Drama Review (Part 1): Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers (Fuji TV, 2010)

The People vs. Hazuki Rensuke

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Shinohara Ryoko, Lin Chi Ling, Matsuda Shota, Kitagawa Keiko

In a Nutshell:
Follow the triumphs and travails of Hazuki Rensuke, Furniture Maker Extraordinaire, and the three gorgeous women hopelessly in love with him: Maemi his longtime BFF and colleague, Xiu Mei the ingenuous factory worker from Shanghai, and Yuzuki the bratty daughter of Rensuke’s biggest industry rival. Completing the love, um, pentagon is Rensuke’s calculating deputy Kazami, who may or may not have a few underhanded schemes of his own. But oh, oh — let’s NOT forget the REAL stars of the show!!! Brother Moon! — who watches over Rensuke from above! Sister Water Strider! — who alone can bring True Happiness! And the Four Little Coins of Kokoro! — who may look tinny and paltry, but when arranged in a cryptic geometric pattern, will unlock the secret to Life itself!!! All one needs is to — solve! the! riddle!!! What riddle? The riddle!!! Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the MOON!!! The little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon!!! Ahahahahahahahahaa

(SpoilLert: Eybreeting!)

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait… Really KimuTaku Really?

When it was announced in early 2010 that KimuTaku was all but set for a Spring renzoku ren’ai, his entire fandom collectively peed in their – our – pants. An overreaction perhaps? Far from it. For it truly was a cause for celebration, as we were fully, painfully aware that Kimura‘s choice of TV projects over the past several years showed a disturbing trend away from straight ren’ai. Pride was his last one in 2004, and since then his dramas have had love angles that were extraneous to the plot — if not altogether absent: a sports+kiddie dramedy with little romance (Engine, 2005); a serious ensemble drama with little romance (Karei naru Ichizoku, 2007); a hero-of-the-day dramedy with – you guessed it – little romance (Change, 2008); and a police procedural with zero – NO, make that NEGATIVE – romance (Mr. Brain, 2009).

It had been six long years since KimuTaku – or at least, a variant of his persona, lol – last gave his heart and soul to a woman, six long years since he fell hard and deep for someone, six long years since he kissed — and… er, did that other stuff as well — with a passion that consumed his soul. (Rargh.) The fans were feeling restless – they had been for quite some time. Cauliflower-haired schoolteachers turned prime ministers were NOT exactly the stuff of female fantasy; and most definitely neither were forensic nutjobs who skipped their way through crime scenes while munching on bananas. Go back to the basics, Captain, the fans implored while tinkering morosely with their dilapidated pianofortes and drawing dusty circles on their glass love apples. Go back to your ren’ai roots, make us fall in love with you all over again. Please do a straightforward romantic drama this time, you’ve tried everything else anyway.

And perhaps the television gods took pity on their — our — miserable romance-starved selves, because Fuji TV finally dispelled all the hearsay and conjecture being bandied about – like the rumor that Kimura’s next project would be an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” or yet another one that predicted a Hero Season 2 (AS IF!!!). So it was announced that Kimura’s newest Getsu-9 drama for the Spring 2010 slate would be a renzoku ren’ai entitled Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers. A ren’ai. A REN’AI, the fans exulted. Halleloooyah chance! The KimuTaku Love Train was finally back on track, finally up and running since its unceremonious derailment years ago. This was gonna be special, a return to form for the Dorama King himself. If anyone knows how to do his renzoku ren’ai with both eyes closed, it’s this guy. The drought was over, let the Love Rain fall upon the land once more.

So how was it for you, fellow KimuTaku fan, when you heard the news? Did you run to the nearest seawall in your tatty old Live Aid T-shirt, a basketball and a guitar in each hand, and howl your happiness across the ocean? Did you huff and puff your way up a snowy hill one evening and, with your neon pink lipstick, scrawl scandalous love graffiti on the billboard stationed at the summit? Did you take little spins on a borrowed wheelchair and later trim your own bangs (er, rather haphazardly) in front of a mirror, watching the tufts of hair fall to the quilted blanket draping your lap? Did you streak across some random bridge sobbing “Kimura… you’re all I see… You’re all. I. see…” while you stuffed your face with bittersweet dark chocolate? (Sorry, that was a mashup of two different dramas, lol) Did you fish out your mothballed jersey #9 and your collection of chewed-up hockey pucks, lovingly stroking each one in turn and whispering “my precioussss…”? Or, did you roll around in your purple satin bedsheets and – and – er, never mind, lolll

Whatever your reaction, were you not, er, over the moon when you heard the news? In fact, you were probably too caught up in the fan euphoria (and mass hysteria, lol) to pay heed to the little red flags that littered the wayside, the little questions that niggled at the back of your mind. Like… why was this drama only eight episodes long? Would there even be enough time to sustain the entire story arc and its tributary subplots, given such a wattage-heavy ensemble cast? And speaking of the cast, what were these black, baleful mutterings about a *certain* international cast member’s acting talent – or, uh, lack thereof? Aaaand… what was up with the drama’s hokey sounding title, anyway?

These reservations notwithstanding, one thing was clear: Fuji TV (and Kimura, natch) were coming out with their guns blazing, not leaving anything to chance, and cornering all fan bases aside from the obvious majority (=KimuTaku fans). Something for the above-21 drama viewers? There’s Shinohara Ryoko, who’s still hot enough for men to fantasize over, AND has a great onscreen personality that women just love!!! What about the teen demographic? Enter hot young stars Matsuda Shota and Kitagawa Keiko!!! There’s even something for international Asian audiences – roll out Lin Chi Ling!!! And let’s shoot some scenes in Shanghai – just because we can!!! Oh boy oh boy, was this new drama going to be HUGE, the Geinoukai spin doctors crowed. Everything was set for the April air date… so how could anything possibly go wrong? Well, could anything go wrong?

Ah. Well. Screw the misgivings, a ren’ai was a ren’ai and you would take what you could get. And so, drunk on the promise of a bona fide romantic drama in the same Golden-Age tradition as Long Vacation, Love Generation and Beautiful Life, and blindly anticipating the ardent love declarations and heart-wrenching confessions, the passionate kisses in the rain and warm spooning sessions under the covers, you threw all caution to the wind and hopped on the KimuTaku Love Train as it chugged away from the platform. All aboard now! *toot! toot!*

And all it took was a single episode to realize that this Luurrrve Locomotive was headed straight for disaster.

Anatomy of a Train Wreck

It’s the sound you first hear: the clanging of warning bells, the screeching of brakes and the resounding crash of metal twisting as the KimuTaku Love Train cannons head-on into FAILville. Next is the smell — this horrible acridity invading the air as you frantically scrabble out of the wreckage amid the charred bodies of water striders littering the blackened earth around you. You hobble out into the open, away from the smoldering remains of the locomotive still shuddering in its death throes. The warning bells that had rung their distress signal just moments before now give out one last knell that clashes with the agitated hiss of rain on burning metal. For what you’re really hearing, is the sound of all that wasted potential.

Something glints at your side: it’s those coins, those four stupid coins that have rolled away from the rubble to stop beside you. You reach out with numb fingers to rearrange the coins in a 2×2 formation on the mud-slicked ground. Something snaps inside you. “Why??? WHY?????” you rail at the sky, at the driving rain, at the sick yellow f***ing MOON leering back at you. The gentle Love Rain, which earlier was no more than a drizzle, is now a merciless downpour that shoots acid needles on your upturned face. All you wanted was a NICE LOVE STORY FOR FERK’S SAKE, and not this… monstrosity of a train wreck.

So you find yourself, without reason, babbling over and over, “Waterstrider waterstrider lovetrain loverain lovepain… lalalalala… find waterstrider, find happiness lalalalala…” while rocking back and forth in a sodden huddle. And your last thought before your addled mind shuts down for good, is a cold and distant memory of your own mother warning you as a child, “Be careful what you wish for, darling…”

Be careful what you wish for.

The Postmortem

Funny how this whole… “Kimura completist” business — in fact the very reason I took up blogging — was always something I viewed as a challenge, but never as a chore. Until Tsuki no Koibito came crashing into the picture. For the first time since I made that commitment to finish (and write about) the entirety of KimuTaku’s drama and film work, I found myself watching something more out of duty than anything else, keeping my nose to the grindstone episode after episode until this unholy mission was mercifully over. (And that stuff Einstein said about time being relative? Well, solid proof right there: TsukiKoi is just eight episodes long but felt like eighty when you include the intermittent dozing and catatonic relapses I frequently found myself in.)

But if the drama was THAT bad, why even continue, you might ask. Why dincha just flush the blasted thing down the loo after Episode 1 and get on with your life, move on to more agreeable fare? My only answer is this: a completist’s gotta do what a completist’s gotta do. (Not that it makes any sense, lol.) And besides, how can you possibly turn your head away from — a train wreck? Because you just can’t. At least, I can’t. For train wreck this drama was, an epic FAIL trip to the moon and back. The whole production was just so BAD because… because… I mean, mother of Mickey, where do you even begin?

Well for starters, there’s the writing. If there’s anyone on the production team whose heinie ought to be kicked all the way to the moon – no! to Alpha Centauri!!! – it’s Asano Taeko (Love Generation, Last Friends). The script of TsukiKoi lacks focus and coherence (dangerous for such a short-running series!) and the plot comes riddled with these giant gaping craters that a frikkin’ lunar rover couldn’t navigate through. And the dialogue? Horribly pretentious, suffocating in tropes and symbols, oh WOW! — The moon! The water striders! The tinny little coins!!! – which are ALL THE CHARACTERS EVER TALK ABOUT, LIKE, EVERY BLEEPING EPISODE. And most egregious of all is how the writer SERIOUSLY messes up her characters – most especially Hazuki Rensuke.

The thing is, you GET the direction Asano Taeko wanted to go with this drama by portraying Rensuke as the archetypal Romantic Antihero – oh y’know, like a Mr. Darcy Gone Bad: deeply flawed and unlikable, makes unethical choices through the course of the story, hurts people (but only ‘coz he’s DEEPLY WOUNDED!!!), blahblahblah, but – who! is! changed! by! LOVE! when he meets a Woman of Virtue who tames him and makes his emotional boo-boos go away!!!

