Drama Review: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006)

Ever After?

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Kamenashi Kazuya, Ayase Haruka, Toda Erika, Tanaka Koki, Hiraoka Yuta, Kaname Jun, Saito Ryusei, Zaitsu Kazuo, Yo Kimiko

In a Nutshell:
He’s dirt poor, she’s filthy rich; he’s the family breadwinner, she’s the crown princess of a jeweler chain; he has a sick younger brother and a boozy hostess of a mom, she was raised in a happy, loving home; he’s world-weary and cynical, she’s fresh and innocent; he has his whole life ahead of him, she’s battling a life-threatening disease. Both are twenty, and they fall in love.

(SpoilLert: Nothing major, so you’re in luck!!! No way I’m mucking this up for first-time viewers. I’m saving all the spoilers for another post, heh heh.)

[Recommended companion tracks: “Bokura no Machi de” by KAT-TUN; “Cool Whispers” by Ike Yoshihiro]

“I saw two beings in the hues of youth
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill…

And both were young, and one was beautiful”

– Lord Byron, “The Dream” Stanza II

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Does it matter if a story has already been told a thousand times, in a thousand different ways and in a thousand different settings? Does it truly make a difference if the conflicts and situations are all but variations on the same refrain, all shifting permutations of the same formula? The answer is easy to come by: no, it doesn’t matter, not really. Because we are all suckers for a good yarn, whether that yarn has been spun over and over again in a myriad of patterns, regardless of cultural milieu or historical context. The faces and places may change, but the narrative blueprint is immortal: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Adversity threatens to drive them apart, whether it’s society, their own families, or some form of tragedy. Boy and girl strive to overcome the odds stacked against them. But — will their love be enough to keep them together??? Well, WILL IT????

Such stories are timeless, their universal appeal reverberating through the ages. But the key to retaining their luster and relevance is the treatment they are given: the best versions out there — “Romeo and Juliet!” Ian McEwan’s “Atonement!” anything by Nicholas Sparks! (lol, scratch that) — limn this well-worn template with freshness and creativity, so that the characters and circumstances feel like you’re knowing them for the very first time. But placed in lesser hands or with a limited vision, the same archetype can readily regress into soap-opera hell and taste as stale as a week-old wasabi burger (yum!).

One permutation in particular strikes a deep and vibrant chord in all of us. The recipe for it is really quite simple: You take the classic theme of Young Love and crossbreed it with another romance paradigm, that of Forbidden Love — with its generous sprinkling of meddling relations, class tensions and social incompatibility — and crown it all with the great blood-red cherry of Life-threatening Illness. And voilà! — a sumptuous, intoxicating brew of Tragic Young Love, this mad swirl of romantic devotion simmering under the pall of immeasurable loss, a heady concoction as effervescent as youth and as darkly potent as death. Ah, Tragic Young Love, is there anything like you in the whole world? The tragedy makes the love more urgent and desperate; the love makes the tragedy more meaningful and poignant.

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Because really, no one quite loves like the young. There’s nothing like falling in love for the very first time, from the dewy first blush of infatuation to the raw and rapturous emotions stirring to life as you go off on that wild ride of passion and heartbreak, careening from the sublime to the agonizing, from the exquisite to the exhilarating. Regardless of how long the relationship lasts or even how it ends, that first time will always be special, and you’ll never forget how love became this primal, life-sustaining force that superseded social mores, defied conventional wisdom, and breached carefully drawn loyalty/family lines. You’ll remember how it filled you with a feeling of invincibility, this galvanizing confidence to take on anything, anything at all — even if the whole world dared get in your way.

But for all its gung-ho recklessness, young love is actually more fragile than it looks on the surface, and there’s no guarantee that it will weather the storm and stress of Life. More often than not, it won’t — and if you’re old enough to know this, then… well, you’re old enough. There are certain conflicts (usually exterior) that are endemic to young love, the young being more vulnerable to the pressures of the existing social order: the pressure to stick to your “own kind,” to yield to parental authority, to buckle under duress. When the universe conspires to drive a wedge between young lovers — whether it does this through human interference, sickness or sudden death, it almost always succeeds. Almost.

Yet, Life will go on: that is something everyone learns eventually. And as people get older, the intensity of their first love will not likely be replicated in later relationships. No, there’s nothing quite like the first. But time does have a way of dulling the vividness of such youthful memories until all that’s left is a “cool whisper” of a feeling, a lingering sensation of something you used to have that was beautiful and bittersweet, and which, for a moment, you believed with your whole heart was unshakable.

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It is this rich emotional wellspring of First Love that screenwriter Kitagawa Eriko taps into as she spins her own unique take on the timeless story of two young individuals who find each other, and find love — as countless others have done before them. The course that the drama Tatta Hitotsu no Koi takes actually strays very little from the beaten path, and viewers will find that the dilemmas and situations explored here all tread familiar ground. Thus, THnK is perhaps the most conventional drama of Kitagawa’s celebrated oeuvre (at least, of what I’ve seen), but is ultimately one of the most satisfying.

I’ll even be so bold as to say that Tatta Hitotsu no Koi is one of the better made ren’ai from the past decade. And it’s a straight ren’ai at that, which is a refreshing sight amid a Jdorama glut of dime-a-dozen procedurals and youth comedies where romance is but ancillary to the action. So, yay for rabu-rabu. And not only did I find the story of THnK deeply romantic and emotionally involving, but I was truly impressed by this finely crafted piece of entertainment — from the writing to the acting to the direction and execution of the other elements.

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The visual appeal of this drama cannot be gainsaid. From the very first scene we’re treated to a breathtaking panoramic view of Yokohama Port and Tokyo Bay, this sprawling hub of transport and commerce where cutting-edge industries commingle with ancient culture and natural beauty. I’m a big fan of aerial shots, and director Iwamoto Hitoshi puts these to good use in evoking the dreamy, romantic feel of this drama: in the opening sequence the camera swoops over skyline and harbor, while the score’s lilting strains skim over Hiroto’s (Kamenashi Kazuya) pensive voice-over as he begins to recount his first experience of love.

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Compared to Nobuta wo Produce (which Iwamoto also directed) the cinematic techniques are less avant-garde in THnK, which only suits the more classic and conventional feel of this ren’ai. But Iwamoto applies the same deft hand and meticulous approach to the crafting of scenes here in THnK. The familiar long shots are there, e.g. the camera panning the length of a bridge as the main characters move in transit, or focusing on someone in the background while a train streaks across the screen. And the location shots in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai 21 reclamation district are a character in their own right, and make the story come alive as they alternate between travelogue-pretty (e.g. Harbor Café, the Cosmo World theme park, etc.) and downright squalid (i.e. Hiroto’s boatyard) — the second category perfectly capturing the grimy, industrialized side of Yokohama.

The soundtrack by Ike Yoshihiro has a decidedly Celtic quality with its use of Irish whistles and strings, and even the insert track “Cool Whispers” echoes the traditional English ballad “Scarborough Fair” and the romanesca “Greensleeves” at first hearing. On the surface the Irish-sounding music may seem ill-matched for a drama set in modern Japan, but the nautical flavor of the score actually goes well with the Yokohama environs. More importantly, the strange incongruity of music and setting is actually a good tonal fit because Tatta Hitotsu no Koi does feel like it comes from a different time and place, one far removed from the present reality of the narrator — wherever he may be now. The whole drama is really the main character’s (Hiroto) recollection of that time long past, when he was twenty and in love for the very first time. This is his story told in retrospect, and which (perhaps) is now little more than a distant memory tinged with a little sadness and regret.

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This is the story of Kanzaki Hiroto (Kamenashi Kazuya), a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who falls for college girl Tsukioka Nao (Ayase Haruka), who with her wealth and pedigree may just as well be from another planet. Hiroto is no saint, but he’s hardy and hardworking, good-hearted and responsible, if a little cynical — to wit, the quintessential working-class hero. And there’s always something incredibly attractive about a still-waters-run-deep kind of guy, with his calm and sensible mien concealing not only a passionate and complex nature, but also a brooding sense of danger simmering beneath the layers of his personality.

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But it sucks to be Hiroto. No, I mean it really, really sucks to be Hiroto: with the whole deck stacked against you, life could not possibly be any worse than it already is. Just picture this: your father died some years back, leaving behind a struggling boat repair business that’s now THIS close to going under. Your undependable lush of a mother (Yo Kimiko) works at a seedy nightclub just to make ends meet, while your only brother Ren (Saito Ryusei) was born with a weak constitution and needs a wheelchair to get around. You all live like sardines in a tinny shack overlooking the boatyard, and every yen you earn goes to paying the bills and Ren’s health expenses. And you’re just freaking twenty. And the greatest indignity of being poor? Is that you can’t even afford a cellular phone. In freaking Japan. Welcome to Kanzaki Hiroto’s charmed life. Welcome to his sh*tty little world.

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Given his family situation it would be easy for Hiroto to stay mired in a mindset of poverty and disgrace. Instead he soldiers on with dignity, swallowing his pride before sneering customers and uncomplainingly assuming his filial duty to his mother and brother, and even to his dead father’s much-maligned legacy. So what you feel as a viewer isn’t just sympathy and understanding, but also a growing sense of admiration for this young man who takes life as it comes with equanimity and resilience. It’s impossible NOT to root for Hiroto and hope that all his dreams come true someday. For they’re nothing grand or complicated, just simple dreams, good dreams, not so much for himself but for the people he loves: to save enough capital to rehabilitate the boatyard, to see Ren through university, and to give his mother a life free of money woes.

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But for now, Hiroto must put those dreams on hold and stay the course, working his fingers to the bone just to keep the business afloat — even as their long-time customers are turning to the bigger, more modern factories in the area. His only respite from the daily grind of life are the illicit fishing jaunts that he and his two blue-collar buddies from high school, Ayuta (Hiraoka Yuta) and Ko (Tanaka Koki), regularly pull off at a nearby power plant where the nutrient-rich waters teem with fish. This is more than just a madcap moonlight caper by three restless youths, for it really is a way to augment their meager income as they later peddle their catch to the tony restaurants in and around Yokohama.

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One of the restaurants is on the crest of a hill overlooking the city and accessible by a long flight of stairs. It is during one of their trips to the summit that Hiroto runs into Nao — like, literally, lol — as she herself is rushing off to class at the nearby Yoko Jyo women’s college with her best friend, Yuko (Toda Erika). It isn’t exactly love at first sight for Hiroto and Nao — actually more like, First Encounters of the Fishy Kind, lol, and when Nao’s dismay at her soiled dress is met with Hiroto’s curt contempt, the sparks (or water droplets, heh) that fly between them can hardly be called romantic. But of course this is a ren’ai, so of course the two will have to meet again – somehow, someday.

In fact, that “someday” is sooner than they/we think, because that very evening Hiroto, Ayuta and Ko gate-crash an exclusive mixer for Yoko Jyo college and elite Keio University. The boys are only there on account of a mistakenly given invitation earlier that morning, but seeing that everyone at the party assumes they are Keio students, the three gamely fake it as they wend their way through the small talk and lavish buffet spreads, knowing full well that this fantasy will fizzle out when the clock strikes twelve. Through the jaded eyes of Hiroto (and to an extent, even Nao’s friend Yuko), the soiree is nothing more than this ritzy meat market, a glorified goukon where potential mates size each other up, hoping for a suitable match in social class and educational attainment. The whole rigmarole of the affair disgusts him even as the ostentatious display of pedigree and privilege rankles in his heart. But Hiroto plays along for the evening, mingling with the guests and collecting phone numbers as he moves from one coquettish, bubbly-sipping quarry to the next.

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So when he sees Nao across one of the function rooms amid the clink of champagne glasses and strains of chamber music, to him she’s just like them, she’s one of them: just another pretty young thing to be trifled with, the only difference being he has met her before — albeit under less charming circumstances. Watching her from behind a large glass installation (so lovely with the flutes of water bubbles; it takes you back to the aquarium scene in the 1996 film William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet… well, kinda… okay not really, lol), Hiroto can sense Nao’s discomfort as she stands by her lonesome against the wall, nursing an empty wineglass and clearly feeling out of place in her jeans and tunic (her dress was ruined that morning, remember?). Maybe she’ll give him her number if he asks for it, Hiroto thinks. Maybe he’ll take her out a few times, then when he gets tired of the whole thing he’ll dump her, and his one-upmanship — over her class, her status, her college-going friends – will be complete. And so will his satisfaction.

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She notices him staring, which creeps her out a little (lol), and the look of alarm that mars her composure draws a little half-smile out of him (which in turn made my poor toes curl so violently they nearly broke off, ouchy!). But she does something unexpected — she marches up to him and bluntly asks why he’s been ogling her. And so begins their first real conversation since that awkward encounter earlier in the day. She doesn’t try to flirt with him; she’s too forthright for that. But she naturally assumes he’s a Keio boy, and whether that *small* detail matters to her or not, he cannot tell. But he’s taking no chances, and assumes that it does matter to her, so he fibs about his major at Keio… Although in fairness to Hiroto, he did initially (and truthfully) mention he was a (part-time) fisher, only Nao in her naïveté thought he was joking (tsk).

Then she loses her beaded purse and he goes off in search of it (otherwise, there’d be no more reason for them to stay together, ne?). They end up by the pool talking, and in this relaxed setting away from the noise and swirl of the party, Hiroto and Nao can more keenly feel the growing tendrils of attraction between them. But the verbal sparring doesn’t end: he chides her for her bluntness, which can be off-putting, while she scoffs at his claim to have a wad of Yoko Jyo phone numbers stowed away in his pocket (at which point he suddenly remembers that he just threw them all away, lol).

