This is going to be VERY jdrama heavy as those are what I’ve been mostly watching recently. With kdramas getting on my nerves, I’ve yet again turned to my list of Japanese shows and found several perfectly catering to my taste. XD I know I’m hard to please when it comes to certain aspects of dramas but on the other hand I don’t need much to make me happy. A decent enough script, characters I can root for, some fun (of the non OTT kind), no convoluted histronics or manufactured angst and a lot of heart – which leaves most kdramas these days out of the contention. Even though the Japanese drama scene isn’t actually much better than it’s Korean conterpart, I’ve still been able to pick up quite a few that fit the bill. Dramas that put a grin on my face or alternately leave me with that ‘warm and fuzzy feeling’, as that is something I seem to need atm.
I Remember You
Oddly enough the only current kdrama I don’t feel the need to harp on. I still like it a lot and find it quite exciting and the mysteries interesting. I’ve seen grumblings about IRM being too predictable but I’m not finding it so. Yes, some things have been easy to predict, like the identity of Min and Lee Joon Ho but I liked the way they managed to keep us slightly undecided up to a point. They’ve also been quite cagey about telling us if Min is a killer himself or just aiding and abetting, being a murderer by proxy. It is starting to look more and more like he might be the real deal. Also, contrary to first impressions, Ji An is smarter and tougher than the first fiew episodes would have us believe.
Hyun, Joon Ho and Lawyer Jung would make a hell of a seluthing triumvirate btw. The scene where they interviewed the suspect’s brother in ep 10 was so funny. Poor guy was totally flummoxed by the threeway profiling of him and his bro, ha. Such a pity that two of the threesome are so scetchy. Which reminds me that the whole drama has been full of cases that often reflect back on Hyun and Min quite eerly. Some of them cut quite close to Ji An too.
There is still 4 episodes left and even if they haven’t been in any sort of hurry to reveal some of the secrets from the past, I think there is amply time to shed light on all of them. For once I’m finding the pace quite good. Looks like we are finally getting tiny movement on the romance front but it’s very unlikely to upstage the mystery part, which I like. Ep 12 cliffhanger has me speculating on Min and Joon Ho’s stand on the latest developments. Are they going to help or hinder? What is it that they really want from Hyun?
Then… on to the jdrama section. The 3 following dramas all happen to have a few things in common. All are procedurals, have a male-female tandem who solve cases/problems and have great co-workers (1 and 3 have a whole team of them), characters are fun and quirky, the tone heartwarming with a good dollop of humour + some more serious bits mixed in and I just love the dynamics of the main pairs. 🙂 It’s mostly the workplace that differs as 1. is set in the PA Office of the Defence Forces, 2. in a big bank and 3. in the more common police precinct. I wouldn’t call any of these dramas a masterpiece but they work pretty well within the genre. But what’s best, all three left a warm and happy afterglow and made me laugh quite a bit. They obviously filled a spot that needed filling. I still tend to smile big when remembering some of the scenes.
Soratobu Kouhoushitsu – Public Affairs Office in the Sky
(more info @ Jdrama Weblog)
This was an unexpecetedly nice find, I really liked the story and everyone in it. The main twosome, Sorai Daisuke (Ayano Go) and Inaba Rika (Aragaki Yui) start out as people who had to say ‘goodbye’ to their dreams and get adjusted to working in a position they had not chosen themselves. Neither is happy about their lot. Their paths cross when Rika is put in charge of a special feature where she has to interview the personel of the defence forces. This is the start for positive changes in both of them. I really liked Sorai, he is such a nice guy and Rika grew on me so in the end I was rooting for her equally. 🙂 They didn’t always see eye to eye, especially in the beginning but with time learned to respect each other’s viewpoints and actually benefited from working and spending time together.
The gang at the PA office is rather a hoot and I love, love, love their wonderfuly understanding and supportive boss, Colonel Sagisaka (Shibata Kohei). I want one like him!
Soratobu is a rare jdrama procedural that actually has a romance as part of the package. It’s rather understated and slow in progress but presented in a lovely and organic way. There is a bit of noble idiocy towards the end but it’s understandable, given the circumstances and thankfully does not prove to be an insourmountable obstacle. Those two really were ment to be together.
I loved the ending and how everyone were still connected though they had all moved on with their lives and carreers.
