Saturday, December 10, 2005

Anego ep 1-6

OL (office lady) doramas are not my cup of tea. I couldn't stand Shomuni though I think that had a lot to do with Esumi Makiko. I thought Shinohara Ryoko did a pretty good job in Mukodono, Mukodono 2003 and the 3 eps of Mother & Lover that I'd seen and I wanted to see whether she could carry a dorama as the lead. I found the first two eps really boring and I was thinking for dropping this series

Anego pulling her moves at omiai or is trying to tell the dude something. Do Japanese actually do Omiais like in the doramas?

Then I realised that Tomosaka Rie was in the show! Woot! Took me a while to realise it. The last dorama I saw her in was Kimi Ga Oshietekureta koto which was like made in 2000 and she look much older now. (let's not mention that piece of crap called Five Spies) I decided to give Anego a few more eps and I'm bloody glad I did.

Anyways, the basic plot is that Shinohara Ryoko is a 32 year old OL who's been in this company for 10 years. Yeah, I know wut ur thinking, another crappy 'woman having a mid-life crisis dorama'. The difference in this show is that because of her seniority and experience, everyone looks up to her and basically uses her to solve their problems, ranging from affairs to blackmail to employee discipline. Hence everyone calls her Anego, which comes from Aniki (older sibling).

So far Shinohara Ryoko is carrying the dorama well. It helps that the many supporting characters are really good and the writing of eps 3-6 has been sharp. She just doesn't have the screen presence like Matsushima Nanako, Hirosue Ryoko or Kanno Miho to carry a dorama with minimal supporting characters.

But its Tomosaka Rie who really steals the show as Eriko, this married woman who befriends Anego and is obviously mentally unstable and seems to make up stories. Her character is very enigmatic and I'm not 100% sure Eriko is completely out of her mind. If she were, surely she would either in an institution or under heavy medication.

Tomosaka Rie as the very emotionally unstable Eriko.

There are also two aspects of this dorama I find interesting. Each episode starts with Shinohara Ryoko delivering a monologue to the audience with 'we will rock you' in the background and people just going about their business ignoring her.

Second is the use of 'thought balloons' for lack of a better word. ie characters' thoughts are written out while they are talking. Usually when someone is thinking something in a dorama the only to do it is having their 'inner voice' speak out or have them talk to themselves when they are alone, which I always find stupid.

Having their thoughts on screen as they're talking about something else is an interesting technique in storytelling and I'm surprised no other dorama I've seen has picked it up.

Damn, Toda Naho has aged much since Konna Koi no Hanashi (1997).

There's plenty of laugh out load moments like Anego helping her boss and colleague hide their affair. The writers could have turned into a Anego solves a problem each episode but it seems they got bigger thing planned.

Apparently the dorama gets more serious towards the end which could be a bad thing. Doramas about women in their 30s are a dime a plenty and frankly unremarkable and always have very boring endings. I just find the Anego concept and Tomosaka Rie's weird character along with the funny comedy made the last three eps very watchable. Still with 4 more eps to go, I'll probably stick till the end and hopefully not regret it. Fingers crossed.

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