Trick (TV series)
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Trick comprises a comedic Japanese television drama and movie series (three seasons, three movies, and two feature-length TV specials), as well as associated comic books, novelizations and meta-fiction novels about a failed magician and an arrogant physicist who debunks fraudulent spiritualists. It stars Hiroshi Abe and Yukie Nakama and is shown on TV Asahi (digital TV channel 5). It was created by Japanese director Yukihiko Tsutsumi.
Although 23-year-old Naoko Yamada (Yukie Nakama) considers herself a beautiful and talented magician, she is continuously fired and constantly hounded by her landlady for the rent being late. Before firing her, her manager shows Yamada an ad for a physics professor, Jiro Ueda (Hiroshi Abe), a non-believer of all things magical, offering money to anyone who can prove to him that magic is real. Desperately needing the money, Naoko accepts the challenge, which is how she comes to meet Professor Ueda. Falling prey to her simple magic tricks, Ueda is impressed, and enlists the reluctant Naoko to help him uncover the tricks behind a local cult. Soon, they are debunking spiritualists. Eventually Ueda develops a reputation for solving supernatural cases, but his secret weapon is Yamada, who hates the work but needs the money.
Presented in chronological order
- 1st Season
Season one introduces the main characters, as well as a would-be suitor for Yamada (this plotline will be abandoned after season one). The overarching plot is that a true psychic killed Yamada's father, and that person may be Yamada herself. Fraudulent psychics include: Big Mother (cultist, clairvoyant), Miracle Mitsui (makes things disappear), Kurosaka Miyuki (the pantomime killer),Katsuragi Koushou (clairvoyant, health guru) and the residents of Kokumontou (a.k.a. Black Gate Island).
- 2nd Season
This season has a more established atmosphere. Ueda has published a book, and is enjoying some fame. Villans include: Suzuki Yoshiko (fortune teller, time traveller), Fukami Hiroaki (clairvoyant), and Tsukamoto Emi (voice of divine punishment).
- First movie
In the movie, Yamada is convinced to pretend to be a god and dupe a village, but she has to prove the other fake gods are charlatans. Ueda works behind the scenes to make some of her miracles possible.
- 3rd Season
The surrealism and characterizations become more firmly entrenched. This season is named TRICK ～Troisième partie～ on the DVDs. Villains include: Shibakawa Genjou (commanding voice powers), "Slit" Mikako (teleporter), and Akaike Hiroshi (claims to fix anything, including people). The introduction of Detective Yabe's new sidekick, a proud and arrogant Toudai graduate. The last half of the final episode of the 3rd Season, the love-hate and unspoken relationship between Yamada and Ueda may look like it has entered a new stage.
- Feature-length Special
Feature length show in which Ueda joins other professors to debunk a spirtualist, one Midorikawa Shouko, who claims she knows when people will die. The professors die one by one. Introduction of Yabe's Otaku assistant, Akiba.
- Second movie
Ueda employs Yamada to go a mysterious island in search of a girl (played by Maki Horikita) that disappeared 10 years ago. They discover the island is run by Kobako Sachiko, who can appear and disappear via boxes, among other strange powers.
- Feature-length Special 2
The 20 year olds of a remote village are dying one by one, all seemingly cursed to death by a woman who has come back to the village for revenge.
- Third Movie
A battle royale between many spiritualists.
There are a few tie-in novels, written from the characters' points of view. Many of these appear in the show, when Ueda proudly shows them off. Currently, they are only available in Japanese.
- Japan Technology University's Professor Ueda Jiro's "C'mon Strange Powers!" (日本科学技術大学教授上田次郎のどんと来い、超常現象 (単行本)?): in which Ueda details his personal history and summarizes some episodes of the show from his point of view.ISBN 4054017622
- "VIP Use" version of the above book
- Japan Technology University's Professor Ueda Jiro's "Why Don't You Do Your Best?" (日本科学技術大学教授上田次郎のなぜベストを尽くさないのか?)A continuation of Ueda's egotistical summary. ISBN 4-05-402528-5
- Super-genius Magician Yamada Naoko's "I See What You Did There!" (超天才マジシャン山田奈緒子の全部まるっとお見通しだ?)Yamada's own egotistical presentation of events in the series.ISBN 4847015398
- Super-genius Magician Yamada Naoko's "Swiftly, strongly, and completely, I've seen through it all!" (超天才マジシャン山田奈緒子の全部すべて、まるっとスリっとゴリっとエブリシングお見通しだ!"?) In which Yamada's version of events continues（ISBN 4847016629）
- Series One Novelization
- Series Two Novelization
- Trick, the Novel (トリック the novel?)[sic]; an independent story set after the first series
- Trick the comic
- Trick 2 the comic
- Detective Yabe (Katsuhisa Namase) Presents Trick Movie 2 to the Public, a Lecture (広報人矢部謙三トリック劇場版２公開記念講演会?)A DVD to promote the movie, starring the Detective Yabe character. The cover resembles the metafiction novels.