It goes without saying that the success or failure of any story hinges on the protagonist (in this case, our Antihero) and where his journey takes him — whether it’s a downward spiral into ruin or a long, arduous climb in search of redemption. Great writing shows the gradual transformation of the protagonist in ways that feel organic to the narrative and make sense in light of the other characters’ sub-arcs. The bottom line is that the protagonist experiences some kind of change – be it for good or for ill – so that he is never the same person that he was at the beginning of the story. It’s this character-molding process that helps us understand, empathize with and – in some cases – even root for the Antihero, imperfect as he may be. And if the writer has failed in this regard, then s/he has failed altogether. If a drama or film cannot, at any point, make you CARE about the main character and his story, then not only is it regrettable, but it is unforgivable on the part of the writing.

TsukiKoi’s protagonist, Hazuki Rensuke (Kimura Takuya), would seem the perfect Romantic Antihero as none of the traditional heroic virtues (like honor and self-sacrifice) are evident in his character: he’s dark and moody, unapologetically type A, a lone wolf rather than a team player. But the writer is also quick to point out Rensuke’s more “attractive” qualities that remind you of the “hero” in “Antihero”: for Rensuke is also a maverick, a fearless risk taker and driven perfectionist who, in just fifteen years, has built a furniture empire that’s now poised to overtake the industry leader in domestic and overseas operations.

But there’s the rub: Rensuke starts out unlikable but STAYS on that plateau, and never experiences a genuine changeover in his mindset and behavior. I don’t need to stress how damaging that is to the story because in the first place, Rensuke isn’t just unlikable unlikable, like, say — your garden-variety Difficult Person or even a Standard-Issue Asshole, but he’s a Prick of the Highest Order. Like, an oh-mah-goodness-I-can’t-BELIEVE-human-beings-like-him-still-get-made kind of prick. In fact, the magnitude of Rensuke’s sh*ttiness can make entire countries despise him – and, um, they kind of do. (Yo China, wassup?) Everybody hates Rensuke. EVERYBODY. (Except for his three-member harem.) I therefore submit before the court: The People (and Things) vs. Hazuki Rensuke!

1. Rensuke vs. Regolith Employees

How’d you like Rensuke to be YOUR boss? (How’d you like to jam a T-square in your own eye? Same thing, y’know.) Because Rensuke IS the quintessential Boss from Hell (or BFH): think The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns crossed with Dr. Evil from Austin Powers crossed with Donald Trump crossed with – oh I dunno, maybe Josef Stalin. A quick peek at Rensuke’s BFH Rap Sheet shows you just how much of a BFH he is: Rides his employees to the point of exhaustion, neurosis and NEAR-DEATH? (Check.) Fires dissenting company men at whim and lets them take the fall for HIS OWN sh*tty management decisions? (Check.) Screws people over – and by “people” I also mean, “the People’s Republic of China” lol – whenever it’s EXPEDIENT for business? (Check.) Uses manipulation, strong-arm tactics and good ol’ FRAUD as a first – not last, mind you, but first — resort to advance his own ends? (Check.) Gives INSANELY UNREASONABLE assignments at whim? (Check.)

Let the damning evidence speak for itself:

Exhibit A: (While in preps for the opening of Regolith’s Shanghai branch)

Chairman Rensuke: “I want all living designers in Japan to join my contest for an Uber Exclusive Limited Edition Furniture Thingy that will be the highlight of the new Shanghai branch!!!” (Company Drudges protest feebly) “Ehh what’s that you say? So the opening is ‘just nine days away’ you say? When was that MY problem? Back to the dungeons b*tches! Work is liberating!!!*cracks whip*

Exhibit B: (Chairman Rensuke decides to take The Great Leap Forward)

Chairman Rensuke: “All or nothing, now or never! Don’t you wanna see it when I make it worldwide!!! So let’s tear down some old factory in Shanghai, build a spankin’ new Regolith sweatshop, and haul all those indentured but jobless peasants back and make them work at 0.8226% of their former wages! No benefits, of course.” (Company Drudges protest feebly) “Ehh what’s that you say? ‘The peasants are revolting ‘coz they want their old factory back you say? Ungrateful little b*tches! Let them eat (moon)cake! Oh all right, promise them anything for now – promise them the MOON if you have to, we’ll screw them over later anyway nyahahahaha” *strokes fat white cat on lap*

Exhibit C: (After welshing on the terms of his settlement with the Shanghai factory workers’ union)

Chairman Rensuke: (patronizingly) “A company’s struggle to remain competitive is harder than a factory worker’s struggle to make a living. In other words, state over individual liberties. Totalitarianism is da bomb even though I’m a Commie – ain’t the same, but close enough.” (Company Drudges protest feebly) “Ehhh what’s that you say? The Shanghai peasants are ‘still mad at us’ you say? Well, THEY’RE ALL FIRED!!! Don’t these losers know that when THEIR ancestors were building their dinky little ‘Great Wall,’ MY ancestors were publishing ecchi manga?!?! Hah! Hah! Hah! I SO RULE!!!”

Exhibit D: (Chairman Rensuke unveils his plans for the Regolith Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere)

Chairman Rensuke: (dreamily) “My loyal drudges, it is time to open a NEW Regolith sweatshop, this time in <wait for it> — India!!!”

Company Drudges: (dismayed) “B-but Chairman Rensuke, aren’t we spreading ourselves too thin? We should at least wait and see how the Shanghai sweatshop performs before we, uh… before we…”

Chairman Rensuke: (bangs fist on table) “Fooolssss!!! Waiting is the same as taking a step backward!!! Even if it’s risky, you have to keep advancing!!! That’s the principle of business!!! And besides, someone oughtta teach them Indians how to make REAL CURRY!!! Hah! Hah! Hah! I SO RULE!!!”

(Company Drudges fall silent but secretly murder Rensuke in their hearts a thousand times over.)

With such lousy leadership, how in the world did Rensuke’s furniture company, Regolith, ever grow to be the second largest in all of Japan??? Given such management strategies that were clearly as inhumane as they were antediluvian, how did Slave-Driver Rensuke ever become THIS successful? It truly boggles the mind. Does. Not. Compute… Does. Not. Compute…

2. Rensuke vs. Plain Good Taste

And it’s not like Regolith’s products are as great as they’re advertised. I can’t even begin to decrypt the style used for the Shanghai branch interiors. This wasn’t a furniture store, this was a gay fast food chain, lol. I seriously wanted to gouge out my own eyes at the dissonance of design, the mishmash of elements (the colors! the patterns! the materials!) that made absolutely no sense together, right down to the overuse of grids and dividers that only cut up what little space there was. And what the hell was that ridiculous white table doing in the center of the room? No forget it, I don’t want to know. “The finest furniture for you” — really Rensuke, really? Oh I get it now… we are witnessing Chairman Rensuke’s Cultural Revolution!!! Bringing Chintzy Furniture to the Global Doorstep!!! Ahahahahaha

3. Rensuke vs. The Moon

It’s also funny how the writing belabors Rensuke’s bloody freaky fixation with the moon, i.e. “Imma make it worldwide – in the furniture business that is, so that wherever I go the moon can watch me make people happy with my substandard furniture…” This lunar fetish actually dates back to his lonely, peripatetic childhood: Mummy raised him alone, they never had much money and had to move a lot, etc. So one cold winter night, as Little Rensuke surveyed the smoking ruins of his… plantation, he vowed this in his heart: (Scarlett O’Hara accent) “As the moon is my witness, as the moon is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As the moon is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” (LMAO)

4. Rensuke vs. Misused Geological Terms

Even more hilarious is how the writing overstresses the ties between the moon and regolith. Why the hell does Rensuke keep telling EVERYONE that regolith is some special kind of lunar rock thingy??? Well, I may not remember that much from my Geology subjects, but I do know that regolith can also… be… found… here… on Earth. You know — it’s the upper part of the crust overlaying the bedrock??? Which kind of makes the whole “special connection” between regolith and the moon – OH I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE CONTRIVED AND STUPID AND POINTLESS??? Blerg.

5. Rensuke vs. Spare Change

So for the past 15 years, Rensuke has carried four little coins EVERYWHERE asking EVERY BLEEPING PERSON he’d meet along the way: “What does this look like? What does this look like?” while shoving the confounded coins, now arranged in a 2×2 formation, right in their faces. (Some days he uses martini glasses or bottle caps, but most of the time it’s spare change.) I don’t get his compulsive urge to drive people INSANE with his pseudo-philosophical badgering. (Well who gives a CRAP what your four little circles represent, Rensuke. WHO. GIVES. ACRAP.) His obsession clearly stems from the good ol’ university days when his BFF Maemi (Shinohara Ryoko) posed the question but refused to give an answer herself. But by the time Rensuke finally figures it out, you no longer want to know. In fact, perhaps you never did. Just keep the change, Rensuke. No, really.

6. Rensuke vs. F2

Ohmuhgawsh!!! Ohmuhgawsh!!! Matsuda Shota and Abe Tsuyoshi FTW!!! Such is my immense fohhhndness for Hana Yori Dango that an F2 reunion made the TsukiKoi fiasco *slightly* easier to slog through. And the fact that both their characters came together out of a MUTUAL HATRED for Rensuke made the reunion scenes all the sweeter, hahaha. Every time Shota and Abe were shown together I’d inadvertently zone out of the drama and chant, “Group hug!!!” *pound pound* “Group hug!!!” *pound pound* Lol. (Either I really adored HanaDan or I really loathed TsukiKoi, hahaha. Or both!)

Matsuda Shota plays Chairman Rensuke’s aide-de-camp and chief minion Feng Jian (aka Kazami) who keeps his cards close to his chest and only reveals his hand after ¾ of the drama has passed — although OF COURSE it’s pretty obvious that those watchful, hooded eyes of his are hiding something. Apparently the boy grew up poor and hates/envies self-made men like Rensuke. But I like how Kazami is suave and slick and sneaky, just enough to keep you interested in where his character is going. (Btw Shota’s cute in those suits – except for the tapered pants, which reminded me of deflated jodhpurs. And I didn’t dig the hair, which, taken with his small pursing lips, made him look like Tweety Bird, lol. “I tawt I taw a putty-tat!!!”)

