Playing KAT-TUN’s Unlock as I type this post. It’s an upbeat, feel good song that perfectly matches Yamaneko’s energetic personality.
Kaito Yamaneko is an entertaining series although at times it goes a little overboard on the cheese. There are some exaggerated comedy and overly dramatic confrontations here and there but what I love most about it is its actors and their characters’ relationships, particularly the bromance between Yamaneko and Katsumura.
Kamenashi Kazuya and Narimiya Hiroki have surprisingly good chemistry.
I’m afraid I have always been quite indifferent when it comes to Kame. I’ve seen his previous dramas but I ended up focusing more on his co-stars. Even in this one where he totally owned the Yamaneko character, I still care about Narimiya Hiroki more than him. When I wrote about the first half of this series, I mentioned that I enjoyed Hiroki’s natural performance more than Kame’s theatrical one. Kame is oozing with sex appeal when he utters his “Fantastic” catchphrase but he just doesn’t move me emotionally. It’s totally different from how I felt when Hiroki’s tears dropped after he ziplined his way out of a hospital and prior to the big plot twist, when he cried while watching Yamaneko singing, albeit out of tune. The Chameleon revelation was a total WTF moment since Hiroki made me see Katsumura in the most unsuspecting way. I know he’s awesome at playing a psycho but he’s too versatile to be typecast in such character. He has done a bunch of extremely different roles which somehow made me dismiss the idea that he’s going to be a baddie again. When the whole birthday surprise for Katsumura took place, I knew that it is foreshadowing a life-altering event in their relationship. It made me worry that Katsumura might take a bullet for Yamaneko and die for him or something. I never would have guessed that he’d be the one to pull the trigger. (Or maybe I knew but it’s just me hoping that he won’t betray Yamaneko. I wanted that bromance for real.)
Just like Nanao’s character, Kirishima Sakura, I don’t really have a good eye for men. I like Narimiya Hiroki as the clumsy Katsumura Hideo but I just fell in love with him all over again when he turned into Chameleon since it reminded me of that time when he played J in Bloody Monday.
For me, Yamaneko and Chameleon’s final face-off was more exciting than unmasking Yuuki Tenmei. I love how they just coolly lit their cigarettes and just talked things over before attacking each other. Chameleon previously admitted that he has a crazy habit of getting to know his victims before killing them. He just never expected what would happen when he finally meets an equally crazy target who’s already aware of his intention but would still give him a chance to change. Chameleon could have stayed as Katsumura Hideo forever if he wanted to but I guess assassins have their principles too. While Yamaneko tries to avoid killing someone, Chameleon wouldn’t back down on his mission either.
Yamaneko’s past that was briefly introduced in the first episode was finally revealed. Considering the circumstances, it was quite easy to predict Yuuki Tenmei’s identity– like he’s too old to fight or he’s already dead. Either way, Yuuki himself can’t actually have a final showdown with Yamaneko. It would only lead to one conclusion: someone would take his place and fight in his stead – someone like Sekimoto! Unlike Katsumura, he’s been shady from the beginning, going back and forth between Yuuki and Yamaneko’s sides.
I was swooning the moment Kame held a katana since we could all see his uncanny resemblance to Sato Takeru who played Himura Kenshin. His final confrontation scene with Sekimoto was just as preachy as the previous episodes. It would have been better if Yamaneko just continued the whole samurai action but the scene dragged on with Sekimoto yapping about how Yamaneko is just a mere criminal who’s unaware that his actions are all going according to Yuuki Tenmei’s plans all along.
A distraught Yamaneko finished Sekimoto but the latter’s words really got into him. As he reached the point where he thought he doesn’t have any purpose in life, Mao saved him the same way he saved her in the first episode.
Hirose Suzu is really good at delivering stirring monologues but if there’s one thing I didn’t like about Kaito Yamaneko, it’s its excessive dramatic speeches that happen in almost all episodes.
After all is said and done, the police arrived but Inui and Kirishima didn’t find anything as both Yamaneko and Sekimoto mysteriously vanished into thin air.
Open endings seem to be a trend these days. While others were totally unsatisfactory, Yamaneko’s open ending is more promising. Chameleon is still alive and I wonder how he would live his life again after being a part of the Wild Cat team. Sekimoto assures that Yuuki Tenmei continues to exist and Yamaneko has to battle injustice again. As Mao and Rikako await his return, I’m also looking forward to a second season, a movie, or at least a Special Episode for this series.