101st Marriage Proposal
Summer 1991

It's hard to complain about the very first dorama that got me addicted to the genre. This series was really something. I love Takeda Tetsuya and I think he's one of the truly great actors in Japan. His character Hoshino, is amazingly corny and humiliating, but after he meets Kaoru, he defies all odds to marry her, doing whatever he can to change himself to be worthy of her love. His honestly and purity attract Kaoru, but a tragedy in her past must be overcome if she is to find any happiness. 

After re-watching this series, I can't help but say this is one of the best dorama's of all time. I can't say I've watched so many dorama's to know how to define a classic, but the story, writing, and characters are unforgettable. Chage and Aska's nostalgic theme song, Say Yes, went well with this series. The relationships between Hoshino and his younger brother Junpei or Junpei and Kaoru's younger sister Chie provide comic relief with great chemistry. I'm not so sure about Asano Atsuko's acting career, but I never particularly liked her acting in this dorama (the constant jerking head movements and quick repetitive facial expressions look awkward). One other beef I had was that there were too many scenes with a teardrop running down her face. I couldn't help but notice that, but she is such a huge part of this series so I got used to it after awhile. All in all, this is one dorama that you can't miss. I think it helped catapult the future of some of the actors like Eguchi Yosuke and even to this day, it still captures the human essence of what dorama's are all about.

Konna Koi No Hanashi
Summer 1997

This dorama stars Sanada Hiroyuki and Matsushima Nanako who are some of my favorite actors. Tamaki Koji who sings the theme song "Mr. Lonely" is also a main character in this series and was great as well. The story revolves around Harashima, a typical cold-hearted businessman who doesn't love or trust anyone. He meets Konosuke, a jubilant man who is the polar opposite of himself and a beautiful woman named Kaori. With the help of Kaori and Konosuke, Harashima develops an unlikely relationship with both of them that changes the course of his life forever.

What can I say, this has to be one of my all-time favorite dorama's. As of this entry, it will be almost exactly 13 years ago to the month when this dorama debuted. I still remember when I first watched this series, the theme song was so moving and went very well with the flow of the story and its characters. It's not perfect and there are some scenes and situations that become redundant; in a way I wish there was more editing done, but the story, and characters are priceless. Every dorama fan should watch this one; some scenes are truly moving and to this day I still remember some of the memorable ones more than 13 years after watching them.

Odoru Daisousasen
Winter 1997

This dorama was recommended to me by a friend. It stars Oda Yuji, Fukatsu Eri, Yanagiba Toshiro, and some others. The story revolves around Aoshima played by Oda Yuji who dreams of becoming a detective. After quitting his job as a salesman and working at a police box, he finally gets his chance, but he soon realizes that being a detective is not what he first imagined it to be. Still he stubbornly works through the inefficiencies of the bureaucracy and the politically motivated groups to get the job done even if he needs to break a few rules. 

As I watched through three quarters of Odoru Daisousasen, I really didn't feel much for the series. The characters in general were played well, but many of the relationships never developed. There were bits and pieces of romance, tragedy, comedy and inspiration but it never fully amounted to anything special. It's like going to an ice cream shop and wanting a delicious scoop of ice cream but ending up with a few samples. I couldn't stand Yanagiba Toshiro at one point with his constant glaring stare, rolling eyes, and mouth movements. I think he could have done a better job acting as a serious top level detective. I was surprised to see a young Shinohara Ryoko in one of the episodes, but it wasn't a big role. The final two episodes were pretty good though. I remember wishing that the series should have included more serious and inspirational themes in the previous episodes because the last two were exciting. In the end though, this dorama was quite popular back in the day and it spawned a few specials as well as record breaking movies, so I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn't blown away, but it had its inspirational moments and I didn't regret watching it.

* Just wanted to add that I watched the first special for this series and it was surprisingly well made. I thought they did a great job editing the special and some of the jokes were well placed. I was really amazed to see so many famous actors/actresses in their youth such as Nakama Yukie, Hirosue Ryoko, Inagaki Goro, and a few others play small roles, it was quite interesting.

Tokyo Love Story
Winter 1991

Ever since I started watching dorama's I've heard people say that Tokyo Love Story was their favorite. It stars Oda Yuji (Kanji), Suzuki Honami (Rika), Eguchi Yosuke (Mikami), Arimori Narimi (Sekiguchi), and Sendo Akiho (Nagasaki). The story revolves around three characters who were really close since high school. They drifted apart but later meet five years later in Tokyo. When Kanji arrives in Tokyo to work for a sports firm he meets a co-worker named Rika who is spunky and always positive minded. She calls him "Kanchi" because its easier to pronounce. Rika likes Kanchi, but he and Mikami always had a thing for their high school classmate, Sekiguchi. The series focuses on mainly these four characters and their various love triangles. Even though I didn't particularly like the acting, the story was great. I didn't expect it to end the way it did. Even though it was made almost 20 years ago, I still feel that the complexities of love that are portrayed in the series still ring true today. The theme song Love Story wa Totsuzen ni by Kazumasa Oda is one of the bestselling singles in Japan all time and it really worked well with the dorama.

Spoiler Alert*
After watching Tokyo Love Story I was really surprised by the ending. I actually had a difficult time figuring out what to write about this dorama, but after a few days I realized that I was watching this dorama as two different types of people; one as a fan and the other as a critic. As a fan, I didn't like the ending because for the most part, the story was about the relationship between Kanchi and Rika. Although I found Rika's character to be annoying at times and also selfish, I was rooting for her to be with Kanchi in the end. She gave so much effort in trying to be with him. I also thought that Sekiguchi was the worst because she first denied Kanchi and fell for Mikami, but got burned, yet ended up with Kanchi. Mikami who was a player was eventually married to Nagasaki as well. The one who ended up alone was Rika, which was sad to see. On the other hand as a critic, I really liked this series because the experiences that these characters go through do happen in life. I think Rika didn't really know anything about love. She was kind of selfish and insincere to Kanchi and in the end she ended up being alone. But I think in the real world, this is how it is sometimes and Rika did learn and grow from the experience. The story is one of a kind and the drama is a true classic. 

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