Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jdrama Review: Buzzer Beat (2009)

Buzzer Beat

It’s been awhile since I watched this Jdrama, but since I’ve been mulling over some recent Jdramas (and their complete lack of credible romance stories), I’ve been thinking more and more about Buzzer Beat, and its extremely capable and compelling love story. Yes, you heard it right. This drama brings out all the stops – or at least most of them – with romance, hugging, kissing, cuddling, and a million other “awww”-worthy moments. Also, there’s some basketball. I actually like basketball, so this drama is pretty well set in my books. Minus a few irritations, side characters, and cliché plot holes, Buzzer Beat’s 11 episodes are a fun watch, and well worth the time.

Want proof about its watchability factor? On the few nights where I couldn’t access my real computer, I savored this drama (meaning, I totally marathoned it) on youtube with Spanish subs. Note to self: my freshman high school Spanish is completely not up to scraps. I needed a dictionary to translate the Spanish subs of a Japanese language drama. Now that’s obsessed.

Buzzer Beat stars Yamapi, or Yamashita Tomohisa, as Kamiya Naoki, a less than stellar pro-basketball player with a low salary and no fans. Kitagawa Keiko is our other lead star Shirakawa Riko, a bummed, single violinist without a job. Both are struggling to stay confident about their sport/art when circumstances throw them together. What follows is a halfway original story of personal growth as the two develop a sincere friendship with one another, and perhaps the chance of something more.  

Up even past the halfway mark, both the story and the romance (aka ‘Total Cuteness-ity’) are riveting. Unfortunately, the show’s failings lay in the last few episodes, where the writers throw on heavy doses of angst and lost almost all of my attention. I mean, I figured there would be a nice sweet ending, but must it really be necessary to suffer so much to get there? It’s a little sad that a perfectly wonderful show was ruined by Kdrama-esque plot holes and noble idiots pandering about in circles, but overall the strength of the earlier episodes (at least 82% of the drama) were fine and dandy. Buzzer Beat even does a good job at not turning every side character into an exact stereotype, a feat for which I am I always grateful.

If only this show was perfect. Our characters were already
great. I guess that'll make up for most of it. 

My vote is that you watch it for the leads, and turn your brain off by episode 9. That should make things all better. Read more for a not totally spoilery episode-by-episode account, and some of my favorite Buzzer Beat drama quotes.

Episode 1

Hot Pink Uniforms, Niiice! To be honest, I started this because of Yamapi. I’ve been a fan of his ever since watching Nobuta wo Produce. Here's to hoping this drama becomes a favorite for more reasons than that one alone. ;)

So far, so good. The first episode is a quick, crisp intro to the plotline and our characters.  Our heroes’ first meeting is absolutely lovely. I don't know about their chemistry yet, but they definitely have some good rapport onscreen.
“Riko, you went out without makeup?""Yes...Moreover, I have talked to a man with no makeup on his face." 

Episode 2

Aww, He’s good with the kiddos. A good follow-up episode. Our leads are getting to know each other a little more (like, their names and everything!), and we get another fun basketball practice game, and one with cute little kids!

Question: Did the show's casting managers hire actors who could play basketball, or basketball players who can act? I would probably fail as shot-hitting extra, assuming I made it past the height requirement.
"You're strong! You can play well! Please play seriously, BAKA!"
(It was all in the delivery…straight out of the mouth of a normally sane woman, momentarily turned crazy!)

Don't worry. Even I am curious how many times
we can metaphorically use the phrase 'Buzzer Beat'

Episode 3

No basketball games; Instead - French toast. XD The development issort of bland all around, but I guess it's necessary. 
"Did I explode my illusion alone again?"
 - Said by main girl's friend, after fantasizing about a perfect posse of good-looking. I'm thinking something was lost in the translation...

 Episode 4

Finally some dirty secrets are unearthed, and they are so obviously falling for each other it's making my head hurt, that's how cute they are. Yamapi's still not really delivering in the acting department, but I can't tell yet if that's just him or the story/script so far…
"We're friends! Just ordinary, neighborhood friends. A friend of destiny!"

Episode 5.

Hugs for all! Sad, cute, heartbreaking, and more cute! Riko takes pictures of Kamiya sleeping, and plays violin over the phone. Seeing Yamapi being sad is a dagger to the heart. Good thing we have Riko! And her methods of cheering up sad cute boys. :)
“Were you taking pictures?""Eh? No! Uhm.. A butterfly! It was a butterfly! One I'd never seen before!"

