Friday, May 23, 2008

Hataraki Man eps 1-5

When I first heard about Hataraki man, I was kinda turned off. Another dorama about a working woman? I've seen too many of them, from Brand to numerous Shinohara Ryoko shows. The problem is all of them are very pedestrian. By the numbers. Uninspiring. Its as if the writer has a list of issues working women face and just ticks them off. That is, until I saw Hataraki man.

So, this is what OLs talk about.

I like Kanno Miho. I enjoyed Iguana no Musume, Koi ga Shitai and Itoshi Kimi E. To me, she was a decent actress but not great. There are only two, maybe three jdorama actresses I consider great. Watashitachi no Kyokasho was the first time I thought Kanno Miho was pretty good. Perhaps she just needed a juicy role instead of her usual chick in distress roles. Sort of similar to Hataraki man, her role was a lawyer who had to choose between a bright future and the right thing. The depth she brough to that character was amazing.

The best thing about the Hataraki transformation is the reaction of the others.

Now in Hatarakiman, she plays Matsutaka Hiroko aka Hatarakiman an editor of a weekly magazine. When she gets into her work, she becomes a sort of OL superhero who gives 110% to work. I just love the way she runs during the intro song. The run is so rigid like yet looks cool. Its like a superhero who instead of going to vanquish evil is going to .... work. Yes, the concept of a superhero salarywoman sounds weird but for some reason it just freaking works. Whether it due to Kanno Miho, the great writing or Hatarakiman song, I don't know.

The writing for the show is very similar to Beauty or Beast, a very excellent Matsushima Nanako show. Have a huge supporting cast around the main actress and make every episode about one supporting character while slowly building up the main story. The key is to give every character a positive and negative trait and present them with a challenge which is not too cheesy or easy. Sounds simple but so many shows can't even get this right. It is the delicate balance of manipulating the audience's emotions into supporting the characters yet not making it too obvious. In other words, turning characters into underdogs we love to support without resorting to cliches which are too obvious.

My heart and other part throbs for Hirayama Aya.

If there is one flaw with Hatarakiman, it is a flaw that most salarywoman shows have, a very weak main (supporting) actor in Yoshizawa Hisashi, the dude Ace wo Nerae. He just doesn't look mature enough to be alongside Kanno Miho. I mean, he was just in a high school tennis dorama 4 years ago. I don't know whether its lack of chemistry or the fact that Kanno Miho looks so much better with the photographer or Sawamura Ikki. I feel absolute zero empathy for Yoshizawa Hisashi's character, Shinji. After watching Sawamura Ikki in Konshu tsuma and this show, I think its time he got a chance to play leading man. He's paid his dues doing boring nice guys. Who knows, he might be the next Abe Hiroshi.

IMO the Hataraki song pawns Haruhi's.

Chick factor is good. Its great to see Hirayama Aya still acting. I thought her acting career was over after Haruka 17. And of course Kichise Michiko, the dressed in black chick from Liar Game. I really, really want to see what she can do. Gotta love the air of mystery around her character. There better be an episode about her of I'm gonna be sorely disappointed.

OMG, its Sailor Venus!!!!!! (she has a small cameo in ep 3)

I'm racking my brain trying to 'sell' this dorama. Its kinda hard to describe why the show is so good in a concise manner because all I can think about is the Hatarakiman song that plays at the end of every episode. I think the producers look at Haruhi and realised that since an average anime can be so famous due a dance, then why not try it with a dorama? Still, the catchy song is just dressing on the cake.

Everytime I see his face, I just think about how not cool he is compared to the coach in Ace wo Nerae!

So, why are the first 5 episodes of Hatarakiman must watch? Its well acted, written blah blah blah. It could seriously be almost as good as Beauty or Beast/Bijo ka Yaju which is in my top 10 best dorama list. If you have never heard of it, go get it now before you watch Hatarakiman. As every episode is basically stand alone, its hard to guarantee that the quality of later episodes will be as good. I feel so freaking tempted to go buy the crappy HK English subbed version but I'm so scared the subs might ruin the show for me. Now to listen to the Hataraki Man Ondo song while I upload the pics. :)


Jung said...

Alright you've got me totally stumped with your glowing review of this dorama. Did you by any chance watch Haken no Hinkaku?

I think that was a much better series.

I don't know... I think I was really turned off by the whole transformation thing by Miho Kanno where she gets into the zone. And for some, I recall there were 2-3 other dramas that season with 'super-natural' talent theme.

And how everybody reacted to her transformation was just so corny...

Take it off your top 10 list!

Akiramike said...

Haken no Hinkaku is better? I deliberately avoided the series cause of Shinohara Ryoko. I've seen her in too many OL shows. I'll give it a try if it becomes series of the week.

I just love Hataraki Man cause its such a refreshing and fun take on a tired and cliched genre and in my mind cemented Kanno Miho as an A-list actress.

John H said...

I liked the drama just cause Kanno Miho was in it alongside Hayami Mokomichi.They kind of held the thing together.Another thing without these two actors it would have been very bland.Its very average to be honest but it portrays what work is like not only in Japan but across the "office world." Like all Japanese dramas there are bits of joy,sadness,happiness, triumph and of course above all sarcastic humour.If Kanno Miho could read this in the future.Job well done.
An excellent actress you are.

As we can see here it even states it would be a cool story.Up front and honest. Its basically saying its about work.Dramatized work of course.

Trang said...

Maybe you could write a post about great actresses in Japan. There are several actresses whom I think are great until I stumble on their weaker works and wonder if I'm confused between screen presence and real acting talent.