The Hardships of being 20
Ladies and germs, today has finally arrived. The day when I don’t have to hold back anymore; the day when I can spilled the beans and peanuts of every piece and crap of my appreciating feeling slash fangirlingness toward this. The day…when I give my thought of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (Just One Love). I had mentioned this before that I darnly looooooove this drama, it makes me watched KAT-TUN concert for 3 fricken hours just to see the extention of the real-life Hiroto in the form of swaggy turtle Kamenashi. This series even makes me having a ‘hangover’ phase weeks after finished, it makes me still smiling by myself like a nut-job every time I remember the sweet moment of Naoto (Nao + Hiroto). Geez, I ship (and sink with) this couple BIG time.
Actually, this series is not new in my knowledge, it’s quite an old production, like 8 years ago, and I once saw the DVD back then, but that time, since I just finished watch Nobuta wo Produce, the thought of Shuji playing romantic role brought a little cringe to me, and when I see the cover of him and Ayase-chan, I was like “ew, so not a pair”. But here I am, years later, going fricken gaga over something that the japanese people probably already had a loooong time ago. This is me y’know, always, and by always, I mean ALWAYS love old drama series. I mean, it may be a bit old fashioned, whether in style or cinematography, but it has something that current series nowadays lack of; the classic vibe and old fashioned-cliché that somehow feels original and makes your heart warm and fuzzy. And personally, when it comes to drama series, I’m more into mellow makjang type rather than cute cheeky romantic comedy (or just comedy), not that I’m a self tortured or things like that, but it’s just, when you watch comedy thingy, you laugh hard, you feel light and your mood gets brighter; but when it all finished, you barely remember a thing about the whole episodes except, maybe, just the funny parts. But when you watch mellow drama, it breaks your heart and bloat your angsty-ness, it’ll then makes every sweet moment in every episode feels more cherished and memorable, and when it ends in the happier note, you can’t help but to feel genuine happiness and a big great chug of satisfaction. Yeaaaaahhhh, buddy! *pauly d style*. Now let’s jump to the main topic..shall we?Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (THNK) is a mellow chivalric romance drama that tells a story about love in the crossroad, which is at 20 years old, an age that is no longer a teenager, but at the same time, is not an adult yet. It’s the age where you still feel the rush and foolishness in love, but at the same time, you have to get yourself together and take a decision wisely. It’s a story about a guy named Kanzaki Hiroto (Kamenashi Kazuya) who recollecting his life and love when he was 20. He had a life that maybe most common 20 youngsters don’t have and never wished to have. His father owns a ship-repair factory with financial difficulties which in the end made him suicide just to pay the loans. While the widow, Hiroto’s mother, is working at a night club, accompanying men to drink and drunk, practically almost like a hooker, while his lil brother has a weak physical condition that makes him has to stay in a wheelchair most of the time. And what’s left for Hiroto? The shipwrecked factory and a looooots of responsibilities. He has to take care of it all; the factory plus the older employees, the clients, his mom and brother, laundry, cooking dinner, loan creditor, and moooore. But luckily for Hiroto, there’s a little redeemer thing that keeps him.. feels youthful, which is his friends, Ayuta (Hiraoka Yuta) and Ko (Koki Tanaka).
Out of context a bit, don’t you realize that both Hiroto’s buddies’ names are just modification of the actors’ real names, like Ayuta = Yuta, Ko = Koki; dang…lazy writer. Bad writer, bad writer! Lol…—Well, back to the topic, three of them are childhood buddies and they always hang out on Hiroto’s boat or go fishing together in the forbidden dam, and after that they will sell those fish to the restaurant uphill. But on that day, my nuggets, ON THAT DAY, Hiroto’s life shall never be the same again, for him to meet Nao..
Tsukioka Nao (Ayase Haruka) on the other hand, is a chaebol daughter a.k.a daughter from a wealthy family who owns a jewelry company that has more than 30 shops all over the country. She’s loved and pampered by her parents and older brother, and they are a happy family. She has a BFF named Yuko (Toda Erika) and they go to a prestigious all girl college together in English major. But one day, ONE DAY, she has to rush for being late to class..
And that’s when the magic of fate (as you can say) happen. Nao got fish-ed by Hiroto, every thing gone messy, they hate each other instantly, and hope to shall never meet again.
But dear, oh dear, if it’s all just end here, there won’t be any story and lots of squeee moment, right?! *wink wink* so after that, the guys got invited-by mistake-to Keio boys college party, which is, of course, full of rich kids that makes Hiroto’s level of cynicism going high to the roof. But just when he thought the party sucks, he’s having an encounter with Nao again, and this time they’re engaged in a long conversation and lies and absurd level of cheesy incident that surely will make them meet again, no matter what, because they’re basically fated to be together, star crossed or not.