Inside the glass-walled main hall, the party organizers raffle off all-expense-paid trips to Bali, plus other fabulous prizes. The winner is announced, and from out of the ensuing revelry a stray firecracker whizzes towards Nao (okay, but that sparkly thingy was just CGI FAIL in every way), thus triggering The Great Poolside Mishap in which both end up very, very wet. And sneezing. Romantic? Uh, think again…

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To be honest, I was totally LMAO at how this moment was sucked dry of every last droplet of lovey goo. The director clearly went, uh, overboard (heh heh) in giving us the hard sell on this scene. Ten different angles of Ayase and Kame falling slowly – slowly – slowwwwwlyyyy into the pool!!! So slowly that Kame just seems to be leaning into the water rather than actually falling, bwahahaha!!! In the midst of my eye-rolling mirth I couldn’t help recalling a similar incident in William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet (is Iwamoto Hitoshi a Baz Luhrmann fan or something??? whaddup with the homages huh? lol). But whereas the pool scene in R+J was incredibly sensual — steamy, even — its THnK counterpart only achieved a mildly comical effect without really intending to. I mean, what were you thinking, Iwamoto-san. Scene execution: FAIL. Thankfully this is the one time in the entire drama where the director overdid it.

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Later — Hiroto decides he’s had enough of their little fancy-schmancy pretense, and so he leads Ko and Ayuta away from the swanky venue and back to their own world — on the wrong side of town. But it is Nao’s impulsive streak and forthrightness (go Nao go!!! run Nao run!!!) that earn them both a second chance to resume their rudely interrupted evening. So Hiroto asks her out, a little cocksure she’ll say yes (watch me score a date in 10 seconds, he tells the guys under his breath as he watches Nao running towards him – tsk, tsk Hiroto!). Nao shyly acquiesces… but instead makes it a group date come Halloween, outside the church on Oka Hill. Hiroto misinterprets this as a rejection of his own invitation, but agrees with a polite smile, knowing in his heart he’ll stand her up anyway. “Why am I rejected by someone I don’t even like?” he testily asks Ko and Ayuta a few nights later, when the three of them do a post-mortem of the party on his boat. (Lol, oh Hiroto)

So will Hiroto show up at their Halloween rendezvous? Will he and Nao respond to their growing attraction for each other? Will their chaste conversations and tentative overtures ever blossom into full-blown romance? And young as they are, will they truly fall in love, deeply and passionately in love? You know the answer is yes, yes, and yes. For this drama is really all about two individuals who do just that. And as Hiroto and Nao feel themselves succumbing to the breathless rush of First Love, you know it isn’t so much a slow burn as a swift dive into madness… madness and bliss, and everything in between.

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When a romance story is done well, it provides a vicarious, cathartic escape for the rest of us rabu-rabu-starved suckers mucking about in The Real World, lol. And Tatta Hitotsu no Koi delivers not a light appetizer – a sip here, a nibble there – but a full-course meal of Young Love, of Forbidden Love, of Tragic Love. This is the complete anatomy of a relationship, encompassing every swell and ebb of emotion, every conflict and complication therewith. As a viewer you fall in love not only with Hiroto and Nao, but also with the very act of falling in love. You’re completely invested in their story, in the trajectory of their relationship as they navigate the choppy waters of their interspecies – er, I meant interclass romance (lol).

And no, you know their love will not come easy, its course will not run smooth. This will be no bed of roses, no walk in the park. After all, froth and confection do not make a full-course meal; you must learn to take the meat with the gristle, the easy with the tough, the good with the bad. Despite the undeniable pull between them, Hiroto and Nao get off to a rather rocky start. After breaking some ground with that lovely (if at times comical) Halloween hilltop semi-date, the budding romance hits a snag when Nao realizes that Hiroto isn’t quite the rich Keio boy she had conceived him to be. When she ferrets out his address and visits him at the boatyard, for the first time she sees the kind of world he inhabits. (And Hiroto doesn’t make things easier when he meets Nao’s terse accusation – “Liar.” – with unapologetic sarcasm: “Too bad we’re not Keio students.” Tsk, Hiroto!) But the ironic thing is that Nao’s issue is not with Hiroto’s social standing, but with his lack of honesty about it (but, c’mon Nao, can you really blame the boy for not wanting to disabuse you of your own mistaken assumption?).

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So this initial phase of their nascent relationship becomes an awkward courtship dance that is less a graceful pas de deux than this jerky, staccato cha-cha, where every step forward is countered by another setback. Good thing their friends – Ayuta, Ko, Yuko – act as the catalysts that speed things along, i.e. the Halloween rendezvous is a success: 1 step forward! => Hiroto’s Keio cover gets blown: 2 steps backward! => <friends conspire!> => they all get together at the town festival, where fireworks happen in more ways than one (wheee!!! LOVELOVELOVE THIS WHOLE SEQUENCE): 3 steps forward! => Hiroto sees Nao’s picture in a magazine article (uh, gravure? lol, just kidding) and realizes just how wealthy her family is (Star Jewelry! 35 branches nationwide! a mansion in Motomachi!), so he stops contacting her: 2 steps backward! => <friends conspire!> => but to no avail, as Hiroto is preoccupied with work-related things: status quo! => Hiroto is resolved not to pursue Nao romantically, and gives her the very sensible cop-out, i.e. “let’s stay friends” crap, lol… but she wants all or nothing (go go GO, Nao!): status quo! => <friends conspire!> => their first real non-pseudo date happens at a Chinese restaurant, followed by a MAJOR SQUEE-WORTHY MOMENT with the Cosmo World Ferris wheel lighting up the background: 5 giant steps forward!!!!!!!!!! => Hiroto’s ex-GF Yuki shows up (ohnoes!!!ohnoes!!!): 2 steps backward! => etc. etc. etc.

And this is ALL before Episode 4 ends, baby. Whew! But oh boy the obstacles have to keep coming, don’t they? Because as Hiroto and Nao’s romance deepens, a new set of impediments crops up – this time much, much closer to home. For this no longer becomes a simple case of class incompatibility, because now they start to feel the heat from both families. But it’s very believable that family plays the single biggest factor in how their romance will ultimately work out: Hiroto and Nao are just twenty after all, and remain very much attached to their respective home environments – Hiroto being the breadwinner, and Nao being the pampered only daughter.

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Again, put yourself in Hiroto’s shoes: How can you sustain a viable romantic relationship when eking out a living consumes your time and energy, and your two dependents require constant supervision and care? And the home situation is just one half of the story, because the boatyard is your responsibility too, whether you like it or not. This is Hiroto’s predicament, which becomes even more glaringly inescapable when certain… developments cause him and Nao to consider taking more… drastic measures. But when you’re the one putting food on the table, the one cooking dinner because your mother has to work nights, the one diligently recording Ren’s vitals before tucking him in come bedtime; when you’re the one who must contend with disgruntled employees (who are all much older than you, and do not fully trust in your ability to keep the business afloat), as well as creditors and difficult customers — on a daily basis; when this conflation of pressures and obligations rises up to meet you every morning, then a Happily Ever After for yourself and Nao seems as unattainable as ever. Suddenly, the unassailable power of love becomes this pipe dream, somewhat ludicrous against the relentless advance of… The Real World.

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As a viewer it’s very easy to sympathize with Hiroto’s family, although they’re more of a cliché than Nao’s family is. (You can just imagine Kitagawa Eriko sitting before her laptop and staring thoughtfully into space, mulling over how she could make Hiroto’s background as horribly tragic as possible.) But I am extremely fond of Ren and the relationship between the two brothers. I love their chemistry, and how Hiroto’s devotion to Ren never comes off as sappy. Ren (good child actor, this Saito Ryusei!) deals with his poor health with a cheerful matter-of-factness that just breaks your heart… and I’m glad he becomes really close to Nao later on, because in Nao the boy finds an outlet for his own unvoiced frustrations.

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But then there’s Hiroto’s money-grubbing boozehound of a mother, who’s a far more complex (ergo, less likable) character than Li’l Ren-Ren. Yo Kimiko generally does a good job in bringing her to life, but overdoes the frazzled, I’m-so-tired-of-my-sh*tty-life bellyaching in the first few episodes. She’s much better in her quieter scenes in the latter third of the drama. I’ve seen Yo Kimiko in other stuff (Byakuyakou, Okuribito) and boy, she can be GREAT, but this role in THnK pales in comparison. Still, props to Yo Kimiko for portraying a character who elicits exasperation, revulsion and… yes, sympathy from the viewer — all at once. She’s like… Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, whom you want to hate, but just. can’t. So I look at this woman’s clownish makeup and tacky nightclub outfits, the gaudy baubles and teased hair; I see her shambling about in a fog of cheap perfume mingled with her own desperation and self-loathing, and I see a woman beaten down by life, who must have loved once and been loved in return, but who just could not rise above her tragedy and heartache; I see a mother whose only redeeming value is her dysfunctional love for her two sons.

As for Nao, her family tensions are of a different kind: Her parents and older brother frown on her relationship with Hiroto not because he’s poor per se, but because his family situation is simply too… messy and complicated at the moment. When Nao’s dad commissions a background check on Hiroto, that can’t possibly yield anything good, can it? Because on paper, the Kanzakis ain’t exactly a paragon of familial bliss: dead, disgraced father! boatyard business mired in debt! eldest son never went to college! sickly younger brother! a ho for a mother! and the last straw regarding Hiroto: consorts with hooligans!!! So you don’t fault Nao’s family for their overprotectiveness, not at all.

But I like how Nao’s dad, mom and brother are nothing like the rich ‘n b*tchy stereotypes in so many other poor-boy-rich-girl stories. They’re decent, gracious folk, but never indulgent, and always acting on behalf of (what they believe to be) Nao’s best interests. That said, despite their niceness I wouldn’t put it past them if they secretly thought Hiroto and his family beneath them — I mean, you don’t reach that station in life without inwardly believing that when Nao’s… fanciful dalliance with the factory boy is over, she should eventually settle down with someone of  Their Own Kind… but of course they’re just too classy to show it.

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And I like Nao’s dad the best, I like how their relationship is developed throughout the drama (whereas Nao’s mother is little more than a gentle force of affection and caution hovering in the background). Nao’s dad is actually a GREAT dad: solicitous and paternal, but never one to spoil his daughter, never one to lavish her with trinkets from their flagship store (you must work hard for them, he gently reminds Nao in the first episode), yet you know that for him, nothing can stand in the way of his only daughter’s safety and wellbeing, not even (puppy) love. He loves her too much, this bright apple of his eye, precious beyond words, and whose only fault is that she believes the best of other people… even if their own motives may not be the purest. So even if it means tightening the leash on Nao with economic and security sanctions (lol), even if he comes out looking the villain in The Ballad of Hiroto and Nao, Tsukioka-san will protect his family at all costs. And nobody can deny him that.

But I’m glad that Hiroto and Nao’s dad get to have That Talk midway through the drama, when, having resolved to stay committed to his relationship with Nao (go Hiroto go!!!), Hiroto goes to see Mr. Tsukioka at work with the question that many a poor but earnest young man in love has uttered since fathers-in-law were invented: “What should I do to win your approval?” (Oh Hiroto.) And Nao’s dad gives the equally timeless response: “You believe that with love, you can get through anything. That’s the kind of world you’re in right now.” (It sucks to hear this, but it’s actually very true. *sob! Oh Hiroto*)

The elder Tsukioka then asks Hiroto point-blank if he is prepared for the eventualities and complications that may arise from Nao’s illness: the physical and emotional hardship… the medication and doctor’s fees… her inability to bear children… and the ultimate clincher: the possibility of death. What then, asks the father of Hiroto, will your love still be enough? And when Hiroto answers Tsukioka-san, you can see how he wins Nao’s dad over with his solemn pledge to love and protect Nao no matter what. (Go Hiroto go!!!) What I love most about Nao’s dad is that he comes this close (SO CLOSE!!!) to accepting Hiroto for who he is, because he can see in this young man the honesty and sincerity he has been looking for. It’s just A BLOODY SHAME that it’s the people near Hiroto whom Tsukioka-san cannot trust — and with good reason.

Nao’s family wouldn’t be complete without her dorky (but cute!) oniichan Tatsuya (Kaname Jun). It’s a less meaty and pivotal role than the other Dorky (but Cute!) Oniichans from Kitagawa Eriko’s more acclaimed dramas — like Takenouchi Yutaka in Long Vacation and Watabe Atsuro in Beautiful Life — but the same affectionately overprotective brothering style is definitely there. Tatsuya and Nao are as close as siblings can be — maybe even closer, because she wouldn’t be alive if not for him (and, uh, his bone marrow). It is Tatsuya who is the most hostile towards Hiroto, for his brand of protectiveness still has none of the percipience of his parents — although that too will come with age. When Tatsuya pays Hiroto a visit one afternoon, the withering contempt he has for this… lowlife, is enough to make you wince. (And for Hiroto, nothing can be more demeaning than learning that in the eyes of someone whose respect and trust you so wish to earn, you’ve been reduced to a grasping hand that demands dinero. Watching Hiroto suck it all in out of his love for Nao while Tatsuya reams him out — will drive hobnails into your heart.)

My only issue is with how Tatsuya uncovers certain aspects of Nao and Hiroto’s relationship. When Tatsuya gets wind of Nao’s new sweetheart from a friend who just happened to see them sharing an intimate moment on the sidewalk — that’ll make you roll your eyes in disbelief, but you’re still willing to attribute this to mere coincidence. But in a later scene, Tatsuya just so happens to drive by the exact spot where a tussle involving Hiroto, Nao, and three hoodlums is taking place — now this just smacks of contrivance used to advance the plot.

