First Impressions – Winter 2017 Dramas


HAPPY belated NEW YEAR!!!

I didn’t whip up a Best of 2016 partly because I’m lazy (if you’ve read my Best of 2015, you’d know how much time I spent on that lmao) and also cos I don’t think I’ve watched enough to really judge or be thorough. So I’ll leave that behind and since it’s New Year, it means Winter 2017 drama season has started. There are still a few not aired yet, so I’ll just keep this brief for what I’ve watched so far.

Not in particular ranking/order:

Rakuen
(WOWOW – Nakama Yukie, Kobayashi Kaoru, Kaho)

One of the earliest dramas to air this season and also one of the best so far. I’ve only watched 1st episode to be honest but I’m sold by the end of the pilot. I thought the buildup is a bit slow but just stay with it because the end will definitely make you drop your jaw (or at least I did for a bit). I wouldn’t expect any less from WOWOW anyway and this already looks like a MUST WATCH of the season.

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First impression: Grim, grim, grim. It’s bleak and dark with a tinge of supernatural. It also has a strong cast and I especially like seeing Nakama Yukie, Kobayashi Kaoru and Kaho. Even the brief scene with Ito Sairi is great. Good news is it’s already being subbed. Give it a shot if you like mystery suspense!

Grab the subtitle here and thanks to natka!

More first impressions after the break!

A LIFE~ Itoshiki Hito
(TBS – Kimura Takuya, Takeuchi Yuko, Matsuyama Kenichi, Kimura Fumino, Tadanobu Asano)

PRIDE reunion, SIREN duo, whatever you wanna call it, the biggest selling point of this show is none other than the cast. In addition, you also get MatsuKen and Asano. I was tempted from the start by the cast to be honest (hence the reason I decided to sub this and all I can do now is hope the drama actually is good to keep me going).

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First impression: While the cast is excellent, the plot isn’t all that original. A talented doctor returns from overseas, meets his former girlfriend who is now married to his best friend. In the midst of that awkward reunion, there’s hospital politics and soon he finds out who are foe and friend. Since the pilot is mainly for introduction, I’ll be lenient for now. Actually I was quite surprised by how quick they used that Mifuyu plot (no spoiler), because usually, they’d leave those for the final episodes. The surgery scenes are quite realistic and Kimura himself did all the incision, stitching etc under a real doctor’s guidance. Anyways, so far so good.

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Oh yeah, I’m totally shipping Kazuaki (Kimura Takuya) and Shibata (Kimura Fumino) for now. This Kimura Konbi is killing it atm! That’s because Takeuchi’s character, Mifuyu is emotionally unstable in the pilot and slightly rubs me the wrong way.Watching Igawa (MatsuKen) beaming everytime Shibata appears is also funny. This kataomoi is going to be heartbreaking for him. Poor guy. Now, I know that Kimura konbi will never end up together because c’mon, don’t tell me the screenwriters reunite both Kimura and Takeuchi after 13 years in PRIDE and not end up together? Fans will RAGE. Still, I wonder if there’ll be love line between the Kimura konbi (even if it’s kataomoi, it’s fine!)

Grab the subtitle here!

Quartet
(TBS – Matsu Takako, Mitsushima Hikari, Takahashi Issei, Ryuhei Matsuda)

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Need I even convince you to watch this? Are you kidding me? One look at that cast, you know this is a MUST WATCH already! And behold the best part of all, it’s written by Jdrama God Sakamoto Yuji. Mitsushima Hikari returning in a Sakamoto Yuji drama, you know this is going to be great. And guess what, it actually is.

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I have nothing to complain about the cast, they’re established. I mean, they’re all experienced, hence I have no worries, none. More than anything, like most of Sakamoto’s work, they tend to be character driven and it depends a lot on the cast to bring out the best. Besides being absolutely delighted about Hikari, I felt like justice is finally served for Takahashi Issei. He’s an underrated actor and it’s nice to see him in the spotlight. The pilot focused on Matsu Takako’s character, Maki and right from the opening scene, which I absolutely LOVE so much, Hikari, she’s amazing. The way she grabs your full attention with that magnetic gaze, clutching her cello, kissing it before playing in the middle of Ginza. She is then paid by an older woman to become friends with Maki, hence we know that Suzume has planned the meeting by herself. I’m not sure if the lady also paid the others because they are seen waiting for Maki to appear at the karaoke before going out at the same time together. They call it fate but each and everyone has their own secrets. Maki has revealed hers (maybe not 100%) in the pilot. I have to say, the moment she dropped that twist about her husband, I didn’t really see that coming. I knew something’s odd about her husband but that plot twist is GOOD.

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Anyways, if you’ve watched Sakamoto’s dramas, you would expect a dialogue-heavy drama with metaphors, insights, musings and trivial stuffs that may turn up to be very meaningful. Life problems, social stigma and the list goes on. I sense the same with this and I know some people may not like that, some people may find it slow or dull, but I’m one of those who like these introspective stuffs. This show seems to have faster pacing, funnier and watch out for every character’s facial expressions and quirks. These little things are what make them unique. My favorite character is definitely Suzume. So many quirks; sloppy when nobody’s looking, can sleep anywhere, seemingly innocent but when she starts shooting Maki with questions regarding her husband, she’s potent. I’m also rather satisfied by how Matsu Takako handles Maki so far. The way she cuts off the pianist Benjamin by herself, surprising the rest of the members because of how innocent and kind she looks. I don’t think her husband’s fate is as simple as she told them. There has to be more. This being a musical quartet means music is one of the focal points and they’re serving great pieces in the pilot. Loving it so far.

