Monday, July 14, 2008

Change eps 1-9

When you put KimuTaku and Abe Hiroshi together in a dorama, there's a 99% chance that it will be an entertaining one. The 1% chance being Hero. Everyone knows that this show is about KimuTaku becoming Prime Minister. We knew that this show is probably going to cater to the idiot masses so expect lots of dumbed down, idealistic stuff. Watching this show, I did not expect The West Wing. I however expected to be entertained by KimuTaku being kakoii, Abe being his fun self, laughing at some jokes and perhaps some simple political chess games.

Obligatory slow-mo walking as group shot.

Instead we have a dorama which feels like it was written by a 10 year old kid armed with a textbook on Japanese politics. No, I'm not faulting Asakura Keita's (KimuTaku) idealism. On a side note, why do his characters always have cool and memorable names like Satonaka Haru? Change just feels like a small scale dorama. It would have been more appropriate if it were about an everyman who is elected to be the president of some company, not the Prime Minister of Japan. Yes, there are budgetary constraints but there are many easy ways to get around it such as news reporting.

Abe Hiroshi just steals every scene he is in!

For example, we don't see him having meetings and consulting with his cabinet. We don't see him using Japan's version of secret service to locate an expert that he needed. Asakura Keita wastes his time visiting a kid in hospital multiple times. Yes, its to show that he is an everyman but ffs being Prime Minister is not about micromanagement, its macro! Its about the big picture. I guess I had images of KimuTaku doing cool Prime Ministerial stuff.

Someone once said that we should not review shows based on our expectations but rather what the writer wanted to tell. Its so blatantly obvious that the purpose of the show wasn't to entertain the audience with politics, it was to set up the ending in ep 10. The cliffhanger at the end of ep 9 is just so lame. There is no political fightback. The whole point to having an underdog is the fucking fightback. Asakura Keita should go down after the fightback, not before. Its like the Korean idea of sob dramas. Draw huge fucking arrows at a character telling the audience, 'look at how pitiful he is!'. Blatant sentimentality just makes me sick.

If I were PM, I would be going for a check up everyday. Horiuchi Keiko looks to hot to be 37. :)

Abe Hiroshi is criminally misused. If guaranteed way to make this show interesting is to rip of Shinsengumi with KimuTaku being Kondo Isami, the idealistic leader who is not as naive as he looks and Abe Hiroshi being Hijikata, the man who would do whatever it took to make Isami the leader but leave Isami's hands clean. That way, Kimutaku can still be the idealistic teacher but Abe can do all the backroom political dealings to entertain the audience. Yes, I know asking for a 'darker' show is uselss but goddammit if Shinsengumi can do it so should this show. Abe's character of Nirasawa has the potential to be the most interesting of all. His backstory is cool yet he is reduced to pure comedy relief.

Fukatsu Eri does a good job but the writing is so fucking shoddy. Her character's too naive to point of stupidity and in ep 9 she dares give KimuTaku a lecture on the 'evil's of politics? And Kota Rosa's character is a huge waste of screen time. For a story with this many characters, every character's appearance must have a purpose. Often times, it just feels like your typical workplace dorama with coworkers living together interspliced with clips from people pretending to be parliamentarians.

You can say that this series can be split into two parts. There's the kingmaker part which is too brief and uninteresting because there is no relationship between King and kingmaker. When maker turns on the king, its boring because there's no bloody battle. Their only tenuous link is Fukatsu Eri but she's such a weak character. Best friends make the best enemies. In short, this show is short on political relationships and does too much on the negligeble ones. I'm still going to watch it to the end and admittedly some parts are funny but ultimately this is a very forgettable show. If anything, I will remember it for how much wasted potential it had.

Abe Hiroshi as PM dorama? I'll certainly watch it!


Jung said...

Haha since you talked about how this dorama sucked because of what it 'could've' been, I'll talk about why this dorama sucked from a person who didn't have much expectation. (From any doramas starring kimutaku)

Things i liked about this dorama:

1. Kato Rosa used bang to hide her huge forehead and looks adorable.

2. Kato Rosa playing a spunky character

Things I disliked about this dorama:

1. Excessive amount of dialog. Let the scene do the talking. The screen adaption of the script was just piss poor.

2. Dumbed down characters. I hate it when there's a black and white distinction between good vs evil. I hate it even more when the evil quickly converst to becoming the good after listening to a 1 minute idealism talk. Give me a break!

3. No background information on Kanbayashi. Yeah I get it... he wants to be the puppet master. But why???!

Wasted characters. Gee, where do I begin. You think Kato Rosa is wasted? I say, the cute doctor served zero purpose. If they cut out all the scene involving her, the could've used earned back at least 15 more minutes.

Akiramike said...

Lol, have to agree with you on Kato Rosa. Watching Joou was so hard because of her forehead. There's just too many things wrong with Change.

Like I said, I think the writer came up with concept and ending and filled up everything with generic jdorama cliches without thinking about how it all fits.

dokaben said...

I've only watched up to episode 6 so far but I definitely agree with you. I continually cringed at how they oversimplified everything. I understand that too much depth would be boring, but they could have at least slowed the pace a bit and tried to make the issues less black and white. Maybe add another dimension to the health care issue? Introduce a doctor with a conflicting opinion to add more complexity?

A lot of the non-political details bugged me too. For instance, when KimuTaku goes to meet the rival politician at karaoke, why does he have more security guards than the PM?

What kills me most is that this was done by the same writer that did Galileo!

I can't help but think of the film Dave starring Kevin Kline. That was entertaining while lightly touching on issues without pretending to be brainy.

Enma said...

There was real comic moments in some of the episodes. Like the first one and the one with the American envoy (even if it was silly).
Personally I didn't want to see a dark drama. I wanted it to be comical, but not so stupid.
As I bought the integral of BBC's Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister, I wished for a more cynical tone, with more on Japan's politics.
The more I compare the show to YM/YPM, the fore I feel how miserable it is.
Look how Sori decides to read through all the huge boxes the civil servant brought. And compare that with the reactions Minister Hacker who intelligently consult others to fight back againt the civil servant (who give him 5boxes to read overnight).
Also compare the lame 3nd episode of change, with the election of Hacker as Prime minister in the Christmas Special.