Divergence between VIVANT and The House of the Ninja on Netflix | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Divergence between VIVANT and The House of the Ninja on Netflix

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Director Fukuzawa and Fumiyo Kohinata on location for “VIVANT” (March 24, 2023 issue)

At the awards ceremony for “Location Japan” held in Tokyo on February 15th, director Katsuo Fukuzawa became a topic of discussion. Director Fukuzawa revealed that the production of a sequel to the highly successful drama “VIVANT” (TBS series, 2023) is becoming difficult due to significant losses, stating, “There is no decision on the sequel, and it’s not up to me.” The primary reason seems to be the poor reception overseas despite investing a considerable amount, rumored to be one billion yen per episode, in production costs.

“Although it started streaming on Netflix last December, outside of Japan, it only entered the top 10 in Taiwan for just one week. The score on ‘IMDb’, which is one of the benchmarks for global evaluation, is 7.2. Considering that well-received works usually score in the high 7s to 8s, it’s safe to say that it’s unsatisfactory,” commented a staff member from the production company.

There are various reasons cited for the failure. Despite attempting to create a globally appealing drama with a large-scale conspiracy suspense theme, such productions are not uncommon worldwide. The storytelling details were messy, and the portrayal of romance was lacking, among other issues.

Nevertheless, with the globalization of not only films but also dramas, creating works that are hits both domestically and internationally has become an essential task. “VIVANT” was also an attempt driven by such urgency, so it is necessary to accept and analyze this result thoroughly. Meanwhile, a drama that seems to overshadow “VIVANT” has emerged like a comet and is gaining attention.

“The ‘House of Ninjas’ starring Kento Kaku (34), which started streaming on Netflix from February 15th. As the title suggests, it’s about ninjas, but it’s a new kind of ninja story that we haven’t seen much of before.

The story revolves around a clandestine ninja clan secretly working to save the nation from crises as a covert government organization. Ninjas are a unique part of Japanese culture and are popular worldwide with high recognition. Bringing this into the modern era, the series portrays it not comically but as a traditional conspiracy suspense action, making it somewhat exotic and captivating.

In reality, not only did it top the charts in numerous countries after its release but also entered the top 10 in nearly 100 countries and regions. It’s safe to say that it has ‘appealed globally,’ wouldn’t you agree?” (Entertainment Writer)

The genre is the same – conspiracy suspense. So, what exactly was the significant difference with “VIVANT”? A columnist well-versed in drama affairs commented as follows.

“First and foremost, it’s the focus on ninjas, a unique aspect of Japanese culture. Additionally, they incorporated high-quality action and elements like terrorist threats, which are easily understandable worldwide. However, one could argue that if we consider just these aspects, ‘The House of Ninjas’ is merely a transformation of the ‘Separate Unit,’ a secret organization in ‘VIVANT,’ into ninjas.

But what felt most different was how ‘The House of Ninjas’ meticulously depicted the Japanese spirit. The intricacies of Japanese familial bonds, the struggles of being bound by tradition and rules… ‘The House of Ninjas,’ perhaps due to its American director, portrays these struggles of Japanese society in a very philosophical manner. Personally, rather than the ninjas, it was through these depictions that I felt the essence of Japan in this work the most.

The success of ‘The House of Ninjas’ this time made me feel the potential of Japanese dramas. If we analyze and incorporate the reasons for this success thoroughly, I don’t think we should give up on the sequel to ‘VIVANT’ just yet.”

The challenge of Japanese dramas on the global stage has only just begun.

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Sakai Masato appeared in casual attire, wearing a down jacket and sneakers, for filming at a traditional Japanese restaurant overlooking the Sumida River (March 24th, 2023 issue).
Kohinata Fumiyo plays the role of the managing director of the trading company where Sakai portrays the protagonist (March 24th, 2023 issue).
Ai Iinuma, a newcomer to Sakai’s old Tanabe Agency, plays a skilled hacker (March 24, 2023 issue).
  • Interview and text by Nanako

    Born in Ehime Prefecture. After working at a broadcasting station, became a freelance writer. She specializes in interviews with celebrities and analysis of popular events, and is always on the lookout for serial dramas and popular Japanese movies. She is a well-known beautiful writer in the magazine industry.

  • PHOTO Takero Yui

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