Summer’s gone and the days are getting colder, which means it’s time for the fall j-drama season. The only noteworthy drama last summer was Woman. Unfortuantely, Sakamoto Yuji decided not to write any dramas for fall, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that something good will crop up, though there isn’t a lot to choose from at the moment.
Dokushin Kizoku (The Noble Bachelor)
Starring: Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Keiko Kitagawa, Ito Hideaki, Fujigaya Taisuke
What it’s about: SMAP’s Kusanagi Tsuyoshi plays Hoshino Mamoru, president of a movie company that has no interest in getting married. Ito Hideaki plays his younger brother, Susumu. He works with his brother and is currently living with him due to his ongoing divorce. Despite the fact that his soon-to-be ex-wife is keeping tabs on his night-time activities, it doesn’t keep Susumu from bringing girls back to Mamoru’s apartment every night. Kitagawa Keiko plays Haruno Yuki, an aspiring screenwriter who’s working part-time jobs to make ends meet until she hits it big. She also doesn’t want to get married, afraid that settling down will keep her from achieving her dreams. Through various circumstances, Mamoru picks up Yuki’s script and despite saying she has no talent, decides to let her work at his company.
Dokushin Kizoku isn’t as tedious as other marriage-centered rom-coms like WatashiRenai or Kekkon Shinai, though it does fall into lecture mode every now and then, but it’s not as organic as Saikou no Rikon or Saigo no Nibanme no Koi. With the exception of Yuki, none of the leads are particularly well developed. Mamoru is a spoiled rich boy-man who’s driving his aunt’s company into the ground and doesn’t take any interest in his work until his aunt threatens him with marriage. Yet, I’m supposed to believe that he has a great appreciation for movies because he arranges his movie collection very carefully and he can judge if Yuki’s script is good or not. I don’t even know what the purpose Susumu serves besides being a way for Mamoru to voice his thoughts and his eventual love rival.
It made me laugh a few times, like the Yamanote line joke and the bimbo with bad Japanese, but I don’t know if it’s worth watching. The characters haven’t really had a chance to interact, so it might get better next episode since now they’re all together.
Ando Lloyd, A.I. Knows Love?
Starring: Kimura Takuya, Shibasaki Kou, Oshima Yuko, Kiritani Mirei, Endo Kenichi, Tsubasa Honda
What it’s about: A scientist hit list from the future has been circulating the web. So far, all the people listed have been killed at the scheduled time. When one of the scientists, Reiji Matsushima, is killed, his fiance Ando Asahi, is devastated, but she barely has time to grieve as she is the next person on the list. That’s when Ando Lloyd, an android from the future who looks exactly like Reiji, appears, swearing that he must protect Asahi.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are new to j-dramas, you’ve probably heard of Ando Lloyd, just because Kimutaku’s in it and Hideaki Anno, creator of the controversial Evangelion series, drafted the story concept. Ando Lloyd was surprisingly interesting and though I doubt TBS can keep up all that CGI for another ten or eleven episodes, I think this is worth checking out if you like sci-fi, even if you don’t like Kimutaku. There’s a lot of questions surrounding these mysterious androids from the future, what they’re doing in the police force, and why they’re so set on killing these scientists and Asahi.
The romance between Asahi and Reiji was so cute. He’s super awkward and geeky while she’s beautiful and confident, so they were the perfect opposite pair. Ando Lloyd and Asahi haven’t had any interaction outside of fighting robots, so there’s no telling if their romance will satisfy viewers who aren’t interested in the sci-fi aspect, but I think Kimutaku and Shibasaki have enough chemistry to make it work.
Umi no Ue no Shinryojo (A Clinic on the Sea)
Starring: Matsuda Shota, Takei Emi, Fujiwara Norika, Toda Erika, Fukushi Sota
What it’s about: Matsuda Shota plays Sezaki Kota, a young doctor that’s always falling in love with women. He joins the boat clinic, Kashin-maru, which tends to patients that live in the Seto Islands. While no one can doubt his skills, his desperation to find a bride makes him unreliable and gives the nurse, former delinquent Togami Mako (Takei Emi), a headache.
I didn’t have high expectations for A Clinic on the Sea, but the first episode was a let down. With the exception of the opening scene and the unexpected appearance of Toda Erika at the end, everything is very straightforward. Kota and Mako butt heads because they have a bad first meeting, he meets a girl he likes on the island and thinks he’ll marry her, she’s in love with someone else so he leaves heartbroken, Mako cheers him up. Wash, rinse, repeat. I don’t know how well this girl of the week formula will hold up if they’re all as dull as the daughter of the boat-builder, so I’m hoping we get more interesting characters as the series progresses.
I was surprised that Kota is more of an earnest goofball than a big pervert like the synopsis made it seem. He does leer at Mako the first time they meet because she’s only wearing a towel, but other than that, he’s pretty ethical as far as crazy genius leads go. When he texted his mom, it did seem like there might be another reason he’s so set on getting married, but I might be reading too much into it.
The thing about A Clinic on the Sea is that it’s like someone said, “Hey, let’s put a hospital on a boat! That’s different!,” and didn’t think of anything else to make it stand out. I am glad there’s no hospital politics (because there’s only eight people on the boat) and no one’s prejudiced against Kota (except Mako, but that’s for the sake of the romance), but it’s the same eccentric genius saves lives story without anything else, so it’s still boring. Maybe I’m being too harsh for the first episode. There is still time to expand on the sea clinic concept, but if there was at least some interesting dialogue or better executed gags, I think I would’ve liked it better.