It’s been a while since getsu9 doesn’t feature young and currently famous or breakthrough actor/actresses who are often times pushed by their agencies despite mediocre acting abilities. Technically, the lead girl is young but I’m talking about Fukuyama Masaharu, he’s like what….47…? Still charming though. I’m glad this getsu9 is unlike the previous installments and takes on a different direction. Not that I’ve anything against the younger stars but I probably am kinda sick of cheesy romance in every getsu9 that at some point, it’s almost suffocating. I haven’t enjoyed any getsu9 too for a while except for last season’s ItsuKoi (has its ups and downs but personally, I like it more than last year’s). Here’s hoping this doesn’t turn out to be a love story between a middle aged man and a 20 year old. I’m aware of the existence of karesen, but I don’t think this will work between the two leads here. It’s best if they keep Fukuyama’s character as some sort of a mentor to Fujiwara’s.
What surprised me about this show is the audition being held to choose the heroine and quite an unexpected choice too. Fujiwara Sakura is first and foremost a singer-songwriter and has released two albums (did some digging after watching this episode). She doesn’t have any acting experience, a total amateur in said department so this is officially her acting debut. Prior to watching the show, I have no clue whatsoever and didn’t bother to check out the synopsis. Upon finishing, I now understand the reason for the audition and appreciate the bold step of picking someone with no acting experience at all to act in a drama. More importantly, I think they were searching for a fresh face and someone who actually knows how to sing because the heroine obviously is going to sing in the drama. This kinda reminds me of YUI (who shares the same hometown as Fujiwara – Fukuoka) who made her acting debut in a similar pattern for Taiyou no Uta.
That’s also probably the reason for casting Fukuyama Masaharu this time because he’s also a singer-songwriter, he needs to play guitar in the drama. I think it’s pretty cool to gather casts who have musical skills and this doesn’t only apply to both Fukuyama and Fujiwara. Apparently, supporting characters like Mizuno Miki plays piano and several others play some sort of instruments for Fukuyama’s band in the drama.
Still, the question remains – Is it any good? Did the pilot deliver?
I can safely say that I’m liking what I see at the moment.
Let’s talk about the plot first. Fukuyama Masaharu plays Kouhei who is a doctor but has great passion for music. He was in a band before but disbanded when the lead singer, Haruno, passed away. He still drags his beloved guitar everywhere he goes but doesn’t seem to play much anymore, or is reluctant as it evokes bad memories of the past.
He’s popular with women but can’t seem to commit himself in a steady relationship. He’s basically homeless too and is currently staying at a fellow friend/band member, Natsuki’s house. Natsuki is Haruno’s sister and has one-sided feelings for Kouhei. At this moment, we’re not sure whether Kouhei realizes that yet as he treats her like a sister. I’m also under the impression that Kouhei was in love with Haruno and they probably had some history together.
For a few days a week, he’d be assigned to a factory as the attending physician for the company (I suppose) and he meets a young worker, Sakura whose boss is annoyed because Sakura doesn’t utter a single word during conversations and this silent treatment drives him crazy.
As such, he asks for Kouhei’s help to cure her. During this first meeting, Kouhei realizes Sakura has a stuttering complex, so he plans to ask Natsuki’s professional help. She’s a doctor specializing in speech and language development.
The show does a good job so far introducing the characters, especially both leads. We now have an idea about Kouhei and him still clinging to the past. A more elaborate effort was done to show us the daily struggles of a person who stutters and how it impedes even the simplest conversation. I like how they displayed this difference between communicating with strangers and family or friends. We see Sakura is evidently more comfortable at home when she’s speaking with her sister or good friend, Amano. She still stutters but it’s less severe compared to when she’s trying to speak with a total stranger. Simple things like ordering food or making reservations, warning a colleague during a dangerous moment are clearly huge obstacles for Sakura. I’m also quite surprised to find out Mami (Kaho) is not her real sister but from the same orphanage. They bonded as Mami would always save her from the bullies because of her stuttering.
Their relationship is endearing and I like the part where Mami announces her marriage and Sakura doesn’t seem very happy about it. People with siblings will most probably understand Sakura’s feelings. It’s that moment when you realize your one and only sibling who you’re especially close to is going to leave and start a new life somewhere else. That loneliness creeping in can be hard to accept at first. I know this because I have a sister myself too.
The scene when Sakura finally tells Mami her true feelings about the marriage is nicely done. Mami telling Sakura that she needs to get herself together and be more independent because let’s face it, Mami can’t stick around forever to help Sakura in her daily struggles. Mami’s initial request for Sakura to make the wedding speech is understandable too. She’s trying to boost Sakura’s confidence by giving her something important as this in hopes that it will help lessen her stuttering.
Amano’s friendship with Sakura is lovely too. He’s protective towards her, proven by how he basically got into a brawl with Kouhei when he mistaken him as a creepy middle aged guy hitting on Sakura. That being said, we can see Sakura’s surrounded by supportive people and it’s hard for her to break out of that shell.
The final part is one of the highlights. Sakura is finally able to break her wall and finds solace in singing her favorite music, without stuttering. In the effort to encourage her further, Kouhei accompanies her singing with a guitar. That scene is lovely. It’s almost like this heavy burden is lifted off the shoulders and it’s liberating.
So the plot so far is good but what about the other aspect – acting?
I think overall the cast is doing pretty good for their respective roles, even Kaho who kinda freaks me out in Umimachi Diary is transformed into gentle Sakura’s sister. We clearly do not have enough of Suda Masaki, I hope he has more screen time in the following episodes. He’s great in every single scene he does appear as the overly energetic and protective friend of Sakura’s. Fukuyama Masaharu has always strike me as this quiet serious guy maybe because I only see him in the Galileo series and the movie, Like Father, Like Son. Glad he’s more carefree here. I think what most people are curious about is how did Fujiwara Sakura fare in this.
It’s safe to say that her acting is at the acceptable range and actually not terrible. In certain parts, some amateurish signs do show (for example, there were one or two scenes where her stuttering seem a bit forced?) but I’ll give her this, she’s good in crying scenes and that’s what most people (especially beginners) fail to impress. I’m also not sure whether she deliberately lowered her speaking voice because it’s definitely very deep that I was shocked when she starts to speak. I know her natural voice is somewhat deep but her singing voice has a lighter note and labeled as ‘smokey voice’. Oh another thing is the smoking. It’s most probably the character image but now I’m just hella curious whether she actually knows how to smoke in real life or she practiced just for this specific role. I know Japanese smokes a lot and it’s not rare to see women puffing there, still curious about it.
Overall, this is a pretty good first episode and I hope they continue to improve. It’s got soothing background music, love the instrumentals, good tribute to a classic song – 500 miles away from home as well and I need to find that particular track playing in the background during Haruno’s memorial scene at the bar.
Verdict: Will keep watching