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Barring these minor flaws, Kitagawa Eriko expertly weaves her tapestry of highly engrossing, emotionally charged situations and memorable characters that hum with life and color. The greatest achievement of a drama writer is to make the viewer care deeply for the protagonists and the life choices that they make, and Kitagawa pulls this off quite beautifully in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. She’s a very sensitive, intelligent wordsmith whose main strength is in crafting the dialogue for the main characters, because it always feels organic to their personalities and motivations. Her reliance on tropes and imagery works to less success, however — i.e. how she uses the whales-communicating-across-great-distances analogy for Hiroto and Nao’s own efforts to stay in touch. (Whales, huh. Um, okay. Lol)

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But the interesting thing about THnK is that although it squarely falls under Melodrama Canon — with the highly emotional themes, family conflicts, hardship and illness, etc. — the melo in the drama is actually very restrained, and never regresses into, uh, Suffering Porn. Although the possibility of Nao dying at the end of the story is a cloud that hovers over the viewer, her illness is never given inordinate importance compared to the other plot elements. The treatment is kept unsentimental and clean, and the sadness is tempered with moments of dryness and light humor, so that you never feel like you’re being sucked into a maudlin morass of death and doom from which there is no returning. Which says a lot about the writing, since I’m sure that by now, most of us have become so hypersensitive to gratuitous tearjerker plots that the merest sniff of CANCER! sends us into anaphylactic shock.

And I appreciate how the reality of Nao’s condition isn’t some earth-shattering, jack-in-the-box revelation that bamboozles the viewer; instead, Kitagawa Eriko lets these little hints slip through, but not all at once, so you’re left with a general feeling of unease for the first few episodes — e.g. Nao’s dad gently asks her how she’s been feeling lately; then in a later scene, Nao’s father and grandmother discuss her health without exactly spelling it out for the viewer. Even Ren’s condition isn’t introduced to the story with a bold dramatic flourish; instead, when you see Ren’s wheelchair parked outside the Kanzaki abode as the family is having dinner, you can just pick up on such clues and piece them together on your own.

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Kitagawa Eriko certainly is a master at building mood and anticipation, I’ll give her that; even the whole tenor of THnK is one of wistful reminiscing hinting at a bygone love. However — and it’s an emphatic however — I did feel that Kitagawa Eriko overplayed the sense of foreboding throughout the drama. She sets the viewer up to expect a tragic conclusion to Hiroto and Nao’s story by besprinkling Hiroto’s retrospective monologue with telling lines that just draw up short of being all-out spoilery (she used a similar tack in her classic 2000 drama Beautiful Life). One example comes right after an especially romantic moment in Episode 3, when Hiroto shares with the viewer, “But that was the beginning of our tragedy…” — which naturally made me go, “WhaaaaThaaaFaaaaaaahhh?????? *$#^%%$%” And OH EHM GEE, even that final shot in the end credits of each episode (see above photo) co-opts the last line from “Romeo and Juliet” — “For never was a story of more woe / Than this of… Nao and her Hiro-towww” — ahahahahaha. Oh crud.

Um, yesss thank you Kitagawa Eriko for not glorifying Nao’s disease, but what is UP with all these “Sad Ending: 2 km ahead” giant signposts? The mere fact that such things as leukemia and poverty and disapproving rich parents and venal, scheming mothers figure in this drama’s plot — is enough to give you that presentiment of tragedy. We don’t need to be reminded every bleeping episode of what the worst-case scenario is. The pitfall to this approach is that a happy ending will make you go, “Argh, you gave me ulcers the size of pizzas from expecting the worst, and it was all for nothing!!!” *shakes fist at Kitagawa Eriko* On the other hand, a sad ending will make you go, “Argh, I expected the worst because the writing all but spelled it out for me, and now the worst really happened!!!” *shakes fist at Kitagawa Eriko* So it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The best thing would’ve been to NOT condition the minds of the viewers for either possibility. (And no, like I said, I’m not spoiling things for the readers here — I hope! Eeep! Lol)

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The writing also puts much emphasis on how the other three friends jump-start Hiroto and Nao’s relationship. But I personally wasn’t bothered by the collaborative intervention from Ayuta, Ko and Yuko, because firstly, it wouldn’t have been consistent with the personalities of Hiroto and Nao if the impetus had come directly from either of them — at least, in the first stages of their relationship. Secondly, I loved those Superfriends! Because I actually believed their friendship was real, and wasn’t just a token mise en scène against which the main characters’ love story unfolded (*cough* Proposal Daisakusen *cough*).

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The boys make convincing lifelong best buds whether they’re fishing in off-limits waters, or gate-crashing a soiree, or exchanging blows in an empty wharf, or just hanging out on Hiroto’s boat, looking up at the stars and talking. And I like how their bromance friendship comes first before many other things; the loyalty lines run deep for these boys, and nothing can tear them asunder — neither hookups nor breakups, nor pretty girls in wool coats and boots (ohhh Ayuta… *sniffle*). In fact, I always felt that the drama’s theme song, “Bokura no Machi de” (“In Our Town”), with the lyrics — “In this small town, we’re living in this moment / When we first met on that dazzling summer day / We’re always looking to tomorrow / Trying to reach beyond even just a little — better suited the five friends instead of just Hiroto and Nao. The song also happens to be my favorite KAT-TUN music video — because they’re all just so damn normal here, lol.

Hiraoka Yuta gives a fine performance as Ayuta: with that boy-next-door appeal and sensitive handling of all matters Hiroto-Nao related, it’s impossible not to admire Ayuta and wish him true happiness in life. And I won’t even try to imagine where Hiroto and Nao would end up without Ayuta’s unstinting, steadfast support.

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Tanaka Koki plays the Funnyman Card as Ko, although this role is really no different from… uh, Tanaka Koki himself, lol. In all fairness to Koki he’s better in his more dramatic moments, but when he turns on his funny shtick, mugging for the camera and all — well, it rarely is funny. Feels out of place, actually. I think I lost count of how many times I said “OH FOR FERK’S SAKE” *roll eyes roll eyes* whenever Koki pulled yet another one of his cartoon (KAT-TUN II You! lolz) faces. (I also must confess that my best friend and I call him “Kokey” in private (well, it ain’t private no mo’, haha), Kokey (rhymes with “okay”) being this alien life form resembling a friend orange prawn ball who befriends little children then eats ‘em! jez kidding in one of our local prime time soaps a few years back. I look at Koki and I think of Kokey; I look at Kokey and I think of Koki… but I digress, lol.)

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However, the little sub-plot involving Ko and Nao’s BFF Yuko is very sweet and touching — and even a little sad. I never expected romance to sprout between Ko the Wage-Earning Truck Driver and Yuko, Daughter of Doctors and a Future Doctor Herself. At first Ko seems like a welcome diversion to Yuko, who isn’t really looking for commitment and only goes out with him because she’s flattered by his adoration. Their first date is quite memorable — he’s so bumbling and nervous and sweet in his rental car, while Yuko… isn’t exactly being a b*tch but kinda, fiddling with her phone and answering Ko in monosyllables. I love how Ko is no fool and can sense this right from the start, eventually asking Yuko: “Are you trying to make me hate you? If you hate me just go and say it.” Yuko then realizes that what makes Ko so different from the rich, bratty boys she’s dated in the past is exactly what makes him so endearing. It is also at this point that she considers a more serious involvement with this funny, self-effacing boy. (And their newly announced dating status triggers Ayuta’s indignant reaction: “Why am I always alone? I’m the most good-looking of us three.” Lolllll oh Ayuta.) I also like how Yuko and Ko’s relationship progresses and… runs its natural course. (See? No spoilers!!! hahaha)

And I saved the best for last: Hiroto and Nao — I mean, MAN I  JUST.LOVE.THEM. Much good can be said about how their characters are written, but due credit goes to Ayase Haruka and Kamenashi Kazuya for portraying these two individuals with remarkable depth and pathos — but without shifting the weepy gears into overdrive. Ayase and Kame deliver well-matched and even-toned performances, never given to hammy excess despite the obvious emotional and physical hardships their characters go through.

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I just love Nao! I love that she’s got a good head on her shoulders despite having been raised in comfort and affluence. So she’s pampered and sheltered, yes, but not a spoiled brat: “My parents are rich; I have no income,” she tells Hiroto simply in Ep. 3. I love how she values her relationships, both platonic and romantic, and that she’s the type of girl who keeps a very small but tight-knit circle of friends, the type who doesn’t date around but is built for long-term partnerships. I love how naïve and absent-minded she can be at times, and how she has her moments of both shyness — and raw, spontaneous honesty. I love how she gets close to Ren — for they can understand each other in a way that others can’t, and can bond over their shared frustrations over not having had a normal childhood. And most of all I love Nao’s endearing mix of innocence and inner strength, vulnerability and true resilience.

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And Kame, Kame, Kame. The boy can certainly rise to the occasion and allow his dramatic talent to shine given good material and expert direction. The only sad thing is that such lucky breaks have been more the exception than the rule for him, with Nobuta wo Produce (2005) being the other bright star in his five-year drama career. But as much as I’ll always reserve a soft spot for the character of Kiritani Shuji in NwP, it’s still vaaaastly different seeing Kame in a more adult, romantic-hero kind of role here in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. I mean, this role got me hard — like, in the freakin’ solar plexus hard. (Totally random NwP moment: “E.G. SHOCK!!!” “E.G. DOWN!!!” lol, sorry) But egads — WHO KNEW you could be a credible romantic lead, Kamenashi Kazuya?????? *eats shoe* I never thought it possible, but Kame in THnK caused my viscera to reach a roiling boil in a way that his fellow JE princeling, YamaPi, could never accomplish even with 29,846,461 racy AnAn photo shoots (hahahaha *fond tear @ RamboPi*).

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Kame is without question at his cutest in this drama — okay, so by “cutest” I mean “least repulsive,” lol. In fact, he looks soooo good that at times I found myself swearing in languages I didn’t even know existed, hahaha. Now I don’t care if he was still his old bony 2006 self here (in case you noticed, his cheeks unnaturally got… rounder in 2008; man, those cheekbones all but disappeared! damn you, dermal fillers, damn you!!!), but I liked him with his old face anyway. Nowadays I look at his puffy, girly-girl face and weep for times long past. And his body obviously wasn’t as buff back in 2006 as it is now, but I really, really liked his overall look in this drama. Because in THnK he’s just so… normal, like a normal guy, a real guy, and nothing like the ghastly little creature we saw on-stage at a past KAT-TUN concert doing the Water Dance, or like the randy cake boy twirling a Hula Hoop on Cartoon KAT-TUN while his whole face/body/aura screamed “I am a sexu addict-o!!!” (*dry-heaves at the memories*)

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But there’s a sensuality to Hiroto that isn’t flashy or impulsive, but more like this smoldering maleness that’s far more irresistible than anything that Kame has done before or since. No Gheyboi Kame in sight-o!!!!!!!!! I mean, DAYYYYUM, but he and Ayase DO have CHEMISTRY and SEXUAL TENSION between them — and I KNOW I’m not the only one who saw it!!!! And I love how Hiroto is very much aware of his own sexual attraction to Nao (as is she, hehe), but the fact that he keeps his urges in check bespeaks a maturity about him, and is in fact way sexier than any bed scene (and I’m so thankful this drama keeps things wholesome… okay maybe not TOO wholesome, hihihi). It’s inevitable for the topic of sex to crop up as Hiroto and Nao’s relationship progresses, but the way they address it is actually very sweet. Their <wait for it> MOMENT aboard Hiroto’s boat in Ep. 6, where Hiroto’s like, “Yeah I want to DO it with you alright, but let’s wait until we’re ready,” is honest and awkward and damnright sexy, but also very, very sweet. (Yeah I said that already, lol. Will STFU in a sec.)

*takes a moment*

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In Stanza II of his trippy, idyllic 1816 poem “The Dream,” Lord Byron inscribes a lush and lovely vision of “two beings in the hues of youth.” This could just as well apply to Hiroto and Nao; the beautiful, nostalgic tone of the verse is also in perfect consonance with the whole feel of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. The young man and young woman in Byron’s vision do not necessarily find their Happy Ever After, and there is no guarantee either that Hiroto and Nao will not share this fate. For what this drama seems to say is that when you’re young, when you’re just twenty, the future seems at once both possible and impossible, both hazy and absolute, both within and out of reach. Whether that love relationship you had at twenty works out or not, is of lesser consequence than the fact that it happened at all, and that it changed your life — hopefully for the better. Be thankful, this drama tells us, that for one brief moment you held it in your grasp, a thing so precious and wondrous and real. And your one comfort is that although it may later flicker and die in the Real World, this memory of First Love will forever “burn like a fire” in your secret heart of hearts, bright and imperishable.

Grade
Artistic and technical merit:
A-
Entertainment value:
A+
Final:
A

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“Cool Whispers” by Ike Yoshihiro

Cool whispers drift from the north on the night
Yet you warm my heart for we hold the light
The land must fade from green into white
Hush my heart this love is a fire
This love will burn like a fire

Lie side by side in the soft winter white
Hold me close to you as we brace for flight
In time I pray they’ll see what we feel
Gentle love this pain won’t retire
This love must burn like a fire

Close your eyes and dream what I see
Peace for a moment the future unclear
Hand by hand as we stand on the wire
The ending so near our start close behind
Light bends through trees, leaves spiral and wind
We’re far from here and frozen in time

Cool whispers drift from the north on the night
Yet you warm my heart for we hold the light
The land must fade from green into white
Hush my heart this love is a fire
This love will burn like a fire…

Aaaaand somethin’ for the KAT-TUN fans (well actually it’s just KT-TUN as Jin was on hiatus): “Bokura no Machi de” music video (credit: kenshue @ Youtube.com). <non-KAT-TUN fans of THnK go, “heyyyy… Hiroto is singing! with Ko in a hat! and there’s a long-haired guy with a nice smile and a goofy-looking boy, and there’s a girl, too!”>

To follow: Favorite Hiroto+Nao Moments

***
Photo credits: beingshannon.blogspot.com, breesphotoshot @ photobucket.com, crunchyroll.com, de.divxklip.net, drama-sukida.over-blog.com, drama.watchanimeon.com, fat_boy213 @ photobucket.com, inkandpaperaddicts.blogspot.com, japonizates.es, last.fm, nicokun.wordpress.com, pinkwapish.xanga.com, riila-fancraque.livejournal.com, riko-san.livejournal.com, sanqirensan.blogspot.com, sellvcd.com, sharethefiles.com, thehetre.vn, tokidoki.animeblogger.net, tubeonline.com, tv.rayrac.co.jp, uisceros.livejournal.com, wawa_usagi @ photobucket.com, xpress.dk. And extra thanks to crimsonspell.livejournal.com for the THnK wallies.

