Thoughts on: Bijo to Danshi

The underdog premise of Bijo to Danshi may have been the reason I initially became interested in this jdrama but I must admit that the “shallow end of the pool” also played a part in actually picking it up. Yup, I have my moments. Oddly enough those generally came about with jdramas. XD
I’m now re-watching Bijo to Danshi with my sister and keep noticing things I didn’t really pay attention to the first time around. Like, how ‘quietly’ funny it is. There is no heavily underlined humour, yet it’s still laugh-out-loud funny in places. Usually when you least expect it. My sister is pretty new to dramas in general and jdramas in particular and she keeps bursting into laughter, so it’s not just me.^^ This doesn’t mean BtD is just plain funnies, there are also surprisingly heartfelt and poignant moments that make at least me get a bit misty. Jdramas often have this certain kind of seriousness flowing underneath, giving even their comedies a more grounded feel. I really like that.

BtD offers a peek, albeit somewhat embellished one, at the behind-the-scenes of Japanese entertainment industry. Mostly from the less galmorous viewpoint. So, in that sense it can be called a workplace drama. There are shades of other genres mixed in as well. Even a slow burn, understated ‘nuna’ romance, which I found rather sweet. Like many other jdramas, BtD has one main premise but it also explores other topics, without making anything feel like it’s surplus. So, besides ent industry the drama takes a stab at families and messy family dynamics, friendship and relationships in general, work ethics and team work, finding one’s dream and going for it, forgiveness, change… to name a fiew.
The synopisis from Jdrama Weblog (slightly modified)

Sawatari Ichiko is a high-powered career woman working for the planning department of IT company, Madarame Corporation. One day, she is suddenly ordered by her boss to take over Hinode Promotion, a small entertainment production company that Madarame Corporation has entered into a venture with. This is a shock to Ichiko, an impulsive, arrogant woman who is good at her job but unpopular because of her over-assertive, high-handed working style and bad people skills. Ichiko is alarmed by the dispirited, struggling one-hit singer and third-rate talents of Hinda Pro. She goes back to her boss to protest against her secondment, and offers to quit after Madarame discloses that this is actually a demotion.

However, after giving it some thought, Ichiko takes the first step toward becoming an artiste manager, which was something she had never expected, on condition that she be reinstated to a key role at Madarame Corporation if she succeeds in turning a declining Hinode Pro around. Believing that she has to find a newcomer in order to rebuild Hinode Pro, she scouts the handsome but rude Sakisaka Ryo who works as a traffic warden at a construction site. Although Ryo has no interest in the entertainment industry, he joins Hinode Promotion for the sake of making a quick buck. Slowly he starts to realise that acting is what he wants to do and starts in earnest to work towards becoming a proper actor.

Ichiko and Ryo’s first meeting isn’t exactly auspicious and it takes a while for them to start seeing eye to eye. Hinode Pro provides both of them time to grow, to find out what their true mettle is and what they really want to do and be. Life is a learning curve and the less you fight it, the better. Through obstacles, setbacks and minor triumphs they in time form a well functioning partnership, as an actor and his manager who are also friends and maybe even something more.
I love the Hinode Pro family; President Masao Namiki, aging rocker Tadokoro Shinya, voice actor Yuji Kashimura, hand actor Monami Nishii, aspiring idol Ai Kogure and office manager Yumi Ogata. Despite of their inital misgivings about a total noob to the industry like Ichiko, they soon accept her as part of their little ‘family’. Ryo gets an even warmer welcome. I love ‘teams’ and partnerships, as you’ve probably noticed. 🙂 The Team at Hinode Pro sticking together through thick and thin gives me the warm fuzzies. Always supportive and ready to give advise and their two cents. There are also many other intersting, mostly likeable and often quirky characters, like Ichikos family, fellow agent Satoru Ishino and his new protégé Ukyo, plus various ent world personalities, agents, actors, production and broadcasting company employees. Despite the focus on the two leads, Bijo to Dashi is still an ensable, so some of the supporting characters also get a more rounded introduction.

Nakama Yukie hasn’t always impressed me in her roles but she is pretty good as Sawatari Ichiko. I think a more comedic role suits her. Ichiko is often misunderstood due to her abrasive and unyelding character but underneath there is a rather lonely and vulnerable woman. Imho Nakama is able to believably show these two sides of Ichiko, as well as her gradual change to a more relaxed and open person. Machida Keita still has a looooong way to go as an actor, yet I think he does quite well here, especially after he settles in the role. Boy sure is pretty, but other than his looks there is something about Keita that just captures your attention.

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