Dorama Roundup: Kamenashi Kazuya (2005-2010)
The Kurious Kase of Kamenashi Kazuya
by Ender’s Girl
This is the second installment in my Dorama Roundup series (the first being Kimura Dorama, in a Nutshell).
But first: for the love of Pete, E.G., why Kamenashi Kazuya??? Heh. Anyone who’s read my blog and hasn’t run away screaming, lol would know the answer to this question. But if it’s your first time here, let’s just say that he’s one of the J-Idols I’ve been… following. Shamelessly. It’s hard to explain, what he and I have. It’s as if there are two antipodal sides to him: one that sickens me unceasingly, and the other side that turns my heart, brain, and random internal organs into one messy fangirly gloop. My best friend once casually remarked to me: “You and Kame have a very… twisted relationship.” LOLLL guilty as charged.
Interestingly enough, Kame has always had a more polarizing effect on Jdorama fans than your average J-Idol — and not just between or among the fans, but even within them (Exhibit A: me! me!). I attribute this effect to the undeniable dichotomy in his persona, and how disconnected these two facets are: Kame the J-Pop Idoru vs. Kame the Actor. Kame the J-Pop Idoru I find extremely repulsive, and I continue to wish (against hope) that he’d ditch that fake punk-rock-star poseur image, that he’d quit wallowing in that miasma of exhibitionism and indeterminate sexuality, that he’d stop, just stop doing that weird sh*t on-stage — like, uh, singing (lol), and acting like an oversexed pole dancer with his AT-TUN homies. (I know, I know, it ain’t gonna happen. But still.)
Now Kame the Actor is a completely different matter, for I believe him to possess both the dramatic chops and the romantic appeal to make it as a very viable Leading Man, not to mention the versatility to handle both dramatic and comedic treatments. (Notwithstanding the KimuTaku Mini-Me mannerisms that always manage to worm their way into his performances.) So, yeah. Watching Kame’s dramas gives me a chance to enjoy his portrayals of these characters who are light years away from the disgusting little skank he likes to be… well, the rest of the time. At least when he plays a real, normal man in his dramas, I can believe, ever so briefly, that he actually IS one. Lol.
Unlike my Kimura drama rundown, which just serves as a gateway to my lengthier individual reviews (collectively dubbed The Kimura Project), this post is really a stand-alone primer on Kamenashi Kazuya’s oeuvre over the past half-decade. Only a few of the dramas tackled here have been reviewed separately: Nobuta wo Produce, Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, and — to a lesser extent — Gokusen 2. Believe me, I would’ve tried dissecting his other dramas too if they weren’t so… dull and crappy. (I know I like to review crap, but only if it’s FUN crap! Oy! Oy!)
But a caveat: The main thing going against Kame the Actor is that, barring just a few shining exceptions, the projects he usually chooses (or should I say, the projects that his Darkling Master Johnny-san chooses for him) are such substandard fare, marred by incoherent plots, stuporous pacing, mediocre supporting casts and rinky-dink production values. It’s no wonder, then, that his more recent dramas have been taking a beating in TV ratings. Which is very interesting if you compare his situation to YamaPi’s dramas, which are better-made productions overall and continue to enjoy high ratings despite Pi’s “acting” being his one major, glaring weak point. (And how it glares!!! It glares!!! Oh my eyes!!! Lol)
And so, since I have no plans of going over the rest of Kame’s dramas/film with a fine-tooth comb (too much work for too little emotional investment!), these capsule reviews ought to suffice. Whether you’re a newly converted Kame fan or a long-time devotee, or even just a casual drama watcher who’s mildly curious about the actor, this roundup should do the trick. Only the renzoku and tanpatsu that he did in full are included here (plus, um, the only movie he’s ever done); his guest spots on other dramas (e.g. Mr. Brain) don’t count. (But here’s my Mr. Brain review, in which I briefly discuss all episodes, including the one starring Kame and Aibu Saki.)
(SpoilLert: Benign! …ish. Benign-ish.)
Gokusen 2 (NTV, 2005); Gokusen the Movie (2009)
Alternate Title: Gremlin Day Care
Format: Renzoku, 11 episodes + SP
In a Word: Puerile
What It’s About:
Chipper math teacher Yankumi (Nakama Yukie) spends each day at work: (1) whupping her delinquent students’ heinies; (2) spouting eye-rolling truisms about working hard and sticking up for each other and facing the sun with pride and dignity all that sh*t, lulz; (3) saving her “precious students’” said heinies (yesss, the same ones she whupped earlier that day) from the snarling, sneering baddies who like to hole up in any of the 3432984793 conveniently placed warehouses within their school district; (4) running across fields and rice paddies while being chased by said students… (towards the sun they go!!! towards the sun!!!!!!!)
And as for the 2009 movie, don’t be fooled! Because what it really is, is two drama episodes spliced together: the first one opens with an airplane hostage crisis and ends with Yankumi having her way (lol) with a badass biker brigade, while the second one opens with a former student (the incredibly good-looking Miura Haruma) on the lam for unwittingly working as a drug mule, and ends with Yankumi Doing!Her!Thing to the drug kingpin baddie before national television, which is to: take off glasses and hair bands? check. unleash preachy platitudes? check. engage in sissy-ass fighting? check. Yawwwn. (Seriously, who’d the Gokusen makers hire as fight/stunt choreographer? An eight-year-old girl? And dint nobody at the studio so much as suggest that Nakama Yukie take martial arts lessons in-between her 39437447 Gokusen seasons? She fights like a girl, not a Yakuza oujo. Sheesh)
The Kame Factor: Significant
Kame plays the alpha male of the second Gokusen season, so he enjoys more screen time, speaking lines, and close-ups than his 3-D classmates. Only nineteen at the time of this drama, Kame still looks raw (and rawboned) here, but I like his character because he plays Odagiri Ryu straight. (Yes yes I know, there has to be at least One Cool Guy per Gokusen season. It’s High School Drama Canon, I know.) And Kame’s chemistry with Nakama Yukie is THERE, with a strangely appealing dynamic: Kame treats her like his equal; in fact, he even seems more mature and adult-like than Yankumi, and whenever his character rolls his eyes at her gung-ho chirpiness, you can just hear him thinking, “Gawwd, what is she planning this time?” LOL.
In the movie sequel Kame actually becomes Yankumi’s colleague when he applies as a teacher-trainee at her school, with his character serving as a perfect foil to her frequent lapses into dorkiness before her current crop of 3-D students. Best line: when Yankumi exhorts her pupils to “run into the sunset” before taking off across the fields (this being high noon, lol), Kame mutters while stalking after her, “What sunset?” ROFL.