THNK basically has a very simple (and not new) plot. It’s just a story about two young adults in love, that’s all. But when it sprinkled with difference social class, parents disagreement, broken family, criminal act, self conscious issue, and terminal illness; combined with a great execution, acting, score, and setting, you got a heart-warming and heart-wrenching drama. As a viewer, you can’t help but to feel invested by the story from the get go, because you’re simply hooked by one engaging factor: narration. From the very beginning we can hear Hiroto’s storytelling that somehow has a strong vibe of nostalgic…and sadness. Especially on the ninth episode, where the execution of the whole narration and the scenes are fit perfectly like gloves and socks. I think this is one of the key and winning factors of the drama. If the drama didn’t use this approach, it’ll simply depressed and bored the viewers, as just to watch Hiroto going through his makjang life day by day. So, kudos to whoever thinks of putting narration to build the drama.
Most of the romance mellow drama (mostly kdrama) always have a non-love side story and evil knievel second leads that makes you want to bash their heads like a zombie hunter. For example is (one of my fave cheesy Kdrama) Last Dance with Me who have a side story about corporate coup d’état and also a suicidal second lead that just makes you feel “gaaaaahhh, eff youuuuuuu!!!” *throwing things to the TV*. But THNK flows differently from all that crazy cliché-ness and deliver tatta hitotsu or just one topic, which is love on the youth, whether it’s the main arc (Hiroto and Nao) or side story (Ko and Yuko). And one of the other plus points from this drama is that it doesn’t create an obnoxious second lead or over-angsty-torn-apart bromance friendship, like when Ayuta likes Nao, but he remains as a good guy and good friend till the end without having love triangle problem with Hiroto. See, kdrama writers-tachi? This is how you should do a drama.
This drama also has one impression that clearly prominent to me, which is first love is always the unforgettable one, and the first person you ever had crushed on or going out with, doesn’t automatically means that he/she was your first love. THNK never blatantly tells that both Nao and Hiroto are first love to each other, but it doesn’t need to. By the way the plot developed in every episode from beginning to the end, we simply can see, that Nao is Hiroto’s first love and so is Hiroto to Nao. But both sides have it in a very different circumstances, for Hiroto once had a girlfriend in his high school past, and Nao, who never had any boyfriend before Hiroto. Like it’s said before, first love doesn’t have to be the first person, BUT, it could be as well. Why is it so matter? because first love perceptively tends to be the purest, most sincere and most memorable in the heart, even though Hiroto and Nao have their separation (for a bit in a duration, but not in the story, it’s fricken four years! For pete’s sake!). And I think it’s a fair test for both of them, specially for Nao, for her to be able to distinguish her feeling and thought between the two guys; Hiroto in her past and Saito in her present, and to finally realized that Hiroto is indeed the one, and also for Hiroto too, as he can’t forget Nao, even though four years already passed with no contact between them.
Now we’re gonna talk a bit about the characters. THNK doesn’t have too many, since the story only revolves around both Hiroto and Nao families, their micro circle of friends, and a finger-countable bunch of recurring roles, like Hiroto ex-girlfriend, Yuki and her yakuza boyfriend, Yamashita (seriously?! Yamashita? Why don’t you named him Bakanishi anyway, huh? lol…), and Saito, Nao express fiance.
Each of the character has their own point of view and disagreement towards Hiroto and Nao’s relationship, and it makes us unable to hate anyone of them (except you yamashita dude!!), because each has their own right values. For example, like Nao’s dad and his disagreement have a valid reason as parents who definitely always want the best for their kids.
Aside from all the characters and side story, however deep and good they are, they won’t be recognized if it isn’t for the main trajectory, which is Hiroto and Nao. And I can say that as Nao, Ayase-chan really done a good job in portraying the character, as Nao is naive, but at the same time tough and strong minded. She isn’t afraid to tell the truth and stick to what she think is right even though it all seems wrong from the outsider’s point of view (well, love is surely blind right?!). One thing that i admire the most from Nao is that she is so damn straightforward. It maybe true that the whole naoto relationship won’t work without their busy body friends (and Hiroto’s nosy adorable lil brother), but you can’t look pass the fact that Nao herself also contributes in the success of her own relationship.
For example in the third episode where Hiroto is calling Nao after hanging her in hopeless romantic mode for daysssss; Nao didn’t waste any opportunity at all by playing hard to get because she knows what type of guy Hiroto is. So she just blurt it rightaway. At that scene I was like, “atta girl, Nao-chaaaaaaan!!!!” and i feel like i want to use my pompoms to cheerleading her. Of course as a human being she has her minus which is a bit spoiled, but you can’t blame or even hate her since she was so loved and treasured by her family and that’s the environment she has grown up in.
As for Hiroto…for the love of hello kitty, he’s an epitome of makjang boy that you can’t help but to love and symphatized. Thanks to Kame’s unexpectedly good acting, and the good script writing. I never thought in my whole fangirl life that Kame had it in him; he’s so….ungay, lol. Even just from his facial expression (especially at the end of the first and fifth episode), you really get the vibe that he’s not Kame, he’s Hiroto. Except at one scene in eps.1 where he’s mocking Ayuta and Ko for playing charades of rich kids, with that body language….I was like, “please no gay turtle mode, pleaseeee..!!!” and thank gaaawwd it doesn’t happen again after that till the end of the drama..phew…*wiping cold sweat*. Hiroto is one strong character, that despite having a lot of burden upon his skinny shoulders, he always determined to do his best and taking care of it all. Sometimes I feel, before meeting Nao, his only peaceful moment is when he’s smoking, because damn… he’s smoking like a chimney. You gotta eat something other than nicotine, boy!
