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

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Last Friends / ラスト・フレンズ





2008 Fuji TV drama that stars Nagasawa Masami, Ueno Juri, Eita, Nishikido Ryo, Mizukawa Asami, Yamazaki Shigenori, etc.

The synopsis said this is about new struggles of new people in today's modern life, and I disagree.

Instead, it's more like modern people dealing with issues that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time (as usual).

'Gender Identity Disorder' (funny term for homosexuality/lesbianism) is nothing new, spousal abuse is nothing new, incest is nothing new, and child abandonment is nothing new - along with alcoholism, rape, and everything else we as a society deem unacceptable thrown in the mix.

Still, I was actually amazed at how quickly and effortlessly Last Friends managed to suck me in and kept me up til about 3 a.m. so I could watch the entire show in one sitting.

Better still was the story's ability to throw me off entirely and make me think one way throughout, only to have the exact opposite of what I was predicting occur.

In Last Friends, there is a girl, Michiru, with low self-esteem who comes from an unstable home life where her alcoholic father abused her mother until she and the girl had to run away from debt collectors on the father's behalf.

Michiru was close to a girl in middle school named Ruka, who happens to be a lesbian and races motocross for a living.

When the girls meet again after four or five years, Ruka falls deeper in love with Michiru, who has no idea her best friend is gay.

Ruka had also bumped into Eita's character, Takeru, a good-looking guy working as a hair stylist, a make-up artist, and as a bartender by night.

At the time Ruka reunites with her first and only love, however, Michiru is on her way to her boyfriend's apartment because he has begged her to move in with him.

Ryo plays Sosuke, a suit working in Child Welfare who by outward appearances seems like a great guy, but not long after Michiru moves in, she discovers her caring boyfriend is actually a mental case who likes to use his fists to get his way.

That part pissed me off almost instantly and made me throw up my hands, thinking, 'aw HAAL no - not gonna spend the next, few hours watching some hunny with a weirded out personality abuse a dopey girl too stupid to get out of her own, damn way.'

That was the first of a few surprises, though.

I actually couldn't NOT watch - I had to watch - I needed to keep watching because I truly wanted to know what would happen next, and I honestly love that most about these foreign dramas.

Ryo is one of them 'love 'em or hate 'em' kind of guys in real life, and I'm guessing a majority of the comments made at aznv.tv were from fans who like the guy, because while EVERYONE thought he did a terrific job of shocking the hell out of them by playing a bad guy with evil eyes, none of his fans could believe that he was capable of actually 'looking' the part.

I think he's cute in a mysterious, I wonder what I'd find after unwrapping this piece of candy sort of way.





This is how he looked in Last Friends:



and I don't see much of a difference, do you?

Personally, I've always seen the 'sinister' aspect of his personality behind his eyes, so I don't know what all the hype was about to be honest.

I saw him in the drama as I have always seen him in pictures, so my opinion of him AND his character, Sosuke, had no bearing on my opinion of the drama at all.

Anyway ~ a love triangle or quadrangle of sorts begins to emerge, where Michiru loves Sosuke, Ruka loves Michiru, and Takeru loves Ruka.

Eita was the guy who ended up taking me by complete surprise more than anything else about this drama.

When I first saw him, I couldn't help but giggle at his big ears, but once I realized that Nagasawa Masami also had big ears, Eita's didn't stick out so much anymore - well, yes they did, but I got used to it and became more drawn to his Takeshi Kaneshiro-esque appearance instead.

He could definitely pass as the little brother anyway!

In the drama, Takeru was a thoughtful, attentive man with a huge burden on his shoulders that gave him insomnia while also forcing him to have to endure the agony of an abnormal aversion to the female body.

Ruka was the main character as it turned out, and she went through a myriad of stereotypical BS from start to finish with the guys at the race track behaving sexist, the girls there behaving bitch, and with her deep, dark secret eating away at her until she ends up having to seek counseling.

In centuries past, homosexuality was commonplace in Japan since the then Emperor was extremely fond of young boys, thus making it fashionable, and since they're mainly a Buddhist nation, I find it difficult to understand how or even when their puritanical notions sprang up- like it's always been here in the USA.

Whatever ~ as far as the drama is concerned, I really liked Ueno Juri as an actress, she played the part flawlessly, and I even wished my hair would spike the way hers did so I could accept a short hairstyle on me with more grace and aplomb.

For a majority of the show, Ruka fought to protect Michiru from Susoke, and since Takeru was in love with Ruka, he ended up doing a majority of the protecting so that Ruka could concentrate on winning races to qualify for the main event.

Hikaru Utada's Prisoner of Love wasn't a bad tune, but in every episode, the subbers had the Hirigana and English lyrics splattered on the screen in huge, blue type, and after the third episode, it became annoying until I chose to walk around the house until the theme song ended and I hurried back to the computer to watch the next installment.

(I need an excuse to exercise anyway, so it wasn't that much of an inconvenience)

Speaking of subtitles, Kioku Fansubs did an awesome job with practically flawless English, so kudos to them (even if the white over blue at the start proved annoying until they changed to normal font, viewable color).

Last Friends was really good and well-played by all the characters, so I highly recommend you give this one a go if you haven't already (or if you quit early on, like some of the people at aznv.tv said they did because of the violence turning them off) - honestly - don't DO that! Taking chances is a part of life, and in this case, you'll be surprised to discover what you missed by being so narrow-minded or squeamish.

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