I liken the Gokusen franchise to gremlins: the more they breed, the worse they get. In the 1984 movie Gremlins, the original mogwai Gizmo is good and sweet and cuddly, but when splashed with water the poor thing goes into convulsions and produces uglier, more aggressive and more vicious progeny with each spawning cycle. Likewise, the first-generation Gokusen (starring Matsumoto Jun et al.) starts out decently and entertainingly enough, but each succeeding episode of each succeeding season of Gokusen, all the way down to the 2009 movie, is just another iteration of the same premise; forget beating a dead horse, this is more like beating a one-trick pony. And by the time you get to the movie, your eyes will glaze over at the latest gaggle of 3-D boy-b*tches, lol — try to spot the Hey! Say! JUMP and JJr. pipsqueaks!!! — that you can no longer tell where one boy ends and the other one starts, because they’ve all become this big noisy writhing mass of black school jackets and orange hairdos, following Yankumi around on her 9834873747 idiotic, soda can-kicking escapades.
Um, if you like freety freety voyz (and semi-voyz, lol), you might be prepared to overlook the absence of intelligent plotting/character development, and just enjoy the watered-down testosterone the Gokusen franchise is awash with. (And the freetiest alpha male of all would definitely be Miura Haruma of Season 3, who also figures in the movie’s second half. Heh heh) But — oh, there’s MOAR crack!!! In Gokusen 2, Kame and real-life BFF (not) Akanishi Jin (theirs is also a twisted relationship, y’see) bicker and brawl and shoot each other haaaard, passionate glares across the 3-D classroom SO FREAKIN’ MUCH, that it’s NO WONDER the slash-churning Akame shippers now number enough to populate a small country. (Yoda voice: Crack, pure and gooey, this is.)
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 4/10
I suppose Season 2 of the drama will be marginally enjoyable if you happen to be a fan of the other 3-D boys: Akanishi Jin, Koike Teppei, Koide Keisuke and Night-o. Take note, however, that the movie sequel received a lot of flak for failing to cast the Season 1 stalwarts except in cop-out cameos in the dying minutes of the movie. (Look out for Oguri Shun dressed as the Genie from Disney’s Aladdin, hahaha. Eggplant pantaloons, FTW!!!) The glaring absence of Sawada Shin (MatsuJun) putting in even a token appearance may have driven viewers away from cinemas, i.e. “If this isn’t about Yankumi-Shin, why make a Gokusen movie at all? Stupid stupid.” Which is an excellent point, one I’d be noisily advocating if: I were a Jun fan, and/or if I weren’t a Kame fan.
Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo 2005 (NTV, 2005)
Alternate Title: Village of the Damned
In a Word: Execrable
What It’s About:
In this latest incarnation of the celebrated-detective’s-grandson-solves-mysteries! drama series, said Kindaichi boy investigates a rash of strange deaths at an old inn on the edge of an abandoned village haunted by a vampire curse (ooooh).
The Kame Factor: 0.000000056/10
Kame plays the lead as the Kindaichi grandson Hajime (think: if Encyclopedia Brown were — a Johnny! oh wow!), and figures in many key scenes despite a crowded cast of shady innkeepers, shady fan-toting detectives, shady doctors and nurses, shady Nosferatu-cosplaying vampires, and Ueno Juri (as Kame’s BFF). But Kame’s presence is a non-factor because simply put, this show is beyond salvaging.
Taut, suspenseful mystery plot? Hahahahahahaha. Actual character development? Hahahahaha. Nifty production values? Hahahahaha. Credible plot resolution? Hahahahahhaa. I laugh in your face, Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo 2005! I laugh in your face!!! Whoever cobbled together this maundering, half-assed mini-Frankenstein of a horror-whodunit-melodrama ought to be dropped into a giant, steaming pile of elephant poo, pronto! My best friend sent me this SMS after watching the SP: “It is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen. Everyone is just so crappy because the material is.”
No, nonono. No crack in sight, real or imagined. This is Kame at his butt-fugliest, which completely negates the easygoing playboy image his character Hajime is “supposed” to have. And you can’t even ship him and Juri because they have NO chemistry to speak of – not even as the “best friends” their characters supposedly are.
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: -8279/10
Even if you’re, say, an Ueno Juri fan, this drama will probably hold no appeal for you. At all. In fact, you’ll be cursing this feebleminded little tanpatsu at every turn — that is, if you haven’t already chewed off your tongue in frustration by the halfway mark.
Nobuta wo Produce (NTV, 2005)
Format: Renzoku, 10 episodes
In a Word: Classic
What It’s About:
Two high school boys secretly band together to give their weird new classmate a makeover.
The Kame Factor: Indispensable
Not only is his character’s main arc central to the drama, but the friendship that he forges with the characters of YamaPi and Horikita Maki is the very heart and soul of this magical coming-of-age story. Needless to say, Nobuta wo Produce is the best thing that ever happened to these three lead actors’ careers.
Crap-o-Meter: -0/10 (lol, negative of zero — what is that?)
Not a smidgen of crappiness, not even the barest whiff. And I really ought to STFU now because I’ve already said all that is humanly possibly about this drama in my superlative-laden mega-review (yeah, it’s THAT long, and no I am not sorry, lol).
So Kame isn’t exactly at his cutest here (hormonal skin, still on the scrawny side), but fans of this drama who ship Kame with Maki, or YamaPi with Maki, or prefer an OT3, will not go home disappointed. The chemistry is just. that. good. And don’t even get me started on the meta shipper crack that just keeps coming in spades every time Kame and Pi have their widdle moments twogedder, which can best be described as… shuweeeeet. (All together now!!! “Si o-retachi wa itsu demo futari de hitotsu datta jimoto ja makeshirazu sou daro…”)
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 10/10
I know of former Kame, YamaPi, and Maki “Disdainers” who became Believers!!! on the sole basis of this drama. Like I said in my review, Nobuta wo Produce isn’t just an outstanding high school drama, it’s an outstanding drama, period.
Suppli / Sapuri (Fuji TV, 2006)
Alternate Title: Take Your Vitamins Kame, and Grow Grow Grow!!!
Format: Renzoku, 11 episodes
In a Word: Disposable
What It’s About:
Suppli is a workplace ren’ai set in an ad agency, where co-workers date each other, switch up, sleep together, and maybe even fall in love occasionally. But they’re all adults here so it’s cool, yesss?
