Autumn J-dramas: Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de

So the next drama I’ll introduce is ”Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de”. Before the autumn dramas aired, people were asked which drama they were looking most forward to see and number one on the poll results for both men and women were “Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de”. Also the actual viewer amount has kept this drama very high in the overall autumn season drama ranking. But what is it all about and does the drama live up to its’ popularity?

Plot overview:
When I started watching this drama, shortly after the first episode had aired, I actually didn’t know what it was about and I could only base my ideas on the promotional pictures, which mostly just showed a rich girl and a butler. Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de turned out to be a murder-case drama, with very few main characters and reappearing supportive characters as well. You’ll meet three characters, who are:

Hosho Reiko (Actress: Kitagawa Keiko)

Hosho Reiko is the female lead character who works as a novice, murder-solving, detective. What she doesn’t tell her fellow work colleagues is the fact that she is the only daughter of one of Japan’s most powerful companies, therefore a very rich heiress, who despite her wealth has chosen a righteous path as a detective.

Then when she returns home, she can then put on her fancy dresses, her expensive jewelry and continue her princess-like life style, where her work peers can’t see her.

Kageyama (Actor: Sakurai Sho (Arashi))

Kageyama is Hosho’s trust-worthy butler. His job is not only to make delicious dinners or select the perfect wine. He is also Hosho’s protector and follows her around, unseen, while she’s on the job. And when Hosho can’t figure out her cases, she relies on Kageyama, who has an amazing eye for details and understand what is in people’s hearts, to help. His explanations are easy to understand, but also sometimes followed by sharp words.

Kazamatsuri Kyoichiro (Actor: Shiina Kippei)

Kazamatsuri is the work boss of Hosho, which she certainly doesn’t find fortunate. He is a character who has high confidence, when it comes to everything about himself. Especially when it comes to his ability to solve crimes – even though he always only manages to state the obvious. Which causes much annoyance to Hosho, who has to obey her boss, very much against her will.

Opinion:

Despite being a drama about solving murders, the cruelest of crimes, this drama has no intentions of being a serious and realistic police drama. Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de, is a light hearted, borderline silly drama, which also have cartoon-like elements, when a case is being reviewed or a “strong” emotion is being shown, such as “failure”.

That Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de is taking the humoristic approach to solving crimes is not something drama viewers haven’t seen before. And when it comes to originality this drama unfortunately doesn’t have much to show – not even within this drama alone. Each episode is pretty much a repetition of the previous one and it’s easy to predict the events, even in chronological order.

Hosho Reiko will go to the crime scene, she’ll be annoyed about her narcissistic boss, they’ll talk to a lot of people with connections to the crime, Hosho will then go home feeling clueless, talk with her butler Kagayama over dinner who has been following her all day and he will then have all the answers she seeks when it comes to solving what seemed like an impossible case. Hosho then hurries to the murderer’s house and makes her arrest.

The fact that this drama uses the same storyline frame for each episode gives it a very generic feel and it can’t manage to come up with any surprises.

Like mentioned in the beginning, this story only has three main characters throughout the drama, but despite the low count of people to affiliate with, there is pretty much no connection between the drama characters and the viewer. The rich heiress, her butler and the know-it-all boss are all portrayed like bad examples of a stereotype caricature.

Even though I don’t have much positive to say about this drama, it shouldn’t stop people from giving it a try. Since, regardless of my opinion, this drama keeps pulling in a high count of viewers each week, which shows steadily popularity. I guess, I just never liked repetitive dramas, despite their popularity. I was probably one of the only drama-fans who never quite understood why Gokusen needed three seasons and a movie, since each episode pretty much seemed like a replay. Though, you can’t deny the fact that the popularity of Sakurai Sho and Kitagawa Keiko probably helps getting a few extra viewers.

Overall a rather bland drama among the many j-dramas of this season.

Autumn J-dramas: Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu.

So while I’m not traveling around and have interesting things to say about my personal life, I thought I would make a post about one of the current dramas on Japanese television. I’ve been watching Japanese dramas for years and these dramas has also been a great help for me when it came to learning Japanese. The truth is that before I entered university I owed all my knowledge of the Japanese language to Japanese dramas – and it wasn’t just phrases, since I managed to have conversations with Japanese people, I also met my husband, whom I speak solely Japanese with, and started our relationship before I entered university. Guess what I’m trying to say is that dramas is a great help when it comes to expanding vocabulary, grammar and improving pronunciation. So I thought I would show my appreciation of Japanese dramas by making some posts about the current ones running this season, since I’m pretty much watching all the seasonal dramas. (I’m not sure how many I’ll post about, yet.)

The first one I’ll take a look at is: “Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu”. (The reason I can’t fall in love.)

Plot overview:

This drama is about four women in Tokyo who is all having problems with love. The three main women are all in their mid-twenties, with very different personalities, but they do have one thing in common which are the struggles they try to overcome in the search of finding “the right guy”.

Fuji Emi. (Actress: Karina)

Fuji Emi is the boyish character, who is more comfortable in jeans and shirts rather than dresses and high-heels and instead of searching for a romantic love interest she has got stuck in the role of the “guy’s friend” and is not really seen as a woman among her work peers.

