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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Girl from Nowhere - A Stranger Comes to Town
Has anyone else been watching the Thai drama, Girl from Nowhere, on Netflix? I'm only three episodes in (I ration myself to one per night) but I'm finding it really intriguing - and all because of our old friend, Genre Expectations Confounded.

I'd recently watched the live-action and anime versions of Kakegurui, a Japanese story about a school run by a gambling-obsessed student council that imposes a strict hierarchy based on one's gambling status. In that story, a mysterious girl arrives, and upsets the corrupt establishment one by one, dismantling their various scams and working her way up the hierarchy as she does so. It's a classic stranger-comes-to-town plot, the only slight twist being that Jabami is herself a compulsive gambler. If we had to pick a Clint Eastwood film to represent its type, it would be A Fistful of Dollars.

At first, Girl from Nowhere seems to be the same type of story. Each episode, so the blurb tells us, the mysterious Nanno arrives at a different school, where she exposes the misdeeds of staff and pupils alike. And the first episode seems to live up to that. One of the teachers has a habit of sexually assaulting (and in one case impregnating) the female pupils, despite having a squeaky-clean reputation, and a devoted wife and daughter.

Of course, he tries it on with Nanno was well, and of courses she foils him and exposes him. That much was obviously going to happen - but I didn't foresee that her plan would result in the daughter dying in a pool of her own blood, or that Nanno would remain unfazed by that.

Of course, the punishment of fathers sometimes involves the deaths of their daughters: think Midas, for example. But that's a different kind of story - isn't it?

And how are we meant to feel about Nanno after that? It's a moral question, but also a genre question. Is this a story about a hustler, an agent of justice, or a vengeful ghost? Three episodes in (I won't spoil further), I'm still not sure. It looks a lot more like High Plains Drifter than A Fistful of Dollars, but that's as much as I can say. I'm also wondering how much my disorientation has to do with my ignorance of Thai narrative traditions, moral sensibilities, etc. and how much it's just a clever mindfuck.
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