Binge-worthy: Burn The House Down is a fiery Japanese revenge drama
Burn The House Down
3 out of 5 stars
One of the top non-English-language shows on Netflix last week, Japanese series Burn The House Down follows a girl posing as a housekeeper to expose the woman she thinks ruined her family’s life.
Here is why the pulpy revenge drama, based on the Japanese manga of the same name, is worth checking out.
1. Family secrets and lies
Anzu (Mei Nagano) is a young woman haunted by the memory of seeing her childhood home burn to the ground 13 years ago and her mother Satsuki (Michiko Kichise) taking the blame for accidentally setting it on fire.
But Anzu suspects her mother’s jealous friend Makiko (Kyoka Suzuki) was the one who started the blaze, especially as her parents then got divorced and her father married Makiko.
Anzu’s mother never got over this and is now in hospital with amnesia.
On a mission to clear her mother’s name and jog her memory, Anzu goes undercover as a housemaid for Makiko, who now lives in a mansion with Anzu’s father and her sons from a previous marriage.
Anzu gradually uncovers the family’s secrets and lies – even though her own lies put her in danger.
2. Social media smoke and mirrors
Makiko is the perfect villain for the social media age. Vain and image-obsessed, she pretends to be the perfect wife, career woman and homemaker.
But the truth is, she can neither cook nor keep house, her marriage is strained and one of her sons is a recluse who hates her.
She becomes dependent on Anzu, whose domestic prowess makes her and her home look Insta-perfect.
Anzu even wins over the reclusive son Kiichi (Asuka Kudo) with her charm and tori karaage (Japanese fried chicken), though she also gets more than she bargains for with him.
3. Soapy and silly, but still compelling
After all the sleuthing done by Anzu, her sister and a friend, the big reveal at the end feels flat and unearned.
And it is larded with cliches about falling on one’s sword and doing the “honourable” thing.
Cartoonish supporting characters and clumsy writing also make the show a bit of a mess tonally.
Yet, the commentary on social media, absentee parents and women who seem to have it all rings true.
And the two charismatic female leads, Nagano and Suzuki, make even the silliest and soapiest moments enjoyable.