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91 Comments on “Drama Review: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006)”

  1. Ralph Moratz Says:

    Thanks for refreshing my memory. Yes. I loved this drama too. But my reason was that I needed to see Ayase Haruka in other roles after the monumentally emotional devastation from Crying Out Love, In The Center Of The World. I wanted Aki to live again. And it(Crying…) caught me as a fly by a spider so that I could not stop watching and had to rewatch several times in hopes it would take a different direction…
    Sorry, sidetracked again…
    THnK was the perfect antidote. It bought me back to life. And now after another brilliant review, I will have to watch it once more. I realize now that I missed a lot in my original viewing because of my emotional catharsis. Now I want to see it as you described it… the magnificense of the scenic delights that were completely invisible before.
    And I just feel Ayase Haruka is one of the more brilliant actors on the Japanese stage. Not to mention I’m a sucker for a good love story….🙂 Oh, did I mention that Kame was great also, I can’t easily think of any other actor to fill that particular role so well.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Yeah, I can’t think of anyone else who could’ve played Nao and Hiroto as effectively as Ayase and Kame.😉 (Hey, did you know you’re the first guy I’ve met at JDorama.com who thinks Kame actually has a scintilla of acting talent, at the very least? I’ve been so used to him getting bashed over at JDo alongside YamaPi — not that I’m pissed or anything. But for a male Jdrama watcher to appreciate Kame the Actor is indeed a refreshing sight. :D)

      Wow, Crying Out Love… really got you bad, huh. Well it’s definitely in my drama lineup, and I’ll give it a spin when I’m in the right (read: masochistic) mood. =D

      • Ralph Moratz Says:

        Actually I don’t pay any attention to the Jdorama naysayers. That’s why I’m the official black sheep. I once dared to say that I not only liked but thought Fukada Kyoko did a great acting job and was extremely attractive in Friends…. the response from the usual leaders and their sycophants was to pillory me with verbal rocks as if I had blasphemed a religion. It was hilarious. It was too good to let go. So I pointed out that many people in Japan must feel differently since she is constantly employed as a lead actress. Would they just throw money away on such a disgusting creature? I got a stern lecture from one of the Jdorama professorial types eliciting my total naivete and ignorance of what constitutes a great actor.
        OK. EG… just get to Crying Out Love already. It’s actually got a lot of very tender beautiful scenes. It has superb vistas of the mountains in Australia which alone make it a worthwhile project. I need to read your reaction if any. Look just watch the first episode and dump it if it does not merit further attention.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Oh! I didn’t know Crying Out Love was set in Oz. In that case I’m looking forward to the scenery already!🙂

          Lol, when I first joined JDo I used to feel a bit put out by the YamaPi/Kame “luuuurve,” but like you, I’ve learned to take it all in stride. Besides, I’m sure I’ve offended at least a few fans of the actors/dramas that I tend to pick on from time to time. ^^,, I realized we’re all just fangirls and fanboys mucking about in our own respective nooks in the Doramaverse — which really is a big enough place for all points of view, no matter how contrary. So at the end of the day, it’s all good, baby.😀

  2. v Says:

    thanks for this review!! i havent watched this thing in a long time… somehow, i totally forgot that koki was in it.. -_-”
    anyways, i do agree that it’s one of the better renai drama made this past decade. hayuse was love in it and well, kame was actually good.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks a bunch, v!😉 Lololol, you forgot Koki was in it? That’s too funny!😀😀😀

      • v Says:

        😄
        well since it has been a long time for me, until i read ur review, my mind was kinda fuzzy. all i remembered was THnK=Kame+Ayase+pretty clothes+rich house+cigarettes+factory+pool scene+bus scene+some form of message sending from the window that i cant remember.🙂

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Your recollection had me laughing out loud, girl!😀 Esp. when I got to the “cigarettes” part. I think I was bothered by the casual treatment of smoking in the first episode, as in, “oh no, Shuji, don’t smoke, Shuji! oh riiiight, he’s Hiroto now, and Hiroto!smokes! lol” Although knowing JE + Japan, Kame’s prolly been doing it since his JJr. days, heh. (oh that’s right, I remember reading an interview of his where he admitted he picked up the habit from Jin… bad Jin-Jin!!! bad Jin-Jin!!!)

  3. doozy Says:

    Brilliant, as usual! I love reading your detailed reviews!

    After finishing with Lunch Queen, I wanted to combine my love for Yamada’s Minoru and Ayase by starting Byakuyakou but complete english subtitles for that show are so darn difficult to find (google fail). After reading your review, I think my next dorama is gonna be THnK instead.

    Domo arigato!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey thanks, doozy!😀 Oh wow, Byakuyakou is one crazy ride… but I’m sorry to hear you had some trouble finding subs. Um… do you have a Livejournal account? (My handle over there is enders_girrrl.) Because if you do, the jdramas community is a treasure trove of j/k/tw dramas available via direct download. It’s open membership and joining is a breeze (although posting is moderated; the mods over there run a tight ship, and rightfully so). I recently checked and the Byakuyakou MU links are all available, hard subs by SARS Fansubs. (Well, like I said, you can find practically everything over there.) I’d send the post with the links, but you need to be a member first to view it. Navigating the site is a cinch because all the tags are well-organized. Anyway, you may want to consider this route in case your Great Google Search still comes up empty.🙂

      Of course, while reading about your predicament a little part of me went, “yay she’s watching THnK instead!!!” lol… Anyway, those two dramas (and Ayase’s perfs) are so vastly different, but satisfying in their own right. So should you decide to continue on with Byakuyakou or switch to THnK, either way it’s all good, baby.😀


  4. […] Drama Review: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006 … […]


  5. […] Drama Review: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006 … […]

  6. jana Says:

    >> SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT! << (Added by E.G. ;-))

    Oh, I like to read your reviews, they’re very detailed and with many cultural references. I’m glad you mentioned the resemblance to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Scarborough Fair song, so it wasn’t only my assumption:) Actually, THnK reminded me the most of a Korean drama The Snow Queen (2006)- “poor boy/ rich girl/first love/possible terminal illnes + fatal event from the past” plot – and you can imagine how strong and heartbreaking this drama was (cause the Korean film-makers are unbeatable when it comes to tragic love stories:) So I ended up comparing THnK and Snow Queen most of the time and although I liked THnK cast and plot, it couldn’t beat SQ… except for the ending! I was sooo relieved Nao (and also Hiroto’s little brother) stayed alive and her illnes didn’t play a big part in the drama:) I’m already emotionally exhausted from all the Asian films and dramas with (unnecessary) deaths.
    By the way, last week I watched Supply and liked Kame’s character more than in THnK, the same for the whole drama. What about you?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks! I know my pop culture or lit references can sometimes be waaaay off tangent, so it’s always great to hear comments like yours.😉

      Oh dear, I never really got to watch The Snow Queen (but Ralph, whose comments you can read above, is ONE HUGE Sung Yu-ri fan :-)). I tried to get into the whole Hyun Bin groove, but I realized a few years back that I wasn’t really a Hyun Bin fan per se, but more of a Sam Shik fan (My Name Is Kim Sam-soon). And, uh, I also realized that I wasn’t a Sung Yu-ri fan per se, but more of an Yi Nok fan (Hong Gil Dong), lol. But yeah, I heard that drama was pretty weepy.

      I watched Suppli a few months back and believe me, I really wanted to like this drama. I just couldn’t get myself invested in the Kame-Ito Misaki arc (or even the Eita-Misaki-Ryo triangle). I was more drawn to the sub-plot involving Sato Koichi (“Enjoy!” lol), Shiraishi Miho and Shida Mirai. But I can understand why Kame’s character won you over, because he really was very likable in that drama. I don’t know if it’s because I watched THnK first, but Hiroto kind of ran off with my heart, and I’ve never really been able to get it back (lol, that was so sappy :-)). But it’s always nice to hear different viewpoints about drama stuff, so it’s all cool.😀

  7. jicks Says:

    You are on such a Kame roll!!!!!! (iLike xD)

    THnK is THE next series I’m watching (I just finished season 2 of Liar Game) & now that I’ve read your review, I need no further convincing that this is time (about damn time.)

    And do I hear a Romeo & Juliet reference??? *hearts flashing* I love Baz Lurhmann’s version!! That marked the beginning of my Leonardo DiCaprio obsession stage (it was def a monumental change from his What’s Eating Gilbert Grape days ^^;;)I know you said you found the scene in THnK a lil OTT, but sometimes even when they make it so obviously cheesy, yes I LOL, but I still can’t help but feel a little gooey inside. Esp when there’s a well-groomed Johnny boy involved xDD

    And the greatest indignity of being poor? Is that you can’t even afford a cellular phone. In freaking Japan. ^^lol Say no more, the boy has my sympathy already! I’m sure he could manage to scrap up a hand-me-down model but I would say people in the high-tech Asian countries would much rather not carry phone at all unless it is pretty much an up-to-the-moment design >_<"

    And you know what, the most classic storylines are almost always the best. I'm so tired of wannabe over-convoluted plots.

    Can't wait for your next post, hopefully I'll finish watching the series before you hit that PUBLISH button ;O (though I can't get stuck into it until this weekend as my annual leave is up & I am officially back to the glorious routine of what we call work… if only I could earn a living from watching doramas alone *wishful thinking*)

    • jicks Says:

      ^^Sorry, I did the stupid “italicise the entire post thing again” I’ll try not to do it again xPP

      (off topic) In my defense, I’ve had a hard day. Roger Federer lost the Queens Finals, the Socceroos got schooled by Germany in the World Cup & the LA Lakers played like eff-tards (pardon the French.) And being on the other side of the universe, sleep was not of my essence last night *Not Happy Jan* ><"""""""

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        Hey girl, no need to apologize! Italics fixed, so everything’s hunky-dory.😀

        You’re right, I am so on a Kame roll! (YamaNade… heeere I come! lol maybe not right away, must bask in my wonderful THnK memories for at least another week *loves on Hiroto* ^^,,)

        “Esp when there’s a well-groomed Johnny boy involved” << OMG you so nailed why I found Kame irresistible in this drama. For once, his hair was actually NOT "artfully mussy" (yecch).

        “but I would say people in the high-tech Asian countries would much rather not carry phone at all unless it is pretty much an up-to-the-moment design >_<" Hahaha totally! Good thing I’m neither from a high-tech Asian country nor a techie myself (my siblings kind of laugh at me and my beat-up Nokia, lol) so I think me and Hiroto would, uh, get along quite nicely…😀

        R-Fed… OMG I so feel for my fave Swiss homeboy! First the French Open, now Halle. My sister and I were just discussing this morning how his good and bad years seem to be taking turns like clockwork, lol. (clocks = watches = Swatch = Swiss = see, it makes perfect sense!) And I’m sorry about AUS getting drubbed by GER! I would’ve watched the match early this morning but forgot to set the alarm. Anyway, I’m just counting the days until Spain’s first match. (Iker Casillas? Is yummy) But I’m looking forward to seeing Japan play tonight. It would be good to see some non-Johnnies for a change… X__O BUT I’m not sorry about L.A. getting whupped today!!! I’m rooting for Boston this time. Kobe & Co. stomped all over my heart when they eliminated my Suns. So… go Celtics, lol XP

        And Baz Luhrmann? Is my fave director bar none (him and Peter Jackson). I love all his Velvet Curtain films, like, all 4 of them lol. I used to ship him and Nic (my fave H-wood actress) SO BLOODY BAD in the early 2000s even though he was very much with Catherine Martin, haha. His R+J was just epic and I loved every second of it… although I can understand why a lot of critics panned it back in the day. His style is very… “love it or hate it,” to say the least.🙂 Speaking of Leo, he seems to be doing reunion movies with his ’90s leading ladies lately (i.e. Kate Winslet), so how ’bout he, Claire Danes and Baz do R+J Part II? hahaha

        Oh and… enjoy your leave, dearie!😀 (Dude, if we could be paid to just hole up somewhere and watch dorama and write about ’em? I’d quit my job in a heartbeat… Of course, it would totally help if we could do it somewhere with a purrrty view, say the Great Barrier Reef lolz)

        • jicks Says:

          lol @ Swiss clock joke. i am so gonna use that next time i get the slightest chance ;O gah, wimbledon in a week’s time though, woot! *crosses fingers & toes*

          re AUS VS GER ******CTRL+ALT+DEL*****

          re lakers vs suns- i must say i did feel sorry for phoenix, esp steve nash & g-hill, they are both so classy & deserving. nashy in particular tore it up. but it guess it’s too bad. the black mamba is on a mission (although his fellow troopers are playing like morons)

          so far from what i can see, kame really seems & acts like a MAN (i.e. someone you could depend on) in THnk, as opposed to his sapuri stint. i mean, even when ishida grubbed it out @ the vineyard to show his worth as a man to ito misaki’s character (forgotten her name lol), i still couldn’t help but think heck, this BOY so has no idea what he’s signing himself up for ^^;;

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            “(although his fellow troopers are playing like morons)” << ROFL😀 That Game 5, where everyone else except Kobe and Gasol scored in single digits? Tsk tsk. Nash & Hill = “classy & deserving” OMG you couldn’t have said it better… *giant tear*

            I agree re THnK Kame = man! vs. Suppli Kame = boy! Lol, that grub-it-out scene I’m kind of getting mixed up with the vineyard scene in Yuuki (same hair, too, since Kame did these 2 dramas at the same time). (Not that you should go see Yuuki for the world — or even for Shun. @__@)

  8. ockoala Says:

    You already enticed me to give Kame a twirl, so last week I placed my order to THnK. And voila, look who serves up a wonderful promo posting to whet my appetite further! Thank you, ED! Great review, non-spoilery at all (like I couldn’t foresee any of THAT coming simply by reading rich girl-poor boy – my very single first J-dorama was the 1992 Imouto wo with my first J-crush, the original flavor himself, Toshiaki Karasawa. The Chinese title for Imouto wo was freaking Tokyo Cinderella Story, for pete’s sake! I love inter-class forbidden love. Better then inter-species, and Asian dramas ain’t touching inter-racial with a ten-foot pole.