So when things finally come to a head, Rensuke’s loyal hatchet man Kazami gets to bury the hatchet… er, right in Rensuke’s back, lol. He orchestrates a Regolith coup and forges a merger with Mastpole – something which Rensuke had been adamantly against. I know at this point we’re supposed to feel SORRY for Rensuke after he falls victim to Kazami’s little… Liar Game (lol), but you know what? I WAS ON THE ‘BAD’ GUY’S SIDE THIS TIME. This was one betrayal that was most anticipated (by me) and long overdue. I mean, how could anyone keep rooting for Rensuke when he was spectacularly running his company into the ground? And besides, the merger with Mastpole actually turned out to be a GOOD THING in a business sense (as most company mergers are) because both companies could now consolidate resources and streamline operations. So it’s not like the Regolith people would be running back to their old boss crying that the new regime under Papa Mastpole was worse than Rensuke’s Reign of Terror. Because it wasn’t.

Abe Tsuyoshi plays Ming, one of the displaced factory workers from Shanghai and the cross-dressing gay best friend of Xiu Mei (Lin Chi Ling) aka Rensuke’s Love Interest for 6/8 of the drama. After Xiu Mei gets dragged off to Japan as Rensuke’s full-time kept woman and part-time Regolith image model, guess who’s left behind to toil in the Shanghai sweatshop under horrible Oliver-Twisty working conditions? Ming!!! But the poor dear gets fired when he injures his foot from overwork and can’t keep up with the murderous quotas imposed by Regolith (tsk tsk), so he limps all the way to Japan (how? how? don’t ask, blerg) determined to disabuse (the hopelessly naïve) Xiu Mei of her assumption that all is fine on the China front.

Rensuke gets wind of Ming’s agenda and tries to muzzle him by locking him up in some dinky dungeon of a hotel room, but Kazami visits Ming on the sly (hence the F2 reunion scenes, yay — like the “Let’s catch up on Eitoku Gakuen gossip over a bowl of spaghetti, wheee!” scene) and instigates him to play the final ace up his sleeve — the *lovingly* assembled “Proletariat Manifesto: An Exposé of Regolith’s 873,247 International Labor Code Violations at the Shanghai Sweatshop” (aptly subtitled: “Rensuke You Suck!!!”), which later becomes instrumental to Rensuke’s downfall. Power 2 tha ppl, yo. (And to F2 too, hihihi.)

7. Rensuke vs. XX Chromosomes

Wow. Seriously, does Rensuke HATE WOMEN? Because all he ever does to the ladies in this drama is use, abuse and misuse them as if they were goods and chattels — because apparently it gets him off. *dry-heaves* You’d think the romance in TsukiKoi would be a tidal wave of passion and tenderness, of longing and unbridled desire, of heartbreak and infinite pleasure. You’d think that with TsukiKoi being touted as a “romantic drama”, there’d be some actual, honest-to-goodness romance. But halfway through the drama you’ll find yourself literally asking, “Where is the love?”

For there is nothing of that sort in TsukiKoi – just this sordid, tangled mess of people who can’t have what they want and don’t want what they have – or want what others have – or something like that. Why, what with three hot chicks hopelessly enamored with him — Xiu Mei (Lin Chi Ling), Yuzuki (Kitagawa Keiko) and Maemi (Shinohara Ryoko) — Rensuke is unarguably God’s gift to the fairer sex! But the burning question is, which one of these three lovely ladies does he want? Who is worthy of the Furniture King? WHO???

7.1 Rensuke vs. Yuzuki

Is it Onuki Yuzuki, the petulant crown princess of Regolith’s rival company, Mastpole? She’s loved Rensuke since she was a wee childe and would sit on his lap – hence the “Daddy-Long-Legs” vibes (I know right? eeeewwww) – and she will do anything for Rensuke, never mind that he also happens to be Papa Mastpole’s former mentee and current archenemy. She’ll do anything — even if it means throwing herself at Rensuke’s feet so he can walk all over her; even it it means stalking him from Tokyo to Shanghai where she willingly distributes fliers in a frikkin’ panda suit just because he tells her to; and even if it means misleading the paparazzi and tabloids into thinking that Regolith is in love with Mastpole (uh, figuratively speaking).

And in return, what does Rensuke do for Yuzuki? He USES her to mess with Papa Mastpole’s head by shamelessly flirting with her in public (strawberries and cream, anyone? yecch. but I LOVE strawberries and cream!!! dammit) only to leave her in the lurch – or in an empty parking lot, for that matter. Worse are the physical liberties that Rensuke takes with Yuzuki – I swear I literally saw red when Rensuke slapped her booty at that ritzy par-tay for all eyes to see — not least of all Papa Mastpole’s. Rensuke treats Yuzuki like sh*t and all she does is stamp her foot, shake her perfectly coiffed ringlets, and — um, try harder next time. Tsk tsk tsk.

Well thank gawwd Yuzuki’s petty jealousy fits soon get the better of her and so she connives with Papa Mastpole to sabotage and undermine Regolith. But even then Yuzuki never really hates or even hurts Rensuke like I badly hoped she would. Towards the end of the drama she becomes even more lovesick than ever when she sees what her scheming has done to Rensuke (he goes away to “find himself” OHNOES!!!). And for a brief spell she even quits her glamorous modeling career to wash dishes at the Chinese diner that Rensuke used to frequent – just in case he’d one day show up. Oh muh gawsh. Then he does show up, and in gratitude for, uh, staying alive, I guess, she lets Rensuke appropriate her family’s mountain chalet so he can make furniture for an upcoming competition against — Mastpole, ohwow!!! (Sidebar: THE FRAK is a mastpole anyway? Like the mast of a ship? Which is obviously a tall thin, er, pole to begin with? Lolz)

Kitagawa Keiko – I don’t know what.thuh.hell she was doing in this drama, when her role could’ve been played by any gravure wannabe (not a starlet yet, mind you – just a gravure wannabe!) with the same effect. Yuzuki is just this annoying superfluity you know the drama wouldn’t feel any different without. Why Kitagawa Keiko then? You’d think she’d never accept such a teensy supporting role right on the heels of Buzzer Beat (she’s leading lady material now, didn’t you hear?) but if the grapevine is to be believed, her casting in this drama was but a concession granted to Fuji TV for an unfulfilled contractual obligation – in short, Keiko’s management agency owed the network big time (for what, I’m not sure), and so had no choice but to lend Keiko’s star power to this new KimuTaku drama. Okay, whatever.

But one thing’s clear: the woman Rensuke loves is NOT the spoiled Yuzuki. Could it be the peasant girl Xiu Mei, then?

7.2 Rensuke vs. Xiu Mei

But “love” is… too… wholesome, too normal a word to describe what suppurates er, smolders between Chairman Rensuke and Comrade Xiu Mei. Sure — he wants her, he craves her, he desires her and must possess her – body, mind, soul and six-year-old-girl’s voice. But is that love? Blerg. Rensuke reminds me of The Duke from Moulin Rouge! who in one scene hisses at Harold Zidler: “I don’t. want. other. people. TOUCHING MY THINGS!!!” Tsk tsk. This seems like a case of KimuTaku having read WAY TOO MANY trashy romance novels and acting out his favorite scenes with his flavor of the month, eh KimuTaku eh? Hah hah hah.

For the first six out of eight episodes of TsukiKoi you get the squirm-inducing feeling that you’re watching a low-rent adaptation of those East-meets-West Harlequin paperbacks with tongue-twistery titles like “Blackmailed into the Greek Tycoon’s Bed” or “Shackling the Ruthless Sheikh’s Virginal Mistress” (LMFAO) where the heroines are usually flighty blondes who – for one reason or another – find themselves abducted/propositioned/forced/bamboozled by swarthy billionaires with funny accents, and are dragged halfway across the Arabian Desert/Carpathian Mountains/Aegean Sea to said billionaire’s oasis/castle/yacht hideaway, so OF COURSE the flaky bints end up FALLING IN LOVE with their merciless captors – OH WOW!!! Hahahahahahahaha

It doesn’t help, of course, that Xiu Mei has the mental and emotional sophistication of a Teletubby – specifically the tall purple one with an effin’ handbag, Tinky Winky I believe the name is… (“Xiu Mei Say ‘Eh-oh!’”) Which OF COURSE makes it ALL TOO EASY for Rensuke to perform his acts of sexual terrorism (lulz) on her. And Lin Chi Ling WALKS like a Teletubby, too. Oh she’s gorgeous, I’m not disputing that: the camera loves her and I can’t think of an angle where she doesn’t look pretty. (The freshly scrubbed look suits her best — like in the Regolith ad campaign “Needs no makeup.” Which, btw is kind of lulz because it’s more suited to sell a skincare line than tables and chairs.) But I’m surprised her gait is so… ungainly for a former model. Does she really walk and stand like this all the time? I already feel uncoordinated just looking at her, lol. Walk like a Teletubby, talk like a Teletubby… No, actually, Xiu Mei doesn’t just talk like a Teletubby, but she also sounds A LOT like… <wait for it> Nell!!!

[Sidebar: Some of you may recall the 1994 film Nell, starring Jodie Foster as an orphan who lived by her lonesome deep in the Appalachian Mountains and developed her own language. Liam Neeson played the doctor who befriended Nell after meeting her in the woods by accident. BTW Nell is a drama, not a comedy. But Lin Chi Ling doing Nell? Definitely a comedy! I swear, Lin Chi Ling swaying with her hands outstretched? Running uninhibited through the muddy fields? Calling for water striders in her sing-song voice??? Ahahahahahahha SO NELL. I could just imagine her saying more Nell stuff, like “Ga-ainja!!!” (Guardian angel) and “Trouble go away at nigh’, an’ Nell caw Mi’i – an’ Nell an’ Mi’i – ye’, Nell an’ Mi’i – like t’ee in the way!” (I have NO idea what that means) and “Missa missa chickabee, ressa, ressa, ressa me, chicka, chicka, chickabee…” (No idea either, lol) /end sidebar]

Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT hitching my caboose to the “Lin Chi Ling you suck!!! You single-handedly brought TsukiKoi down!!! The low ratings are all YOUR fault!!! Go back to Taiwan!!!” bandwagon — in spite of her speech impediment (lol) and purported lack of dramatic talent. I’d say her acting here is NOT as bad as I expected it to be. I liked Xiu Mei despite the Nellisms and the Teletubby gait; even the pidgin Nihonggo never grated on me because it was consistent with her character and added to her charm. So I don’t think it’s fair to pin this Moon Lovers mess on Lin Chi Ling alone. If TsukiKoi had been a noteworthy production with credible character development and a lucid, well-plotted story line, then perhaps Lin Chi Ling’s limitations as an actor would’ve stood out more. But even her performance here was grossly eclipsed by the muzzy writing that didn’t know how to chart a decent love trajectory, much less flesh out characters you could care about.

