What I love about Jodorama is the brief reprieve we get from dramas, given they’re regulated per season. With Korean dramas, swarming your brain like flies at a picnic, it’s comforting to know that if one batch of J-dramas don’t garner much intrigue, there’s hope for the following season.
For me, the first half of the year, was sprinkled with enjoyable dramas and luckily the latter half seems to be traveling the same beaten path.
Iki mo Dekinai Natsu
Official Synopsis: Tanizaki Rei, 19, has just been told that she is going to be hired as a full-time employee after many years of just being a part-timer. Now all she had to do is fill out some forms and submit a copy of her citizen’s ID card. Going to the local Ward office proves to be frustrating, however, as they can’t seem to find her listed in the Family Register. Without that she might as well be nobody. The older man who takes her case at the Ward office wants to help, but he has issues of his own. Somehow though, their destinies will intertwine this Breathless Summer.
Cast: Takei Emi, Eguchi Yosuke, Kimura Yoshino, Nakamura Aoi, Kitaoji Kinya, Kaname Jun
Airing: Tuesdays, 9:00p Fuji TV
First Impressions: Japan loves to use Western music in their soundtracks and for the most part this is fine, however, when they choose to use one artist’s work for the entire backdrop it’s more than a little irritating, especially since the tracks are practically 100% out of context. Now, with that said, IMDN‘s use of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain, isn’t as ridiculous as Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta‘s use of Pink, for that was just hideous, but it is off-putting, initially. When the drama opens and the song begins to play, my first reaction was laughter, and I’m certain this was not what Mr. Music Director wanted. However, once the drama is in full swing, the pieces fit and I began to understand the method behind the madness. For though, Adele wrote and sings this song from a romantic standpoint, the lyrics can be applied to any love relationship a person encounters in life. Therefore, my idea is the song is set to encompass Rei’s situation and feelings, unfortunately, I could never see her being as angry chick as the song suggests (one can only dream). I still can’t say it’s a solid choice, but the important thing is to understand the thought, even if the execution is tattered and there is always that lovely video function–fast-forward.
After watching the first episode, I was so furious, there’s no way, I won’t continue on with this drama. My impressions are so vast, that if my reactions remain the same, I may have to break down and post about this drama in a more frequent capacity. The audacious behavior of Rei’s mother is abominable and though I’m not completely sold on Rei as a character (or Emi’s performance, for that matter), I genuinely want to know how legally she can undo the mess of her existence her mother was too self-centered to remedy. Kiyama is by far the most intriguing character (save Kaname Jun’s stalker lurking). He’s bruised and jaded, apparently of his own making and trying to lay low and do penance, when he’s thrust into every investigative reporter’s dream. In the end, of course, Kiyama, will write a Pulitzer worthy piece on his journey with Rei and wash himself clean of the stench he created that sent his career aspirations in the gutter. What I’m digging about the drama is though there are staunchly predictable aspects, the journey is what the audience must buy into. The journey of this young woman with a dream but realizes that perhaps dreams aren’t all we should have in this life, that it’s equally important to know if we actually have the legal right to accomplish them. For Rei, her story is no longer about becoming a pastry chef but about recording her existence, making a legally tangible place in her world; something we all take for granted.
Tokkan~ Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushuukan
Official Synopsis: Certain circumstances have made 25-year-old Suzumiya Miki desire secure employment. So she became a public servant. However, her job is the most detested in the world. It is that of a national tax collector who collects taxes from those who default on payments. The special national tax collectors handle the worst of these cases. Miki is assigned to the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau’s Tax Office as a new tax officer under her superior, Kagami Masachika, a special national tax collector whose coldheartedness has no equal and is called “god of death” by the people around him. Miki thus runs about each day as Kagami’s assistant to collect taxes from tax defaulters.
Cast: Inoue Mao, Kitamura Yukiya, Suzuki Sawa, Kinami Haruka, Shiomi Sansei, Wakamura Mayumi
Airing:Wednesdays, 10:00p NTV
First Impressions: Tokkan is a procedural drama, therefore, each episode will have a new case, a new problem and new characters (ie guest stars). With these dramas, it’s the random case that may stick out to you that will garner your attention, while throughout the series, we get the privilege of watching the main characters grow and learn with every new venture. Mao is doing fine but nothing impressive at the moment, however, I do find her character’s chemistry with new boss, Kagami, rather nice. He’s the straight laced, hard as nails foil she needs to sharpen her determination to not only do her job well, but to realize her purpose in her occupation. What I find most interesting is why Miki chose to become a tax official, given her past. In most cases, one would choose to “damn the Man,” rather than join him and I hope the series delves more into this as her story continues. Overall, it’s a nice way to learn more about the inner world of tax collectors; their points and the Laws that bind them.
Ghost Mama Sousasen
Official Synopsis: Tonbo is a timid first-grade elementary school student. One day, the ghost of Tonbo’s mother, Uehara Choko, who died three months ago appears when he puts on her spectacles which he has kept as a keepsake. This is thus the beginning of a bizzare life for mother and son. Choko had been an outstanding policewoman while she was alive, and now ghosts with regrets gather around her. Meddlesome even when dead, Choko cannot turn her back on those in trouble. She partners Tonbo and takes on numerous cases. The two of them work together to solve various cases and settle trouble, until the day comes for them to truly part.
Cast: Nakama Yukie, Sawamura Ikki, Shida Mirai, Kimino Yuma, Tsukaji Muga, Namase Katsuhisa, Serina, Sanada Yuma
Airing: Saturdays 9:00 p NTV
First Impressions: I don’t like ( err watch?) kid dramas. I usually try to steer clear from any drama or film that surrounds the thoughts and feelings of children but for some reason GMS has captured me. I would love to blame it on my undying devotion to Nakama Yukie, but not this time- although, I do greatly enjoy her as the female cop and overattentive mother. She’s cheerful and kind but most of all loving, genuinely supportive and concerned about her son’s future. However, more than that, I am really taken with how the ability to see his mother and the two of them, virtually becoming a crime fighting duo, will help Tonbo become more confident as a person, then later as a young man. Truly, that’s probably the drama I’d rather see– a grown man applying the lessons he learned from his dead mother as a kindergartener. But, oh well, that isn’t this drama and for now, it’s quite fun, quirky and honest, taking the premise of death and allowing it to work for the characters rather than against them. And doing a little sleuthing on the side. Can’t help but love that.