Episode 6

Jerks Reign Supreme! As Usual. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate second lead men who play a sly, underhanded game? !!!! Don't you realize you were cast second, and you'll never get the girl! Not too much going on in this episode between our leads. That's sad.
"I pushed [Kamiya] down so I could get the chance to kiss him. What am I going to do? I'm scary."

Episode 7

Game Over? I think not! YES! Progress! Who cares that the coach is away in stupid Boston. Ehh, we'll deal with that later. I'm actually kind of sad for Natsuki, though she may still have something up her sleeves...
"You won't give me a birthday present then? I'd like to hear the tap-tap sound of your basketball once more"   (Rosies goes, “Awwwwww”)
This song is so great... and your hair is so fluffy... and your eyes are so bright...
and your hair is so... Oh, I said that before. Gomennasai!

Episode 8

And, we hit the breaks. Hmph. Well that was a lame progression of the story. Our leads actually spoon! But the second girl strikes back. Figures. Girl, I no longer feel sorry for you. Just give it up already!
*side characters hugging*"Stop! You're still a free-loader!""Eh?""I meant I love you…"

Episode 9

2 Steps Forward, 10 Steps Back. A lame halting of our before sizzling romance. All isn't actually lost in this plot-device ridden episode, but at no point was it fun to watch.
"In front of everyone she pretends to be honorable, but she's a bitch inside."
I think this sums up my feelings on this episode.

Episode 10

Another snoozer. Hopefully the last? It’s a step up from episode 9, but I this has some of the lamest symptoms if the Noble Idiot Syndrome I've ever seen. Full of "We should still follow our dreams to the end" and "I'm still your biggest fan" rhetoric, yet nothing seems to happen except that our leads aren't actually happy, but aren't quite depressed yet.

Here's a thought: Maybe they could both pursue their dreams separately but add a little more gusto into their hopes of a relationship? I blame the writers on this one. As much as I hate angst when it's overdone, this is almost too melo.

Episode 11

I wonder if he’ll made the buzzer beat?!?

Cute ending, and we see the reprisal of the fabulous BAKA!! scream, but I wished more of this episode could have been around them being together, instead of tying up all the loose ends. A little too cheesy and cliché, but at least it ended nicely.

So what if the whole world's watching. This is what they want anyways, right?


  1. I've heard good things about this drama. Maybe another jdrama soon would be a nice change...

    1. It's definitely on the ultra cute side of Jdramas. Believe me, I've been watching tons recently, and most of them 0 romance. Sometimes the story's good without it, and sometimes - nope. Not hardly worth it at all. Jdramas are a mystery to me.. still exploring what I like or don't like about them.

  2. I remember watching this and loving it. Having seen almost everything YamaPi has ever been in (even as a kid with other Johnny's boys), I thought this was pretty good. The drama was pretty slow in parts, but (to my surprise) the female lead kept me around. At the time, she kind of reminded me of myself and I enjoyed relating to her. Second girl was a bitch, though, in my opinion.

    Ironically though, the only scenes that keep popping up in my head when I go to try and remember this drama are of the secondary couple. Favorite scene probably ever: Riko walks out of her room without a bra on half asleep, and the guy is like "This is the best place ever!" XD I might think differently if I watched it over again, but I have too much I'm currently watching right now to RE-watch anything. Nice review, though! I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Haha.. I liked watching the 2nd couple as well. They were pretty hilarious, especially that scene^

      I'm behind on my Yamapi dramas (but then I'm behind on Jdramas period, so..) but I love him - even in mediocre roles like this one, he was more than watchable. I agree with you the lead girl kept me around too. So many problems I have with Jdramas are the lead women acting like children or just being totally clueless and obnoxious - but she was a pretty capable actress and her character had some good depth to it. Was a nice change of pace, for both leads in my opinion. :)

  3. great and funny review! i just finished this, like now. now. spent my whole saturday in bed watching. :) i was hooked also, cause i liked both yamapi and keiko kitagawa. and i totally agree with you that the romance is better than most jdramas out there. again, i agree with shutting your brain down starting episode 9!! hahahah! that was hilarious! i loved it up until episode 8. but overall, i'd still recommend it, dunno if my friends will buy the basketball theme tho. :)

    1. This drama is just sooooo addicting, especially early on. As for the basketball theme, I'm not That into sports movies/shows generally speaking. They're usually pretty formulaic, and dead predictable. But a good cast, dialogue, and of course an outstanding romance more than make up for it.

  4. This drama is rich of our life, love and dreams depiction. Love the characters and music ^_^