    Anyways, dying for my THnK to arrive, come to me, my pretty…..I need to see manly Kame and understand what all the revision is all about (fey Kame to hunky Kame?).

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, but he isn’t “hunky Kame” here yet (and won’t be till 2008’s 1-Pound Gospel, as his 928383 money shots in boxing shorts will show you :-)). But “manly Kame,” absolutely.😉

      Wow, Tokyo Cinderella Story, huh. That was a long time ago! (and lol @ “the original flavor himself, Toshiaki Karasawa”). Yep, if there’s one classically handsome (and talented) J-dude I wouldn’t mind having for a first love, who better than Mr. Tomoko himself…😀

      • ockoala Says:

        Ha, I call her Mrs. Karasawa, natch!😀 Golden couple in the apple of my eye, for sure.

        Toshiaki also starred in another of my fave early J-doramas, Oishii Kankei, with Nakayama Miho. But Tokyo Cinderella Story had me dreaming rich dudes all during my teen years. Until the Long Vacation and With Love years came along and we wants loafers and brooder types.

        Can’t wait to watch ThnK.

        Hopefully I can finish it before HnH2. I am watching THAT baby raw, I don’t care if I don’t understand a word. I understand Bu-jo without the need for words, thank you very much.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          I’ll keep my eyes peeled for those ren’ai you mentioned. Sometimes all you really want in this world is an honest-to-goodness lubb story…😉

          HnH2!!! Not missing that drama for the world. Buchou powah, chunyuu!😀 These days building up to season 2, nothing sounds better than the hiss of a newly opened beer can, baby…

          • ockoala Says:

            Oshii Kankei is wonderful, way better than the recent TW-drama remake of it with Vic in 2007.

            As for HnH2, here’s the promo poster, baby! (I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but its too pretty not to share). Only our Hotaru can make wearing that monstrosity of a wedding dress whilst holding a beer look so sassy, sexy and adorable.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            OMG thanks for sharing!!! I’m not always the first one to know about these things (me is slows… I mean, this is me who watches dramas at least a season late, lol).

            You’re right about the gown (looks like something Bjork / Kim Basinger would wear to the Oscars, after being given a “retouch” by Delirium from Gaiman’s Sandman series), but Hotaru sure rocks the look. I hope she doesn’t wear that to their wedding, though — ah who cares, the mere idea of wedding + HotaruBuchou gets me foaming at the mouth, so who am I to complain. (But oh ehm gee, Fujiki Naohito, why are you wearing the same horrid white tux from your Proposal Daisakusen wedding??? SO not Buchou-like, tsk :D)

  9. twentynineandcounting Says:

    But there’s a sensuality to Hiroto that isn’t flashy or impulsive, but more like this smoldering maleness that’s far more irresistible than anything that Kame has done before or since.” – yes, yes, and YES.🙂

    “But egads — WHO KNEW you could be a credible romantic lead, Kamenashi Kazuya??????” – My thoughts exactly! I, too, experienced Akira SHOCK. It was like watching in slowmo, (jaw dropping, eyes blinking) wondering how on earth did Kame suddenly become this perfect HIROTO?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol @ your “Akira SHOCK” moment! It was like seeing Kame for the very first time, ne? (So are you a fan of just Kame or of KAT-TUN in general? ;-)) And have you seen YamaNade? I have it on queue right now. The first episode looks totally manga-fied, so I was just wondering if Kame played his character slapsticky like in 1PG, or straight like in this drama.🙂

  10. twentynineandcounting Says:

    I’m a fan of both Kame and Kat-tun, er you could say I’m Kame-bait for Kat-tun, soredemo, I was randomly watching CTKT episodes before I realized I was crushing on this thin-faced idol. : ) I asked myself, uh, should I go there?? Another JE idol to crush on?? One day, I just went KYAAAA, and I haven’t been able to recover since. ^^ Blame it on the CTKT eps and interviews where Kame was just so adorable.

    Yamanade is definitely on my list, too. In fact, I tried to return to it earlier this week but postponed. The first time I tried to watch it was when it was still airing (I think), but I never got past the first episode. I felt that something was off with the first ep (everything happening too fast; the editing was distracting).

    Demo, I also can’t wait to resume watching this drama. I’ll have to see about the slapticky / straight portrayal, too, then🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Great. I’d love to hear your thoughts on YamaNade over at your blog!😉

      Re KAT-TUN, I only started digging up their PVs and concerts (and maybe a CTKT episode or 2) because of Kame, but I’m not sure if he’d be my favorite KT boy at this point. Junno and Maru seem A LOT nicer, and the kind of boys I’d probably enjoy hanging out with, just chilling and talking and doing goofy things and stuff. I really really do like those two. Kame is too… I dunno, driven maybe? Takes the whole JE/boyband/fanservice thing too seriously maybe? Koki’s a bit scary for my taste (raps! and cusses!), Ueda’s like… I don’t even know how to describe Ueda (lol), and Jin-Jin’s too much of a bad boy (is stoned! and cusses!) so… yeah, Junno (love his smile! so genuine) and Maru would def. make my friendlist on Facebook or something.😀

      • twentynineandcounting Says:

        Haha, I know what you mean by “takes the JE/boyband/fanservice thing too seriously”. Sometimes, I do want to isolate that from the Kame I suki much (haha). That’s why I truly adore him in some of his interviews and on CTKT episodes, where I get to catch a glimpse of the ordinary Kame. And love it when he does that ‘scowl’ thing when he’s trying not to laugh.:)(haha, gotta stop spazzing here)

        Junno’s smile does make your heart melt. And after watching some Kat-tun music videos,I realized he’s probably the one who looks most handsome in the MVs😀. Nakamaru has his own charm too; I find him funny! Sometimes, he would say something during a CTKT show, during talk time, which appeared to be funny but actually made sense!:)

        By the way,there is a video of Kame and Junno singing “Special Happiness” together. I thought they carried it well.🙂

        • jana Says:

          May I join your chatting about KAT-TUN boys, please? I watched their Hanamaru interviews and two concerts just out of curiosity lately and came to this conclusions:)
          Kame is still my fav despite his workoholic attitude (“the JE/boyband/fanservice thing”).But although he works as hard as he can, he is still only the second most succesful and popular member – after Jin. Poor Kame:) Ganbatte! I don’t like Akanishi at all, but must admit his solo performances at K-T concerts are by far the best of the whole gig. The reason is probably his American/western image. He stands out because it looks like he “lives” in the western hemisphere, while the other members stayed in Japan – with all the cultural differences for both parts. Ueda is even more kawaii than manga pictures (he should’ve been casted as Shin-chan in Nana movie!) And I agree with you – Tanaka is scary (and annoying). Taguchi + his smile! and Nakamaru seem to be two nice K-T boys with nothing artificial.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Join away! I haven’t always been the nicest to those KT boys, though…😀

            I didn’t know Jin was the most popular KT boy, I’d always thought it to be Kame… Do you mean, more popular with Japanese audiences, or with netizens as a whole? Although that drubbing Kame experienced throughout 2009 because of his overexposure didn’t help his career one bit, I suppose. Add to that his low-rating dramas of late. I hope he finds his rhythm soon because I’d love to see him act in more ren’ai than manga remakes. (Well, maybe that’s just me. ;-))

            jicks is a big Jin fan btw.🙂 I agree re the singing, he does have the best voice IMO. I guess it’s just his attitude I have issue with. (That, and his AnAn pics, lolz) I remember there was this time Jin made fun of Maru’s “big” nose and I was like, now that’s not very nice, Akanishi… tsk tsk.

            CTKT is defunct now, isn’t it? Is it just Kame who has the baseball show, or all of them?

            @ 29&counting – I’ll def. look up that “Special Happiness” performance, thanks for the rec!😀

  11. jana Says:

    I don’t know who is the most popular KT member with absolute certainty, but according to number of net fangirls and loudness of Japanese audience at gigs I think it has to be Jin and I have no problem with it:) As long as I can watch good doramas with Kame, I don’t care about Jin. Oh, I’d like to know what is your issue with Jin’s AnAn shoot:)

    Didn’t know anything about CTKT ending, but wiki says so. The same about baseball show – no clue.

    • twentynineandcounting Says:

      Hi🙂 So, you’re a Kame fan, too?🙂

      I have no problem with Jin, either. I think he’s a good performer, and he deserves to take a shot at performing and being successful in the US.

      ” As long as I can watch good doramas with Kame,” – which one so far was your fave?

      Hi, Ender’s Girl🙂 CTKT aired its last episode early this year, I think. And Kame, I understand he’s joined a sports news program, as a sort of reporter/anchor (?) for baseball-related news or features. ^^

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        @ 29&counting – The sports show sounds interesting, should be worth a watch.😉 Haha. Okay, just saw 2 versions of “Special Happiness” — one where Kame’s sporting his Hiroto hair (maybe a bit longer) and a black sleeveless tee, and Junno’s in a black coat thingy; in the second version Kame’s wearing a pink shirt AND that atrocious Yuuki/Suppli hair, while Junno’s dressed as… a salaryman, lolz. I def. like the first version better!😀 I like how they did the choreography with the stools and stuff. But you’re right, both performances were amazingly low-key for KAT-TUN (no staged kissing and touching!!! no horrible look-what-I-got-from-my-neighbor’s-dumpster costumes!!! no Koki!!! er… lol), and the song is a lovely little tune (kinda reminds me of All Saints’ “Never Ever,” which I like very much). The two boys did carry it off well, so thanks for pointing me to the video!😉

        @ jana – “As long as I can watch good doramas with Kame, I don’t care about Jin.” << Too funny!!!😀 Ehehehe re JinJin's AnAn, the only pic I liked was the solo shot of him outside on the lawn chugging that bottle of gin (jin?). Nice torso, long and lean.😉 It's the shots of him and the model doing weird sh*t in bed that I couldn't stand, lol. Bordered on pr0n to me (oh but then you haven't seen pr0n till you've seen…. YamaPi's Showah Surprise!!! lololol). But maybe that's just priggish old me; I know a lot of Jin fans found the photo shoot "beautiful" and "passionate" and all those things — and I have no quarrel with them, the universe is big enough for all our disparate opinions. How 'bout you? Did the photos make you squeal/barf/cry/renounce JE forever/order your own copy online/etc.?😀

        • jana Says:

          @ 29&counting – Yeah, I think I am his fan after all:) I like his determination to do his best and his failures as well. It makes him human. My favourite drama with Kame is Nobuta wo Produce of course, then Suppli. But haven’t seen Yamanade yet.

          @ E.G. – I found Jin’s pics few months ago on scanky-chops livejournal pages and I was like …eeeeh? It’s just a remake of Kimura’s previous photoshoot? There is also the entire “hot AnAn stuff” for comparison and I had to admit (again): Kimura (Jin) is the winner, I was actually surprised JE allows them to do something like that. It’s somehow refreshing to see JE boys not so innocent once in a while:) However, the boys look rather unconvincingly, except for Kimua/Jin. As for Yamapi’s shower pic, I laughed like crazy when I read your hint in Nobuta wo Produce review!! Sooo funny:))) I remember it every time I see Yamapi in this pic since then, hahahaha:)

        • twentynineandcounting Says:

          Much welcome.🙂 I saw the two versions of “Special Happiness”, too ^^ I don’t know why, this vid just makes me happy (er, the title). I like it when Kame sort of laughed in the middle of singing because fans just went KYAAAAA over his tongue-clicking. And Kame was doing semi-rap, something my fangirl ears were not prepared for (*pushes play, replay*) Then, in the “pink shirt” number, when Kame made this expression and pointed at the crowd, me went KYAAA! too.

          Yeah, I also wondered why Junno had to have a crisp, clean look during this performance in the concert video, although his smile makes you just ignore it altogether🙂

          • twentynineandcounting Says:

            Opps, the first message was for Ender’s Girl🙂

            @Jana I haven’t seen Yamanade yet, either. Just saw the first episode, which put one particularly memorable scene of Kame in gray on playback in my mind. I’m looking forward to watching the whole series :)))

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            @ jana – Hehe, I didn’t think anyone would make the Pi Shower connection (too random) so I’m glad you got the joke.😉 And yeah, I think it was also skankychops’ LJ where I saw all the barenaked JE ghosts of AnAn past. Kimura’s was pretty hawt, but IMO MatsuJun’s was the easiest on the eyes (nice lighting, very sedate poses). Poor Pi, whether in the shower or on the windowsill, always looking as if doing this kind of thing physically pained him, lol. (At least Kimura and Jin looked like they were enjoying… whatever it was that they were doing, haha) @__@

            @ 29&counting – I’ll admit, the salaryman look was indeed a refreshing departure from Junno’s normal couture. Lol you’re right about his smile, makes him look like a genuinely nice & kind person. And yeah, so that’s why the song had such a different vibe, because of Kame’s semi-rapping! *light bulb goes on* Lol @ “play, replay.”😀 I think that’s what I did with the Youtube vid “Show Kamenashi Kazuya the Money” hahahahahaha

  12. jicks Says:

    Oi, I heard my name mentioned in the same sentence Bakanishi ;O Yes yes I like that manwhore (but I still can’t explain why…) \\(<..>)//…

    Anyways! I just started watching THnK! 3episodes down (then Portugal VS North Korea was calling *hides face for North Korean goalie*) It is goooood so far; although w/ all the flute instrumental & the water & the rich girl / poor boy thing, I fully keep thinking about James Cameron’s Titanic❤

    And I can already see why you fell head-over-heels for that Hiroto dude (looks ridiculously good in jeans lol) xD

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hahahaha! I always, always crack up when you call Jinny a manwhore.😀

      Yeah, THnK does have that Titanic vibe, doesn’t it? There’s also a scene where Nao stands on the “prow” of Hiroto’s dinky little boat and goes, “I’m flying, Hiroto, I’m flying!” Uh, no not really, lol.

