Sunday, June 22, 2008

Muri na Renai eps 1-5

When I wrote my review of Hatachi no Koibo ep 1, I sorta outlined what I thought an older man, younger woman dorama needed to suceed. Sadly that dorama quickly became boring and was a complete waste of Sanma and Masami's talents. If there's one dorama I want too done well, its the older man dorama. I'm bloody sick and tired of boring younger men shows because it'll all be about the older lady and the guy(s) are basically plot devices.

They don't look compatible, do they? The fact that the script and acting make it work is testament to this show's greatness.

I wanted to watch Muri na Renai for Natsukawa Yui. The only other show I have ever seen her on besides KDO was Aoi Tori and was desperate to see how good she really was. I was perplexed at the casting of Sakai Masaki as the main character. There are plenty of cool looking old men in jdoramas who could easily convince the viewer that they can attract younger women. I had skimmed through the first episode and was kinda disappointed at the total lack of chemistry between Natsukawa Yui (Kaede) amd Sakai Masaaki (Shogo) and immediately put it into my to watch when bored list. I thought lack of on screen chemistry meant disaster. I am so happy to be wrong.

I want KDO 2!!!!!!! What's that girl group in the background?

KDO really opened my eyes because it was the one dorama where the characters were so fucking well written that they were real. Well, Muri na Renai is basically the spiritual successor to KDO. The first step to making and older man dorama is making the characters real. To give them quirks and personality. Shogo is a former big time musician he is now a successful music executive. However, he was divorced because he chose a life of freedom rather than a life of familial responsibility.

They could have done so much funny stuff with Shogo and Kaede's mom! This is one show I wished they would pad it out cause I enjoy the characters so much.

He is always faced with the repercussions of his decision as his ex wife is happily married and his daughter grown up. Shogo runs into Kaede, a struggling actress with an irresponsible boyfriend who everyday questions the decisions she made in life because of her lack of success. Shogo continues to help her while all the while unable to express his feelings to her.

Seeing Natsuki Mari and Kaede's mom go nuts over Shogo's songs are hilarious!

I really enjoy the dialogue in this show, particularly between Shogo and Kaede. It is as well thought out as the dialogue in KDO. There's always a theme and gives us little insights into their characters as well. For example, Kaede's line about wanting to believe that luck plays nothing in success because it means that all her hard work so far has been futile. This also shows her pride and is reinforced by her not wanting to give in and return to her hometown. Even Shogo's line about dreams makes more sense than that tripe from the coach in Rookies.

Asako's dad: since I'm not her actual father, it wouldn't technically be incest. :)

I was surprised that the show wasn't written by the KDO writer. Okada Yoshikazu has an impressive resume and makes me want to watch MOther & Lover and Last Present even more, two jdoramas with unfinished subs. Its as if he saw KDO and Hatachi no Koibito and realised that instead of writing characters for sake of story, he should instead write characters and let them tell the story.

I love this mug shot of Kojima Haruna. Moe~~~~~

What can I say about Natsukawa Yui? She is definitely in my list of greatest jdorama actresses ever. While Kaede is still a variation of Hayasaka in KDO, the incredible acting has imbued the character of Kaede with depth no other actress can. The way she so easily does a laugh to mask Kaede's sadness or her icy look of wanting to kill her useless boyfriend Shoji. You feel her frustration and tiredness from her seemingly endless struggle and cheer when she is happy. You can see the deperation in her smiles as she tries to get Shoji to change. You will fall in love with Kaede, just like Shogo because she is not superficial.

Ini, mini, minie moe.....

The second key to making the relationship work is to let it build naturally. Shogo's acts of kindess make us root for him. We get to see how happy he is when Kaede is happy. We get to see his anxiety and fear in not wanting to get hurt. I like his line about how youth of today is the same as during Shogo's time. Its basically the youth wanting to forge their own identity and the adults shaking their heads because it is different. We can take is remark and turn it around and say that falling in love is the same whether one is 20 or in Shogo's case 60. Except his fortune and mansion balance against his age.

My, what nice legs you have....

And lets not forget Kojima Haruna from AKB48 as Shogo's daughter. OMFG, she is like the younger version of Tomosaka Rie, with less talent. At least I finally know one of the names of the members of AKB48, lol. Its a shame her acting is crap. There is one scene that would have been so fucking great in 6. Its still good but the build up was so great nothing short of heart wrenching is inexcusable. Oh well, I guess they have to protect Haruna-chan.

Sick of Haruna yet? I'm not! :)

Or maybe not. Another similarity between this and KDO is the self-restraint in not making the show too melodramatic. After the Korean explosion and renai movies like Sekachu, there has been too much crying and stretching of storylines. Where the whole purpose of an episode is to show one scene and everything else is just filler. Like KDO, you can tell that scenes and dialogue have a purpose. So far, this has been a brilliantly paced show.

Luckiest old fart in the world.

Yes, this show so far has proven that a show starring a diminutive 60 year old man and great actress can work. Seriously this show is so fucking brilliant. I can't believe the ratings were crap. Can't Japanese watch anything without bishounen who can't act? And I can't not mention the theme song. I think Sakai Masaaki's real life parallel's Shogo's and helps bring believability to his character.

Go watch this show now and restore your faith that Jdoramas can be about great acting and writing! Shows like this make wading through crap like Last Christmas and Kimi wa nanin ja nai worth it. Now to watch my AKB48 PVs. :)


Jung said...

Nice in depth write up as usual.

I guess they really wanted to cast Natsukawa Yui for the main role, because there is no way she and her friend can pass as 35 year old. Luckily, Shogo looks a few years older than 61-62 year old character that he portrays. So I guess it all works out, hehe.

But I'm glad you're enjoying this show. I still wonder if Sakaguchi Kenji just bailed out, or if it was meant to be a small cameo from the beginning to provide a quick boost to the star quotient.

But looking at how the dorama panned out, it would've been difficult to work him into the plot without taking away from other characters.

All in all, a solid series. My only beef is that it lacks the repeat-watch value of KDO (or My Boss My Hero), because it just doesn't have any humorous / memorable scenes.

Akiramike said...

Its got better music than KDO though. :)

nomuramai said...

great drama!!! i don't know if you knew this, but his friend that owns the bar that he always goes too is one of his bandmates from their days with the spiders...this drama made me go and get the spiders albums...