Monday, September 30, 2013
This drama is about a man named Naoki Hanzawa who is the head of the loans division at the Osaka Nishi branch of the Tokyo Chuo bank. After being labeled a scapegoat for a 500 million dollar loss for providing an unsecured loan to Nishi Osaka Steel which files for bankruptcy protection, Hanzawa must face an internal investigation team that is seeking to oust the person responsible for the mishap. Hanzawa denies responsibility and rushes to recover the 500 million dollars before he is shipped out of the banking industry.
Recommendation: So most people have probably heard about this drama since it trended upwards in TV ratings basically every week. The final episode received a 42.2% rating which was the highest since 1989 and the 4th highest rated drama episode in history. It surpassed Kaseifu No Mita which aired two years ago as the most popular drama since 2000.
My initial thought about the drama was that it would be a little complex to follow since it deals with financial corruption, banking regulations and the like. However, it was quite the opposite. Voice-overs were quite common in the show to explain certain financial concepts to make it easier to follow. From the very first episode, the show was quite exhilarating. I was taken by surprise with the depth of the characters and the story-line with all its twists and turns. Also, the final episode is a nail-biter and quite intriguing. The acting wasn't superb, but I give Masato Sakai who plays Naoki Hanzawa a lot of credit for making this drama popular and great. The antagonists were also quite good especially Kagawa Teruyuki who plays Owada Akira. This drama truly lived up to the ratings it received. I think above all else, it was truly entertaining to watch. This is definitely a can't miss drama. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a second season.
Spoiler alert: The final episode lived up to expectations and Masato Sakai gave a powerful performance worthy of an Academy Award. I thought the last scene was perfect when the chairman demoted Owada and transferred Hanzawa to a different division. I believe the chairman felt threatend by Hanzawa especially since he could not be controlled when interrogating Owada. It was a shrewd move by the chairman as he could still hold power within the bank safely without Hanzawa stirring up trouble. Owada in turn, becomes an ally of the chairman on the board as Owada has no other choice but to follow his orders since he basically saved his job.
Character Development: 1.0
Emotional Factor: 1.0
5.0 Out Of 5.0 Crowns
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Summer Nude is a drama about a young man named Asahi Mikuriya (Tomohisa Yamashita) who has been waiting patiently for a girl named Kasumi Ichikura (Nagasawa Masami) to return home after leaving the seaside town 3 years ago. Every day he greets a billboard with Kasumi's photo on it believing she will return to him one day. One day Asahi who is a professional photographer takes pictures of Natsuki Chiyohara (Karina) during her wedding. Unfortunately, Natsuki's husband-to-be runs away with cold feet. Later, Asahi asks Natsuki if she can help out at a small beach front restaurant since she used to be a cook. Natsuki befriends Hanae Taniyama (Toda Erika) who is in love with Asahi for the last 10 years, but Asahi only thinks of her as a friend. Natsuki decides to help Hanae capture Asahi's heart, but will he be able to forget his only true love?
Recommendation: So just a warning, but I'm going to be adding some spoilers so stop reading if you haven't seen the drama yet. I had high expectations for this drama. First of all, it was a "Getsuku" (Monday at 9 pm) drama from Fuji TV and second of all, it had a great cast. I couldn't wait to see Tomohisa Yamshita, Toda Erika, Nagasawa Masami, and Karina together in one drama. BUT, although it wasn't a terrible drama, it was disappointing for me. Even the title, "Summer Nude" made me think it was going to be quite exciting, but the whole drama was quite slow. I liked how the drama started off. You have a young man waiting for a woman that he's had a crush on for 3 years. You have a young woman having a crush on that same man for 10 years and then you have an out of town girl that was dumped on her wedding day who starts to have feelings for the same man. It seemed like an intriguing drama, yet, the direction and pace couldn't keep the tension up. I felt like the problems that were presented were solved too easily and I could see the outcome way before they actually occurred. I like Tomohisa Yamashita, but lately it seems like he's coming down to earth. I mean I don't know if it was his acting or his character, but he was too laid back and unexciting. There was hardly anything to like about him. I think this was the case for most of the characters so I blame the director and script writer for not having more scenes to develop the characters. I did like Toda Erika's character and I hardly ever see her in these types of dramas where she is not serious all the time, but her eventual lover, Kirihata Hikaru (Kubota Masataka) was hardly developed and I didn't care for him at all. Karina was good, but Yamashita and her characters just didn't build enough emotional equity that made me want to feel glad that they finally got together. There were a lot of scenes that reminded me of summer nostalgia, but those nostalgic feelings were not aroused in me when watching this show. Nagasawa Masami is hardly in it either. If you like the actors in this drama (and the acting wasn't bad at all) then take the plunge and watch it, but for others wanting even a tiny bit of excitement, skip it and go to the beach instead.
Character Development: 0.5
Emotional Factor: 0.5
3.5 Out Of 5.0 Crowns
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Woman is a drama focusing on the life of a single mother and the struggles she encounters as she tries to take care of her two kids. Koharu Aoyagi (Hikari Mitsushima) plays the young mother. Due to certain restrictions, she doesn't qualify for welfare and desperately searches for a way to support her kids after her husband, Shin (Oguri Shun) dies in an accident. As her financial situation turns for the worst, Koharu's only hope is to reconnect with her estranged mother, Sachi Uesugi (Tanaka Yuko) who abandoned her when she was a child.
Recommendation: This drama was very difficult for me to rate. I really liked it. I think the screenwriter, Sakamoto Yuji, contributed to another great drama. Mitsushima Hikari is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses and the whole cast including the two kids do a really great job of acting. The story also is not what I initially thought it would be. It has a few twists that keep it from being an ordinary "single mother enduring life's struggles" drama.
After saying all these positive things about it, I have to say that it is a drama that I may never want to see again! It has its uplifting and cheerful moments, but it was quite heavy for me as well. Sometimes I just felt certain aspects of the story were too coincidental and would be overwhelming for any human being to go through. So my suspension of disbelief in this case ended before the drama was over. Still, my ratings are obviously subjective. This was a great drama and I'm sure Mitsushima Hikari will be a strong contender for the summer season's Television Drama Academy Awards.
Character Development: 1.0
Emotional Factor: 1.0
4.0 Out Of 5.0 Crowns