The Kame Factor: Mehhh
Kame plays Ishida Yuya, a 19-year-old semi-slacker who drifts from one odd job to another until he comes to work as a temp at the ad agency… and later falls for a prim career-driven woman played by Ito Misaki. Suppli being an ensemble drama, Kame doesn’t get top billing here, and his character, while relatively substantial, isn’t the primary focus of the story. Which is just as well because there’s nothing interesting about Ishida. (But then again, ditto for Ito Misaki as the lead character.) If you want to see a drama where Kame phones it all in by playing himself, this should be it. This is where his “Kame-ness” (i.e. the mannerisms he can’t seem to shake off no matter what the role – like placing his hands at the back of his hips, bobbing his head while speaking, KimuTaku-style, etc.) gets overly distracting and therefore detrimental to appreciating his performance (if there is anything to appreciate). And the long, wavy dark hair he sports for ¾ of the drama? Meh. Unkempt and girly.
I’ve seen this “OL romance” formula fleshed out with greater success (e.g. Hotaru no Hikari, even Anego — for all its flaws). It’s not that Suppli is a terrible drama, just… mediocre and forgettable. When I first watched this several months ago I realized a week later that I couldn’t remember much from the story. It’s as if the episodes went in through one… nostril, and went out the other. This drama will give you a vague feeling that it’s supposed to be about dating and relationship issues, love dilemmas in the workplace, and general Venus-Mars differences (“suppli” being short for “supplements” — yes, that’s right, as in vitamin supplements, because I guess men are, um, nutritious!!! and — good in small doses!!! lulz)… but these themes labor under the deadweight of limp, unfocused writing and mostly uninspired acting.
Ito Misaki’s character looks all right on paper — dedicated to her work, holds back from love but is inwardly dreamy and romantic, worries about her body clock — but her story arc gets bogged down by her self-absorbed monologues and cutesy fantasizing (Amelie she ain’t!). Her character rings hollow with the viewer because there’s nothing arresting about her. And it isn’t just the writing, because Ito Misaki simply isn’t a good enough actress who can make her character come alive and keep you interested for a good 11 or so hours.
And oh my goodness, the contrivances at the beginning of the first episode!!! Kame leaves his hot pink cell phone on the train, and Ito Misaki finds it!!! He calls her from a pay phone!!! They talk!!! Later — they cross a busy city intersection, not knowing — holdyourbreathholdyourbreath — they had just spoken on the phone that very morning!!! And of all the pedestrians, they stop dead in their tracks while crossing the road, transfixed by a giant TV commercial blaring from a nearby building!!! But — holdyourbreathholdyourbreath — they still don’t know they had just spoken on the phone that very morning!!! Later — they find themselves working in the same ad agency!!! But — holdyourbreathholdyourbreath — they still don’t know they had just spoken on the phone that very morning!!! Aieeeieieieieiie *tears out hair*
Then there’s Eita as an unscrupulous ad man in love with his (very much married) university senpai and company superior (played by Ryo), which (natch) doesn’t stop him from flirting with Ito Misaki — who kind of has a crush on him, because Eita is debonair and cool and is the rising young star of their ad firm. But, uh, he also happens to be the dullest character on the show, lol. I dunno, something was telling me that the semi-sordid Eita-Ryo-Misaki arc represented the “adult” world of relationships, where it’s okay to cheat and lie and hold out on real commitment, but the whole thing just fell flat for me. I truly wanted to like Eita despite his gray-area character, who was not above scheming and stealing ideas to get ahead in the rat race (i.e. more complex person = more interesting, or so I thought), but I dunno… I just couldn’t. Neither his character nor his interpretation was a good fit to the rest of the drama. My best friend observed that, “It’s as if Eita had wandered into the wrong drama.” Lol, so true.
The dynamic between Kame and Ito Misaki is about as hot as the surface of Pluto, making their romantic moments funny in a bad way instead of, well, romantic romantic. (Wynter of JDorama.com once said, “That chemistry won’t come. It will never come.”) I dunno why, but Kame and Misaki just look weiiiirrrd together. Like, unnatural, lol. It isn’t just because she’s taller (thus making their face-to-face encounters look downright awkward), because she was a full head taller than Ito Atsushi in Densha Otoko and it worked. But the difference is that Densha Otoko is meant to be a comedy while Suppli is closer to a straight ren’ai, which makes the height difference odd in Suppli instead of humorous. And the Kame-Misaki kissing scenes? Horrrrrribly painful. They could be subtitled, “Kame Smooches His Oneechan!” hahahaha. I dare you to watch this drama so you can measure the meandering upward trajectory that Kame’s snout travels just to “touch base” with Misaki’s pursed, immobile lips, hahahaha. [E.G.’s rec: watch this scene in slow-mo, hahahaha] Still, it ain’t entirely Kamenashi’s fault, because Ito Misaki, for all her knockout looks, is like… a Koyuki: beautiful and sylphlike, but incapable of generating chemistry with any of her leading men.
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 6/10
The best-developed story arc is that of Sato Koichi as the hedonistic commitment-phobic boss (favorite expression: “Enjoy!” lol), and his workplace inamorata played by Shiraishi Miho (I. love. her!). Sato Koichi’s precocious daughter (Shida Mirai) has an interesting dynamic with these two immature adults, and with Kame’s character as well (since he boards with them). The interactions of these four characters in their scenes together swing from the riotous to the heartwarming, and give this otherwise anemic drama a shot of empathy and warmth.
Another reason to watch Suppli would be the whole process of commercial advertising, from the brainstorming sessions to the drawing-board revisions, to finally hammering out a finished product — be it a TV ad or what have you — that can most effectively sell the client’s merchandise or services. Though my mind often wandered from the dramatic, relationshippy moments, I truly was fascinated by the nonstop hustle and Energizer-Bunny atmosphere of the advertising world — not to mention its darker side of cutthroat competition, and murky wheeling and dealing.
Yuuki (NTV, 2006)
Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall…
The Boy Who Lost His Head… No Really, I Mean He Lost His Head
St. Yuuki and His Rainbow-of-Goodwill Friends! Lalalalalala…
In a Word: LMFAO
What It’s About:
Yuuki is based on the true story of a young Japanese man who contracted this ultra-rare disease called massive osteolytis, which basically causes one’s skull to, um, dissolve into sugar. (Okay, maybe not… sugar.) And since everyone knows you can’t live without, um, a cranium, I don’t think I’m spoiling things by saying that Yuuki, um, dies at the end of his bizarre medical ordeal.
The Kame Factor: FAIL
As the titular character, Kame is your regular, affable (if sometimes frisky) J-boy whom we first get to know on his overseas working holiday, which he spends biking across western Australia and making new friends at the various halfway houses catering to transients like him. Upon his return home, Yuuki’s disease gets diagnosed but he initially balks at surgery — until his condition starts to eat up his brain and render him blind and stuff. Oh, Kame isn’t terrible here, but it isn’t a noteworthy turn either (worst acting moment: when Yuuki writhes and moans on the couch before a horror-stricken female friend — I actually broke out laughing). His undistinguished performance did nothing for me, and to me — ergo, FAIL.
