Spring 2016 First Impressions

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, so let’s just jump into this season’s offerings. It’s looking pretty good so far.

Love Song

Love Song 1

Starring: Fukuyama Masaharu, Fujiwara Sakura, Suda Masaki, Mizuno Miki

What It’s About: Kamishiro Kouhei (Fukuyama Masaharu) gave up his career as a musician several years ago and now works as a counselor. While he frequently meets up with his old bandmates, he refuses to play his guitar. However, when the quiet Sano Sakura (Fujiwara Sakura) walks into his office, music may be the only way to help her.

Episodes Watched: 2

Thoughts: What a pleasant surprise. It’s too early to say whether I’m on board for the inevitable romance between Kouhei and Sakura, but Love Song is hitting all the right spots otherwise. I know Fukuyama Masaharu is the main draw for Love Song as it’s his first drama in a while, but I’m much more interested in the heroine Sakura. Fujiwara Sakura is a newbie and she’s a little rough, but I’m so enraptured with her story that I can overlook it. I adore Sakura, since she’s not your typical shy heroine, but is bursting with things to say, but just lacking any way to convey it. Knowing that this is a drama about music and singing, I was caught off guard by Sakura having a speech impediment, but it certainly gives more meat to her story and a reason to root for her other than the fact that she has a nice voice. Sakura’s stuttering has always held her back from doing anything, whether it’s something as simple as scheduling a get-together for her co-worker or a life-threatening situation like calling an ambulance for her friend. Singing with Kouhei finally gives her the chance to have some agency and I’m excited to see her live a life that isn’t dominated by video games and keeping her head down. I know Kouhei will be her guide, but I like that Sakura also has dependable friends like Mami and Soraichi that want to help her and aren’t afraid of pushing her, even if they don’t always agree.

I’m a little less enthusiastic about Kouhei’s journey back to the stage and getting over the loss of his girlfriend, probably because I’ve seen it done a hundred times and the show doesn’t really do anything different with it. I do like Kouhei, as Fukuyama manages to inject him with some charm, but outside of his interactions with Sakura and occasionally Mizuno Miki, he’s not that engaging. Kouhei’s got something of a restless soul as he’s never in a relationship for long and holds off on getting a place of his own, but he’ll probably change the more he’s with Sakura and he might become more interesting when the show decides to stop keeping him so mysterious.

Boku no Yabai Tsuma

Boku no Yabai Tsuma

Starring: Ito Hideaki, Kimura Yoshino, Aibu Saki, Sato Ryuta, Takahashi Issei

What It’s About: Mochizuki Kouhei (Ito Hideaki) is a struggling cafe owner who has tired of his wife Maria (Kimura Yoshino). He’s urged by his mistress Anna (Aibu Saki) to poison her so he can get her inheritance, but right before he decides to act, Maria is kidnapped and Kouhei becomes the main suspect.

Episodes Watched: 2

Thoughts: Based off the title and synopsis alone, I was pretty sure Boku no Yabai Tsuma would be Gone Girl the j-drama and I liked Gone Girl so this seemed right up my alley. Up until the end of episode two, Boku no Yabai Tsuma certainly seemed to be going in that direction so it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two. The plot beats and character motivations are a little different, but overall the setup is the same. Even so, the drama doesn’t feel like a cheap rip-off as it obviously has it’s own goals and the first two episodes manage to keep up a fun level of suspense while being unpredictable.

Maria is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Kouhei close to her and while I wouldn’t say she’s been smart about it (she tails her husband after being “kidnapped” and her face has been plastered all over the media), she knows how to manipulate and use people to her advantage. We don’t really get a chance to see Maria do anything other than during the flashback at the beginning of episode two, but Kimura Yoshino is playing her with a quiet intensity that makes her compelling to watch. I don’t really feel bad for Kouhei (he was trying to kill Maria after all), but I can’t blame him for feeling scared after discovering the extent of Maria’s madness. It should be interesting watching him try to wriggle out of this situation, but I’m sure Maria will not make it easy.

Overall, I like where this show so far; the acting’s good, the background music is eerie, and  the police are actually fairly competent, for j-drama police anyway. At the very least, Sato Ryuta isn’t your typical shouty, angry cop that makes accusations based on nothing. Hopefully Boku no Yabai Tsuma can keep up the momentum.

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