Grab the subs here and thanks to yuizaki-libra!

Gekakujo Juken
(TBS – Abe Sadao, Kyoko Fukada)

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A light-hearted family drama about a father striving together with his daughter for better education. Abe and Kyoko act as husband and wife who are middle school graduates. Hence, they put all their hope on the daughter, or at least, the father is. He’s worried that his daughter would follow in both of their footsteps and not get far. I quite like the first episode, the pacing is fine, Abe rocks, he just seems so natural, the kid may need a little boost and Kyoko is being Kyoko (well, at least she’s nice to look at and tbh, she doesn’t look like she’s aged one bit). The comedy doesn’t feel shoe-horned, cracks me up quite a lot (that super elaborated nightmare for example). It’s one of those heartwarming family drama you watch together with your family.

Grab the subtitles here and thanks to carameltz!

Tokyo Tarareba Musume
(NTV – Yoshitaka Yuriko, Eikura Nana, Oshima Yuko, Sakaguchi Kentaro, Suzuki Ryohei)

You know sometimes, when you’re in a restaurant or a diner, then there’s a table somewhere filled with girls, being all rowdy who keep lamenting about their love life, or say, gossiping about others, or excited about some ikemen?

The 3 main cast are basically those girls. I kid you not. The show is funny and that is the best part for me in the pilot. There’s just something I can’t agree with Yuriko’s character who worries about spending Tokyo Olympics alone like the world is going to end if she doesn’t find a partner by then. Now, I understand women can be worried of being single in their 30s but the sheer desperation of getting hooked as shown by these girls, I’m not so okay with. I suppose I just can’t really relate to the girls when it comes to being desperate for a partner. I haven’t read the manga so I don’t know how the story goes from here.

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That aside, I like the comedy. It’ll crack you up for sure, no doubt about that, even if you see it coming from a mile away, they still manage to insert some special effects or color palettes, and so kudos to them for the extra effort.

Secondly, the cast. Been a while since I last saw Yuriko so it’s good to see her again. She seems to nail the character so far. Oh yeah, that head banging scene is absolutely hilarious. Both Eikura and Oshima serve as supporting roles, so other than being her fellow friends who console her after a breakup or something, they don’t have much to do yet. Also, SakaKen with blonde hair hahahaha I thought it wouldn’t look great on him but he actually looks kinda hot XD I’m getting used to it. Although the theme isn’t my cup of tea, I’ll try the next episode and see if it’s repetitive (as in weeping or moaning about being single) or takes a different turn.

What have you watched this season? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

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12 thoughts on “First Impressions – Winter 2017 Dramas

  1. I truly depend on your assessment of new dramas! I want to thank you again about subbing A Life. Of course, the cast is ideal. I decided to watch Quartet after reading your assessment. I had thought of trying Rakuen, and you have convinced me. Tokyo Tarareba Musume is really “déjà vu”. I am getting tired of the subject, though it was amusingly done in Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi [the women were a little older]

  2. Kobayashi Kaoru is in Rakuen? Well, that tips it in the “watching” favour. Fingers crossed too that some kind soul picks up the subbing for Quartet.

  3. The first scene in Rakuen was shocking. I wonder what’s gonna happen with the ESP part of the story. I enjoyed ep1 of Quartet. By now I think I’m used to Sakamoto Yuji’s style of dialogue. Honestly a part of me is just happy to see some of my favs together in Quartet. HEHE.

    Tokyo Tarareba: I tried it for Eikura Nana & Yoshitaka Yuriko. I have given up on any jdrama that involves single women friends/heroines who lament their single life. (Or anything along those lines.) It is sad how dramas put down female characters for their age & relationship status. Bleghhhh.

  4. thanks for make this article! anyways, only 3 of 5 dramas i’m now watch are- Quartet, Juken and Yuriko’s new drama. i like them so i will keep watch

    i know Rakuen has Yukie from Gokusen but her 2010s dramas don’t interest me very much except for Renai Neet. for KimuTaku’s new drama.. no thanks, i don’t like medical dramas anymore. so will looking forward to your future first impressions on new dramas

  5. “SakaKen with blonde hair hahahaha I thought it wouldn’t look great on him but he actually looks kinda hot ”
    yes! ❤ ❤

  6. Hi Ritsu,

    Did you end up sticking with Juken? We tried the first ep and found it kinda blah (we loved Marumo though and are usually very much into heartwarming stories). So I was wondering if it improved past the pilot.

    On another note, we just started Quartet. Two eps in. My wife wants me to find out if the actors really are playing their instruments or if they are using doubles or dubbing or autotune or something. Same for the singing. Any ideas? Looked around online but tiptoeing around spoilers and couldn’t find anything solid.

    Thanks!

    Max

  7. @Max,
    The actors are playing the instruments somewhat, but it’s obvious the music has been dubbed over as their movements are not in tune with the music. As for the theme song, it is sung by the four leads. Matsu Takako and Mitsushima Hikari are also singers.

  8. @junny, thank you kindly! My wife will feel vindicated, haha. I am curious just how much they are in tune.

    BTW, still owe you an email and I did not forget! Apologies for the delay, just been very busy…! Thanks again.

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