Crap-o-Meter: 10/10 [This section is rather long. Goh-mehn]
As sad as the true-to-life premise is, it’s hard to root for anyone in this drama (yes even you, Yuuki of the Shrinking Brainium) because right from the get-go you can smell the grossly conspicuous Stink Bombs of Schmaltz being lobbed your way by the writer (who, for reasons unfathomable, also penned the wonderful Hotaru no Hikari… cannot. compute. cannot. compute… *self-destructs*). I mean, golly gee wilikers, the writing is SO heavy-handed and uninspired, with sappy, lame-ass dialogue like: “I wanted to give Yuuki strength, but in the end… HE was the one who gave ME strength…” (bwahahaha). (And the best line of all: hammy Aussie doctor runs a CT scan on Yuuki and exclaims, “Jesus! Nurse, get a doctor, quick!” lololol)
Too much time is spent laying the groundwork in Perth where Yuuki meets his new friends, etc., when this Australian jaunt is really inconsequential to the narrative. It would’ve been more believable if Yuuki had never gone to Oz, thus affording the drama more time to flesh out how he deals with his disease – which, um, is what this drama ought to BE ABOUT? And seriously, did Yuuki have NO FRIENDS back in Japan that he had to travel to a different continent just to meet the ONLY friends he’d ever make for the remainder of his short life??? And I’m sure these people had their own lives and family and friends waiting back home, but after their working hols, oh so now they’re all bloody BFFs with Yuuki, are they?
The writing seems more interested in tracking Team Yuuki’s individual lives and back stories than, um, Yuuki himself. Well, news flash: we didn’t want to know who comes home to get married and have kids, and who breaks up with their girlfriend to “find himself” (lol), and who continues to struggle at the bottom rung of Japan’s workforce upon their return from Australia. We only came to see Kame get SICK and DIE, so at least give us that without the pointless diversions, dang it. But this drama focuses too much on how Yuuki’s friends Deal!With!Yuuki’s!Disease! and How!Saint!Yuuki!Makes!Them!Better!People! I mean, ohfergawdssakesss.
And oh my gosh, Saint Yuuki. The drama all but canonizes the boy so that he undergoes no character development, no inner change in the face of his tragedy. He’s such a frickin’ chipper li’l choirboy from start to finish, and except for the one time that he Flips!The!Hospital!Tray!!!, we never see Yuuki getting depressed or frustrated, or flying into a rage (against the machine). In fact, he’s so upbeat through it all, that he RUNS A F***ING MARATHON while there’s a gaping cavity in his skull bigger than the ozone hole, oh wow!!! Everything that happens to his character is external — like the flurry of “ganbare Yuuki!” hootenannies that Yuuki’s stupid, useless friends keep throwing for him. And we never get to know his family at all because they’re swept under the rug to make room for Yuuki’s Wonderful Circle of Tomodachi. His one-note parents are just a big joke, particularly his dad who shows his face in just two or three scenes: when Yuuki comes home from Australia, and when he’s, um, dead.
But… is he really dead??? (lol) Yuuki lives!!! Because after his funeral, his friends console each other afterwards, saying: “Yuuki really was able to overcome his disease…” while looking up at the sky and smiling. And as if to “confirm” this, cut to Yuuki — in Biker Heaven!!! And saying stuff like, “Thanks to my friends, I was able to defeat my illness!!!” Hahahhaha yeah right Yuuki. That’s why a hundred people came to your, um, FUNERAL, because you obviously found a way to keep your disease from eating up your brain, yesss? Whatever Yuuki, just go zoom off into the sunset and keep smiling inside your helmet, go on now. It was nice knowing you without really knowing you. *roll eyes*
Kame’s head is swathed in thick bandages for most of the drama, so unless a dying/dead (but still chipper!) Kame puttering about on his little scooter floats your boat, you’ll probably find little else to call crack, or anything that remotely resembles crack. (And Yuuki also goes down in History as the very first craniotomy patient who NEVER HAD TO HAVE HIS HEAD SHAVED. Hahahahahahahaha)
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 2/10
Fans of the pop-rock manband Tokio will be happy to find bassist Yamaguchi Tatsuya in a biggish role as Yuuki’s friend Junji. The dude is cute all right, but with that stocky build and atrocious tan, he reminds me of a cross between… The Gingerbread Man and a giant biscotti… (Yes yes I know “biscotti” is plural, but it sounds better than “biscotto” lol. In fact, my best friend and I call him exactly that: Biscotti. This was before we found out he was Tokio, so the name kind of stuck.) Perhaps a bigger draw would be the presence of Oguri Shun as the moody office gofer-slash-aspiring photographer who eventually succumbs to the charm of Yuuki’s, er, saintliness. His character Hama is the ONLY one in this entire drama who feels like a real person. A standout actor even in this miserable little exercise, Shun delivers all the gradations his character experiences as he comes to grips with Yuuki’s condition and eventual passing. The best scenes in Yuuki are Shun’s scenes.
Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006)
Format: Renzoku, 10 episodes
In a Word: Romantic
What It’s About:
A straightforward (if conventional) love story hinged on a two-different-worlds premise, and with a fair share of melodrama plot elements. This is about that One Great Love you had when you were twenty, and which stayed with you for the rest of your life even if the relationship itself may not have lasted.
The Kame Factor: Stupendous
Kamenashi Kazuya is at the top of his game as far as romantic-hero roles are concerned. Even if you aren’t a Kame fan, you’ll appreciate his sensitive and surprisingly effective interpretation of the character of Hiroto, a young boatyard mechanic who finds True Love outside his own class.
This is one of the best romantic dramas I’ve seen in recent years. Writer Kitagawa Eriko takes the poor-boy-meets-rich-girl-and-they-fall-in-love-against-all-odds cliché and makes it all fresh and new, while the skillful direction from Iwamoto Hitoshi brings all the artistic and technical elements together to create a timeless drama about life, love and loss.
The chemistry between the two leads is terrific, and the way the romantic moments are set up just feels so… natural. Needless to say I loved this drama to bloody bits, and it’s still hard letting go. *sigh*
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 10/10
Firstly, the location shots: the city of Yokohama provides the perfect backdrop to the story. And fans of Ayase Haruka will not be disappointed to see her chalk up another heartfelt performance as Hiroto’s ladylove, Nao. Rounding off the main cast are Tanaka Koki, Toda Erika and Hiraoka Yuta as the young lovers’ friends, and they all pitch in admirably by essaying characters who are likable and believable in equal parts. If you’re a fan of a classic love story done well, regardless of cast or setting, this drama will most definitely make the grade.
