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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beautiful Life / ビューティフルライフ

28,246 total views at, and not surprising that most viewers gave this a 5-star rating.

2000 JDorama that stars Kimura Takuya as Okishima Shuji - a hair stylist at the inaptly named Hot Lip salon.

Shuji-kun is from a wealthy family of doctors, but because he's baka, it became inevitable that he walk away from his past and carve out a new path of his own.

Early in this 11-episode drama, his beautiful, kimono-clad mother demurely seeks him out so as to express her displeasure at having their neighbors come to her with a fashion magazine showcasing his work (embarrassing her and putting her in an awkward situation with her husband).


Right away, he also encounters the woman he will eventually fall in love with, and because she nearly knocks him off his motorcycle at a stop light when she sticks her arm out the car window (plus the fact that she received a bad perm from a neighbor), he isn't, quite interested in anything other than arguing right away.

Shuji-kun parks his bike alongside her car in front of the library where she works, and the beautiful, smiling woman politely insists that he move so she can exit the car.

He argues that there is plenty of room for her to get out, but the pleasant Machida Kyoko (Tokiwa Takako) still insists that he do the right thing by her, so he does, and as he turns to glare at her, he sees that she is removing a wheelchair from the little, red Vita she drives.

Until this point in her life, Kyoko has resigned herself to the fact that since being struck ill at the prime age of seventeen, that there is no room for nor need to stress about not finding love, so her attitude toward the gorgeous Shuji-kun not only helps her to cope with her reality but also to help intrigue the handsome hair stylist who doesn't, quite know what to do now.

Kyoko isn't in-your-face rude or an outright bitch, but she does possess a mildly serpant-like tongue and is able to quickly return barbs to the equally sarcastic but charismatic hair stylist who at first seems intent on being mean when you (and he) know he really doesn't want to be.

Kyoko ends up anticipating Shuji's return, and when it is discovered that he has slid the book he checked out into the night slot, her disappointment shows clearly on her pretty face.

This isn't the sad end to a budding romance, however!

Shuji is a great stylist, but his bedside manner leaves something to be desired; which means he doesn't get on too well with his boss, the other stylists at Hot Lip, or even with his clients who ask for little changes to his cuts only to be ignored by handsome Shuji-kun.

He's in direct competition with the top stylist at the salon, and he once dated a female stylist who made her way to the top by sexing the boss - but after meeting Kyoko, Shuji suddenly has this desire to become a top stylist, so instead of using one of the girls on the street that his assistant found, Shuji invites Kyoko to Hot Lip so that he can fix the bad perm she received from the neighborhood barber.

Not only is the transformation a hit at the salon and with Kyoko, his work ends up in a style publication that features Kyoko and her new do - but, it also insensitively points out the fact that '...even a chick in a wheelchair can look good'.

Shuji outwardly appears unaffected by what transpired, but when Kyoko confronts him about his having used her to gain the coveted Top Stylist spot, humiliating her in the process, his true feelings start to show.

Kyoko is easily forgiving, however, but Shuji-kun's guilt has mounted to the point where he feels obligated to butt into her life and force her to do things she wouldn't, normally have done had she never met the guy with awesome hair, flawless skin, and soft, brown eyes.

At the turn of the century, Japan wasn't, exactly accomodating to the handicapped, and pre-1950's American attitudes seemed prevalent as well - so, I hope in the year 2010 that things over there have progressed in that regard.

His guilt and her curiosity are what help to fuel the flames of desire and force their romance to blossom under a myriad of extenuating circumstances that take nine of the eleven episodes to iron out.

I chose Beautiful Life not for the storyline - because had Kimura-san not starred in this, it isn't likely I would have watched - ever.

Knowing from the very start that the heroine would die, and that she spent the entire length of this drama in a wheelchair are two factors that chase me away - especially since the obvious outcome without having to watch is lame and pisses me off.

The reason I chose to watch this drama was because up to this point, I have only ever seen Kimura-kun portray the aloof goof-ball or the hard-headed playa, and I wanted to see how well he did at something on the so-called serious side.

Also, and while he has snagged the woman in a majority of the dramas I've seen, he has yet to play a romantic role with a storyline that revolves around romance for romance' sake.

I had hoped that Beautiful Life would be that romantic drama - but, it wasn't.

Okay, so it was - just not in the way I would have liked to see him star.

I want to see him in something along the same lines as Tree of Heaven, with gooey, mushy love start to finish and hardly any incidentals in-between to spoil the affect of romance.

YES, Shuji and Kyoko fell in love, beat the odds, and managed to make something of their unexpected relationship - but, maybe it is a Japanese thing where hot & heavy just isn't tolerated or accepted, so the writers steer clear of such longed-for nonsense, I don't know.

Anno - I think what I'm trying to say is that I'd love to see hot-tay Kimura-chan star in something with substance, class, and adult-themed content while also stepping out of his 'you can look but don't you dare touch' persona ... just ONCE, please.

He's got range, don't get me wrong, and his odd-ball sense of humor got me the very, first time I saw him on screen, too, so there's no problem here with being madly, hopelessly, and endlessly in love with the guy - it just feels like I've seen the spectrum of that range, and now I want to see something refreshingly new and different.

Beautiful Life was supposed to fit that bill, but sadly, it missed the mark.

I enjoyed watching this drama, though!

I gave it four-stars at the website and here, too.

It was, indeed, a love-story nearly everyone who commented at suggested I have a box of kleenex on hand before watching since it was likely to make me sob buckets of tears, yet even that didn't occur for me - I actually felt more sorry for Shuji than the pre-destined Kyoko, too, but there was only one scene in which my eyes welled up slightly with unshed tears.

I'm not done watching everything he's made, either, so there is still hope!

I recommend this drama if, like me, you chose not to watch because of the played-out and predictable storyline.

when did awhile become two words?


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