Spring 2012 Jdramas-Idols Galore

It’s nothing new for idols to dominate the drama scene in Japan, but this season it just seems like there’s a truckload. Not that I’m complaining, I quite like my idols, but I’m kind of floored by how many are starring in dramas this season. I don’t have the time to check out every single drama this season, but I decided to do a quick impressions post of the ones that I have seen so far.

Kagi no Kakatta Heya

Starring: Ohno Satoshi, Toda Erika, Sato Koichi

It’s practically the law for there to be at least one detective drama airing every season. While I’ve never been particularly impressed with detective dramas and usually keep as far away from them as possible, I had to watch at least one episode of Kagi no Kakatta Heya out of my love for Ohno. Despite the success of his last drama Kaibutsu-kun,  I couldn’t make it past the first episode, so I’m glad to see Ohno back in a human role.

Kagi no Kakatta Heya deals with solving murders that happened in locked rooms. The focus isn’t so much on who dunnit as much as how they did it and I guess, with only two episodes in, is why I don’t find the cases very intriguing, though I will admit that the second one was better than the first. For the most part, I’m enjoying the characters and their interactions. Toda’s okay, she hasn’t done a lot so far. Her character, Aoto Junko, an assistant at a law firm, is nothing new; slightly bumbling but dedicated to her work. Sato plays Junko’s boss, Serizawa, a big-shot lawyer who hates geting involved in the cases. He’s a good source of comic relief; for instance, though he whines about how the second case is a suicide, he keeps coming up with ideas on how it could have been a murder. He gets so excited about it, only for Ohno’s character to  shoot down his theories. There’s another great scene in the first episode where he goes off about how much he hates detective dramas because the detective always acts superior by telling everyone he’s figured out the case, but don’t explain how until the very last moment. Which is of course what Enomoto does when he’s figured out the case, pissing off Serizawa.

Of course, the success of the drama rests on Ohno who plays Enomoto Kei. I’ll admit, it took me a while to get interested in Enomoto, who’s pretty much an emotionless robot with a love for locks. However, after watching the second episode, it seems that there may be more to him underneath that blank expression.

Final Verdict: So far, so good; interesting characters, but I need the cases to be less boring.

Mirai Nikki-Another World-

Starring: Okada Masaki, Gouriki Ayame, Hongo Kanata, Okada Yoshinori, Fukuda Mayuko

I was intrigued when I heard that popular manga Mirai Nikki (Future Diary) was going to get a drama adaptation with an original story. I read a bit of Mirai Nikki when it first came out and, with such an interesting premise, I was curious about how well it would play out in a drama so I checked out the first episode.

The first episode serves as an introduction to our hero, Hoshino Arata, played by Okada Masaki, and how he gets involved in the game. The suspense factor is always there and I like how we get a glimpse of the future before actually seeing it unfold. The whole “your future is yours” theme kind of weighed the episode down, not because it’s bad, but because it took up way too much time trying to hammer in that point. One day doramas will learn that you don’t have to knock your audience over the head with a theme for you to understand it.

While the first episode leaves a lot of questions that I feel should have been addressed already, my main problem is with Furusaki Yuno, who, so far, seems exactly like Gasai Yuno from the manga. It could just be a nod to the original manga, but to choose to remake such an important character like Yuno seems strange unless the drama plans to follow the manga storyline. I’ll have to wait and see I guess.

Final verdict: Still on the fence, need to watch the second episode before I can decide.

Papadol

Starring: Ryo Nishikido, Yuuka, Kawashima Umika, the rest of Kanjani8

If there was ever  a time to air a drama about what happens when an idol get married behind his agency’s back, now would be it.

The first episode was cute, mostly focusing on Ryo and Haruka’s romance and Ryo’s struggle to be accepted by Haruka’s children. However, unless you catch all the JE jokes or enjoy cameos by the other JE idols, than I doubt this drama will be for you because otherwise the laughs are few and far between. 

Final Verdict: Okay, good for a laugh if you like JE idols.

Legal High

Starring: Sakai Masato, Aragaki Yui, Namase Katsuhisa, Koike Eiko, Satomi Kotaro

Crazy, crazy, crazy. I’ll admit, my hopes for Legal High were low after watching the trailer, but ten minutes in and I’m sure I stopped breathing because I was laughing too hard.

I was going to watch Legal High because I missed Gakky, but Sakai is pretty much the entire show. He plays Komikado Kensuke, a lawyer who always wins and only takes cases if there’s money involved. He is conniving, scheming, and without principle; you’re not going to find a hidden heart of gold here. However, that’s probably what makes him such a great character, you can never underestimate him because Komikado will do anything. Blackmailing, bribing; name it and he’ll do it. For a fee.

I guess since Komikado is such a dirty character, Gakky’s character has to be righteous as his foil. She plays Mayuzumi Machiko, the typical rookie that believes in finding the truth and protecting the innocent. Her desperation to prove the innocence of her first client is what drives her to ask for Komikado’s help. She sounds like the kind of character that could get on your nerves, but after she wins her case, she starts to wonder if her client was actually guilty or not. She realizes that as a lawyer, the truth isn’t something she’ll ever actually know, so she decides to find something else to believe in while working at Komikado’s office.

Naturally the two bicker all the time, but thankfully it’s entertaining rather than tiresome.

Of course, we have our antagonist Miki,  played by Namase Katsuhisa. Mayuzumi’s first boss, he uses her to get Komikado to come back to court, thinking he’ll finally beat him, only to be thwarted. Komikado used to work under Miki, but Komikado left after some type of incident left bad blood between them, so they clash every time they meet.

I have to give credit to Legal High for not making the audience out to be a bunch of idiots by walking us through a case and explaining every little detail. The cases themselves aren’t anything original, but set up well enough that I’m not bored while watching it. Legal High is more of a comedy masquerading as a legal drama anyway, but the comedy’s done so well that I don’t care if the legal procedures are correct or not.

I almost forgot about the butler/secretary, Hattori. He works for Komikado and can do everything; make foreign cuisine, calligraphy, compose music, math. I kind of wonder why he’s working for Komikado when he can probably do a million other things that haven’t been revealed yet, but I’m sure there’s a reason.

Final Verdict: Zany and fun without being too over the top. Will definitely keep watching

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