Monday, May 12, 2008

Saito-san Eps 4-11

I'm going to miss this show a lot. Specifically, I'm going to miss Mimura's potryal of Wakaba Mano. She is one of the most entertaining characters jdoramas I've ever seen. When she was cast in the Ima Ai ni Yukimasu dorama, I was wondering what the producers ever saw in her. Her acting was so bland and could not compare with Takeuchi Yuko's. Still, it was a futile attempt to stretch a movie into 10 episodes.

Why I want  to be a kindergarden teacher when I grow up...

Saito-san proves that Mimura has the acting chops after all. Mano-san insecurities and need for acceptance and acknowledgement are a joy to watch. I enjoy the way she stammers when unsure of herself and throws tantrums like a schoolgirl over her own misunderstandings. In the middle of the series I was a bit disappointed when she did not become 'braver' but then I realised that it was her character flaws that created the interesting dichotomy between her and Saito-san.

Mano-chan totemo kawaii...

Her relationship with Saito-san is very much hero worship. Saito-san is the woman Mano-san wants to be. You could say that Saito-san is like the archetypal Ojousan in a shoujo manga who the students look up to and aspire to be. It is this hero worship that propels Mano-san to overcome her own ensecurities. It is her 'flaws' that make her decision to stand with Saito-san all the more impressive. The way that Mano-san celebrates every single step that she takes, from singing the 'seigi no mikata' song to being overly enthusiastic shows the purity or innocence of her hero worship.

I'm going to miss the schoolgirls on bikes....

The writers portay Saito-san as a bastion of goodness. Sorta like how Superman is the symbol for Truth, Justice etc, Saito-san is the perfect suburban housewife among a sea of housewives who don't have backbones and only play follow the leader. The writers refuse to reduce her a mere mortal except for a little bit in the end.

... especially Ayoko. :(

However this leads to another problem of convincing the audience that the Saito & Mano relationship really did progress from one of admiration to mutual friendship. To me, Saito-san is like the reluctant leader and Mano-san the follower. As Griffiths said in Berserk, to be friends, both parties must be of equal standing and Mano-san's worth and friendship to Saito-san is sorely understated.

I would have loved to see Saito-san run into deep trouble and Mano-san moving mountains to save her. However, I can see why the story went the way it did. Though the dorama is called Saito-san, its really about Mano-san who is like a sidekick to the superhero and breaking Saito-san down would mean that Mano-san would have to be elevated. In other words, Saito-san is like this force of nature that tore through Mano-san's life and humanising Saito-san too much would lessen the impact.

Gambarre Saitou team!

This show is definitely in my 'must watch again' list. Whoever knew that a dorama about housewives that did not involve sex and murder would be so much fun?


suparuki said...

hmmm, sounds engaging, I'll check it out...I also notice there are japanese subs to this series. BTW thx for talking up kekkon dekinai otoko..ended up staying up all night to watch the entire series!!

Akiramike said...

My pleasure. KDO is one of the best jdoramas ever and I'll never get sick of rewatching or talking about it.