So KimuTaku prowls, growls and scowls his way to Lin Chi Ling’s heart (uh… uh… I guess I’m supposed to use “Rensuke” and “Xiu Mei” instead… but NO!!! because the whole thing is really just KimuTaku role-playing his Harlequin fantasies, remember? how about this for a title: “Enslaved by the Furniture King”!!!! hahahahahaha). But you’re never convinced that his feelings for her ever develop into something more mature, into something less grasping and self-serving. Rensuke remains stuck in his rut of sleaze, self-indulgence and conceit. On top of which — he’s just SO GROSSSSSSSSSS.

Let’s backtrack a little: A mere nine days before the Regolith Shanghai opening, Chairman Rensuke meets Comrade Xiu Mei for the first time on the muddy lot where her factory once stood, but which had to be demolished to give way to Regolith’s new sweatshop. The former factory workers who were demonstrating all day (including Xiu Mei’s BFF, Ming) have since dispersed, but Xiu Mei has come back to… <wait for it> LOOK FOR WATER STRIDERS amid the mucky brown pools, tar pits and peat bogs behind the old factory. (Seriously, water striders? Roundworms and other parasites, yes. Water striders, no!) She sees Rensuke smoking and mistakes him for a tourist and… <wait for it> SHE DOESN’T KNOW HE’S THE VERY GUY WHO CLOSED DOWN HER FACTORY!!! Do we see potential conflict looming in the distance????

Xiu Mei also used to be the factory pinup model – obviously because she’s the ONLY worker there whose hands have retained their magical milky white softness, untouched by the ravages of hard labor. And Rensuke also happens to be… <wait for it> LOOKING FOR THE NEW FACE OF REGOLITH, OH WOW!!! A lightbulb goes off in Rensuke’s head and – and – he goes off in search of his Number Two Kazami so they can do the Gaston/LeFou duet from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!!! (“LeFou I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…”/“A dangerous pastime”/“I know…” lol). If Rensuke gets Xiu Mei as his model, that’ll mollify the demonstrators!!! Give them their own Worker’s Idoru!!!

So Rensuke digs into Xiu Mei’s background to exploit whatever he can from her sob story (mom’s bedridden; dad left years ago to work in Japan but hasn’t been heard from since; she keeps her life savings not in the bank, but in a little tin can stashed under the wooden slats of their kitchen; the loan sharks are threatening her with eviction and she can’t pay them no more ‘coz – OH THAT’S RIGHT, CHAIRMAN RENSUKE CLOSED HER FACTORY DOWN). And he basically lies, bribes and pulls strings so that Xiu Mei has no recourse but to… <wait for it> COME WORK FOR RENSUKE AS REGOLITH’S IMAGE MODEL, OH WOW!!!

Never mind that Regolith has – oh I don’t know, JUST NINE DAYS LEFT before the Shanghai opening and they still have to TRAIN Xiu Mei to walk, talk and vogue like a gin-yoo-wine Supermodel/Goodwill Ambassador for Displaced Factory Workers Throughout the Region!!! But OF COURSE Xiu Mei soon finds out from Ming that Rensuke rigged things so that she’d agree to do all this sh*t for his company, and OF COURSE she ditches training and runs off into the night, sending everyone in a tizzy, and OF COURSE Rensuke knows exactly where to find her (“Find water strider, find Xiu Mei!!!” lol), and OF COURSE when he arrives at the muddy old factory site she’s furious with him for his duplicity, and OF COURSE this inevitably leads to the first gross-you-out scene from “Enslaved by the Furniture King” Harlequin Special Edition:

Rensuke: (grabs Xiu Mei and growls) “If you really want to be happy, you have to fight for it. Let’s. Go.”

(More yanking and struggling! Violence! Pushing and tugging! Clawing and screaming! Pinning against cement post! Slapping and chest-beating!)

Xiu Mei: “I hate you!!! Why are you doing this to me?!?! WHY!?!??!”

Rensuke: (growls s’more, jerks her forward into a grappling clinch hold) “You can hate me. You don’t have to forgive me. I want you… I REALLY want you…” (More glaring! Neck-grasping! Staring at each other! Heavy breathing!)

<wait for it>


And with those words, those burning, forceful words borne out of Chairman Rensuke’s adamantine will, Comrade Xiu Mei’s international modeling career is signed, sealed and delivered amid the abandoned bulldozers and backhoes of the old factory site. But OH MAN, nothing prepared me for the next scene showing the Shanghai opening shindig, which basically was… this… whirligig of WTF-ery, a carbuncle of kitsch that left me in a near state of hysterocatalepsy. The theatrical lighting! The string ensemble! Xiu Mei in a slinky black leather dress, dripping… rhinestones! Her death tango with the Amenbo stool, customized to resemble a <wait for it> water strider! The well-heeled crowd, spellbound by Xiu Mei’s beauty, applauding hysterically! Ming and the other factory peasants, who somehow managed to sneak into the venue, now unfurling their Red Propaganda banners and cheering their comrade on! Xiu Mei sashaying down the catwalk with tears of gratitude glistening on her cheeks! Xiu Mei saluting the old village geezer who used to give her Nihonggo lessons! (How the HEY did he get inside! I don’t know I don’t know!) And beyond it all, beyond the din of the adoring catcalls, wolf whistles and proletariat rabblerousing, beyond the overpriced insectomorphic stools and other tacky furniture defiling the venue, Xiu Mei sees him, her captor, benefactor, (tor)mentor and future lover <dry-heaves>, prowling, scowling and growling in the shadows <dry-heaves>, watching her silently, radiating concupiscence and raw carnality <dry-heaves dry-heaves dry-heaves>.

And that’s how Comrade Xiu Mei gets shanghaied (heh heh heh) by the Good Chairman to find herself in Fair Nihon, where KimuTaku Rensuke continues to his indulge in his kept-woman fantasies: secretes Xiu Mei in some swanky hotel, then drags her through Shibuya for an ENTIRE AFTERNOON, MAKING HER TRY ON EVENING WEAR AT A DOZEN OR SO UPSCALE BOUTIQUES WHILE HE JUST WATCHES HER, SMOKING (eeewww). This alone raises a major red flag: a workaholic like Rensuke blocking off his day to become his company model’s personal shopper??? LMAO.

Then ZOMG Rensuke PIMPS HER OUT to this florid American hotelier named Creighton, whom both Rensuke and Papa Mastpole are aiming to score a plum deal with. While Papa Mastpole takes Creighton’s two young critters to a theme park, Rensuke’s idea of a soft sell is to procure the magnate a sex slave for a night. Never mind that said hotelier slobbers all over Xiu Mei’s alabaster shoulders and fondles her long locks before proffering his indecent proposal — this is business, nothing personal!!! And all this time we’re supposed to feel a tittle of sympathy for Rensuke because he’s NOT REALLY A BAD PERSON, HE DOESN’T REALLY WANT TO SELL XIU MEI’S BODY — SEE HIM CLENCH HIS FIST SO HARD HIS CIGGY STICK BREAKS?!!??!!!!?! (gahahahahahaha) So this is only business, nuthin’ personal, ehhh Rensuke? Well, heaven help us all. *dry-heaves*

And then – OH!!! OH!!! Xiu Mei dopes out Regolith’s oppressive labor practices at the Shanghai factory – and SHE FEELS SO BETRAYED that Rensuke didn’t keep his word!!! On top of which he has her long-lost Peasant Dad deported back to China because his illegal alien status may jeopardize Xiu Mei’s image – just when Xiu Mei has finally found him after all these years of searching!!! So she almost quits Regolith – but decides to stay in Japan so she can exact her <wait for it> REVENGE!!! “Get Rensuke to fall in rabu-rabu with me, get rich, and then break! his! kokoro! into a thousand wood splinters!!!” Apparently her brilliant plan only opens her up to more yanking and grabbing, guttural noises (from who else), nose-rubbing (WTF!), pinning against dressing-room tables, doe-eyed gazing and libidinous staring, drippy-ass exchanges hidden inside “Nihonggo for Pre-Beginners” workbooks (“I want to melt his heart.” – LMAO!!!), Harlequinesque one-liners (“I won’t be your toy!”), and some very lethal face-pashing under the ever-watchful Moon of Love – and the ever-watchful paparazzi, tsk.

The thing is, I didn’t mind that Xiu Mei had a retaliatory strategy germinating in that pretty little head of hers, which hitherto seemed to contain only thoughts of elusive amphibious insects and bucolic bike rides. I LIKED the revenge angle and wanted the good Comrade Xiu Mei to succeed as much as I wanted the evil Chairman Rensuke to BITE THE DUST. But Xiu Mei’s little snare is dead in the water from Day One because first of all, guess who’s the first person she tells??? It’s Kazami the Hatchet Man!!! (“He [Rensuke] betray me, he not save my co-workers. That’s why I will make him fall for me, then I’ll dump him.” – LMAO!!!) Yes yes, so Kazami has also been plotting his own “Rensuke Goes Down” agenda, BUT NOBODY KNOWS THAT YET, XIU MEI. For all intents and purposes, Kazami is still Rensuke’s man — but she tells him everything anyway!!! And secondly, this Xiu Mei, bless her sweet simpletonic heart, never gets to fully realize her plan because… <wait for it> SHE FALLS IN LOVE WITH CHAIRMAN RENSUKE. Of course.