Hiroto is a guy with inferiority complex and self conscious issue as big as a whale (haha), but he loves Nao sincerely and totally faithful about it –out of context again, sometimes I’m really amazed by how Hiroto can maintain his relationship with Nao, cos dude, he doesn’t even own a cellphone! In Y2K era!! I bet he keeps Nao’s phone number in a rolodex, lolololol…oh, Hiroto, so amazeballs, so…90s. Hahaha…But one thing admirable from him is that he has the guts to fight for the one he loves. For example in the fifth episode, when Nao asks him to come over to her house and meet her parents, Hiroto answered “yes” rightaway even though he doesn’t have any courage to do so, but he’ll come anyway because..“I’m serious about you”, that’s what he said. D’awwwwwwww…..*faint in squeeness*. And one thing for sure, both Ayase and Kame have a very sizzzzlingly goooooood chemistry. Omaigawt, they’re just like an adorable cute squishy button mixed up with romantic-ness whenever they’re together. And somehow the feelings between them seems so genuine, like they’re a real couple and we’re just an invisible stalker fangirl watching them having their oh-so-cute-cuddling moment. Squeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!! ❤ *faint in squeeness again for the bazinga-zillionth times*
For me, this drama is ALMOST perfect. Not perfect, but almost. Since it was made by human being (named Kitagawa Eriko, Iwamoto Hitoshi, Ike Yoshihiro and the production teams), it surely has flaws, but also a looot of good moments, great in fact, that makes you (well, at least me) gigling like a school girl. Since I already talked about the good points of the drama, now it’s time for…the ugly truth, bwahahahaha *rubbing hands while evil laugh*:
1. Tatta Hitotsu no Cheesy
It happened once and (luckily) only once, just like the title (phew~!). The pool incident scene level of cheesiness is sooooo cheezzaaaay, you don’t even know how to react, cos it’s so..over the top. I understand that they have to fall into the pool to add the dramatico! moment for the OTP, but the way it was being shot from the left! right! up! close! and personal! is just too much. Not to mention the reason WHY they fall into the pool is sooooo damn stuuuuuuupid, I mean, seriously, dude, an epic fail CG of little-centipede like-wild fireworks sprinkle??? It just so lololololol. Call me mcnuggets, but I never saw anything like that. Well, anything can happen in a drama, rrrrrright? Even the most absurd thing like a centipede shaped-firework. Lol.
2. Bokura no Machi de
The score of the drama is so bring in the mood, and build up the moments beautifully, but the ending song is a whole different story. I love the electric guitar intro, but when the song starts, somehow the whole melody is just…off to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad song, it’s just not a perfect match for the drama. To me, the examples for a spot on drama soundtrack are (definitely) Queen “I was Born to Love You” in Pride, Arashi “Wish” and “Love So Sweet” for 2 Hana Yori Dango franchises, B’z “Ichibu to Zenbu” for Buzzer Beat, Utada Hikaru “Prisoner of Love” for Last Friends, etc.
3. Chu~? NO.
I love every bit of this drama. I really do. Despite the bonkers in the first episode, I still love it anyway. But there’s just one thing that bug me a little: the open ending. I mean like..SERIOUSLY, the ending is like soooo anti-climax, it’s almost like they’re opening a possibility for season 2…which is none…BOOOOO!!! What the heck with the “let’s start over” thingy but they’re still separating??!! I’m sorry, but I’m not a fan of LDR. So basically, this ending is a bit upset me. And what makes me angst to the max is that, they’re not even KISS!!! Omaigawwddd!! I don’t care if it’s just the platonic kiss like you always do, jdrama, but seriously, give me the KISU SCEEEENEEEE!! *kicking the floor in tantrum* Didn’t Hiroto and Nao have at least a bit of micro-itsy-bitsy desire to kiss after separating for FOUR FREAKING YEARS??!! Man, I’m so pissed, because seal the deal scene is very important and romantic y’know. *sigh* so much for rekindling relationship. Well, but at least in the end they’re together, right? And people say that distance brings two people closer. So, I have no choice but to forgive the writer, since both Hiroto and Nao look so cute and comfortable with each other. Beside there’s another thing in that scene that’s so squeeeee…which is….teeheeee…*crazy giggle*
Overall, Tatta Hitotsu no Koi is a beautiful fiction of an ugly truth. It has the fairytale essence that will sweep you off your fangirling seat. I really do wish that you give this series a try, cos there must be a dang good reason that I wrote a review this long, right?! Besides, this too maybe a sign that I should get a life (lol), or I should get…my hands on my mouse and click play on the first episode to watch and let the magic start all over again. 🙂
Final Score: 95/100
PS: next post I will talk about my favorite scene of THNK. Just wait and see! *wink*