Thursday, February 21, 2008

Utahime


OMFG, I just marathoned the whole series in one go. And to think that I had the audacity to stop watching after the 1st episode when I first got the series months ago. Seriously, this is one of the best written and acted shows. Tight and funny script and I just couldn't stop watching after the 2nd episode. Nagase Tomoya plays Taro, an amnesiac who worked as a projectionist in the 1950s and Aibu Saki plays Suzu, the daughter of the owner. In a nutshell, Utahime is a variation of the childhood friend story while incorporating the older dude younger chick element and actually making it work!

Aaahh, the Taro Suzu dance. I love how its so freaking random and when they finally explain it, it takes on a whole new meaning. Truly great writing.

Nagase Tomoya does his typical overacting but this time he manages to scale it back when needed. After watching big money, its evident that his serious acting only works when its contrasted against his yakuza style overacting. The real star of the show for me is definitely Aibu Saki. She's like the new Sakai Noriko, playing the innocent girl who has everything and the kitchen sink thrown at her in her quest for love except she doesn't come off like an idiot like Noriko in Heaven's Coin.

Aibu Saki showing her sucking skills. :)

SPOILER WARNING

Wonder how many takes they needed for the hoola hoops scene, unless of course they cast the show with it in mind...

Can't talk about the show without mentioning the ending which sorta left a bad taste in my mouth. The show is shown through Suzu's eyes. We see her heartbreak and determination sprinkled with flashback of her childhood with Taro. Basically, one cannot help but empathise with her cause. As I had said concerning Hatachi no Koibito, the writers need to make the audience care about the Taro and Suzu's relationship with the age gap or it would look very awkward.

Suzu chan!!!!! They don't do old fashion heroines as good as her anymore...

Yet, after all that build up we get painful Himitsu ending. Its just that after all the emotional investment in a Taro-Suzu ending I was emotionally gutted. It worked for Himitsu cause both choices were 'right'. In this case... I suppose Taro made the 'right' choice but I didn't care about Miwako (Koike Eiko) . I guess the story being set in the 1950s, Taro didn't really have a choice. Maybe if they had cast someone else as Miwako as I find Koike Eiko's acting weak.


And Suzu ending up with Croissant..... uuuugggghhh. I don't care how many times he gets beat up, he is a mere comedy foil and will never get my approval. Not with so much build up and history between Taro and Suzu. The reincarnation ending is does not erase the bitterness of Taro's choice.


Sigh, maybe I would appreciate the ending better after sleeping. I do see why they wrote it that way but to acknowledge that Suzu's sincerity and purity was defeated by Taro's past....... Probably because Taro did it for Miwako and Sakura, two characters I don't give a shit about. In Himitsu, the husband's bitter choice was out of love for his wife. (If you have not seen Hirosue Ryoko's Himitsu, you NEED to hunt it down. Its one of the best movies ever.)



END SPOILERS



I had blast watching this show. From the retro 50s feel to the jokes to how there was always something interesting happening. I lot of jdoramas suffer from incompetent writing and its just uplifting to see something that's different yet so thoughtfully written. This show deserves high freaking praise and everyone should watch it.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this show bombed in Japan, with ratings consistently in the single digits. And even among the downloaders it didn't generate much interest or discussion.

This does not bode well for quality scriptwriting on Japanese television.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it gets worse than that. Are you ready?

Officially, Utahime was THE LOWEST RATED SHOW of its season.

Tragic.

mangifera said...

are you sure this series doesn't generate much interest and discussion amongst downloaders? perhaps you could take a look at d-addicts.com forum and see the discussion. not too bad if you take how the ranking goes.

perhaps jdo nowadays had been too much of johnnys' boys which couldn't act and puke inducing high school drama.

rumors had it that Tosa-ben usage in this dorama put the rating down. Kanto people seems don't really like Tosa-ben. it's rather understandable.

but really, this dorama is the best of fall season. and i kinda missing this kind of drama after bunch of nitwits producing puke inducing high school dorama which neither good in any sense.

Akiramike said...

Wow is so freaking sad that this show bombed. They actually did a well written and acted show people would rather watch horrible johnny doramas? I was so surprised at how smart and inspired the writing was compared to the usual crap.

Anonymous said...

My wife is Japanese, I'm Cuban, I don't know Japanese so I can't speak to the dialect issues, but I recently saw this series (online), finished it about a week ago...and I'm going through severe withdrawal!

This was a very, very well acted, written series. It seems like a whole world went through me. And how about the little girl playing Suzu? I think she really nailed the character too, so that it was very believable when the "Tato to Suzu" song became the amazingly painful reenactment of earlier joys that it became.

This one, like its apparent inspiration "Cinema Paradiso" (in at least some respects), leaves you gutted for a while, possibly because the (first) ending is so painful to watch. I can only hope there's more out there like this one.

Our next visit to Japan may include a visit to the town!