI (Unnatural Death Investigation) Lab, along with the other people working with her. There’s Nakado Kai, a fellow pathologist; Shoji Yuko, a clinical test technologist; Kube Rokuro, a recorder; and Kamikura Yasuo, the director of UDI. They work together to identify the causes of unnatural deaths all over the country.
The series is procedural just like many medical and investigative drama series out there, but as in a lot of them too, it has an overarching plot — mystery — that the characters are trying to resolve. I like how the story managed to progress the story about that certain mystery without overshadowing the story to be solved in the episode.
The story didn’t actually feel that episodic to me because each episode presents a different situation that shows a different side of the forensic pathology world. Sure, there are scenes when they examine the dead bodies in every episode, but we don’t spend time watching them doing that for a quarter of the episode. There are times they examine chemicals or crime scenes. There are some time they face the law for some reasons still related to their profession. Another time they showed how they make use of the current technology to do examinations.
Oh, and speaking of examinations, I’m glad they didn’t focus much on the bodies. They showed parts of the bodies but not too detailed. They may show scenes of some internal organs being extracted, but the actual extraction isn’t shown so less blood on scenes. Decaying or burnt bodies don’t get much focus, too. For someone like me who doesn’t like seeing such scenes, it’s a relief that they didn’t show much. After all, even just the sight of the faces of the “dead” people there already sent some chills down my spine. I’d probably drop this if they chose to be graphic.
Another point, I thought that by “unnatural” the cases would have supernatural elements as the cause, much like Keizoku 2: SPEC (or SPEC: Birth if one prefers to call it), but I was pleasantly surprised that they’re caused by seemingly (because I’m not entirely sure as it’s not my field of expertise) plausible situations.
Anyway, the stories/issues of the supporting characters on each episode are also interesting (some more memorable than others) and it was a delight to see the truth about them unfold. On another note, while there’s a good closure for the main mystery of the series, I think that it still begs some more story for the other characters like Kube and Kibayashi. The matter with Sekiya was poorly dealt with, too, though it may be a little thing for others because it’s not really the focus of things. Anyhow, I’d like for this series to have a season two just so that we may be able to see some of these smaller matters to be dealt with.
Misumi Mikoto is a forensic pathologist who stands by her principles. She takes pride in her profession which is the reason why she had a problem with her boyfriend. She also has a past hidden from her colleagues. Sometimes her being earnest and honest lands her into some sort of trouble, but I think that’s what’s endearing about her. Ishihara Satomi got to present this likeable character well.
Nakado Kai, on the other hand, is another pathologist at UDI lab. He has a sharp tongue and arrogant attitude that he was unpleasant at first, though I got to admit that from the start, I already looked forward to seeing his interactions with Misumi. They didn’t really get at each others’ throats but I thought they already had some kind of chemistry together. Nakado also grew on me as his story is gradually unveiled. He turns out to be a really passionate person who is ready to do everything for his love. Iura Arata has long been an impressive actor and he delivered Nakado’s various emotions well.
There’s also Kube Rokuro, a student who’s from a family of doctors. He got to work in a tabloid agency and there, he met Suetsugu who told him about UDI’s need for part-timers. Him joining the laboratory turned out to be out of ulterior motives, too. He’s got a problem with his relationship with his father and I wanted to see that properly tackled, but it was done faster than I would have liked. The effects of it to Kube’s life situations weren’t shown that much but Kubota Masataka managed to convince me with his acting that his character feels the change inside. He feels sincere in his every action, too.
Out of the five, Shoji and Kamikura sure got lesser story than the three, but this doesn’t mean that they didn’t have their share of story. Shoji got to be involved in one of the cases which affected her way of thinking and Kamikura got to change around the end, but they only have small participation for the big mystery the series has.
Most of the other supporting characters did a good job portraying their roles. Some felt unnatural, but I was able to overlook them. I just have two more rants. First is the ending of Suetsugu because I didn’t think he’d just experience all those after all he did. To me, it was an underwhelming ending for him. Second is the fact that there’s not much of Kibayashi. And no, I’m not just complaining because of the lack of Ryusei Ryo. I just think that it’s a waste because he’s an intriguing character and the show never explored his story, especially the connection between him and Nakado. It’s frustrating! I really want a second season in hopes of answers for these!
There are some fun, lighthearted scenes here and there and I think it is balanced well with the serious tone of the series, but ultimately, it’s a poignant show. After all, it deals with deaths. And I think this theme song is fit for the feels of Unnatural. It’s entitled “Lemon”, sang by Yonezu Kenshi. For the anime community, he might be known as the singer of Boku no Hero Academia S2’s OP1 “Peace Sign”. Anyway, the song is a sad love song. The message applies to both romantic and familial love. I loved it so much!
I enjoyed watching this despite the flaws and it’s one I’ll easily be able to recommend to fans of the genre. I really, really hope that there will be a second season, though, because there are still lingering questions. The series got good ratings, so fingers crossed!
Before my long weekend ended, I got to finish two dramas — one of them is obviously this one — that I wasn’t really planning to watch for this time. Both satisfied me, though, and I’m glad for that. I shall babble sometime about the other drama I watched — Todome no Kiss.