      Hiroto in jeans… mmmmm…. rargggghghhgh *Homer drool*

      Ohgawwwwdz, the Portugal – NoKor game last night was tooooo effin’ painful. My sister and I were screaming in dismay the whole time. 7-0? sheesh. That poor goalie was simply outclassed by the Portuguese men of war (*facepalms Ronaldo*). So much for wearing those lucky pants, NoKor goalie, tsk.😦 One down, two left. Go Asians!!!

  13. twentynineandcounting Says:

    ” I think that’s what I did with the Youtube vid “Show Kamenashi Kazuya the Money” hahahahahaha” — LOL.^^ oh, dear. I had not seen this, or I think I intentionally skipped it because the video in “stop” mode shows a dancing pole which pretty much told me = “DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH”.
    __

    I watched the video, and now i know it’s enough to send kame, especially fanservice-kame biased, fans straight into therapy. the words “sway” and “fluid” must have been coined for Kame ^^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      LOL @ “dangerous to your health”😀

      The way this fanvid was edited is just terrific because Kame’s moves are always in sync with the beat, you’d think he was dancing to the main track. Did you notice how a lot of the shots are from 2005/06? I wish the maker of this vid would come out with a more current version, one where Kame isn’t a scrawny beanpole anymore, heh heh.


      • Yes, I agree, the music and the dance parts were in sync🙂 I did notice that the clips showed performances from earlier concerts. Anyhow, it would be great if someone does a more recent video :))

  14. zooey Says:

    Rad review as always. Was just thinking about this drama while I was struggling to get through YamaNade. Ach, I even hate abbreviating it since the title makes it so similar to the 2000 YamaNade that I liked, but I digress…

    Back to the topic– I wholeheartedly agree that Kame was at his “cutest” in this one. This was undoubtedly the first drama wherein I actually believed him to be a normal guy. Don’t get me wrong, he was pretty amusing in Nobuta and he sneered like it was no one’s business in Gokusen 2, but I was always turned off by how waif-ish he looked. THnK was like THE DRAMA that made him look…dare I say it?…masculine. LOL. X)

    And that pool scene just got my heart going doki doki. ^^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks!😉 Oh, was the anime (manga?) that iconic? I skimmed the first episode and apparently Kame is supposed to play this unbelievably good-looking ikemen who keeps getting either mobbed or molested, and I was like, WHY. lulz I mean, I lurve Kame and all, but… if I ever do find myself mobbing OR molesting him someday, it sure as heck won’t be ‘coz of his LOOKS, sheesh.

      “he sneered like it was no one’s business in Gokusen 2” << Hahaha so funny and true! Although that's largely why I liked his character so much, hehe. And Hiroto = normal & masculine, yessss.😀

      • zooey Says:

        Haven’t really seen the anime in full or read the manga… but I do know that his character was supposed to be the most handsome of the quartet, so much so, that he can’t keep a job because he gets mobbed a lot or gets harassed by his boss. Why you say? Beats me… must have something to do with the Farah Fawcett ‘do he was sporting. I can tell you though that he eventually gets a haircut in it. ^^

        Been trying to write about Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge but heck, don’t even know where to begin. Might just give up on it, you know, count my losses and move on. Didn’t even want to refer to it as YamaNade because that short title reminds me of the 2000 dorama classic that had Matsushima Nanako and Tsutsumi Shinichi. Needless to say the said dorama doesn’t have anything to do with this year’s YamaNade.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Lol @ “Farah Fawcett ‘do”!!! So funny — and apt, too. (Kame + Jin + Pi = “Johnny’s Angels” lulz)😀

          Oh I heard good stuff about the 2000 YamaNade. It’s embarrassing to say this, but my intro to Tsutsumi Shinichi was through Good Luck!, haha. After that it was… Chuushingura 1/47 (the one starring Kimura, hahaha). But I’m not surprised at all if he did some awesome ren’ai in his heyday. The Cyborg Pilot Koda + Kuroki Hitomi love arc on Good Luck! was sooooo romantic.😉

  15. Wesley Says:

    The drama’s ending left me disappointed. I found it incredibly lame and cliche. The lead characters’ actions simply made no sense.

    For me, the ending ruined the entire show. It could have been so much more meaningful had it been written differently.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      >> SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT THREAD!!! << (Added by E.G. :-))

      So… would you have wished for a sadder ending, then? What would have been a more “meaningful” conclusion for you? I am very curious.🙂

      • Wesley Says:

        Hi there,

        I’m not against a happy ending per se; rather, my gripe was with the events that led up to the ‘happy ending’. The lead up to the ‘happy ending’ just felt artificial and unrealistic. As a result, the ending lacked the impact it could have had. For me, the process is always more important than the end result.

        My reasoning is as follows:

        In the letter Nao stated with strong conviction that she wanted to become a stronger person without always depending on others and that was why she was leaving. That’s why it didn’t feel right when she so easily changed her mind. It’s as if her decision to leave had been made on a mere whim.

        With Hiroto, he had plenty of opportunities to confess his feelings to Nao. Nao had told Hiroto that she wasn’t getting married to the other guy and she asked Hiroto to ‘tell her not to go’. It would have been clear to Hiroto that Nao wanted to be with him.

        The ball was in Hiroto’s court. But what did he do? Instead of telling her to stay, he acts all pissy and tells her to go to Hokkaido.

        I’m guessing he acted that way because he was pissed off at Nao because she didn’t shine the light from her balcony. But does that even matter? Does something so insignificant and petty change the way that Hiroto feels about Nao? Is that the extent of Hiroto’s love?

        The fact that Hiroto rejected Nao because of such a petty reason reflects his childishness and immaturity.

        The scene with Hiroto chasing the bus like a madman was incredibly lame and cliche. The fact that he changed his mind all because of Nao’s letter was ludicrous. It’s not as if the letter contained some life changing revelation. It’s as if Hiroto needed to be convinced of something so trivial and petty before he was willing to be with Nao.

        For these reasons, the lead up to the happy ending just didn’t feel right. Had the process been correct, I would have been all-for a happy ending.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Thanks for taking the time to answer.🙂 Quick comments on your comments:

          – I don’t think Nao changed her mind about moving to Hokkaido. My understanding is that she and Hiroto got back together but would continue a long-distance relationship. I actually welcomed this setup because Nao could still pursue her dream of teaching students with disabilities (and the Hokkaido gig was the best option career-wise), while Hiroto could focus on getting his family back on track (which I thought he was managing beautifully), and save up for his future with Nao. The distance would also afford Nao and Hiroto enough breathing space for Nao’s family to come to accept Hiroto as a potential son-in-law. And as for Nao getting back together with Hiroto — well, I didn’t think it made her less of a strong person by rekindling her old flame, because deep down it’s what she really wanted — maybe even more than taking the job in Hokkaido. She was just waiting for the initiative to come from Hiroto.

          – As for Hiroto acting “pissed” and holding back from telling Nao not to go to Hokkaido, I was actually Team Hiroto on this matter. (Nothing to do with my feelings for Kame, mind you :D) I felt it was completely understandable that he didn’t fall over himself to get back together with Nao (even after learning that her engagement had been called off — and remember that it was Nice Jeweler Dude who broke it off, so strictly speaking Nao would’ve married him had this not happened). I didn’t see it as “childish” or “immature,” but a very honest reaction to the pain of knowing that Nao WAS marrying someone else. Hiroto truly believed that Nao had gotten over him. At first it was a sinking feeling when Nao failed to shine the light on the 3rd Christmas (and remember how Hiroto’s voice-over goes, “I never once believed that the light didn’t shine because Nao had died, but rather it was I who had died in her heart.” – or something to that effect), and now, seeing her again after more than 3 years, engaged and all, only confirmed his fears that she had indeed moved on, that whatever they had at 20 meant far more to him than it ever did to Nao. That’s why Hiroto acted the way he did when Nao was preparing to leave for Hokkaido.

          – The letter+chase scene was def. a rom-drama cliche, I’ll give it that.😉 But for me that letter was a “life-changing revelation.” What Hiroto really needed to be sure of was that Nao truly loved him — then, and now. Nao’s letter was the impetus that galvanized Hiroto to pursue her once again. I know the scene was written more for its dramatic & nail-biting value than anything else, but I didn’t mind one bit. I was just too happy to see them get back together, I guess.😀


          • Sorry, may I join for a bit?

            It was also clear to me that Nao would pursue the teaching job in Hokkaido, and Hiroto would continue to work hard. I remember Nao saying something like, “so, long-distance relationship?”

            I understand why Hiroto did not respond to Nao even after learning that her engagement was broken off, or even when Nao-chan was practically saying ‘Let’s get back together’. When he left Nao’s house during the farewell get-together, I remember he was muttering, “What is she thinking?” as if things (getting back) were just that easy. He was simply HURT.🙂

            Hiroto still wanted Nao, and I guess that was why he was SO pissed off. The letter was actually an affirmation of how Nao has felt for him throughout all those years. After he read it, he was like, “Of course, she’s always loved me.” And run and chase he did.🙂

            Anyway, I guess reading new comments about THnK makes me want to hit that play button again.🙂 (argh.)

          • Wesley Says:

            So Nao went to Hokkaido to pursue her dream while maintaining a long distance relationship with Hiroto? I must have missed that. If that was the case, I would have been less critical of the ending.

            As for Hiroto thinking that Nao had gotten over him, I thought that Nao gave him enough signals at the farewell party to make her feelings clear to him. She didn’t explicitly convey her feelings to him but a reasonable person would have been able to put two and two together.

            I don’t think that Hiroto was privy to what went on between Nao and the jeweler. All he knew was that Nao was no longer marrying the jeweler.

            For these reasons, I didn’t think that Hiroto had any basis for doubting Nao’s feelings toward him.

            The letter merely reiterated Nao’s feelings for Hiroto – feelings that he ought to have already been aware of. I didn’t think the letter added anything new besides the explanation of why Nao didn’t shine the light.

            I can understand Hiroto’s reaction at the farewell party. In the heat of the moment, it is understandable that he would have acted that way.

            However, Hiroto did have time to ‘cool off’ and think about things afterwards. He had plenty of time to come to the conclusion that he loves Nao and still wants to be with her despite his hurt feelings/pride.

            If Hiroto was truly mature about his love toward Nao, he wouldn’t have allowed his hurt pride/feelings to dictate his decision making. This is all the more so given that he had time to rationally analyse the situation after the farewell party.

            That was my interpretation of the situation. I do understand where you are coming from though. With dramas, there are often many different interpretations that are logically open to the viewer.🙂

          • Wesley Says:

            I just wanted to add another thing that I left off…

            Although Hiroto didn’t know the reason why the wedding was called off, he probably would have realised that it had something to do with Nao still having feelings for him.

            This is arguable as the wedding (or engagement?) was called off soon after Nao got back in touch with Hiroto.

            That being said, I do concede that Nao’s failure to flash the light had greater significance than I initially thought. However, I’m of the view that Nao’s subsequent revelations and ‘signals’ at the farewell party cancelled out its effect.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            I’m open to all viewpoints and interpretations, so this is all cool.😉

            “If Hiroto was truly mature about his love toward Nao, he wouldn’t have allowed his hurt pride/feelings to dictate his decision making. This is all the more so given that he had time to rationally analyse the situation after the farewell party.” >> My take on this is that even the most “mature” of people (and for his age, I’d say Hiroto def. fits the bill) don’t always act rationally, because Love can hardly be described as “rational.” I just put myself in Hiroto’s shoes and given how mature he had been 99% of the time, I was ready to cut him a lot of slack — even after the farewell party, when he had time to “cool off and think about things” but still refused to patch things up with Nao. Call it irrational, but I thought it was a very honest and heartfelt reaction from him. His love for Nao was clearly still there, but the love was muddled by the hurt (both residual and fresh), and all the unanswered questions in his mind, which may have prevented him from acting “rationally.” Anyway, I think twentynineandcounting said it best in her above comment (paragraph 2).🙂

            “Although Hiroto didn’t know the reason why the wedding was called off, he probably would have realised that it had something to do with Nao still having feelings for him.” >> This was a deductive jump that Hiroto (understandably) was not prepared to make. He’d been heartbroken before, so he’d naturally be charier now about making these assumptions. Besides, this is the part that left a bad taste in my mouth: I didn’t like how the initiative to break up had to come from Nice Jeweler Dude, and not from Nao. (Same thing happened with Rei in ProDai, and with Aki in Pride — which slightly marred my viewing enjoyment.) I would’ve wanted a more internal development (i.e. Nao realizing she couldn’t marry Nice Jeweler Dude, even if it didn’t necessarily mean jumping back into a relationship with Hiroto right away) than an external development (i.e. current BF sets Heroine free).

          • Wesley Says:

            I get what you’re saying about people not always acting rationally when it comes to love; this may be because of hurt, uncertainty, or what have you. Because of that, they may do things that they will later regret.

            Even so, the overdramatic ‘madman’ bus chase ending just didn’t sit well with me.😦

            Re the ‘other’ guy letting the girl go:

            It seems to be the cliche formula for jdramas where the ‘other’ guy happens to be a really nice person.

            I agree that greater decisiveness on the part of the female lead would be welcome.

            I didn’t really mind the ‘cliche formula’ in ProDai; without it, I would have felt bad for Tada-san and my elation at Ken and Rei finally getting together would have been slightly marred.

