The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Honjitsu mo Hare. Ijo Nashi / 本日も晴れ。異状なし / Clear Skies, no incidents

A Japanese human interest drama that aired from January through March of 2009.

GOSH did I like this!
And, not just because it starred hunky Sakaguchi Kenji, either.
It's no surprise to me that anything I watch from this country will effectively manage to take me away and then help to make me feel better afterward.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Japanese screen writers are incredibly talented.

When I watch dramas of this caliber, it makes me feel like I'm watching something in black & white from 1940's Hollywood, and THAT says a lot about the storyline, the actors, and the direction.
I tell myself that it's probably something my parents would enjoy viewing, and that always makes me feel good.

Sakaguchi plays Shirase Ryo, a detective from Tokyo who takes time off work to stay for a year on a tiny island in greater need of a doctor than a beat cop.
At the start, Ryo is overbearing, loud, and impatient, which is in obvious contrast to the laid-back, simplified lifestyle the islanders are accustomed to living.
It's not clear at the beginning why he's actually there or what he hopes to accomplish by butting his nose in everyone's business all the time.
Ryo is obnoxiously enthusiastic in his bumbling efforts to make a good impression on the islanders, and he arrives at a time when most of them are at a crossroads in life, too.

The scenery was breathtaking, but I'm confused by the dramawiki remark that the island itself is 'based on' the real-life island of Hateruma.

Anyway, Ryo eventually blends in, makes a good impression, and works hard to help everyone solve or deal with their personal issues.
He fosters a teenage girl, Tamashiro Minami, and her baby brother, Shota, who lost their mother the day that he arrived on the island.
He visits daily with the sick & elderly, taking their blood pressure for them and listening to whatever it is they want to talk about.
And since he's a big guy, he carries heavy bundles or sacks of flour for the women, too.

He also helps out at the school, which is ready to close due to dwindling enrollment.

The island produces sugarcane, but only enough that one family is capable of taking care of the entire crop.
A majority of the island's inhabitants leave when they graduate high school, which means little in the way of hope for the survival of the island.

It sounds doom & gloom, but it's not that kind of a story at all.

Ryo sent a man to prison under false charges, and the mistake ate away at his conscience.
He's overly compassionate, so when he heard the old man singing a childhood tune, he requested to work on the island, where the old man once lived.

He rides a bike around the island each day, and every night, he records the same thing in a log book.

Twists & turns abound, with a smattering of humor and even a few tear-jerking moments as well.
Ryo puts out one fire after another while he's there, and despite the island's laid-back nature, he still maintains a modicum of spaz that helps to up the humor ante.

THEN his boss arrives to drag him back to Tokyo, where he believes Ryo is needed most.

Kataoka Shinichiro is a detective who first agreed that Ryo needed time off work to reflect, but after awhile, he grows restless and wants the no-nonsense, awesome fighter back on his team.
He phones Ryo to say he's coming for him, and when Ryo turns around, he gets kicked in the ass by Shinichiro.

At a meal, the elder detective insists that Shota eat something, scaring him half to death in the process and making him cry.

He then proceeds to follow Ryo around the island, curious to know what he's been up to for the past, few months.
He's not happy, and he ends up shoving his foot in Ryo's ass again, -

- but at the school, and the children there gang up on him, angry that he would hurt their hero friend, Ryo.

That night, we find out just why it is that Ryo is behaving so stubborn about remaining on the island and wasting his talent & time.

Ryo learns a lot about himself and others, which is the whole point of the story.
He also helps the man he sent to prison, though it seems totally pointless to the viewer up until the very end.

Shota misses his dead mother and has a hard time coping in & out of school.
Minami feels horrible about being obligated to Ryo and the islanders, so she continues to think up ways to leave.
A woman who owns a bar there is running from an abusive husband while her two, little boys think happy thoughts about the day when their father will return.
The young, female teacher (Saimon Ulala) hates her life and behaves differently in public than she does while hiding out in her room, hording beer & spam and wearing funky clothing.
The principal seems wimpish on the outside, but he's actually quite capable and much stronger than his younger, doctor brother, who refuses to live on the island where he's needed most.
And an elderly woman ends up being a foster mother to the man Ryo sent to prison.

For a tiny island with few inhabitants, Ryo has his hands full trying to keep up and solve their everyday problems.

In one scene, Ulalah confronts Ryo about not giving Minami money when she asks for it.
Turns out she ran out of feminine stuff, and when Ryo wouldn't give her the money unless she told him what it was for, she turned to the teacher for help.

Ryo and Ulalah end up working together to make changes happen, falling in love in the process.

At the beginning of Honjitsu mo Hare, Ryo helps Shota by letting him paint a mural on the wall outside his 'police box' home, and Ryo is somewhat disappointed to discover that Shota drew everyone but him.

At the end of the drama, he returns to the island with the assistance of a cane, and he's overwhelmed to see that Shota drew a great, big picture of him at the end of the wall.

~He's got the look~


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