1 Pound no Fukuin / One-Pound Gospel (NTV, 2008)
Format: Renzoku, 9 episodes
In a Word: Diverting
What It’s About:
Kame is a boxer! Kame loves to eat! Kame likes this young, spunky nun! Kame has to train for his next fight! But… Kame loves to eat! And Kame likes the nun! And Kame has to train for his next fight! And so it goes, ad infinituuuuum, various permutations of the same basic dilemma. Kuroki Meisa plays the convent girl who must later choose between this artless prizefighter with not a penny to his name, and… um, the Creator of the Universe. (Take a wild guess who wins out in the end.)
The Kame Factor: Fun
Kame carries the drama on those broad, sweaty shoulders (heh heh). His comedic acting here is totally slapstick, but at least it’s entertaining. Of course, I love him best when he’s “emo and angsty” (to quote a spot-on comment from Dai somewhere on this blog), but there’s a childlike ebullience to his Kosaku character that’s infectiously easy on the soul — i.e. he follows the nun around like a lost puppy, blinking his eyes and yelping, “Seestah… Seestah Anjellah… Seestah Anjellah!!!” (Kame said this of his character in a BTS interview: “There are no dark shadows behind him; this character is as clear as day.” Ooooh, eloquent! lulz) And despite the facile material, I’m still glad Kame got to stretch his range here by trying the visual comedy route. (Best Kame moment: the scene in the darkened kitchen where he looks up from a plate of noodles, crying his little boxer heart out. LOLLL!)
This drama is all just silly, shallow fun that screams “manga!!!” in every way. (Oh wait, it IS from a manga, doh.) So… if manic cartoon treatments are right down your alley, then you won’t go home disappointed. Just don’t expect any profound insights on the meaning of life, obviously.
Those 50,000 shots of Kame training and boxing? Madre mia… (pardon the pun, lol). He certainly worked out for this role — and I hope he never reverts to his old twiggy-sized body. He’s in almost every scene, and in almost every scene that he’s in, he’s wearing… boxing trunks. Just boxing trunks. Ah, my little pugilist… (All together now!!! “Lai-la-lai… *cymbals clashhhh* Lai-la-lai-lai-lai-la-lai…”) And regarding his chemistry with Kuroki Meisa, the whole romance angle is kept as innocuous as possible (she’s a nun ferheavenssake). Kame’s overtures toward Meisa rarely go beyond a puppy-dog crush, and the two mostly engage in playful verbal sparring amid various screwball situations. It’s all very lighthearted, but you won’t mind because the boxing scenes provide ample fanservice anyway, hahaha. But but but — there is this ONE scene at the gym (in the episode where Meisa signs up to train at the boxing club — go figger), where Kame is working out with the punching bag, and Meisa approaches him from behind, and he whirls around, all sweaty (and even panting a little bit), and they are SO CLOSE together and they have this MOMENT where they say nothing but he just stares at her and there’s… lust in his eyes, LOL. What makes the moment more charged is the fact that the chaste, bundled-up little nun can feel it too. That scene made me go, YEAH. BABY!!! while mercilessly pummeling my throw pillow, lulz.
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 3/10
Female drama fans of the Heisei generation will be thrilled to find that little wombat from Hey! Say! JUMP, Yamada Ryosuke, in a biggish role as the pouty, petulant, pre-teen progeny of the boxing gym’s mama-san… er, owner. As an added “treat,” another H!S!Jumpie makes a guest appearance in Episode 3 — but eeeegads, I cannot stand that Chinen Yuri imp. When he reaches the age of 56 he will still be an imp. (What does anyone see in him??? Rhesus macaques are cuter!!!)
Now for the male drama watchers… er, sorry, but Meisa is covered from eyebrow line to toe in her nun’s habit 99.99% of the time, so except for her arresting face, there isn’t much female eye candy in this drama. (Unless you count the mother superior played by Motai Masako, lol.)
Kami no Shizuku / God’s Drop (NTV, 2009)
Format: Renzoku, 9 episodes
In a Word: Soporific
What It’s About:
When his estranged father (a renowned enologist) kicks the (wine) bucket, Taiyo Beer salaryman Kanzaki Shizuku is sent on a Quest to identify the name and vintage of seven unknown wines, armed with a set of cryptic clues and his, uh, happy childhood memories. The prize? Daddy Dearest’s fabulous 2-billion-yen wine collection, OH WOW. But standing in the way of Shizuku’s inheritance is his ambitious wine critic of a half-brother and a fur coat-wearing Delilah… AND let’s not forget, Shizuku’s Major Emotional Baggage of Doom, which is that — He!Hates!Popsie!And!He!Hates… <wait for it> WINE!!! Oh NOES oh NOES, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, Salaryman Shizuku? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO??? Hahahahahahaha
The Kame Factor: Flat and fizzly…
…like cheap Chardonnay. Yes the story is about him, and yes he’s in practically every shot — whether demonstrating to girl scout-slash-sidekick Naka Riisa the Right!Way!To!Sniff!A!Bouquet!, or investigating yet another dead-end clue, or closing his eyes and tilting his head back while murmuring, “Awaken, Bacchus!” (LOL WHAT. Hahahahaha) But his character sleepwalks through every single frame, and whatever else he does is just… so… Zzzzzzzz….
Hahahahahahahahahaa *takes deep breath* Hahahahahahahhahahha!!!!! Come, let’s toast to pretentious, coma-inducing story lines and an endless parade of useless wine industry terminology and trivia! Let’s toast to THE ditziest, most eff-tarded heroine in Jdoramaland! Let’s toast to Kame not even trying to look like he gives a crap about vintage and terroir and decanting! Man, this drama is so bad it’ll make you swear off alcohol for the rest of your life. *cries bitterly into a tankard of carbonated water* The only thing that ever gets thoroughly “fermented” is the viewer’s brain, hahahahahahahhaa. Goshdarn, how did this drama even rate 6%? It didn’t deserve 0.005%.