Often, the plots involve lots of macguffins and pales in comparison to the lead characters themselves (to the point where many plot holes are never explained). The chemistry between them is often cited as a reason for the popularity of the series. In addition, both characters are by most standards unbalanced and crazy, and social outcasts in many respects (though Ueda does have some fame as an author and professor) and their differences with a crazy world, in a way, bond them together. A subtle hint of love is suggested every once in a while, but usually the two poke fun at each other in half-hearted hatred.
Running gags and motifs
- Each series and movie starts with Yamada doing a cheesy magic act, complete with blownout speakers, to an all but empty crowd. She is always fired soon after, and walks home with people, somehow aware of her plight, laughing and pointing. She has only one fan, who jovially stalks her from afar.
- One of the running gags in the characters' love-hate relationship is that they are both sexually inadequate; Yamada has a flat chest, and Ueda's anatomy is too large, and each constantly reminds the other of their shameful physical and virginal state.
- Starting early on, Ueda calls Yamada "YOU" in English instead of politely using her name in Japanese.
- Another trademark of Ueda is his tendency to yell out in English, "Jump!" and either preternaturally disappear, or perhaps more humorously, not.
- In the third series, Ueda's utterance "Uooh!" becomes very comedic and pronounced. Usually he says it when something bad happens. Yamada picks up the habit.
- Ueda is a proud man, and puts on airs of being fearless. He often spouts, "どんと来い!" (donto koi) equivalent to "bring it on!" in English. However, Ueda, while a big man, constantly faints. Though at times he can be roused to action and becomes a fierce fighter. In the third series, his more brave moments are often preceded by the heavily accented English phrase, "Why don't you do your best?" Which is one of his book titles, as is donto koi.
- Ueda often starts his appearance in each episode by using a magic trick, which Yamada easily figures out. Yamada usually does a simple magic trick towards the middle of the episode, and laughs characteristically ("kyeahehehe!") after explaining how she did it.
- Ueda's car door breaks off at one point, and he carries it over his shoulder quite often. Interstingly, his car also follows him at some points the feature-length specials and movies. This is never explained. In fact many of the more mystical aspects (and of course the irony that the only people with supernatural abilities may be Yamada and her mother) of Ueda and Yamada are never explained or even noticed by the main characters.
- Yamada has to practice smiling. She has no friends, save Ueda. She laughs in an unnatural way (see above) and is sometimes smacked by others when she laughs at her own cleverness.
- Yamada's landlady is constantly hounding her for money, and not easily tricked. She is assisted by a tenant from Bangladesh, who eventual marries the landlady and by the beginning of Series 3 has two children (one boy, one girl) with her.
- Yamada's mother is constantly scheming to make money, and loves Ueda like a son, which infuriates Yamada.
- Yamada (and sometimes others) constantly misreads kanji and Ueda has to correct her.
- Yamada often hits and disables Ueda. Detective Yabe often punches his assistants for saying things that annoy him.
- When someone is struck, the camera often shakes.
- Detective Yabe's assistant changes from a dullard to a genius in the third series, who constantly spouts, "I graduated from Tokyo University!" The new assistant is smacked as much as the first. In special and the second movie, a third, Otaku assistant takes the role.
- Another constant gag concerns detective Yabe's hair, which is a wig. Many puns are made when someone says a word like that sounds like "hair" and Yabe grabs his toupee and shouts "It's natural!"
- Detective Yabe (Katsuhisa Namase) often accuses Yamada of the current crime, or sometimes is even legitimately seeking her for fraud she has done. Usually, she can escape incarceration with simple tricks.
- There are a multitude of musical cues. For instance, when someone realizes something, there is usually the sound of a tambourine.
- As the series and movies increase, special effects become more and more surreal. Lightbulbs above peoples heads, bugs with human faces, and Ueda stretching his limbs to fight like a cartoon character are but a few examples.
Songs by Chihiro Onitsuka have been used as the closing themes for all three seasons of the TV show and the first movie. The song Gekkō was used for Series 1 and the first movie, Ryūseigun for Series 2, and Watashi to Warutsu (Waltz) wo for Series 3. Chihiro herself appeared onscreen singing Gekkō during the closing credits of the final episode of Series 1.
- During the filming of seasons one and two, the svelte Nakama, who plays Yamada, had to flatten her chest further with a straight-padded blouse under her clothes because she was not modestly endowed enough for the producers' liking. However, in season three, Nakama no longer wears the padding, leading to a new gag in which Ueda often comments that she has a more pronounced chest than before. Yamada replies that it is "high-level magic", to which Ueda snorts and says that it is more likely the result of surgical enhancements.
- In the second movie, Yamada crawls around creepily for one scene. She also walks creepily for one scene in the third movie. These are the references to Nakama Yukie starring as Sadako Yamamura in Ring Zero.
- Ueda's apartment has pictures of him everywhere. These are from Hiroshi Abe's days as a young teen model.