To answer the earlier question, yes, Rensuke does fall in love with this tender-hearted (if a bit thick) country bumpkin — albeit in a very twisted way. A good chunk of this series (75% to be exact) is all about that. “Regolith in Love?” You mean… Rensuke in Love!!! And if Xiu Mei ever asked her boss/jailer/lover what he saw in her, Rensuke would snarlingly answer: “You had me at… water striders.” (hahahaha) Indeed, blame it on those little critters for bringing the twain together. 86% of Rensuke and Xiu Mei’s lovey-dovey moments are about those cruddy insects, anyway.

Take that scene from Episode 1 where Xiu Mei gets to bond with her new BFF Maemi over lunch, and suddenly Chairman Rensuke joins them to – oh, you know, check on the goods. *rolleyes* The lunch table conversation takes a decidedly philosophical turn when Rensuke does his STUPID EFFTARDED “What does this look like?” spiel with the four coins, and of course Maemi won’t tell him the answer, and Xiu Mei interjects that the coins resemble the ripples made by a pond skater (or water strider). Maemi helpfully adds that water striders are used as an indicator for environmental quality, oh wow!

Chairman Rensuke: (pensively) “Are there water striders in China?” (Hahahahha. Are there… earthworms in Brazil? Are there cockroaches in Mongolia? Hahahahahahaha Rensuke you comedian!!!)

Comrade Xiu Mei: (sadly) “Not in China. They can’t live in the water here, it’s too dirty.” (Uh, no sh*t? LMFAO) “Happiness… if you find water strider. My otosan told me when I was small, whoever finds water strider will be happy. That’s why I always look for it. When it rains… the town will be clean. Flowers, trees, and rices… they all grow up. That’s why, where water strider is… people happy. Find water strider, you happy.” At which point the whole table falls silent, astounded by Xiu Mei’s grasp of indigenous ecological lore, and left to ponder the weight of her words and the true essence of happiness… and this strange new thing, this water strider and its indispensable place in the Great Web of Life.

Hahahahhahahahhahaha. First of all — happiness??? Happiness??? Ain’t no water striders in my paddling pool either – so I guess that makes me a miserable joyless hack. And that line about water striders and environmental quality, coupled with Rensuke’s “regolith can only be found on the moon” claim – SERIOUSLY WHO WAS FEEDING ASANO TAEKO ALL THIS CRAZY SH*T??? Did she even try to verify the little factoids she kept injecting into her script??? Regolith isn’t exclusive to the moon any more than water striders are the most reliable of environmental indicators. I doubt ecologists the world over would do a Xiu Mei and gaze soulfully into every mudpool they came across, looking for the water striders that (alone!!!) can tell them if the aquatic environment is in good shape or not. I’m sure there are other more scientifically reliable indicators of water quality, like dissolved oxygen levels, coliform bacteria concentrations, or water turbidity. I mean… really, Asano Taeko… *facepalm*

Midway in the drama there’s a scene where this inanity about water striders reaches a new low. It happens to be Rensuke and Xiu Mei’s most romantic moment – that is, if “romantic” for you means reenacting something you saw from a daytime soap, or – again – read in a Harlequin paperback. First, we see Xiu Mei sloshing about in a man-made pool outside Rensuke’s hotel – you know, man-made as in “cement bottom, chlorinated water, no natural vegetation” man-made? Well, guess what Xiu Mei is doing by said pool when Rensuke finds her? Looking for water striders. Of course. Great prelude to an evening tryst with the man you love. The best. It’s the best!!! Because Rensuke suddenly grabs her! Hugs her, lifts her and twirls her (dude she’s taller than you. lol)! She calls him by a special pet name, “Wansuke”! They splash around the water! Touchy-feely! They settle against the stone wall by the pool! Looking at the moon! Looking at the f***ing MOON!!! This is the point where it hits us viewers (because we’re obviously to shtooopid to figger it out by ourselves) that Rensuke and Xiu Mei are the drama’s titular characters, they are the Moon Lovers!!!

Now I don’t even know what to make of this scene. I don’t. It’s one of those you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-and-then-you’ll-vomit-in-your-mouth-and-DIE things. No descriptions will ever suffice. Oh the horror. Oh the horror.

But now that Xiu Mei has hooked up with Rensuke (she even spends the night at his place, eeewww), it can only mean one thing: Doom. Is. Nigh. When Ming comes limping to Xiu Mei with his “The Shanghai Labor Camp: Tales from the Dark Side” collection of horror stories, the poor lass realizes that her prince charming is really… <wait for it> an ogre in disguise! But Rensuke susses out Ming’s arrival, and in a fit of rage and jealousy, storms his kept woman’s abode — and finds Ming in her room!!! Xiu Mei is mad, very mad! (“You don’t own me! You promised you’d help everybody!”) Rensuke grabs her by the scruff of the neck! (eeeewwww) More growling and scowling!!! He hauls her off to the pokey (pokey = swanky hotel room under lock and key), Ming too! Great. Just great. Why doesn’t he just RAPE her while he’s at it. But no – Rensuke loves Xiu Mei, remember? Because he later confides to Maemi, “I wanna be with her! I don’t wanna let her go!” Aieeeeee *tears out hair*

Episode 6 is when the sh*t really hits the fan: a gas cylinder in a Regolith rotating chair explodes, injuring a grade-school kid and prompting the company to order a massive Toyota-magnitude product recall amid the mounting public outcry over Regolith’s quality control (or lack of it). And how does the good Chairman Rensuke react to the debacle? The Furniture King locks himself in his office and trashes his own furniture, hahahahaha. Oh what’s that Rensuke? You’re actually – ANGRY about the product recall? The defective chair was traced to your Shanghai sweatshop, remember? The one that you heinously neglected and screwed over again and again and again??? Tsk tsk… Rensuke Rensuke… What goes around comes around… jerk-off.

And what about Xiu Mei, who remains in her hotel prison cell twiddling her thumbs and counting the lizards on the wall? Oh she still loves her precious Wansuke, does she now? But when he pays her a visit, she gives Ultimatum No. 1: “Save the factory workers, or I’ll quit my job and go back to Shanghai.” And Rensuke growls back: “If you wanna quit, go ahead. But I have one condition: marry me. Let’s get married, Xiu Mei.” Uhm… <wait for it> so WTF just happened? Lol

She doesn’t even blame Rensuke for the great big stinking pile of camel poo that the Regolith snafu has thrown them all into? What gives, Comrade Xiu Mei? Her answer: “Because I know you’re struggling…” (LMAO) So Rensuke closes down his Shanghai sweatshop for good, ostensibly to “regain public trust” by concentrating production locally – so much for the Chairman’s Great Leap Forward, tsk tsk. Then Kazami releases Ming’s “Proletariat Manifesto” (finally!!! shoulda done that ages ago, ol’ boy) but the collateral damage includes deportation for Ming. But – oh! Oh! What’s this!??!? Xiu Mei’s at the airport too? After six episodes, she’s finally leaving Japan?!?!? (“Could it be? Is it she? Sacrebleu, invaders!” lulz)

So what about Rensuke and his marriage proposal? Well, Xiu Mei gives Rensuke a call (just when he’s waiting at the restaurant with his okasan because he wants to introduce a *certain* peasant chick to Mummie dearest, oh wow) and – heeeere we go again, let’s all hop on the Maudlin Merry-go-round of Misery!!!

Xiu Mei: “If I stay here, you’ll get hurt because of me. Smile… I hardly ever saw you smile.”

Rensuke: “I can’t smile like you.”

Xiu Mei: “I wasn’t smiling, I was always crying inside. But that’s why I put a smile on. That’s why I smile.”

Rensuke: “I want to make you happy but I…” <wait for it> “…just can’t change who I am.” <KA-CHIIIIIIINNNGG> (He puts down the receiver!!! Clenches teeth!!! Holds back tears!!! Looks at ceiling!!! Leaves his bemused Mummie in the restaurant, wondering “eehhh? WTF just happened?” Hahahahahahah)

And if you think that’s the last we’ll see of Xiu Mei, think again! Kazami somehow intercepts her at the airport and stows her away in yet another hotel room, and in the dying moments of this necrotic drama she re-appears in Rensuke’s life because she <wait for it> still loves him… but he <wait for it> rejects her in the end – because of course their love story cannot possibly end with Xiu Mei dumping Rensuke, right? (The horror!) It has to be the other way around or this wouldn’t be a KimuTaku renzoku ren’ai. But whatever. Either way, do you really care? Did you ever? It’s impossible to invest in the Rensuke+Xiu Mei love story because you can never truly see the characters for who the writer intended them to be. This romance between a Beautiful Courtesan and her Evil Maharajah (or, as I prefer to call it, between a Teletubby and her… Nazitübbie, lol) fails to take root within you because throughout this drama you can never shake the feeling that all you’re really watching is KimuTaku acting out his sordid Harlequin fantasies with his belle du jour. And that’s not even remotely romantic, but just… sad and pathetic.

Next up: Part 2 – The Rensuke+Maemi Ren’ai (aka Tsuki no Koibito the Tanpatsu!)