At least the repetitiveness of the Gokusens (no matter how mind-numbing) was peppered with running scenes and fight sequences (no matter how gimpy), whereas in Kami no Shizuku, the monotony feels much, much worse because all people ever do is SIP their wine and TALK about the taste! the terroir! the typicity! Blerg. And oh my gosh, my nose started oozing acetic acid and tannins from watching Kame and Brother Dearest trundle off on their respective wild-goose chases for every leg of the Guess! That! Wine! Game. I don’t even know HOW they got it right when their deductive logic was just so WTF-random, i.e. “This wine tastes like… sweet chestnuts! And chestnuts are eaten during the… New Year! What else is eaten during the New Year…? <thinks hard> Uh… seaweed! And seaweed is a 7-letter word! So is… <thinks hard> “octopus!” Octopus is like… squid! And squid turns white when cooked! White is the color of Zinfandel! So… Zinfandel wine it is!!!” Hahahahahahhaha
Kame goes around in a normal work suit, so he’s not entirely unattractive in this drama. But that short, frothy, crème-brûlée hair? SO NOT my cuppa wine. But his Version 3.0 face (rounder from those cheek injections, ugh) makes him look so bloody feminine here. Gimme back Bony-Boy Stick-Figure Kame!!!
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: -9884/10
According to a glowing article by The Wine Economist, the 20+ volume original manga apparently triggered a resurgence in Nihonjin appreciation for all, uh, winey things. Ohkhaaay. Yay for grapes. I guess. The thing is, I have nothing against esoterica manga, or even graphic novels with elaborate, detail-filled plots (like Alan Moore’s “Watchmen,” which I loved muchly). But television is a different medium targeting a broader audience base, which comprises viewers who possess little patience for such specialty themes and topics. Kami no Shizuku watchers were clearly turned off by the turgid wine arcana that obviously found better success with manga readers. So suffice it to say that this kind of drama adaptation will most assuredly appeal ONLY to the 54 practicing sommeliers, 33 enologists, 21 terroir specialists, and 19 viticulturists in the whole wide frickin’ world. So that’s 127 people who actually give a sh*t about wine, out of the 6.8 billion people on the planet, or approx. 0.000002% of the human global population who would even remotely consider giving this drama a try outside its Kame-fangirl merits. Well, I’ll certainly drink to that. Or not.
And if you’re a fan of Takenaka Naoto, you will weep to see his comedic talent squandered on his Rastafarian-hobo-woodcutter-vintner character who stands in as the nearest thing to Kame’s fairy godfather.
Sidebar #1: K-drama fans may recall that National Treasure Bae Yong-jun (aka the Bacchus of Korea… uh, no not really lol) was all set to do a Kami no Shizuku remake where he would essay the anti-hero-ish Older Brother role. It’s too bad the project was deep-sixed in early 2010, due in part to licensing and product placement problems (according to Dramabeans). But a perverse little part of me would have wanted to see Yonsama take on the Tomine Issei character… ONE, because anyone or anything else, even an effin’ mung bean, could’ve done a better job than Tanabe Seiichi, whose insensate portrayal made me want to shove the man into an empty wine bottle and throw him down a deep, deep well. (Otsuka Nene, what did you see in him??? What? What??? Lulz) And TWO, because… well… I reckoned… it would’ve been rather nice to see Bae Yong-jun turn blind again. *nasty grin* Awaken, Yonsama! Oh — what’s the matter, Yonsama? Are you not — awake? Ohhh so you cannot see anymore, can you? You are blind, are you? Ahahahahahhahaha *fond tear*
Sidebar #2: While I was marathoning this drama (get the agony over and done with, I sez t’messelfs), my mind was free to wander to other things, and I’d recall with great fondness the 6.28.2004 SMAPxSMAP episode where the SMAP dudes (sans Goro, who had to stay behind due to prior commitments) hied off to Gay Paree (Paris) in search of the perfect wine for their connoisseur homie of the unmoving mono-hair. So Nakai, Kimura, Tsuyoshi and Shingo searched far and wide for the best vintage to bring home to Goro, and they actually did — but promptly opened the bottle on a riverboat on the Seine, and got themselves plastered all the way to the Eiffel Tower, lol. So when they got back from their Euro-jaunt, they snuck into a liquor shop on their way to the Fuji TV studios, and got this cheap-o wine brand. Which they solemnly presented to Goro with a grand flourish, and which Goro (naturally) pronounced, after much swirling and sniffing and dainty sipping, to be a most excellent vintage. (Bwahahahahahahahhaha!!! That was so mean!!! So mean!!! OH GORO… *fond tear*)
Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge / Perfect Girl Evolution (TBS, 2010)
Alternate Title: Love Yourself… Then Go Cook Me Dinner
Format: Renzoku, 10 episodes
In a Word: Superficial
What It’s About:
Four college ikemen make a deal with their proprietress to turn her misanthropic niece into a real lady — all in exchange for free rent.
The Kame Factor: Adequate
IF — and it’s a big IF — you can overlook Kame’s much reviled Farrah Fawcett feathery ‘do (fluff-and-flip, babycakes… fluff-and-flip!) — which, when taken with the yukky vests, plaid shirts and hiking boots, scream GAY LUMBERJACK!!! in every way… and IF you can turn a blind eye to the LMFAO-tastic premise where his character Takano Kyouhei is supposedly this Nihonjin Adonis who is SO BLINDINGLY GORGEOUS (and the female voice-over goes, “He has a beautiful face and a perfect body…” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA REALLY CASTING AGENT, REALLY???) that his most… vexing physical condition has engendered the following predicaments: (1) he inevitably gets mobbed by hordes of screaming fangirls wherever he goes, (2) he has no money because he can’t hold down a job, because he keeps getting into fights at work, because his superiors like to… grope him, (3) his parents kicked him out two years ago because they couldn’t handle the pressure of having such a good-looking son, and because they obviously lacked the good sense to sell him off to Johnny’s Jimusho for a quick buck (hahahaha too meta?)… So IF you can stomach all these without losing your sanity altogether, THEN you’ll probably find the rest of Kame’s performance very watchable. (I know I did!!!)
Crap-o-Meter: 10/10 [This section is rather long. Goh-mehn. Again]
I don’t even know where to begin with Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Based on the manga by Hayakawa Tomoko, this drama adaptation feels (in patches) like a downmarket knockoff of stuff you’ve already seen — kind of a poor man’s, well, everything.
- The (ikemen + hysterical fangirls) x (meta skewering of fandom) x (hyperreal comic-book atmosphere) = Poor Man’s Hana Kimi. (Wow, and to think that I hated Hana Kimi. Watching YNSH I actually found myself missing Shun, Toma and even Maki’s characters.)
- The four leads, each with a Unique!Personality! = Poor Man’s F4. There’s Kame as The Leader with Bad Hair AND a Bad Temper, Uchi Hiroki as The Gentle & Cultured One, Miyao Shuntaro as The Inveterate Playboy, and the hated Butterball as The Sensitive & Button-Cute Mascot. (Okay, so this last one doesn’t have an exact F4 counterpart, but you get the drift.) The thing is, I never felt their friendship was genuine the way it was in Hana Yori Dango. (Jun+Shun+Shota+AbeTsuyoshi, you guys rocked like faiah. *flying kiss*)
- The endless moralizing and oppressive indoctrination of platitudes = Poor Man’s Gokusen.