            We shouldn’t forget that Ken’s confession at the wedding wasn’t exactly the most noble act. That being said, the extent of my support for ‘Team Ken’ was such that I was willing to overlook what he did.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            “Re the ‘other’ guy letting the girl go: It seems to be the cliche formula for jdramas where the ‘other’ guy happens to be a really nice person.” << Well, watching Pride will make you think differently, because the Other Guy = El Bastardo, lol.🙂 But yeah, I never liked how Jdrama heroines are always given the easy way out of their not-meant-to-be-relationships. Take the initiative, for once! (Have you seen JIN? One of the rare exceptions to the rule — although technically there’s no romance between Osawa Takao’s character Jin, and Ayase’s character. But still.)

            Re the Bus Chase Ending: I didn’t mind the running no matter how cliched, but I would’ve wanted an ending that didn’t involve the other friends, haha. I wanted it to be just Hiroto and Nao — and was (more than) a bit disappointed when they didn’t kiss in the end, rats! @_@

  16. jicks Says:

    >> SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT THREAD! << (Added by E.G. :-))

    Girl, I finished watching this last night so now I am here to spam ya page! ;O

    Firstly, Hiroto xDD Without a doubt, Kame needs to play more of these roles where he isn’t trying to be the man but he just is, where is isn’t trying to look good but just does. The more he tried to hang in the background in this series the more you noticed him.

    Hiroto’s incredible maturity & his responsibility he voluntarily bared towards his mother & his lil bro really won me over (oh Kame, oh Kame, can you be my dear lil bro already?? xDD) Best brother ever. The breakup scene when he told Nao that he couldn’t give up is mother or his brother, OMG (T_T) Can I say, “Akanishi who??” lol ^^;; I loved also the loyalty he held towards the workers at the factory. I have no doubt his father would be proud of him <" I mean, the way Hiroto would nod his head, the way he moved his eyes around his head while he was talking, the way he stopped & started his sentences, the way he wouldn't stop smoking… Kimura. Kimura. Kimura. Gah. Not that I'm complaining I guess xO

    Aside from Hiroto, Ayuta was prolly my fave. I liked that he liked Nao but he never let things get ugly. Best friend ever xD (& yeah, I hope he finds his own happiness, too. Would consider assisting in that goal lol)

    I like the points you raised about Nao & I do agree for the most part, like how she doesn't leech off her parents' money & how she kept close to her small circle of friends, but I actually didn't love her (!)

    I didn't like the part when she had Ren play baseball & almost kill himself. It's all fair & well to say that it's a dream & no one else will understand when they are not in the same position of having gone thru an illness, but it's not always about self. I don't think an illness should warrant you an excuse to go out there & do something that you know endangers your life because after all, you are not only living for yourself, you are also living for your love ones. Hiroto understood & demonstrated this meaning the most.

    I also didn't like the fact that Nao almost went thru w/ marrying a man she didn't love (poor Saito-san <3) I would've preferred to have seen her focus whole-heartedly on her career during those 4-5yrs & not think about love at all. I don't think it was right for her to have moved on in the way that she did if she really loves Hiroto as much as she says so.

    Nao could be perceived as being courageous for not being shy about striving for what her heart wanted but I couldn't side w/ her actions. I def saw her as being more selfish than selfless. She never really seemed to make any decisions thinking thru the predicaments she may end up putting the people around her in, for the long & short term. Shed seemed to just do what she felt like doing for herself at the time. I know she doesn't mean to but she does end up hurting others.

    BTW, random WTF, Koki ending up w/ that random woman??? Seriously, what are they trying to say?? I wish he & Yuuko would've stayed together~~

    Oh & I have to say this- the camera work was freaking beautiful for this series. The panoramic shots esp of the bridge (& anything w/ water in it) were simply spectacular. OST, perfect.

    Anyways, I shall stop my rambling ^_^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “Kame needs to play more of these roles where he isn’t trying to be the man but he just is, where is isn’t trying to look good but just does. The more he tried to hang in the background in this series the more you noticed him.” << THIS x 10,000,000! Someone finally nailed that elusive quality about Kame's performance in THnK that set him apart from all his other roles.

      “Kimura. Kimura. Kimura. Gah. Not that I’m complaining I guess xO” << Hahaha my sentiments exactly!!!😀 I dunno if the boy was even consciously channeling his Ultimate Idol. (Did you get to see the Mr. Brain promo clip where Kimura related how he picked Kame up on the street and took him to Shibuya for a shopping spree? Like, Kimura bought him clothes. ROFL to tha max!) But yeah, the Kimura-esque mannerisms were noticeable but didn’t detract from my love for Hiroto. I think I was just so happy Kame was playing it straight and no-frills, that I was willing to overlook the head-bobbing and ciggy-smoking, lol.

      I understand what you’re saying about Nao, and I agree that between her and Hiroto she def. was the less mature one of the two. But I wanted to cut her a lot of slack because she had such a difficult childhood. I guess making that decision to forego her personal happiness to marry Saito — and thereby please her family, too — was her way of trying to be a more mature individual and make more grown-up choices, no matter how “selfish” it was of Nao, or how unfair it seemed to Hiroto. But I was absolutely Team Hiroto throughout this drama, too. I loved Nao just the same (okay maybe a little less than my love for Hiroto, hehe), but when push came to shove, I tended to side with Hiroto’s decisions.

      “BTW, random WTF, Koki ending up w/ that random woman??? Seriously, what are they trying to say?? I wish he & Yuuko would’ve stayed together~~” << Lol I know, right? I would've wanted a Hiroto+Nao & Koki+Yuko 1-2 finish (and they'd have a grand double wedding finale like in a Shakespeare play… or one of our local soap operas, lol), but I guess that's just how Life plays out. Remember when Koki was telling Hiroto and Ayuta how he and Yuko didn't find much reason to stay together after Hiroto and Nao had broken up? It really struck a chord in me 'coz it was so… real-life. But I'm glad they parted ways amicably. (Seriously, we need to find someone for Ayuta!!!) But I was so "LOL, WHAT" when Koki went off to bond with his homies (and an ex-GF!) on, like, HIS WEDDING DAY??? Leaving your bride all alone in the honeymoon suite is like, the WORST thing you can ever do as a newlywed, lol. Oh Koki *roll eyes*

      • jicks Says:

        I just re-read my comments on Nao & I probably came off as a lil too harsh because I do see your point. I completely sympathise w/ her difficult childhood… I guess in comparison to alot of other wealthy-family daughters, she is def alot more down-to-earth.

        It really struck a chord in me ‘coz it was so… real-life. Actually, alot of the relationshippy stuff felt really real-life to me. At Nao’s farewell party when she & Hiroto end up fighting- this was so real!!!!!! And I bowed my head @ the way Hiroto handled the situation by walking away w/o breaking out into a fiery rebutting stance.

        Re Mr Brain promo clip- yeah I saw it, could not stop grinning xD I would love it if Kimura really took Kame under his wing acting-wise because I do think your lover-boy does have credible acting potential, esp after seeing THnK.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          “And I bowed my head @ the way Hiroto handled the situation by walking away w/o breaking out into a fiery rebutting stance.” << Totally. Good thing he didn't blow his top, as we've all seen how scary he can get when he morphs into Wrathful Hiroto with the Fists of Fury (rarrghgh), lulz.

          “I would love it if Kimura really took Kame under his wing acting-wise because I do think your lover-boy does have credible acting potential, esp after seeing THnK.” << Brilliant idea! Now we just need someone to translate it into Nihonggo and leave it in the message box of KimuTaku's blog.😉 There's obviously NO HOPE for Pi, but Kame = yes. Hey it's interesting you mentioned this because they're actually… on friendly terms. Kame got an invite to Kimura's uber-exclusive underground secret-handshake birthday bash back in '08, the one organized by Sanma. (Kimura's La Wifey wasn't even there.) I'll just bet my little lover-boy was tickled pink to be at the pah-tay, hahaha.

          • jicks Says:

            What!? I had no idea Kimura & Kame were buddy-buddies! Actually, now that you’ve mentioned it, looking at the state of Kimura’s eyebrows in recent years… dang. I think they might be closer than we think xD

            lmao @ Big peccie Pi a no hoper.
            I wouldn’t go that far. Where there is life, there is hope, right?^^(even behind those deadpan eyes lol) But
            the sad thing is, even w/ Pi’s complete ability to NOT act, his series still always rate. Def a “please explain.”

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            LMAO @ Kimura’s eyebrows!!! Hountoni??? I didn’t notice…😀

            I don’t get Johnny-san. Both Kame and Pi are his prized wards, but why does Pi keep getting projects with far more impressive production values and better, big-name co-stars? Is it to overcompensate for Pi’s… abilities? *sigh*

  17. syue Says:

    wow sugoi. u’ve written such an awesomely loooong review! I need to bookmark this and find some time to read it..

    btw I’ve watched this series recently too, jsyk, and I keep watching it, i don’t even know why. Kame got me starstruck, bringing greater impacts than what Matsujun did in HYD & Miura Haruma in Bloody Monday ^^

    Jaa ne. Thnx for the review🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you! You’re welcome to drop by anytime! This review ain’t going anywhere, lol😉

      Hiroto >> Domyouji & Fujimaru??? WOW that is quite an impact!🙂 Not surprised, though!


  18. […] my drama chingu/tomodachi Ender's Girl's eloquent and moving review of this lovely gem of a drama: https://endersgirrrl.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/drama-review-tatta-hitotsu-no-koi-just-one-love-ntv-200…  *waves Orenji right back atch, […]

  19. elway Says:

    >> Major spoilers in this comment thread! << (Added by E.G.)🙂

    i know you have this thread like 6 months ago. but it can’t be hurt for another comment, right??

    i just finished watch this drama, half because your wonderful review and half is because kame has a strange aura that make me to watch him more and more.

    at the begining at the story, i kinda hate the same story line as beautiful life.
    1. a girl who dying but didn’t look dying at all (and can’t have a kid as well)
    2. a narrator by the male lead who tell us (in every eps) that this story will not end well!!!
    3. over protective brother (which not suprise me act by kaname jun, who was like in every freaking drama i ever watch. i didn’t mind though. LOL)

    but gradually, it kind of sweet drama. Nao, the personality i like the best. her honesty and straight feeling. Ayuta, the best friend but also lonely guy despite being the most good looking male in this drama. Yuko, the kind and cute one. Ko, i kinda hate him in the first but he’s turn okay. and of course Hiroto, the pity one, hard working, down to earth guy.

    and the ending quite a good one. at least she’s not dead. and damn kitagawa for making me believe this drama turn be another sad ending story.

    Kame really good in this character. his dirty face and clothes really match him well. he just fit to be down to earth guy rather than annoying hot blooded Kyouhei in YnSH.

    yeah, i kinda agree that Pi has a special treatment by Evil Johnny and exclaim to be the next KimuTaku. Heh, he’s not even close in a tiny bit.

    Maybe if Kimu train him well, he can be a good romantic male lead. one only can hope right??😄

    i don’t know if you know this or not. but Kimu will once again act in taiga movie (correct me if i’m wrong). which he will act a captain (of the ship)

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey there! Oh, comments are always welcome — especially if they’re about a beloved dorama like THnK!😀 I’m thrilled to know this drama grew on you. It’s hard not to root for the main characters especially once you’ve gotten to know them a little better.

      Thanks for pointing out the parallelisms to Beautiful Life. But I actually liked how the illness angle in both dramas wasn’t milked dry for emo-weepy points. I do agree though with what you said about how the male leads in both dramas over-injected the sense of foreboding into their narration. Didn’t work for me either. >P The overprotective brother aspect was better played out in BL than in THnK, IMHO. But Kaname Jun is a cutie so I honestly didn’t mind him, either!😀

      “…kame has a strange aura that make me to watch him more and more.” >> LOL I think you pretty much summed up why I can’t seem to get enough of that boy. We understand each other perfectly! *crazy laugh*😉

      I haven’t heard that bit about Kimura doing a jidaigeki movie (I haven’t really been keeping tabs these past few weeks), but thanks for the info, much appreciated!🙂 I’d love to see him in another period role! But it’s interesting that he’ll play a captain of a ship right after doing pretty much the same thing in Space Battleship Yamato. =P

      • elway714 Says:

        ah i’m sorry. it seem that the rumor, he will be play as a pirate king!! it’s a drama though, a very long one..
        and how funny it is if he accept the role. he being the fanatic of One piece..

        i don’t get a chance to see Space battleship Yamato. have you watch it yet? i’m sure you’re not gonna miss the chance to review it, so i’m looking forward for that one..

        are there any good love stories like tatta hitotsu no koi that you can recommend to me? i’m desperate for a good drama..

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Nope, I haven’t seen Space Battleship Yamato, but the minute I get my hands on that movie you can bet I’ll be watching and reviewing it in no time. Thanks for the encouragement!🙂

          Hmmm… good ren’ai are so few and far between these days. My favorite ren’ai besides THnK are the KimuTaku classics (LV, LoveGen, BL, Pride) And if you liked Kitagawa Eriko’s writing, have you tried Orange Days? Lunch Queen is more of a family/restaurant-oriented drama with a love triangle, rather than a straight romantic drama, but I found it to be very entertaining.🙂 And Hotaru no Hikari is more of a rom-com, but it’s one of my favorite dramas ever. Another nice OL ren’ai is Anego, in which I found the chemistry between Shinohara Ryoko and Bakanishi to be very cute. ^^;;

          I wish I could be of more help, but I don’t want to rec the ren’ai that fell short of my expectations, like Slow Dance, Love Revolution, Suppli, etc. And I haven’t seen any of the relatively recent stuff, like Sunao ni Narenakute or the MatsuJun-TakeuchiYuko ren’ai.

          • elway Says:

            Have watch all the kimura classic. And Orange days to, like shibasaki kou act on that one and satoshi look really handsome!

            Bakanishi? Oh you mean jin?! LOL. it take me 5 minutes to notice that

            Sunao is not that good drama. It’s really confusing. Most people not like eita in that one, but Juri still the best..

            thx 4 ur reccomend!!