Photo credits: ashkt.livejournal.com, chikara4piece.blogspot.com. d-addicts.com, dangermousie.livejournal.com, dramacrazy.net, dramaticallyincorrect.wordpress.com, evacuatewithstyle.org, hamsapsukebe.com, japanesia.org, noitakarai.wordpress.com, rz-jocelyn.livejournal.com, silentrerets.com, tenkai-japan.com, timelessub.com, viikii.com, wretch.cc/blog/gakinme

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48 Comments on “Drama Review (Part 1): Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers (Fuji TV, 2010)”

  1. sara Says:

    thanks EG for providing a great entertainment….guffaws a lot and it is a only part 1….hahaha more please….that’s clinched it and in addition to other bad reviews ,no way I’m gonna devote some 10 hours of my life for this trainwreck… though for the record I did try and din manage to finish episode 1 and I have high hopes for it too….adore Kimura in renai particularly Beautiful Life and Long Vacation and it’s been so long since Pride

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey thanks! Well at least this review provided a few cheap laughs, lol 😀

      *Someone* seriously ought to GO BACK TO REN’AI SCHOOL and get his Golden-Age mojo back, POSTHASTE! Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m getting a craving for LV, LoveGen and BL all of a sudden. And it’s a very, very strong craving. (Dang it, right now I’m missing Sena/Teppei/Shuji SO BAD I’m actually tearing up. Ahhh stupid Rensuke X_X)

      • sara Says:

        please don’t tempt me…I have too many show to watch currently and have gone mental on SKKS….
        it has been years since I touched an episode of BL….the fun time….no kidding I cry for a week after it ends….Shuji….arggh with that cool motorcycle and the desperate search in Fuji mountain

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          SKKS — People are reccing this left and right so I’m putting in on my to-watch list, pronto!!! *must finish my current K-stash first*

          Yeah, BL made me weep buckets too. But strangely I never felt like I was being emotionally manipulated by the writer at any point in the drama. It was just that good. (That mountain one-man search&rescue squad scene — aaaarrrrghgggghhh!!! :-()

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stein, Stein. Stein said: Drama Review (Part 1): Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers (Fuji TV … http://bit.ly/9jlqPX […]

  3. doozy Says:

    ahahahha! as someone who is not familiar with Kimura’s dramaography and notable performances, and specifically this show, I still had a blast reading your reviews. so funny, as always.

    Also, in comparison, I’m glad that Mr. Brain was my first exposure to Kimura rather this one.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Then consider yourself lucky for not giving TsukiKoi a spin! Sad to say, your neuter, banana-chomping “Skippy” (lmao) was oodles more fun to watch than this charmless furniture-cobbling hack. (Ah crud, now I’ve turned you off Kimura FOREVER. Doh! @_______@)

  4. momosan Says:

    EG, you are a better person than I. I lasted 2 episodes, which shook my belief that I would watch Kimutaku read the phone book. Alas, there are apparently worse things to read than the phone book, namely this script.

    I believe I promised you some sake for managing to get through this thing. To get through and then review it lucidly is top grade sake time. They pretty much lost me at Abe Tsuyoshi in the worst drag ever seen on the screen, but the bad makeover and stripclub style cat walk (WTH WAS THAT!!!) sealed the deal.

    We will not speak of this again…..

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Dude, you are by far the SMARTER person ‘coz you knew when to cut your losses, lol. 😉

      “Alas, there are apparently worse things to read than the phone book, namely this script.” << LMFAO! Spot-on 😀

      Ohohoho, the sake! The sake!!! Top grade? Make that industrial-grade, cirrhosis-inducing, brain-frying hooch, baby. Anything strong enough to zap this drama from my memory-storing neurons, hahaha

  5. zooey Says:

    It’s here!!! I was soooo looking forward to this review when you told me that you saw TnK in August… I figured I would have gotten around to seeing it by now but I just couldn’t get myself past the 10 minute mark of episode 1… Now I’m torn whether I should give this drama another go or just forget about it and read your review.

    Was reading the nutshell portion and I already had tears in my eyes– was laughing so hard and going wtf when you mentioned brother moon– and then you went ahead and recounted the good old days when Kimutaku was THE King of ren’ai, and now I’m pretty stumped. I don’t know how to proceed. I know the throne is vacant but am I really ready to confirm this fact?

    I’m nearing the end of my run as a Kimutaku fan and I’m afraid that this drama might just cut me off completely. Seeing that I didn’t even finish Mr Brain, I don’t know if I can manage to watch this, might do better to pick up another hobby. 😦

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol thanks, I had no idea you were anticipating this review that much. But I’m truly humbled! (Even if you probably just needed to hear a confirmation that yes, the rest of the drama WAS indeed as crappy as the first ten minutes “foretold.” Hehe :D)

      Didn’t finish Mr Brain? So not blaming you ^^;;

      ZOMG I don’t want KimuTaku to abdicate (or be deposed? haha) just yet!!! I’m feeling withdrawal symptoms already lulz

      • zooey Says:

        Lol you got me there. I was kinda looking for confirmation. And if a big fan like you had trouble viewing it, I think the chances of me ever putting that disc back into my dvd player just went down a few more notches.

        I just feel bad because I remember the good old days when I really looked forward to watching a Kimura dorama…

        Remember our little discussion about who’s gonna be the next big thing when it comes to playing the romantic lead? I think you’re right in saying there doesn’t seem to be anyone out there to “fill the throne”. Looks like we’re gonna have actors shuffling through such roles as fans and producers search for a good fit– it’ll be at least a decade of anarchy in ren’ai land as paupers, merchants, knights and princes (or princesses) stake their claim to the throne. 😛

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Ohohoho I do remember our leetle discussion, I do I do. 🙂 Ohnoes a decade of anarchy?!?!?! Even after the unfortunate TsukiKoi I’m not ready to throw in the towl and call it “Kimurageddon” just yet, lol. But your free-for-all scenario is hilarious! Let’s see who fits the bill in terms of popularity and career accomplishment (though not necessarily in talent)…

          Prince – Takki? Jun?
          Knight – Kame (Knight of the Swiveling Hips) and Pi (Knight of the Wooden Countenance) lmao
          Merchant – Toma, Miura 🙂
          Pauper – Tegoshi Yuya and those Jrs (except Yuto) lol
          Mage (who prefer to do their own thing and refuse to rule the kingdom but know they’re awesome anyway) – Eita, Shun, Yamada Takayuki 😀

          So did I leave anyone out? 😉

  6. ockoala Says:


    You deserve a medal. An award. Some sort of valediction for remaining a KT completist and watching this dreck.

    I’m sorry – but you comparing the wonder-from-Taiwan-down under LCH to a Teletubby and having a voice like a 6 yr old made me laugh and cry so hard I had to stopped reading your review for a good 30 minutes.

    Cannot agree more. LCH made Red Cliff even more unbearable then its pretentious chop-suey of a hokey script. I hate her voice above all else, it destroys any possibility for me to ever believe in any character she plays.

    She was actually dubbed for the Chinese release of Red Cliff Part II, bc her real voice in Part I was so abominable the Chinese audiences new rioted. Dubbed! In a movie where she spoke the language perfectly! That speaks volumes.

    Anyways, looking forward to Part II of your epic eviseration of TnK.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for the, uh, medal, but I think it’s better off slung around my neck like a noose to put me out of my misery, lol 😀 Or better yet, just give me… the Cone of Shame!!! lulz

      Lmao @ your description of LCL’s dubbing blues!!! Maybe when she plays a quadriplegic deaf-mute, audiences will finally be able to watch her performance without getting the urge to throw something at the screen. 😉

  7. jobae Says:

    Love it!
    I lasted 2 1/2 episodes before I finally had it. I was in the “wait for it” “wait for it” “wait for it” moment when Kimura sheds his evil persona and transforms into the guy we will all fall in love with.
    But no.
    Ugly dorama.
    Why he chose to do this, I don’t know.
    Like you say, let’s go back to the classic love story, PLEASE!

  8. jicks Says:

    I LOVE THIS REVIEW!!!!!!! Mainly because Rensuke is getting knifed!!!!!! lol (And it’s only Part One muahahahahha xDDDDD)

    In a nutshell, I echo practically everything you said ^_^ Gaha @ “The People vs. Hazuki Rensuke”- dead on. There was nothing that justified why he was such a turd. But to me, it was really like Everyone VS Everyone. NOBODY seemed to be working to complement each other & the series. It just felt like one big pieced together, scrappy fail of a series.

    lol@ “Rensuke vs. Plain Good Taste” & your gay fast food chain comment^^; But yes, they definitely should’ve WOWed us more with Rensuke’s supposed talent, you know, if you’re not going to make me like you at least have me resoect you. But instead, I was hatin’ on the playa & hatin’ on the game (!) I remember falling out of my chair when he made that final, er, chair presentation (lame-o!) & thinking, “Nice speech RenRen & but seriously, all you’ve really done is hammered a few chucks of timber together there dude.” *raises left eyebrow*

    “Imma make it worldwide – in the furniture business that is…”
    ^^LMAOx100million *sheds tear* Oh imagine a world of Yellow Gold furniture… *throws up in mouth*

    lol@ “Rensuke vs. Spare Change.” Seriously to me, it still just looks like four coins >_> But if ever Rensuke was in the vicinty & I just happened to have four coins at hand, I would catapult them at his big head. Coins + water creatures things + Moon = worst memory EVER.

    BUT!!!!!! Hells-YES to F2 <333333333 Everything you said in the first paragraph about them made me friggin laugh like a galah xDD Fair to say if the other F2 were around as well, Rensuke would have a nice lil Red Card smacked on his giant noggin. And I would so be the first to egg him lol

    Seriously, does Rensuke HATE WOMEN?
    ^^He doesn’t hate women, it’s more just that he loves himself ><" …Gwash, I've been bagging him hard in this comment lol Should probably wind this comment up before I destroy the Furniture King (lol Nice one!) any more…

    Looking forward to Part Two 🙂

    Btw, re Chi Ling’s awkward limb coordination- from what I’ve seen of her in the past, she’s kinda just put this on for this show. And while I will not blame her for the failure of this series, I will like to interrogate the final decision maker to cast her in the series -_- I really feel her presence threw alot of the chemistry of the series off.

    P.P.S. Don’t mean to put you in a difficult position but I seem to recall someone saying somewhere that they will eat their big toe of Kimura Takuya & Shinohara Ryoko’s characters don’t get together in the end?? xPP

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks! Always a pleasure to get an epic comment from you, lol ^^;; Though I’m afraid there aren’t nearly enough stink bombs in Part 2 since it’s mainly about Maemi 😀

      ““Nice speech RenRen & but seriously, all you’ve really done is hammered a few chucks of timber together there dude.” *raises left eyebrow*” << lololol I know right??? You keep waiting for the moment when he shows everyone how badass a designer he is, and then we get a couple of dinky little chairs any high school kid can assemble in Practical Arts class. blerg!