- The MakeoverWithATwist+LoveYourself slant = Poor Man’s Nobuta wo Produce.
Apparently, subtlety does not translate well in Japan these days. I mean, SERIOUSLY. Do we NEED to be BLUDGEONED SENSELESS by 9723873478 inspirational sound bites per episode (about self-worth and inner beauty and accepting others for who they are, blahblahblah), couched in the most in-your-face, we’ll-just-spell-it-out-for-you-because-you’re-all-too-stupid-to-figure-it-out-anyway dialogue ever known to man (and usually delivered by Butterball’s character — with his usual constipated expression and mouth that NEVER EVER CLOSES. hatesssss!!!!!). My favorite preachy platitude? Is when Kyouhei (Kame) reams out a gaggle of 30-something psycho fangirls (uh… heyyyyy… let’s not get personal here!!! lulz), saying “Don’t love me ‘coz of my good looks, ‘coz that’s not true love!” ……. *takes a minute* BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
The difference between Nobuta wo Produce and YNSH (and it’s a VAAAST chasm of difference) is that not only did the characters in NwP feel REAL, but even the life lessons, which were fundamentally just the same as in YNSH, were never even mentioned by the main characters, yet you knew that they LEARNED them just the same, that they CHANGED for the better. NwP was all about showing not telling, while YNSH is all about… telling, then telling again (and again and again) using all the characters on a rotating basis, then regurgitating the same old tripe in the next episode.
I wanted to like Horror Girl Sunako, really I did. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t even because she was so psycho-socially f**ked-up — heck, Kotani Nobuta was practically suicidal, while Sunako “merely” dabbled in the Dark Arts — but there was nothing in her character that resonated with me. So she basically turned goth after her crush back in high school called her ugly? Puh-leeeze. And those STUPID ANATOMICAL DUMMIES, particularly the one called Hiroshi-kun, whose abduction by one of the psycho fangirls made Sunako go berserk from worry and hobble around the city WITH INJURED FEET looking for the damn mannequin… OH FER FERKS SAKE. And was it just me, but did Sunako’s voice and demeanor also remind you of a female Densha Otoko (Ito Atsushi), whose tremulous stammering and quailing at the sight of other human beings got OH SO TIRING after two consecutive episodes of the same thing (– but at least Densha had his forum friends to keep the story light and interesting, while Sunako had her bangs, black burka and three dummies, whoopee).
There’s also the episodic formula where earth-shattering problems get resolved the same oversimplified way, Gokusen-style: Kyouhei screams “BuSunako!!! BuSunako BuSunako BuSunako!!!” to get Sunako all riled up; Sunako shrieks in anger and this unlocks her superhuman powers; fake CGI lightning bolts lance downward from the sky and streak across the mansion walls; Sunako breaks the bonds/fetters/baddies locking her down. Problem solved. Another iterative formula is Sunako having a violent meltdown every time she looks at somebody normal, which her benighted mind construes as “dazzling.” So each episode of YNSH naturally has 239149 scenes where she gazes into Kyouhei’s “dazzling” face and piteously moans, “Ma–ma–mabuSHIIIIIIIII!!!” while delivering a nassssty head-butt that knocks Kyouhei unconscious. By the third time she did this (which was around — oh, five minutes into Episode Fraykin’ One) the shtick had gotten so predictable that I wanted to smash a hole through the screen, crawl into my TV set, and throttle the stupid girl, reverse-Sadako style. Hahahaha.
While some dramas end up deep in the viewer’s heart, this one won’t even go past your friggin’ frenulum. Nothing about YNSH feels grounded in anything real or heartfelt; it’s all just so… fake, from the sitcom-set mansion to the cardboard characters, right down to the situations and dilemmas possessing not a scintilla of verisimilitude. (And why don’t these ikemen guys ever go to school??? They’re in college, right? Instead they loaf around the house all day, debating Sunako’s makeover future. Blerg) The climactic standoff in the final episode is actually very apropos given the phoniness of it all: this nail-biting sequence in a nightclub is revealed to be one big whopper of a joke, a lah-dee-dah-let’s-all-stop-this-farce-and-go-home coda to an episode-long rigmarole involving human traffickers and bar girls, Kyouhei’s wrenching love declaration jimmied out of him, strategically placed hidden cameras, and a burly African-American man who, when the jig is up, exclaims in typical WTF-random fashion, “Let’s go drink in Roppongi! Come on everybody!!!” (LOL WHAT) But then you realize that this stagy and showy charade IS the perfect ending to Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Because none of it is real, just like the drama.
(A note on the opening sequence: I — I… I have no words. The ham-handed motivational lyrics… The music of the KAT-TUN song — “Love Yourself” — that swings crazily from Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” (I’m sorry Michael I’m sorry!!! *sobs*) to… my dad’s old 1958 LP of “I Want to Be Happy Cha Cha’s” by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade… The jazz!!!!! hands (more like “dancing jellyfish” or “rain rain go away” hands, really)… The patent INABILITY of FOUR GROWN MEN to move IN SYNC for two whole seconds… The knock-kneed posing and desperate vogueing ‘n’ shimmying… The shiny things all around them… This is beyond gay, you tell yourself as you choke on your own spit from laughing so hard that the world ceases to make sense. In fact, you’re not even sure if this can still pass as anything human, lol. You used to think you had seen the worst that J-Pop had to offer, but now it becomes only clearer that the bottom of the barrel is still very, very, very far away…)
Just what I never expected: yes, there are slivers of romance shining through the circus that is Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. You realize that underneath the random craziness and gallimaufry is a love story (or, er, something like it) between Kyouhei and Sunako. You will be pleasantly startled by their sweet and unexpected moments, no matter how sparsely scattered throughout the drama. This is really more Kame’s doing than Oomase Aya’s (whose Sunako is little more than a black billowy blanket scuttling from corner to corner). I enjoyed Kame’s character when he was playing it straight and sarcastic and mean, like snapping at Sunako one time, “I’m gonna donate Hiroshi-kun to an elementary school!” (LAWL!)… or uttering his favorite expression, “Urusai!” … or making fun of Sunako, like the time a man-hating ghost possesses her body and orders Kyouhei to “do something funny,” and he mimics Sunako’s stutter and gesture, going, “Ma — ma — mabushiiii” — which made me LOL for a full minute after that while replaying the scene at least a dozen times. The boy can do comedy. He’s at his best (and, uh, cutest) in these types of scenes, and NOT when he’s screaming at people — which unfortunately happens pretty often, too. (Kamenashi Kazuya is not a good screamer.)
