Drama Grab Bag

I finally managed to find some time to put together a long overdue post. So yeah, I’m still here, watching stuff – an epi here another there, with an occasional dramathon thrown in for good measure.^^

30 but 17 / Still 17
Simple and hearwarming with characters I ended up liking a lot. I’ve come to realise that characters mean a lot when it comes to how much I’ll enjoy a drama. If I don’t feel the characters, I generally don’t feel the drama either. Crime shows, including the wholly episodic ones, are probably the only ones where I don’t really need much else beyond the plot. I love all the puzzles and crime solving. This sweet litte drama never pretended to be something more than it is and I appreaciate that. Romance isn’t a genre I watch a lot these days, but every once in a while a romantic show totally fits the bill and this one was also a little bit more than just pure fluff. Not that pure fluff is a bad thing per se either, they fill a purpose too – sometimes. 🙂 I left Drama with a smile on my lips and feeling… happy. I’ve always loved stories about ‘made families’ and this was basically one, with a romance on the side. The whole thing was oddly comforting. The stakes weren’t all that high and even though there were some obstacles on the way to happiness, I never got the feeling that our protagonists wouldn’t be able to overcome them, together. If I’d have to find something to gripe about, that would be the coincidences. That Woo Jin’s parents just happened to buy the house Seo Ri had lived in was already a bit of a stretch but that all these people with tragedy in their pasts turned out to be connected, was… rather eyeroll worthy. 😀 Especially as these two weren’t the only coincidences. Well, I actually didn’t mind much in the end and just took them as some of the quirks of the show.^^

Hajimete Koi wo Shita Hi ni Yomu Hanashi / A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love
I’ve never been particularly into the “hot for teacher” stories, for obvious reasons but every once in a while along comes one that just clicks. Hajimete Koi is one of those. I kinda loved it from the get go. There’s just this very Japanese, quirky and breezy thing going on, that I often end up enjoying a lot, in all it’s various forms.

Drama starts with our heroine Junko on a date with her then boyfriend, a date that goes to pot even before it really starts. She gets dumped. And hears a few sad truths about her life in general while they are at it. She then ends up in a karaoke place with her friends to sing the blues away. I rather love her friends, especially her bestie Miwa. She’s a hoot. Junko is 30, unmarried and in a job she doesn’t like much. Her life did not turn out the way she envisioned when in high school, where she was a model student and academically the 1st in her year. Her life then revolved around studying, with her sights set on getting into Todai, one of the prestigious universties in Japan. Well, guess it was more what her mother had her sights set on and Junko just went along with it as she didn’t know any better. She had no life outside of school and her studes, she never dated nor had much time for friends. Annnnd she was totally oblivious to the fact that there were couple of guys crushing on her. One of them being her cousin Masashi, who still carries a torch for her, even after all these years. Masashi is a sweetie. He’s smart and a successfull professional but a total wuss when it comes to confessing to Junko. At 30 Junko is still as clueless at the matters of heart, which results in all kinds of funny goings on. As it happens, Junko failed to get into Todai and nothing has gone right for her ever since. She’s had no success in relationships and finding a job has been hard. She now works as a teacher in a cram school and feels she’s at a dead end both personally and professionally. Things take a major turn for the better when a certain pink haired delinquent enters her life and she also reconnects with an old high school classmate, who’s now a teacher himself.

Drama gets a lot of mileage out of Junko being clueless of the fact that she suddenly has three very different admirers, all bent on wooing her. Everyone else is aware of this but no amount of hinting gets through to her at first, until even she can no longer avoid the facts. I like Junko, she’s earnest and down to earth but has a rather low self esteem. She can assert herself if needed though. It also feels like she got stuck in the past emotionally in a way. She may be an adult female in appearance but inside she is still in parts a confused and lonely teen. Which is perhaps why she and her new student Yuri connect right from the start. This is where things could veer into skeevy but Drama never goes ‘there’ as nothing unsvory happens. He may have a major crush on her but she is nothing but a dedicated teacher willing to do her utmost to help the boy pass his uni entrance exam. Yes, she likes YuriYuri, probably even ‘likes’ him but as said, she’s a total dummy when it comes to relationships and feelings. When she finally cottons on to what is going on, she’s aghast and blames herself for having given wrong kind of signals. Things go a bit awkward for a while but they manage to find a working equlibrium. While helping Yuri to fullfill his dream, Junko finds true passion for teaching and a new lease of life. She finally grows up – sorta, ha.

Apart from the romantic doodah Hajimete Koi has other things going on as well. There is plenty of goodnatured humor, which I liked a lot. It also felt very affirmative and motivational. I loved how there were all these differet kind of releationships blossoming betwix the characters. Even those who initially had an antagonistic bent came around in no time. Junko has this knack of bringing out the best in those around her, she connects people in a strange way. All in all this was a lovely little drama and I liked how it wrapped up too. So, which of her suitors is the end game then? I’m not telling, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. 😀