      Hehe I knew only the Jin/KAT-TUN fans would appreciate the "Imma make it worldwide" reference but I didn't have the heart to pass it up, lol. “Yellow Gold furniture” ftw!!! I shudder to think what that would look like. Like… the gayest Louis XIV furniture probably? Funny, ‘coz this guy makes me think of Jin (well, in a few more years at least — if he doesn’t cut back on those french fries!):

      Btw that Red Card reference? Ahhahahahahhaha BRILLIANT!!! I don’t remember what it said in the HanaDan version, but in MG the card read “you’ll be dead” or something, lmao. Ahhh Engrish! Then the harried but vengeful Regolith employees start to converge on Rensuke in the company cafeteria, like zombie sheep. 😉

      “He doesn’t hate women, it’s more just that he loves himself ><" << OMG you're totally right. That narcissist. *rolleyes* Hey, guilt-free bashing is totally encouraged allowed on this blog so let it all out! (this ain’t Soompi after all, hehehe)

      Re LCL’s casting – you seem to be au courant on the C/Tw entertainment scene, so… if you could pick anyone other than Chi Ling to play opposite Rensuke, who’d it be? (Faye Wong? lol jez kidding. Rensuke, thou shalt not desecrate the memory of Tak and his android lover makin’ hot robo-nookie on that train!!! *pounds gavel*)

      p.p.s. Ahahahaha your memory serves you right. But I guess with the way this drama ended I won’t be nibbling on any part of my foot at the moment, phew! 😀

      • jicks Says:

        lol I don’t know why my comments always end up so, ah, lengthy^^;

        Ooh! I love French fries! French fries + Jinny… hmm… er, so not hungry *regurgitates in own mouth* >_>…

        2046! 2046! Come on, our dearest Dorama King proved that he could be a Movie King right in this flick! Seriously thought he was amazing in this (despite his limited screentime,) robotic canoodling et all lol

        If I were to pick anyone other than Chi Ling to play opp Rensuke..? It would have to be… Koyuki! No wait, she ain’t the same nationality darn it lol -_-; well, not that I’m coming from any “experty” place when I say this, the first person who came to mind though when I read your comment was the actress Shu Qi. Or Kristy Yang. I feel like they both would look pretty alright standing next to the man (!) AND I’ve seen them act girly & “cutesy” without getting on my nerves… but Shu Qi is probably far too big for the role lol

        Truth be told, I rather the TnK crew have kept it as a complete Japanese production… I don’t think having part of the story set in China & part of the characters being Chinese had much significance to the story at all. Would’ve been more intriguing had Rensuke’s family (or his past) had a super monumental encounter with the Chinese or something in the past…

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Ooooh Shu Qi, that hot chick from So Close! Good choice, good choice. (But if Fuji TV had to pay through the nose and make their employees eat cardboard for a month just to afford LCL’s talent fee, I shudder to think of the financial ruin they would’ve brought upon themsleves by hiring someone as big as Shu Qi.) Not too familiar with Kristy Yang but I checked out her photos and she IS purty. So is that other chick from So Close, Zhao Wei/Vicki Zhao (hey niiiiice name :-))

          Looking back I’d have to agree with you on the significance and relevance of the China angle (or, uh, lack thereof). If the series were typically Kdrama-lengthy, say 24 eppies, there could have been room in the story for the Chinese setting & characters. But TnK having only 8 parts, these extraneous elements just threw the whole drama off its center. >-/

          “robotic canoodling” hahaha! Okay okay, so yes he was HAWT in his limited screentime. (Good thing the copy I have is the Japanese and not the internayshonal release.) I guess Space Battleship Yamato will tell us if he can carry a major studio film by his lonesome. *crosses fingers & toes*

          *Keanu Reeves voice* WHOA. I just got a very vivid flash of Jinny sitting in a McDonald’s in downtown L.A., digging into his 4th Happy Meal of the morning while slurping his vanilla lovejuice milkshake and making… happy noises (e.g. “Y-U-M-M-Y!!!” *clap clap* “Y-U-M-M-Y!” *clap clap*). Like, it could be happening THIS VERY MOMENT. So furrreeeaky. *shudders*

  9. mookie Says:

    Your review left me with these words: sooo grotesquely awesomesauce that I vomit in mouth while dry heaving AND split sides loling yet feel so revolted I wanna scrub myself in cold showers for not my usual obvious reasons reading it. There can not be a more viscerally appropriate review for the total ass explosion that is TnK

    Take those MillionStars satin sheets and cage and do whatever you want with it with KimuTaku. I(we) approve!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “grotesquely awesomesauce”? lol I kind of love that! 😀 Uh… glad to know your internal organs got a full workout from that review. Heh heh. ^^;;

      Methinks an appropriate punishment for KimuTaku and the TsukiKoi writer would be to lock them up in the Sora Kara rabbit hutch — er, birdcage, and empty a canister of water striders into said cage. The flesh-eating variety. >D

  10. Taohua Says:

    ROFL…serious kudos to you for finishing this. I think I only lasted through the first episode. ::Sigh:: I was so looking forward to this…and it’s the first Kimutaku dorama that I have started but didn’t finish. Out of the first episode the only one I liked was Shinohara Ryoko…but with LCH (for me at least, her voice and acting was a major negative)and CRAZY!JERK!Rensuke, and the script–I couldn’t continue. Seriously with such a WTF!script, I am tempted to avoid anything else Asano Taeko writes.

    Anyways, wonderful review! You are definitely more courageous than I and hope you aren’t worse for wear from watching TnK 🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks! Hahaha, courageous you say? More like… foolhardy, lol. 😀 Oh I’ve recovered all right. I saw TsukiKoi a couple of months back, so I’ve had plenty of time to regain my sanity. I also did a picspam post of Kimura’s mugshots from his twenties, it’s on the second page of this blog I think. That sure sped up my recovery time, I’ll say 😉

      Re Asano Taeko – oh dear I hope this means you won’t avoid Love Generation because of this. Unless you’ve already seen (and hopefully, loved!) that drama? 😀

  11. Jenny Says:

    I’m so happy that I decided not to watch this!
    I can’t believe that you managed to watch it and come out with your mental sanity intact ;D

    Maybe Rensuke is more then a bit of a narcisist just like Kimutaki himself, I love when he gets pisses everytime his team looses in Bistro smap (his facial expressions say everything, Quentin Tarantino even made fun of it)

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Well, I’m so happy for you!!! lol 🙂

      True, both Rensuke and Kimura are vain and self-confident and very competitive hombres. Both think they’re awesome, but the difference between them is that [going on full fangirl mode now, so wait for it]… KimuTaku IS. Awesome. Like, he’s got the sh*t to back it all up: athletic, terrific dancer w/ great body coordination, can play the guitar, can cook, can sing (mostly) in tune, etc. etc. Whereas all Rensuke can truly brag about is his ability to what — make a chair? lmfao 😀

      • Jenny Says:

        Full fangirl mode be my guest ^^
        I do like him as a actor but this project was just wrong on so many levels of wrongness.(My secret dream is to appear on bistro smap and have the guys cook for me yummy food)
        Rensuke can brag about his glossy hair that blows in the wind and pouty lips that drive women mad and of course making chairs, some women might appreciate that ;D

        And on another note some more clips from the upcoming adaptation of Byakuyako it looks quite intense me likey:

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Zomg Bistro Smap is my ultimate SMAP fantasy too!!!! 😀

          Oh, thanks for sharing the trailer/press con link. Wow is Byakuyakou just 2 months away from hitting theaters? Nearer than I thought.

          Kora Kengo was so cute in that ’70s wig, hehehe. I checked out his D-wiki. Hontouni he was in Gokusen 2??? Didn’t notice him there. (Well, obviously since I was looking at *someone* else the whole time :-)) Well, too bad for Kora that Norwegian Wood flopped with the critics. They shoulda gone with a different director @_@

          • Jenny Says:

            If I ever get invited I’ll be sure to invite you along, as you see I’m have big plans for the future^^

            Yup, around january is the country wide release.
            They just had a early screening at tokyo int.film festival and so far the early reviews have been good.

            Kengo looks like a different person with long hair but it suits him. Yeah I was like he was in Gokusen 2, where!!! But Matsuyama Kenichi was in the first season of gokusen.
            Really Norwgian wood flopped, I had high hopes for tat movie. The director was really a interesting choice so I thought it would go well.

  12. aireinu Says:

    Another excellent review! Thank you!
    Being fairly new to the jdrama world I haven’t seen those old dramas you keep referring to. So I’m not a big KimuTaku fan. But I’d like to be a devil’s advocate here and say that he does pretty well considering… I mean, if you try to forget the awfull script and terrible direction and just watch him act, he delivers. Rensuke is pretty convincing. You hated him(Rensuke), didn’t you? Wasn’t that the point? LOL.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks very much! 😀

      I agree with you that Rensuke was meant to elicit feelings of ire and even revulsion from viewers at the onset of the drama. But I strongly doubt that Asano Taeko wished to end on that note. I think somewhere along the way our hearts were *supposed* to turn towards his character and we would see him as a man transformed by love, a heroic figure. But the writer failed to make this happen, IMO. My loathing for Rensuke should have changed into sympathy and understanding, but it never did. @__@

      I hope you can someday find the time to watch Kimura’s “Golden Age” ren’ai (Love Generation, Long Vacation, Beautiful Life, Pride), because I can assure you that you’ll fall in love with AT LEAST one or two of these dramas. It’s like… if you’re not a Kimura fan yet, you will be when you’re done with them. 😀 I’m staking my blog’s reputation on this assertion, lol. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think of them! 😉

  13. Brittany Says:

    I can’t believe I read all of that and I haven’t even watched the drama. lol

    Well, I did watch the first episode. I didn’t like it though, but I torn about whether or not it deserved a second chance because of Kimura Takuya. But after reading your review, the answer is simple. Despite the fact that it has the japanese drama king, Kimura Takuya, this drama isn’t worth watching.