Another of Fuji’s problems is that she is in love with her best friend, who she in the past tried dating for two weeks, before they returned to being “just friends”. Now that friend is getting married and Fuji is trying her best to be happy for this friend who has an important place in her heart.

But can Fuji let go of her own desires and be truly supportive or will she try to seize the last change she’ll have before he gets married? And what about the other guys who wish to make Fuji happy, the guys she is too busy to truly notice and appreciate.

 Hanzawa Mako (Actress: Oshima Yuko (AKB48))

Mako is desperately trying to find the man of her dreams and fall in love in the hopes of living happily ever after. Unfortunately she tries too hard and is marked as “the heavy girl”. She’s he kind of girl who always is the first to message her guy of interest and thereafter she waits by her phone for a response. She thinks too much and pushed over by the guys trying to take advantage of her. Though, there is one thing she has been protecting all those years, her virginity.

The virginity that she hopes to give to the right guy, as proof of their mutual love for one another. Unfortunately for Mako, that guy is difficult to find and she ends of fighting heartbreaks over a guy who in the end has no interest in her and another guy who seems very possessive. Will Mako in the end be able to find her knight in shining armor?

Ogura Saki (Actress: Yoshitaka Yuriko)

Saki has high dreams for a future when it comes to getting a career in a good company, but her interviews felt through and she left with her job as a hostess. Saki has no problems neither getting in contact with guys nor getting intimate. She believes she knows what guys want and often gives both Fuji and Mako lectures in how to get guys interested. Though Saki’s own problem is that she has never been in love or even close. When it comes to handling guys, it has become a profession, a job with no feelings attached. Though, one morning she shares a cap with a guy named Shiraishi, who shows her the kindness she long have sought. When she finally begins to believe in love again, her dreams are shattered by the fact that Shiraishi is a married guy, who wants nothing but friendship.

But, the lines of friendship are getting blurred and both Saki and Shiraishi have to make a decision. Do you do what’s right or do you follow your heart?

Shiraishi Misuzu (Actress: Inamori Izumi)

Misuzu is the wife of Shiraishi and the work colleague of Fuji. She is the last part of the four women. All though she seems to have a successful job and a good husband, she also finds herself among the troubles love can bring. She wishes more things in her life, she wishes to have a house and children with her husband, who is becoming more and more distant and who also seems to be keeping secrets from her.

The three women, Fuji, Mako and Saki moves into a share house together, which then becomes the place where they can share their experiences and worries in the hopes that they’ll all succeed in the path of life, both with it comes to careers, love and marriages. And maybe these guys will also come to realize that sometimes you must kiss a lot of frogs in order to find your true prince.

Opinion:

When “Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu” was announced it was said to be Japan’s version of “Sex and the City”, but the fact that Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu focuses a lot on finding  true love and getting married and a lot less on the sex part, kind of make those comparisons invalid. Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu doesn’t need to be a new Sex and the City either, since that doesn’t necessarily means the road to success. This Japanese drama has had a nice steadily rating when it comes to the amount of views and it is among one of the autumn season’s most popular dramas. I also think that the fact that popular talents, such as Oshima Yuko and Yoshitaka Yuriko is a part of this drama has also helped the ratings a bit.

Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu, is by no means an original drama with lots of twists and surprises, but it posses something that is able to captivate and make the viewer want to see the next episode as well. You become a part of these women’s lives; you share their joy and feel their sadness. You cheer on them when they want to make the right decisions, you get frustrated with them when they’re not able to see where they made the wrong turn and you get angry with the people standing in their way or are trying to hurt them.

The storyline may not be original, three young women looking for the perfect guy and another women in a struggling marriage – we’ve heard that kind of story thousands of times. Also the characters are very stereotyped, the boyish girl, the girl who desperately wants to find prince charming and the girl who sees sex as a business and thinks she has figured it all out.

Despite all that, the characters still posses an amount of depth, they reach out to you and makes you emphasize with them.  The drama also manages to focus on other characters than just the main ones. The supportive casts are not just empty shells, they add to the humor, to the sadness and to the drama. This drama isn’t just black and white, because do you hope for Fuji that she is able to win her friend’s heart or do you wish him a happy marriage to a nice girl? Also what about the sweet and caring guy Fuji loses somewhere along the way while chasing after her best friend and her lost love.

Then there’s Mako who just tries to do her best, who tries to make her romantic interest happy and make them notice her, but in the end just adds to her amount of tears to shed. Her character also shows that the world of men can be just as mean and deceiving as the world of women.  Then there’s the love triangle among Saki, Mr. and Mrs. Shiraishi, all of them just searching for happiness and do their best not to hurt someone on the progress.

Then along the sidelines you have pushy parents, a jealous sister, nosy colleagues and supportive friends. This drama has all the elements needed of a good drama, which makes it my favorite drama of this season and it’s the drama I always anticipate every week – which makes me appreciate the fact that I don’t need subtitles anymore. Very recommended.