He’s Psychometric / That Psychometric Guy
Another drama that turned out be more “weighty” than I originally thought. Oh, there is a cute romance and dorky shenaningans but episode 1 already made me realise I’d have to adjust my preception. Ep 1 started with a bang, litterally and it was quite clear there would be a darker undercurrent to the whole thing. Despite of the cute I wasn’t surprised when things took a turn to more serious and angsty towards the end. The clues were there all along. I never felt the situation was hopeless though, not even when Drama decided to ‘bravely go’ where kdramas seldom dare to go. Well, maybe if they are by OCN… 😀 The people going all ranty about that evidently weren’t able to ‘read’ the plot or were just blinded by unrealistic shipping. It never ceases to amaze me how people can conjure up ships where there are none. Mind boggles. What I really liked was how Drama stayed true to it’s vision and didn’t try to redeem the guilty parties, not even when the outcome was painful. There was understanding mixed with regret and sadness but no blind forgiveness. I also liked that Drama decided to look confidently and with hope into the future. The ending felt right. The main characters were engeaging and I just loved that our main man is a loveble doofus but with room to grow as a person. Jin Young really made Lee An the heart and soul of the drama but I liked Jae In a lot too. It’s always nice to have a leading lady who’s got real spunk. Kim Kwon… sigh, he’s ‘growing beautifully’. Sung Moo is not an easy character to depict and Kim did really well. Ah, I remember seeing the lad first in Secret Affair as the dodgy toyboy and then in Into the Flames, playing the teen counterpart of the male lead and thinking – “mmmm… boy’s got potential”. 🙂 Dasom’s Ji Soo was perhaps a little colourless compared to the others but she ended up being pretty impactful in the end. Not a view everyone supports but that’s my take and I stick to it.

Confession
I love me a good crime show, there’s just not that many good ones available. Confession reminds me a lot of FoS but it isn’t quite as well or assuredly written. Well, there aren’t many dramas that are, so I’m not holding that minor flaw against Confesion. Plotwise Drama doesn’t differ much from all the dozens of other crime shows about corruption in high places but there are enough of little details to make it stand out as it’s own thing. I’d say acting is where the major difference comes from. Yoo Jae Myung is always very good and the supporting cast knows what the are doing but Junho is truly holding up his end too. There are idol actors and idols that are Actors – Junho is one of the latter. One that seems to disappear into the diverse roles he plays. I guess one of his good points is how expressive his face is. He also seems to be very passionate about acting and willing to learn to improve his craft. Detective and crime shows have been my faves for decades but in recent years I’ve noticed a shift in how I’m watching them. I’m no longer able to take cliffhangers all that well anymore. While I may start live watching a crime drama/thriller, I almost without a fail put them on hold at the point when the protagonists end up in a major jam. Typically around ep 11-12 of a 16 epi drama. I then wait till the drama has finished it’s run and dramathon the rest of the episodes. 🙂 This is how it’s going with Confession as well now. On hold till it’s done.

Detective L
I have to admit I’ve kinda missed this kind of traditional ‘whodunits’. Detective L is clearly taking it’s cues from Sherlock Holmes with basic plotty things and some characters but oddly enough it does resemble more of a classic Agatha Christie story in it’s overall feel. I’m not the only one seeing this either. Drama is mainly episodic with each case taking couple of episodes to solve. Nothing truly amazing but the cases have been entertaining so far. There is also a longer story arc, tied to our detective’s past with an antagonists seemingly able to do stuff even if he’s behind the bars. The first cases didn’t seem to be tied to the Big Bad but I have a feeling we’ll be proven otherwise later on. I love how the drama looks. You can see that there’s been some serious moolah spent on the set design, props and costuming. I like the characters though they all feel a bit generic. I don’t really mind, as I’m more interested in the seluthing and solving cases anyway. 🙂

I’ve also been watching Her Private Life but the insertion of meddlesome 2nd leads rather irked me, so I’m not sure if I’m going to continue. I don’t know why writers insist on falling back on old tropes like this. The “2nd leads that just don’t get it” is so 2000s. Manufactured conflict never does anything for the story and as Drama has so far been very ‘angst light’ this sudden turn just feels jarring. I think I’m going to watch certain episodes of 1% of Anything to remind me how the leads should deal with annoying interlopers. 🙂 Another drama on my current roster is Tasogare Ryuuseigun, but I’ve barely started it, so I haven’t really formed any real thoughts on it. We’ll see how it goes.

6 thoughts on “Drama Grab Bag

  1. Love to hear that you enjoyed Thirty But Seventeen! That was one of my favorite dramas last year. So heartwarming with such fantastic characters. It was a feel good drama that delivered a simple but emotional story. I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

  2. Yay that you enjoyed 30 But 17!! 😀 That one really is so heartwarming and sweet, and the found family thing is just lovely. ❤ Thanks for weighing in on Psychometric.. I'm about 5 eps in, and liking it quite well. At the same time, I heard echoes of ranting after Show finished, and many seemed to feel disappointed in the show. So it's refreshing to hear that you felt it was solid through to the end. 😀

    • I think the promos for Psychometric were rather missleading. In my book Drama ain’t no cute romance. It’s a crime show (goes quite dark at times too) with some romance on the side. You’ll see soon enough where most of the ranting arises from. I have no beef with what happened and where it lead to, as you can probably already tell. It’ll be interesting to see what you think of it. ☺

    • I’ve never seen any point in love triangles. It’s just lazy writing, an easy way to add some conflict and roadblocks for the romance. There are other ways to do that, and don’t mean serial killers either (that got old fast).

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