So, yeah — Kyouhei and Sunako share a number of brief love spells, like the time they get thrown down a well, or when he gives her those hugs from behind (wheeee), or when he rescues her from a most inauspicious almost-wedding, or the time he gets drunk and she stays the night, or their w00t-worthy kitchen cookfests. These unexpected patches of romance were what kept me schlepping through this drama. And I did get rewarded in the end with a lovely little moment. (Who knew that a shrunken skull could be such a great prop?) Scene conceptualization and execution WIN, IMO. Even if the Moment itself was nothing earthshaking, I loved the buildup to it, and the whole thing WAS exceedingly sweet in its own way. (Also, the skull charm bracelet and the Hamletty skull paperweight? So cute.) My only beef would be with the antediluvian gender stereotypes, i.e. how Kyouhei would order Sunako around or expect her to cook him breakfast, lunch and dinner every bleeping day of the year — and clean up afterward. (What the hell, Kyouhei.) But that’s another feminist debate er, story for another day.
S’MOAR crack — that is, if your tastes verge on the… unusual, lol: The guys gear up in drag for a full episode or so, and in the Valentine’s Day episode Kame has not one, but two costume changes! (Frankly I liked the ensemble with the Johnny-Depp-channeling-Anna-Wintour-in-Charlie&theChocolateFactory wig better.) And when Kame wasn’t wearing the lumberjack couture, I liked him in those T-shirts that highlighted his shoulders, back and arms. There’s a scene where he’s beating up random baddies and wearing one such shirt-o, making me go, “the boy can fight-o!” despite the typical Engrishy markings on said garment saying, “Sending light-o!” Lulz
Hmmm… what else. Oh, and I liked Kame with his hair tied back. (Niiiice. Particularly when he came to Uchi Hiroki’s house dressed in a kimono. Very niiiiice.) I also realized after he had cut his hair that I missed his horrendous flippy locks. I think it’s a bad idea to alter hairstyles drastically in the middle of a drama, because you tend to associate how you feel about a character with his overall look. Unless of course, the hairstyle change is integral to plot or character development (which in YNSH, it SO wasn’t, and the way it was written into the story only felt like a contrived justification for Kame’s decision to snip off those locks).
And OF COURSE, this being an ikemen drama, the gratuitous shirtless scenes are ALL HERE, baby — and then some. Kame showing off his newly chiseled bod (which would put to shame his boxer self in One-Pound Gospel) is very heh heh heh. Cracky? FTW? Very… If the circumstances surrounding the semi-nudity weren’t so… CHEESEEEEEEEEEYYY that is. The scene? When the four engage in ritualistic male bonding (read: cathartic fisticuffs) in Uchi Hiroki’s Jacuzzi, BWAHAHAHAHAHHAA. So gay. It doesn’t even make ANY NARRATIVE SENSE, because one second Kame’s launching an impassioned homily against the other three (ehhh something about friendship and how you shouldn’t hold back from telling people you love them), then all of a sudden Uchi Hiroki’s punching Kame in the face and Kame pushes him into the bubble bath and WHOA WHOA — Kame’s shirt is off (well… how ya doin’? lulz) and so is Uchi’s and the other two, the Ranmaru guy and Butterball, decide they want to JOIN IN THE FUN, and so they all splash around topless while Uchi Hiroki’s Daddy Dearest and Sunako OGLE THEM STUPIDLY (that’s right, they’re witnessing the whole thing!!!), and then — huh? huh? — all four are lying on the floor, spent from the needless waste of energy and bathwater, and they’re continuing their bromance heart-to-heart talky-talky, when the camera pans back and WTF — Daddy Dearest and Sunako are STILL IN THE ROOM, OGLING THEM STUPIDLY!!!! Ar. Oh. Eff. Ell. Ehm. Eff. Ay. Oh!!!! (So… is this still crack? Huh? Huh? Up to you to decide.)
“What’s in it for non-Kame fans?” Factor: 2/10
If you’re a NEWS fan, I suppose Butterball and the 234399 shots of him clutching his teddy bear while acting all nurture-y and empathetic (PAH. hatessss!!!) will appeal to your heart and all that. (Whereas I don’t have a heart, ergo DOT.DOT.DOT) And okay, I’ll admit that the Uchi Hiroki dude (same guy who was kicked off NEWS and KANJANI8 for… underage drinking, oh wow. oh Johnny-san, you wrinkled old hypocrite *roll eyes*) — IS a cutie. I like how his Ikebana Prince character is the most levelheaded one of the four, kind of like the Hanazawa Rui of the bunch… A Poor Man’s Rui, lol.
As for fans of Kato Seishiro (*raises hand*), I’m happy to report that he is still very much a cute and talented little boy, although the kid is growing up fast. *sob* Plus, Osugi Ren fans (*raises hand*) will be amused to see him literally rocking the role of the shades-and-Ramones-T-shirt-wearing bartender-slash-Token Middle-Aged Guardian Figure, although he, or Kato Seishiro, or Takashima Reiko as Kato Seishiro’s jet-setting mother, are all overqualified for the kid’s stuff they’re made to do in this drama. Tsk tsk.
Photo credits: andera-yoko.tumblr.com, asiabeam.com, asiandramawiki.com, asianpopcorn.com, azmeeryusuf.blogspot.com, babyshazam.livejournal.com, beajc @ photobucket.com, bishounen.animehg.hu, bushyhaired @ photobucket.com, coolsmurf.wordpress.com, crimsonspell.livejournal.com, doramas-seishin.blogspot.com, doramaxq.blogspot.com, dramawiki.com, fansub.guckies.com, flickr.com, forums.mangafox.com, harriat.livejournal.com, kaorublade.wordpress.com, ilookatthesky.wordpress.com, imop.wordpress.com, iurgnotmis.wordpress.com, jcrina @ tsinoy.com, mixmin199.livejournal.com, momentsinmylife.wordpress.com, murasaki_miyuki @ photobucket.com, omgasians.wordpress.com, somecrazyperson.blogspot.com, spinelsun01.multiply.com, sumyanling @ photobucket, tokidoki.animeblogger.net, uisceros.livejournal.com, ungumuda @ crunchyroll.com, utopianvision.co.uk, video4asian.com, winterspell.livejournal.com, vysan.net, Y @ d-addicts.com
(Edit: OHNOES they changed Kame’s photo AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY WHY WHY????????????)