Thursday, May 21, 2009

5 thing I learned from Akai Ito

1) All-girls-schools in Japan have better uniforms.

2) Japanese girls will accept violence by their boyfriends.

3) All the moms of middle school girls in Japan are hot.

4) Japanese think all drugs are the same and equally addictive.

5) To high school girls, a relationship is about having a string of coincidences to fool themselves into thinking its destiny and nothing about the substance of the relationship. Just stalk a girl, run into her a few times and claim that you both have the same birthday and she'll think you're her destiny.

Finally got around to watching Akai Ito. Someone posted in the comments that it was not bad but I wasn't that eager for another middle/high school dorama. I'm just so sick of doramas for the sake of pushing talent who can't act and in Akai Ito's case whoring another best selling novel bought by schoolgirls. I did not approach this show with much expectations and was fearing another Tada Hittotsu no Koi.

Lets get the bad stuff out of the way. Akai Ito is about destiny. The lives of Mei and A-kun are bound together in many ways and this show basically throws everything including the kitchen sink at them until of course they find their way to each other. The good news is, this is not a Korean inspired impossible relationship due to illness/sibling complications. Akai Ito is about hatsukoi, which is the basis of most Japanese romance stories. Problem is, there is not much depth. It like your general teen dorama with a cocktail of drugs, car accidents, suicides, bullying and teenage pregnancy but handling the issues half-heartedly.

Best promo pic for Akai Ito IMHO. :)

Akai Ito is basically a delay dorama. We have the beginnings of how Mei and A-kun meet and we have the happy ending. The question is how to pad the story by delaying the inevitable. The sub characters get their own story threads but ultimately like many shoujo type stories, the characters become are generic and paper thin. Characters speak and do certain things all for the plot which is not a problem if the plot is structured well. In other words, the plot doesn't feel organic. Too much time wasting. I can imagine the editor telling the writer that they need more pages and just pad it up with useless scenes. This show would greatly benefit from a much tighter script and a reduction of 3 episodes.

Too be honest, Mami kept me watching through the boring bits.

Despite my complaints with the writing, I managed to finish the show because of two reasons not including perving at the girls. First reason is the acting is solid. I didn't recognise Hachi One as A-kun because he wasn't crying every five minutes. Minamisawa Nao is very good as Mei. She is 100 times the actress Aragaki Yui is. Its unfortunate that she's not as famous just because she doesn't have the look. Generally the acting is above most teen doramas. Maybe it has to do with the lack of Johnnys on this show? hhhmmm.

If I were their father....

The second reason is the directing. This show looks fucking great. I'm surprised that they managed to get in so many on location shoots and managed to make them look good. Maybe it because they incorporated the budget for the movie into the shoot but it looks as good as Sekachu jdorama. Actually I think its better than the Sekachu dorama on the whole. Compare the outdoor lighting on this show against Shiroi Haru's and you can tell that Shiroi Haru is basically operating on a shoestring budget. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the actors are not getting paid much. In short, Akai Ito has very good production values and admire their effort.

Mami has Kojiharu ears!

For a shoujo style adaptation of a novel, Akai Ito is probably nearly as good as it gets. Technically wise, Akai Ito is good; directing, acting & music. The negatives I described are what I consider features or staples of the shoujo genre; generic female lead and lots of obstacles but a relationship that barely even existed. The whole purpose of the story is not to tell an interesting story but for the young female viewer to imagine themselves as Mei. I'm not trying to bash shoujo stories but rather point out that the script does not rise above mediocrity.

The ultimate question is whether Akai Ito is worth watching? I had fun watching about half of it while the other half consisted of temptations to fast forward and wanting to bang my head against the wall when 16 year olds make stupid decisions. The whole running away from police, picking up the stuffed toys and walking into a drug den in the last episode was too stupid. 16 year old kids can't be that dumb, can they? At the very least its a watchable dorama and goes to show that last season wasn't just about Love Shuffle.


Jung said...

For me, this was the best dorama of the season. When I watch a show, I don't really wear a critic's hat, so if the show has a lot of elements I like, then I let myself get absorbed into the show and become blind to negative aspects.

This show was just great. Acting was faultless, core storyline, subplots, camera work, lighting, were all great. I especially enjoyed all the little subtle detailed acting. The night scene of Nagasaki when Mei and her bf sneaks out and you see a train passing by, was just beautiful.

Scenes like this make you want to relive your childhood first love. *sniff sniff*

By far the best school drama I've seen. 3 thumbs up!

Akiramike said...

Doramas like this tell me that one has not lived high school life unless one has studied in Japan. If Makio can go back to high school, so can I!