"Or, A Short Chronological History of my Experiments with Jdramas"
|Will any drama ever again capture such a beautiful friendship??|
Next on my hit-list was Hana Kimi, a little quirky (okay let’s be honest: it was totally quirky) but priceless, and again I’ve already watched it twice. I followed it up with a romantic option: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, and wow did I sure love its slow boiling story and sweet OTP. Then to make sure I didn’t become too one-genre centric, I watched Bloody Monday. I like a good thriller. By the way, did I mention that every single one of the above mentioned dramas also boasts a pretty cast. Eye candy, people. Never underestimate good eye candy.
|Business plot lines aside, you have to admit, this drama |
did have some fairly nice romantic scenes.
Unfortunately, like all great things, there comes a time when the honeymoon period ends. I didn’t hit rock bottom all at once, but the next round of Jdramas became increasingly less appealing and less entertaining overall. They weren’t duds necessarily, but they were definitely approaching the dud territory, had a certain amount of charm not saved the day.
Warning: The Ranting Begins Soon.I should give a disclaimer: I think something’s possibly wrong with my sense of humor. If I offend your precious Jdrama babies, I apologize endlessly. *extremely low bow*
I don’t even know what happened. Here I was, mindlessly going on my merry Jdrama way when I came across two (in my eyes) atrocious Jdramas. I’m appalled. They’re all so well spoken of, and highly praised, and I’m at pains to figure out why. Hence the premise of this entire article.
READ MORE for partial reviews of Atashinchi no Danshi and Nodame Cantabile, with possible explanations for why I just couldn't stand them (No Spoilers)
Atashinchi no Danshi (2009)
Chisato, played by the usually cute Horikata Maki marries an older man to save herself from debt. The catch is that once he dies she becomes the acting ‘mother’ of his 6 adopted children, all males aged 12 to 30. Can we say, full [angsty brooding] house? She is then given tasks to reforge the family unit, solve the brothers’ misunderstandings with one another and their late father, and simultaneously run a failing and outdated toy company. If she fails, the debt falls back on her – with the added grief of 6 boys still sitting around all angsty and brooding, mostly naked in their in-house sauna.
Honestly, I like the premise. What girl wouldn’t want to go and live in huge castle (however full of ‘tricks’) with some overage hot guys, and bully them around in [motherly?] love. I take it back. That sounds ridiculous and my 3 of 10 rating stands.
|Her expressions is kind of what I looked like|
for most of the time while watching this show.
Problem No. 1 - Atashinchi no Danshi is just too weird for me. It's from the same culture that adores manga and anime-like creations with its over-the-top characterizations, and I just dislike both. I’m not even fond of cartoons (the wild exception still being Looney Toons and Scooby Doo).
Problem No. 2 which is related to No. 1 – Having no background in this type of entertainment, I am ill-used to dealing with character exaggerations, overacting, or whatever bizarre-ness these drama adaptations typically exude. It drives me nuts.
Reading over the plot description again, I can imagine all that being done in a typical melodrama-esque fashion. Can you picture it? Well don’t. It’s hectic, zany, laugh-out-loud stupid (except that I didn’t laugh – not even once), with an episodic plot and the craziest hare-brained plot twists I’ve ever seen, major or minor. Throw logic to the wind, because apparently that’s boring. Through in illogical decisions stemming from sheer character stupidity – and I don’t even know what to say about it, because that’s just how the story goes. Not even the easy-on-the-eyes pretty boys, most notably Kaname Jun and Mukai Osamu as brothers number 1 and 3 respectively, could save the day. Oh, and if you were looking for a little romance on the side, good luck. It’s unrequited all the way. What a shame.
"On Hold" at ep. 1
After the debacle with Atashinchi (which I initially dropped, then forced myself to finish), I became curious about this newfound and complete dislike I had developed for cheesy, cartoonish plot and character types. Nodame Cantabile, someone told me, was similar in this sense. I couldn’t resist seeking it out, to determine if it was true, and if I could possibly like it any better, or if the test would still stand. Sure enough – unrealistic and overly simplified cuteness, wacky characters, and eyebrow-raising plot devices in the first episode alone, and I am already sure this is not to my taste.
|Not even sure what's going on here,|
but that guy's hair is scary...
Moving Forward:The good news about these experiments is that I know a little bit more about my tastes, and what I am likely to enjoy in the future. Discovering yhe Jdrama world is a lot harder than wading through the sea of available Kdramas and even Taiwanese drama. For one, there is the language barrier of the systematically un-translated titles. And the consistency of its manga and anime influences will probably always bother me, even more so than cliché Kdrama plotlines. Lack of romance plot lines in every drama is often a drawback, particularly for those dramas where the hints are definitely there, but never come to a head.
The strange part is that these failings don’t bother me in everything I've seen. Nobuta wo Produce with its frustrating romance lines, and Hana Kimi - if ever a Jdrama was perfectly representative of the crazy over-the-top and overacted story and characterizations, there is Hana Kimi. But that one I adored!! (maybe because the main characters themselves were not as overplayed?), and the same producer/screenwriter/director team of Hana Kimi worked on Atashinchi no Danshi. I don’t know how to reconcile myself with this.
Abundance of Genres:A definite plus to watching Jdramas is that there really are so many different drama types to choose from, especially if you’re new at it like me. Aside from some of Japan’s earlier romantic offerings (including Kimi wa Petto), there are apparently a million detective/crime shows, which I am not a huge fan of, but don’t mind overall. I’m working now on Kimura Takuya's Mr. Brain. I don’t like the plot so much, but I enjoy seeing all the guest actors (particularly Kame). On the thriller/fantasy side, there was Orthros no Inu – a recent 10/10 favorite of mine, and I promise you: the gorgeous main leads (Nishikido Ryo and Takizawa Hideaki) were worth only half of that score. I may not be exactly enjoying another popular favorite, Maou, but hey. Not everything with Hana Kimi's Ikuta Toma could be awesome overall.
It’s the tip of the iceberg, people. I’ve got many more Jdramas to sample. All suggestions are welcome.
**Also worth a look at is blogger Jandoe's abundant Jdrama Collection for drama reviews, praise, snarkiness and more!**