    Thanks for saving me the time with your hilarious review. I will be reading part 2. 😛

  14. Hannah Says:

    I love this review!! It made me laugh soooo much (and gave me an excuse to procrastinate XD)!! I really enjoyed Tsuki no Koibito but since so many fans didn’t and it was so poorly received in Japan it’s really interesting to read about why you thought it was so bad. Thanks for writing, it seems like it may have been a little difficult to write?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you! Ohnoes, “procrastinate” you say? Uh-oh, someone had better get cracking now! 😀

      Oh, I didn’t have much difficulty putting my thoughts down this time. I usually get stumped if the drama/film I’m writing about is something I love beyond words that I keep bawling every 2 paragraphs, lol. But with TsukiKoi? Oh the words just kept flowing, like… mucus from an inflamed sinus! Hahaha XD

  15. Peggy Says:

    Dear EG.
    You never fail me. Your critique is perfection and I think it could be made into a drama WITH Takuya Kimura playing a role.
    I thought this drama was pathetic. I thought Chi Ling was the worst possible choice for a role that was unstable in the first place. I can’t understand what Kimura saw in the story that would ever be a plus factor in his resume of roles.This drama was a small thing and it was treated as if it were going to be the story of a generation. NOT !!!! It is definitely not a Romantic story. It is not a harsh antihero role because they tried to make him sympathetic in a mean character. Impossible from the get go. I have written my thoughts elsewhere more than once and been called names for being ‘racist’ !!!!!!! I was speechless to say the least. Chi Ling is a beautiful model and as such she is very successful. Nothing against her in that capacity. The background reasons for her choice for this job were suspect from the start and she is not a good actor and in this drama she was dragging it down all the time.
    Anyway you took a lot of time to think and write about this drama and I highly commend you. You hit the nail on the head again and I hope that Kimura and his manager will somehow read it. There were times I felt it must be a dastardly plot against Kimura and maybe SMAP as a group.

  16. Peggy Says:

    Ah ! Must clarify..Last sentence did not refer to your critique.. I was referring to the fact that somewhere along the line in Japan backrooms they hatched a plot to sink the Moon Lovers before it even began. Lots of places where SMAP and JE entertainment are not exactly loved.
    If so they did a good job.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      No problemo, Peggy! 😉 Glad you liked the review — er, even if you didn’t like the drama quite as much!

      Interesting theory there, by the way. *twirls nonexistent mustache* I’ll bet that despite their success, Kimura and SMAP must have a lot of detractors within and outside the industry. But I’m not so sure that TsukiKoi‘s failings were the result of an act of sabotage by anyone. I believe Kimura has reached that exalted status in the Jdorama pecking order that affords him an appreciable degree of creative input in the casting, writing and directing decisions made while a drama of his is in production. For example, I highly doubt LCL or Ryoko or Kitagawa Keiko would’ve been cast at all without Kimura’s express approval. I’ll even be so bold as to posit that a number of scenes in TsukiKoi were written to incorporate his own ideas. So… I wouldn’t exactly hold Kimura free of any accountability in this fiasco. 😉

  17. Hello E.G.!

    Can I just say, (as a side note to my comment on TsukiKoi) after about what seems like forever of having a k/jdrama review website hiatus (floatingstars.wordpress), I still haven’t lost touch with the stuff of our little fangirl dreams, the world that makes us feel like we’re living in a rainbow-filled oasis with little pink ponies grazing on cotton-candy land of harmony– J/Kpop FANDOM. I found myself reading other people’s reviews just so I can feel like I’m not the only one squeeing over an idol’s one-second smirk, or melting at cheesy dialogues while self loathing vehemently, and eventually feeling like a fool. I’m glad I bumped into your blog when I googled KimuTaku TsukiKoi – and a little too late at that!

    ANNYYYWAYS, I digress. I say I found this review a little late because, well, I just finished the whole series!!! I think, even if I say so myself, I deserve a national award for it, my very own statue or a spot on the wax museum—or at least I expect the mayor to come knocking on my door to hand me the keys to the city. LOL. At first I was a bit hesitant to watch it, but the pull of the KING is just too hard to resist, and I found it interesting that they had to throw in a foreign actress in the cast, which I find rare in J-dramas.

    I won’t go into the other characters too much, since I think in this case the ship went down and well, the captain had to go down with it. What I found most disappointing is how can KimuTaku (himself, not the character) act this way? He’s been given some pretty boring roles/characters that he’s able to give nuance and adlibbed his way into. Here he puts the FLAT in unflattering. lol. I mean, given that Rensuke is this nazo slave driver who imprisons his concubine in a hotel WHILE still having two other equally gorgeous women pine for him–he could’ve made his portrayal interesting, giving us the reason to understand why women fawn all over his smoke-colored lips and horrible cheap-looking shoes. This is the one that bugs me the most. WHYYY KIMURA WHYYYY? It could be, like you said, a case where the writer and story didn’t give him much to work with and… for the love of the gods of IKEA why did they have to make a story about FURNITURE?! Granted if the writer was really good he could’ve made something about a shoe string and still made it engaging. BUT NO.
    Xiu Mei was interesting at first but went all floozy when she fell in love, and threw away her comrades for the very person who offended their human rights. And wasn’t it quite offensive to the Japanese when she said “I’m not a geisha!!!” after being pimped by her “benefactor” Ren. Didn’t that overthrew the whole notion that geisha’s are artisans and NOT prostitutes? Blah. The hell with coins and water striders.
    Keiko is undoubtedly pretty, that’s that. And I found the whole onichan-imouto relationship in the end doubtful, where Ren held Yuzuki in his arms like how a father lifts his little two-year-old kid. FURRREAKY.
    Shota was the best character out of the bunch. At least he was the only one consistent. F2!!!
    Lastly, charismatic Kyoko was the saving grace, but again, her motivations and actions were contradictory for her supposed levelheaded character. Sorry about the long rant. Had to get it out of me somehow. lol thanks!^^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey there! Hahaha, “rainbow-filled oasis with little pink ponies grazing on cotton-candy” << this is so spot-on!!! Um, are you sure those are little pink ponies and not Johnnies and Jrs? Hehe 😀

      Great insights there on TsukiKoi, thanks for sharing them. 🙂 Oh, and I love the analogy of the captain going down with the ship! “…for the love of the gods of IKEA why did they have to make a story about FURNITURE?!” << Bwahahaha I know right??? 😀 I can just imagine the IKEA gods turning convulsive at the sight of Rensuke's shoddy furniture. But I think we both agree that it wasn't so much the subject matter as the quality of the writing.

      The scene where Yuzuki jumps into Ren's arms was all Kimura's idea, so I heard. I dunno if that makes things less or more freaky, but still FURREAKY nonetheless. I mean really, was that even necessary? The age gap wasn't even significantly large so as to make Rensuke a plausible father figure. And why do that right after ending a semi-pseudo-sexual relationship? It just felt so… off to me. x_O

  18. lol i know this reply is a bit late but… would you know if Mr Brain is any good? Been wanting to check it out but kinda seems… boring? lol. What was that drama/special where both Lee Byung Hoon and KimuTaku starred in? Is that the same one? lol LBH was like one of my first drama loves. Anyways, would you mind if we exchanged links? I’m also blogging about drama/music reviews lately & I’d really like it if we can spazz/rant/rave on fandom stuff. Hit me up at floatingstars.wordpress. Ooooh by the way, I just watched “I come with the rain” with KT, Josh Hartnett and LBH! Can I just say furreaaaky? I kept my eyes closed most of the time but I guess that’s how effective it was—or not. Have you seen it?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You can check out my reviews of Mr Brain and I Come with the Rain (just hop on over to the Index page for the links ;-)). Am gonna have to second the “furreaaaky” thing, though. ICwtR = ugh! >P You actually did yourself a favor by keeping your eyes shut through most of that movie, lol. 😀 Oh, and if you just want a capsule review of Mr Brain (and not the blow-by-blow version), you can read it in my Kimura Dorama in a Nutshell roundup.

      LBH is one of my earliest drama loves, too! *hi-fives* Kimura and LBH’s first collaboration was the 2007 movie Hero (sequel to the hit 2001 dorama). It isn’t a great movie by a long shot (nor even a good one), and you might be disappointed to find that both supahstars share only the briefest of screen times in one scene in the movie. The producers put LBH’s name on the marquee and all, but it was really more of a cameo than a guest role.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You can check out my reviews of Mr Brain and I Come with the Rain (just hop on over to the Index page for the links ;-)). Am gonna have to second the “furreaaaky” thing, though. ICwtR = ugh! >P You actually did yourself a favor by keeping your eyes shut through most of that movie, lol. 😀 Oh, and if you just want a capsule review of Mr Brain (and not the blow-by-blow version), you can read it in my Kimura Dorama in a Nutshell roundup.

      LBH is one of my earliest drama loves, too! *hi-fives* Kimura and LBH’s first collaboration was the 2007 movie Hero (sequel to the hit 2001 dorama). It isn’t a great movie (nor a good one) IMO, and you might be disappointed to find that both supahstars share only the briefest of scenes. The producers put LBH’s name on the marquee and all, but it was really more of a cameo than a guest role.

  19. Peggy Says:

    Well…see…the thing is..we all were led astray when they first called this Moon Lovers and let it sail out into the ether as a love story. The fact is that after PRIDE ..Kimura san was done with romantic love dramas. He was old enough to want to do something more interesting than gaze into the leading lady’s eyes and give us all shivers down our spines. I personally don’t think he liked this role and I think he knew from the getgo that it was not going to be a winner. But so much money was already tied up in the Li Ching contract that there was no way to stop. Also they had finally been able to persuade Shinohara to play her role as long as they tuned down all the scenes where she would have romantic time with Kimura. She felt she was past that, being a wife and mother, and not good for her anymore. So there you have the two real leading actors not doing what was the original idea in the plot. Kimura was keen on Li only because she looked so good in a commercial she did with SMAP. He did not know anything about her lack of acting ability at all. Too late to stop once they paid her all that money and put her in a ritzy Japanese hotel for the run of the drama. Lady is not dumb at all…. Plot might have worked with two or three more episodes and better writing…less waterstrider mumbo jumbo… and a more involved Kimura. I don’t think we will ever see the young romantic lover that we enjoyed so long ago. It has been twenty years and even heroes have to grow up. Fortunately Kimura has matured rather well and he does love acting and he wants variety now that he can have more input. I suppose one total and extreme flop in twenty years is not too bad. At least he does not do the potboilers that many Hollywood actors do for the money only.
    Someone posted that Li upset the balance in the cast and I think that is just the main thing that was wrong. The cast was fine and all experienced actors and she could not compete and could not fit in.
    I shall say no more……………..

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