Karei Naru Ichizoku

aka The Grand Tribe/ The Wealthy Family

Originally a novel by Yamazaki Toyoko and later a 1974 movie. Set in the 60’s and telling the story of the conflicts between the Manpyo family, famous in Kansai’s financial circles at that time.

Whilst the book told us the events from Daisuke (the father’s) point of view, the drama sheds a different light on the story and instead shows us it through Teppei (the eldest son’s) eyes.

The focal point of the story is the relationship and power struggle between Daisuke Manpyo, a powerful banker and Teppei Manpyo the executive managing director of his Grandfather’s steel firm.
Daisuke hates his son and when Teppei finds out the reason, his whole life is turned upside down with fatal consequences.

I have to admit when I first heard about this drama I wasn’t that enthusiastic, the description did not sound that exciting and the only thing it had going for it (or so I thought) was its all star cast with the likes of Takuya Kimura, Narimiya Hiroki, Kitaooji Kinya and Hasegawa Kyoko.
When I watched the first episode it was more out of principal than interest. After I’d gone to all the trouble of getting my hands on the series, I had to at least successfully complete one episode.
After about half an hour I thought that I’d probably end up dropping the series, but then something grabbed me and I found myself hooked; the first episode had finished and I found myself unable to turn my attentions away.
The focus and most interesting part of this drama is the relationship between father and son, what starts off as a seemingly normal father-son relationship suddenly starts heading in new and unexpected direction, twisting the story up and tearing up any misconceptions you initially had about how the story would pan out. It is really what kept me so interested in this drama, the need to see how it would develop and tie up was extremely motivating in my progression through the series.
It’s not an easy watch, it really requires you to be paying attention; with a plot revolving around banking and the steel industry you’d expect nothing more than an intelligent and well conceived plot, but at the same time you’d be forgiven for assuming it would be a dull watch.

Takuya Kimura manages to play the protagonist perfectly, flowing with emotion and optimism no matter what punches his father pulls. Kimura really shines in this, quite possibly his best role to date. A far cry from all of his other stereotypical “hero” roles. Teppei is one of his most interesting and complex characters to date, he is also the most human as is evident in his final actions in the story. The character is a challenge, which I believe Kimu rises to.

The rest of the cast can’t be ignored Kitaooji Kinya does fantastically well in his role as the tyrannical father, a character that is extremely easy to hate and will often cause you to scream at the TV, but at the same time there is some understanding to his character and I often found myself angry at feeling sorry for him at times, though there is one scene in particular that sticks out that I belive he completely deserved sympathy for, won’t spoil it though by explaining why.

Hasegawa Kyoko was absolutely stunning as Teppei’s wife, she was sweet, compassionate and extremely supportive of her husband,. She was dedicated and her character made it easy not to care when Teppei’s ex came onto the scene, she just didn’t feel as if she stood a chance.

In regards to the ending of the series, from my own feelings and hearing the reviews of fellow fans of the show; all have said the same thing. At the time I watched it I felt disappointed and a little cheated at how it finished, after seeing Teppei struggling through all the impossible hurdles that his father threw at him; his final actions seemed completely out of character… negative and selfish. But when I came back to think on it a few hours later when I was explaining the series to someone; I realised that there really was no other way to end the series, they got it completely right. The ending provided perfect closure for a near perfect masterpiece of a drama.

Winning numerous awards including best actor, best supporting actor and best supporting actress; Karei Naru Ichizoku is definitely worth a watch if you have the patience to sit and absorb the complex story and relationships of this story. From start to finish the series is moving, emotional, intense and powerful with a truly magnificent ending.

The ending of the first episode proves just as powerful as the ending of the last episode (which is saying something). Looking at these pictures you are probably confused as to how two men and a big fish can create such a powerful scene, but watch it and see! I give this scene FULL credit for me being won over by this series.

(All screens taken from episode 1)

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  • Mr.T

    I would like to say that I think you captured how this series is in your review. I felt the same when I read about it, it didn’t sound that interesting, but now it feels like one the best jdramas I have ever seen. Keep up the good work with your reviews.