I just couldn’t keep up with 2016, before I knew it, it was already January (and now it’s February, c’mon time, slow down a bit). It’s definitely hard to get back into the blogging routine, but seeing as how the winter j-dramas are looking pretty good, maybe I’ll have better luck this year.
Starring: Matsu Takako, Matsuda Ryuhei, Mitsushima Hikari, Takahashi Issei
What It’s About: When four string players “coincidentally” meet at a karaoke bar, they decide it’s fate and form a quartet. The four musicians, Maki Maki (Matsu Takako), Beppu Tsukasa (Matsuda Ryuhei), Sebuki Suzume (Mitsushima Hikari), and Iemori Yutaka (Takahashi Issei), decide to live together in Karuizawa, but each one is harboring a secret.
Episodes Watched: 2
Thoughts: Based on the synopsis, I thought Quartet would be a mystery-thriller type of story, but it’s actually fairly light-hearted (though there are serious moments) and much more character-driven than plot-driven. And that’s fine, because I’m enjoying it immensely. The cast is great (though I wish Takahashi Issei would get some more screen time), and while I make no secret of how much I like Mitsushima Hikari and I adore how quirky Suzume is, Matsu Takako’s Maki is the most intriguing character so far. Maki’s always sweet and smiling, but there’s a sharp edge to her, like when she cuts off Ben so Doughnuts Hole can get a gig or when she knows that Suzume was listening to her conversation with Beppu. Matsu plays those moments perfectly and I’m left in awe, so I can’t wait to learn more about her.
Sakamoto Yuji once again demonstrates how great he is at writing; there’s a lot of light-hearted moments between our quartet like when Maki and Suzume are teasing Iemori about his love life or when everyone’s teaching Beppu about romance, but he knows how to even make simple conversations carry weight. The way the conversation about the fried chicken came full circle in episode one was brilliant.
Long story short, Quartet’s great and I can’t wait to dig into these characters even more.
Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu
Starring: Nishiuchi Mariya, Yamamura Ryuta, Sawamura Ikki, Shono Hayama
What It’s About: Takanashi Asuka (Nishiuchi Mariya) dreams of getting married and becoming a housewife, but when her boyfriend of five years dumps her, she vows to never date another man unless he plans on marrying her. So of course she becomes attracted to popular newscaster Nanami Ryu (Yamamura Ryuta), a man completely against marriage and while the two initially butt heads, they decide to try dating anyway…
Episodes Watched: 1
Thoughts: I only picked up this show based on the title, so I sat through the first episode thinking, wow this is moving really fast, slow down guys we have at least 8-10 episodes to fill, but now that I know Asuka and Ryu are going to date, all the cliches make more sense. This show’s kind of all over the place, but there’s something oddly charming about it that makes me want to give it another episode. Nishiuchi and Yamamura have pretty good chemistry and while their relationship gets off to a rocky start, I like that they aren’t denying their attraction to each other and are trying to understand each other. You just don’t see characters honestly talking to each other very often in romance dramas so it’s a refreshing change of pace.
I do wish Asuka was written with a little more depth as she feels more like an idea and less like a person.The whole first episode centers around her obsession with marriage and any other aspect about her isn’t really expanded upon or is told to us instead of shown. At least Ryu has a back story and an active storyline separate from his relationship with Asuka. The show does slightly touch on the fact that Asuka has a rather idealistic view of what marriage entails, so I’m crossing my fingers and toes that her relationship with Ryu will challenge that belief in a compelling way that gives her some more definition (and of course, I’d like to see Ryu consider marriage as a possibility) and it won’t just become a back and forth screaming match of “I want to get married!” and “I don’t want to get married!”
Seirei no Moribito Season 2
Starring: Ayase Haruka, Suzuki Rio, Itagaki, Mizuki, Maki Yoko, Emoto Akira, Masahiro Higashide, Dean Fujioka
What It’s About: After attempting to assassinate the king of Kambal, Balsa (Ayase Haruka) became a wanted fugitive and left New Yogo. Now working as a bodyguard in Rota, she comes across Asla (Suzuki Rio), a young girl that harbors the dangerous power of a god. Asla is hunted by the shamans Sfal (Emoto Akira) and his daughter Shihana (Maki Yoko) due to her power, so Balsa decides to become her bodyguard. In New Yogo, Crown Prince Chagum (Itagaki Mizuki) has decided to help the neighboring country of Sangal in a war, but the Emperor isn’t making it easy.
Episodes Watched: 2
Thoughts: I managed to catch Seirei no Moribito’s first season last year and while it’s not a show I would call great, it was a nice shake-up to the normal j-drama landscape, so I was interested to see what the second season would have to offer. What I like about Seirei no Moribito this time around is that it’s not clear whether Balsa should be protecting Asla. Asla doesn’t have any control of her power so she’s not at fault, but she doesn’t show remorse or regret for those she kills, saying that they must have been evil. Even when her own brother is harmed, she simply shrugs it off as the god being merciful. She’s surprisingly ruthless for a little girl, but I guess that’s what happens when your mother is murdered in front of you and everyone’s trying to kill you. Balsa and Asla actually haven’t had a chance to interact too much as a lot of time is being devoted to Chagum’s storyline, but now that it’s just the two of them, I’m sure Balsa will expand Asla’s black and white view and tap into her buried compassion.
I was less than enthused about Chagum’s plot at first because the Emperor already tried to kill him in season one, but it’s been pretty good so far. While Balsa’s not around to protect him this time, Chagum still has people on his side like Shuga and his grandfather, but he’s not always depending on them to save him or make decisions. He knows what his father’s planning and he’s smart about who to pick as his allies, but it’s not all smooth sailing and by the end of the second episode he’s been taken by the Sangal navy, so I’m interested to see how he gets out of this one.