Hanasaki Mai ga Damattenai – Hanasaki Mai Speaks Out
(more info @ Jdrama Weblog)
This one is pretty nice too, mostly because I find the problem solving duo Hanasaki Mai (Anne) and Soma Ken (Kamikawa Takaya) rather winsome. 🙂 I really like their dynamic and how they work pretty seamlessley together despite not alway having similar views on how to handle things. Mai is such a champion for the little man and can’t stand unfairness within the work environment. She can be hot headed and quick to take action, so Soma has his hands full trying to curb her frequent ‘explosions’. He is a good boss though and always has her back. They do have more things in common than they may realise and one thing especially; both enjoy a good meal and love exploring new eateries in all the places they visit for work. Soma also becomes a regular at Mai’s father’s small restaurant and gets quite friendly with daddy (the always reliable Osugi Ren). I’ve just started S2 and looks like Mai is getting a possible love interest.^^
If this was real instead of a drama world I’m pretty sure Mai would have been given das boot early on but I have to say I’ve fist pumped many a time when she gives her piece of mind to unfair and/or shifty bosses and dares to go against oldfashioned and fixed in practises. There are many things ‘wrong’ in Tokyo Daiichi Bank but she is set on correcting the way people think and do business there, one person at a time.
(more info @ Jdrama Weblog)
Ok, I freely admit that my main incentive for picking this one up was TAKAHIRO. XD That smile! I might… quite possibly… maybe, have developed a crush on his dimples.^^ I’ve somehow ended up
as some sort of fan in appreciation of the j-pop group EXILE (and all it’s extensions) so I was kinda curious to see how one of their vocalists would do as an actor (quite well, I’d say – his face is very expressive). I’d seen the ads for the show when it was airing but it looked a bit campy and OTT, so I didn’t pay more attention to it then. So, when I was recently looking for stuff to watch I pumped into Senryokugai again and realised “I know that face!”. I also happened to come across a review that convinced me that this could be something I might like. Was right too. It’s hilarious, but in a good way.
I love a show that is not afraid to poke fun at itself and the tropes of the genre. I mean, they’ve got all the typical characters of police procedurals, only these are a lot funnier. *g* Yet, they are no keystone cops but skilled detectives who are actually pretty good at solving cases. Especially after our heroine, Umizuki Chinami (Takei Emi) joins the team. She somehow acts as sort of unifier that pulls everyone together and makes the detectives at the First Investigative Division’s Eighteenth Section an even tighter crew. I think the whole bunch at the 18th are squish worthy, ha.
Chinami may be ‘an elite’ and a rookie but she is smart and quite fearless. She is also prone to getting lost as she has no sense of direction, ha. To keep her out of mischief she is partnered with young but more experienced detective Shitara Kyosuke (TAKAHIRO – yes, it really is written in all caps ^^). Kyosuke is a lovely lad with a kind heart, though he is a bit dim when it comes to certain things. Even though having been ordered to babysit an enthusiastic noob makes him groan at first, he eventually finds his lot not bad at all. They turn out to be pretty effective partners, who complement each other. What one lacks the other one has. Takei and TAKAHIRO have this very comfortable chemistry going and even though the show doesn’t really try to hint at anything romantic, you can feel that these two could easily be more than just colleagues. Kyosuke lost his parents early on and was eventually taken in by his karate master, whom he still lives with. One of the running gags of the show are Karate Sense’s weird mis-quotes, which Kyosuke never gets at first, though they generally turn out to have some sort of bearing to the case at hand.
Karate Sensei is just one of the rather quirky characters the drama is populated with. Some of the cases are freaking hilarious (like the one where Inspector Kawahagi got taken as a hostage AT the 18th Section’s headquarters, the whole thing was so wonderfully silly but made weird kind of sense at the same time) and others have a more sombre outlook on things. I didn’t find any of them boring but rather think they had found fun and quite ingenious ways to present the tried and trusted. It also seems like they pay an odd homage or two to some scenes and themes from other shows. E.g at the end of ep 7 (one of my faves with a theme of family and parents) when Kyosuke gives Chinami some hands on lessions in calligraphy à la Ghost – which was kinda cheesy but oddly hot at the same time, LOL! I wouldn’t mind a few lessions from Kyosuke meself…. ah-hem. I’m pretty sure the whole ep 9 was a shoutout to some drama, maybe Liar Game.
Next: The Shallow End of the Pool XD