  20. Ellen Says:

    Hey Enders Girl,

    Thanks again for recommending a great drama and then writing a review that perfectly describes why I liked it! Really can’t say enough about Kitagawa Eriko. What I love most about her writing is the way she manages to mix romance and realism. That’s true of this drama more than any other. Her characters are real and their dialogue is what people might actually say. The most perfect scene I think is on the boat where Kame and Ayase (who I liked here) are holding hands. Just perfect.

    I got so tired of K-dramas because they always have the same story – forbidden love across the class divide. But, as you say, so much better, as always, than I can, Kitagawa throws up all the possibilities for overwrought melodrama and then lets them float gently around and become – gulp – what might really happen. So… the terrible things that MUST happen in other dramas, don’t necessarily happen in hers.

    Felt the same way watching Saigo no Koi (which I also like a lot). All the scenarios I imagined, all the endings I expected, ended up being less realistic than what actually happened to the characters.

    Trouble is that now I can’t find a drama to follow this one as they all seem even stupider than usual. I am downloanding Asunaro Hakusho at the moment, but would like something fluffier (yeah, like Goro-chan’s hair…) in the meantime, but haven’t found anything yet.

    Thanks again!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Ellen! I’m thrilled that you loved this drama as much as I did. I really like what you said about the mix of romance and realism. Despite the cliches, Kitagawa Eriko still managed to keep the writing real and grounded. That’s why the story resonated so strongly with us, ne?🙂 (Waaaaah I loved that holding-hands-on-the-boat scene, too!!!)

      “Kitagawa throws up all the possibilities for overwrought melodrama and then lets them float gently around and become – gulp – what might really happen. So… the terrible things that MUST happen in other dramas, don’t necessarily happen in hers.” << Love what you said here. I totally agree!!!

      Lol @ fluffier = Goro's hair ahahahaha!😀

  21. gaijin mark Says:

    Okay, I started watching this one, only thru episode 1 so far.

    I decided to watch it,

    a) After reading EG’s review and seeing that Kitagawa wrote it.

    and

    b) I checked some of the comments over at JDorama and our pal “iloveasiandramas” gave it a 3 and said the leads had no chemistry.

    With that endorsement, it’s gotta be good!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Oh man. I have no words.

      I wish I could grab all the LOL icons from JDorama and chuck them into this comment box RIGHT NOW. Hahahahahaha

      • gaijin mark Says:

        Okey-dokey, finished it up today. While it’s not in the same league as the “Kitagawa Klassics” (LV, BL, Sora kara, Overtime) I really liked it a lot.

        I’m glad you mentioned Nao’s father in your review. He was one of my favorite characters in the whole drama. It would have been so easy to make him a 24-carat A-hole that’s only concerned about keeping his status and position, but like you said, there’s a part of the guy that deep down probably admires Hiroto but he only wants the best for his little girl.

        And even though it’s not Kitagawa’s best. Something from her “B” list is still better than 90% of the crap out there now.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Well at least you didn’t find Ayase “scary and weird,” or that Kame “seemed disgusted” with her, or that the two didn’t have any chemistry, not even “acting/fake chemistry.” Hahahahaha😀 (Btw I was sorely tempted to put this in my reply to you at JDorama.com but I remembered last-minute to be nice and polite and neutral when at JDorama, lol :-P)

          Good to know that Nao’s otosan struck a chord with you, too.😉 I just didn’t like how [SPOILER ALERT] he and Hiroto’s mother never had a closure scene together. So the mom apologizes to Nao’s mom in the end — but it wasn’t Nao’s mom she had to seek redress from, but Nao’s DAD. [/END SPOILER]

  22. Saima Says:

    So, a week before I didn’t even know what the term ‘dorama’ meant, lol, but now I am totally and irrevocably in love with Kame!! Do I foresee a snickering comment come my way….kidding!😉 Lemme explain! well, NwP was the first show that I watched & I was completely enamored with it…I was gonna comment on your critique of the show when I was browsing thru the comments on said critique & you recommended THnK….umm, THANK YOU & now I can’t remember the things I loved abt NwP!!😀 In a week seeing Kame transform from schoolboy Shuji to holy-$hiaaatt-this-guy-is-effin-HAWWWT Hiroto was too much to digest!! I loved THnK…mebbe coz it’s been a while since I’ve seen a legit romance w/o the annoying tragic end..!! But, loved Kame as Hiroto with the halting speech, unkempt hair (thank god!!), sideways glances, smoldering gaze, thirsty for blood when his woman is assaulted, and a hug where Nao almost looks like –lemme outta your hold…I can’t breathe….NOT!! Loved the OST + the fact that the show was Hiroto biased….ermm, can you tell I’m obsessed with Hiroto, lolz!! *sigh le sigh* This latest obsession will take a long time to subside!!

    As for Kame your remark “and nothing like the ghastly little creature we saw on-stage at a past KAT-TUN concert doing the Water Dance, or like the randy cake boy twirling a Hula Hoop on Cartoon KAT-TUN while his whole face/body/aura screamed “I am a sexu addict-o!!!” (*dry-heaves at the memories*)” makes me cringe and I’m afraid to youtube KAT-TUN for fear of ‘things’ I’ll witness, lolz…seems to me ppl don’t really like Kame; why is that?!

  23. Saima Says:

    Hey EG: i had a question….am having difficulty navigating the LiveJournal website….since my internet is super slow I wanted to download THnK for kazillion repeated viewings…lulz….how would i find the download links?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Sugoiii!!! You’re most welcome! “In a week seeing Kame transform from schoolboy Shuji to holy-$hiaaatt-this-guy-is-effin-HAWWWT Hiroto was too much to digest!!” << BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I know right??!?!? Join the club! lulz😀

      Can't get enuff of our favorite boatyard mechanic? Whenever I get Hiroto withdrawal pangs I go back and view my fave THnK fanvids. Prolly my fave one of all is this one: (cuz the song is so perfect for them too, arghghghg, and cuz it srsly makes me cry every time, dang it)

      “makes me cringe and I’m afraid to youtube KAT-TUN for fear of ‘things’ I’ll witness, lolz…seems to me ppl don’t really like Kame; why is that?!”

      Well, one thing you have to keep in mind about the KAT-TUN fandom (in case you’re thinking of jumping in, if you haven’t already lol) is that they’re a very contentious lot. You know what they say — you are what you eat? Well, you are who you idolize, apparently. KAT-TUN is one boyband that’s considered notorious for the infighting and member drama (fights! breakups! lol). Case in point, Jin just left for good last year. So this dynamic sort of encourages fans to take sides and form factions and whatnot. KT fans also tend to have pet favorites among the boyband, or have pet slashie pairings (i.e. Akanishi Jin+Kamenashi Kazuya = Akame). So it’s not unusual to meet someone who’s a fan of KAT-TUN but not necessarily a fan of Kame.

      IMO much of it also stems from fandom complaints that Kame’s being given more individual projects and media mileage than his bandmates. In 2009 he got a lot of flak for being appearing in 2 dramas (Kami no Shizuku and an episode of Mr Brain) and a movie (Gokusen). He was called overexposed and a lot of other things — and was (rather unfairly, IMO) blamed for the low TV ratings and less-than-spectacular reviews of the Gokusen movie. He wasn’t entirely to blame, the productions sucked, period.

      Besides all that, Kame has a reputation for being ambitious and pushy and demanding and all that Type-A stuff.🙂 He himself has admitted that he tends to give his bandmates a hard time if they come to rehearsals unprepared (Jin) or flub their lyrics during a live concert (Jin) or attend to their other commitments halfheartedly or sullenly (Jin)… so you get the drift, lol. Personally… I don’t know if he’s the type I’d like to be friends with in real life (plus he’s just so… weird and pervy, lol). But I actually admire his work ethic because that’s sort of how Kimura is.🙂

      Hope I answered your question.😉

      About the download links… well, aside from the D-Addicts.com torrents? There’s AsianDVDClub.org, where you can download dramas and films to your heart’s content — so long as you keep to the prescribed download:upload ratio (meaning, don’t just be a leecher, be a giver too!!! =P). You’ll need to be a member first, but it’s free and painless, so no worries.🙂 I’d still rec the jdramas community at LiveJournal because… well, everything’s there. And people respond quickly to requests. Anyway, I hope you get to upgrade to a faster internet connection soon. Enjoy downloading (and watching)!

      ***

      Oh and by the way… JPop (esp. Johnny’s Entertainment or JE) is a slippery slope. There ain’t no turning back. Ever. Don’t say you weren’t warned!😛

      • Saima Says:

        Well, the thing with me is that I adore Kame-the actor-but haven’t seen much of Kame-the singer….from the comments in your bloggie am I glad or what?!! Heh…I’ve really liked him in the 2 that I watched + the first epi of 1PG (saddened that he felt the need to inflate-heh- his face at the age of 21/22😦 IMO: i really liked his old look)…unfortunately didn’t really connect with the cast of 1PG…I might give it a whirl once time permits (Read: THnK addiction subsides). So, despite proceeding w/ caution wrt KAT-TUN vids, heh, I found the foll. vid hilarious!! it’s prolly tame when reading stuff he’s dome!

        Despite giggling my first thought was: Kame bro, Shakira’s got nuthin’ on ya….you know with the ‘Hips don’t lie’ bit…second was I HAVE to travel to Japan & learn how these guys sway them hips….lolz….oh, the possibilities?!!😉 ….now, I don’t care much what the boy does as a singer as long as he isn’t exploited to do things…apparently, this Johnny guy has been rumoured to take adv of young boys😦 but, I read that he’s dating an actress who is 20 yrs his senior!! oh well! So, yeah I did watch a couple of Cartoon KAT-TUN episodes & he seemed fine and not eccentric/weird!

        Fans can be so biased….why criticise him in Gokusen when he was a supporting character…..i hope the producers knew that they possibly cudn’t repeat the same premise for 3 seasons and a movie and still expect the latter to be a critical success!! I hope he has something good in the cards for this year….nuthin’ wrong with being driven &/perfectionist as long as I can whet my appetite of watching him in doramas as he is infact good!!😀

        I think he shares good chemistry with Ayase and Erika…the following video is ahh-dorable!

        oh, it prolly wudda been magic if the two had gotten together!! In this one I love how he surreptitiously looks at Ayase (during the promotion of THnK)

        Oh, and many thanx for the websites!!😀

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Sure, give me a holler if and when you ever get around to finishing 1PG.🙂

          Oh man, that first video you posted was a hoot!😀 3 little J-muppets trying to out-swivel each other fierce! Hahaha. Kame can swivel his hips all he wants ‘coz he knows he don’t have much booty to shake around. It’s too bad he’s got a behind that’s as flat as an ironing board, hahaha. >D YamaPi has a much nicer butt (Exhibit A: AnAn lol). Mebbe that’s why Kame doesn’t have his own AnAn issue yet, lol

          Btw, have you seen this vid? http://wn.com/show_kamenashi_kazuya_the_money

          Dunno if I already told you about the link, or was it someone else… It got taken off Youtube a while back but it’s still my fave Kame fanvid hehe =P

          Aww, the Kame-Erika fanvid was sweet, thanks for sharing. Although the insert shots from Gokusen were so random, lol

          Oh, I remember these THnK promo clips! Why did Kame have to wear his Hiroto jacket GUGHGHGH. Yeah, I mini-squeed each time he snuck a glance at Ayase — while wearing that Hiroto jacket GUUGHGHGHHGHH. If I also remember correctly, Ayase later got to make her own okonomiyaki and while she was flippin’ the cakes someone from KT (Koki? it had to be Koki) asked her what she looked at in a guy’s body, and she answered without skipping a beat, “the butt.” And I remember going “BWAHAHAHAHA” there and then because as I said earlier, Kamenashi don’t got no butt LAWL😀

  24. gaijin mark Says:

    Not to depress anyone, but Yoshiko Tanaka, who played Ayase’s Mom passed away from breast cancer on April 21st. She was only 55.

    Get those mammograms, damnit!!


  25. […] my drama chingu/tomodachi Ender's Girl's eloquent and moving review of this lovely gem of a drama: https://endersgirrrl.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/drama-review-tatta-hitotsu-no-koi-just-one-love-ntv-200…  *waves Orenji right back atcha, […]

  26. windHime0223 Says:

    hi!!😀
    just want to drop by to say thanks for writing this review! you know, coz of this, i was enticed to watch THnK!😀 plus the fact that kame is here.. haha.. i’m not yet finished though with the whole dorama, still at episode 6..😛

    anyways, so far, THnK is good and mind you, the “pool” thing, every time I see this scene, I can’t help but remember your comment back there.. EPIC FAIL.. haha.. just kidding..😛 but LMAO at this part really ! haha..😛

    i just hope kame does doramas like this, not that i didn’t like him in 1PG or YamaNade, its just that his role as Hiroto somehow fits him perfectly, ne? (then there’s the rumor of him portraying a youkai role?? my gehd..) haha..

    I love and hate Ko here.. haha.. find him funny but at times over the top in his acting.. Yuko and Ko somehow looked good but I hoped from the start that Ayuta and Yuko becomes a couple ee.. haha

    Well, there it is.. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish watching this..😀

    PS. May I just ask if you’re a Filipino? It’s because of your comment bout Koki = Kokey.. haha..

    Till here, thanks again for writing such a good review!😀

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for stopping by! So glad you gave THnK a chance. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you’re done watching!🙂

      Yup, Pinoy ako! ;D Lol, I knew someone would get the Kokey joke sooner or later… ^^;;

      Kame playing a monster soon? Yeah so I heard. Well if the boy wants to play a freak then who are we to stop him, he already is one anyway, lol. *GIANT ROLLEYES*

  27. Erina Says:

    I watched THnK about 3 years ago and was looking for a piece to refresh my memory. I have thoroughly enjoyed your write up! Thank you for taking the time to elaborate and voice your opinions on the drama!


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