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

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ラブシャッフル / Love Shuffle



2009 JDorama that is supposed to be about a young man who went from nothing to something after falling in love with and becoming engaged to the daughter of a prominent businessman.

He's got an office job at the in-law's corporation, but the fiance's aniki is constantly harassing him and threatening him with a lay-off if he doesn't get his act together.

He's Tamaki Hiroshi of Nodame Cantabile fame, and I've yet to watch that, so this is a first for me after having gone over his career record.

Anyway, before I stray too far off-topic, let me get back to the show.

What this is really all about is Usami Kei and his inability to let go of the woman who dumps him at the start of the show.

He lives in this swingin' pad in a ritzy complex somewhere in the city, and on a stormy evening when he and his neighbors board a glass elevator together, they get stuck inside due to a lightning strike power failure.

They've shared the same floor of the apartment complex for awhile but are only now meeting one another.

They exchange business cards and learn that one is a psychiatrist, another is a fashion photographer, and SHE is a translator for a television station.

Since he's just been dumped, and the girl is wavering with a latent lover of her own, and the photographer tends to screw all the models who pose for him ... the topic easily turns from awkward introductions to sex.

They decide then and there to play a game they call Love Shuffle - where they get their partners to agree to go out with each of them for a week at a time, and that if by the end of the month, when original partners return to each other, if there is still a connection then great - if not - oh well then.

I'm not all that great at Japanese, but a running theme in this one was word-play, and that word was PANDA.

Yay, Panda!

The end of one word is pan, while the beginning of another is da.

I can't, even begin to think how we'd play something similar in English, but oh well, it was really kawaii and something I wish I understood better.

The sexually manipulative photographer is none other than Matsuda Shota from Hana Yori Dango fame and (for me, anyway) LIAR GAME.

He's grown up in both height and talent, I must say - and his deep, resonant voice is a mismatch, but oh well!

His Sera Ojiro character plays all the ladies at the start, but as the story unfolds, we discover he's not, quite the heartless jerk-ass we were led to believe about him.

Tanihara Shosuke plays Kikuta Masato, the psychiatrist who doesn't include his lover, but a patient of his - a wack-job 19 yr old artist who insists she'll commit suicide on her 20th b.day.

He was also the dorky senpai in Shiawase ni Naritai.

I must admit that from about ten minutes into the first episode, it became obvious that our leading man would end up with the leading lady (because, well, that's just the way it ALWAYS goes in a drama or movie, right?)

She is floating through life as a shadow, unable to let go of the past and a certain incident that left her unable to commit or fall in love.

Her partner, however, (and again, in my own opinion) nearly stole the show.

DAIGO is Oishi Yukichi, a nerdy guy who wears horn-rimmed glasses and carries a briefcase filled with fake money as a way to impress people and buy their affections.

He seems to be as in love with his girl as our lead, Kei, is for his flippant fiance, Mei, but once again, things are NOT always as they seem.

Yukichi quit school when he couldn't take being bullied anymore, and via a home computer, he learned the stock market, where he winds up becoming a billionaire trader buying up all the corporations where ex school mates who bullied him now work.

He doesn't fire them, and he insists he holds no grudge, but the whole point of his buying those corporations is to keep the bullies guessing on a daily basis about their future job prospects.

He appeared in episode 8 of Stand Up! but, I don't recall, and it seems he's rather new to the business, but I look VERY forward to seeing more of what he has to offer, sho nuf!

For a reason that escaped me, all the ladies are first drawn to the timid and calm doctor - who ALSO ends up not being quite the mild-mannered gentleman with a huge brain as we were led to believe.

Actually, it made sense toward the end of the show - but, if I explain that to you here, it'll give away too much of the plot, and I don't go there, so .......

Does Kei end up with Mei or the leading lady?

Does Yukichi finally get what he really wants out of life, and will she commit suicide on her 20th birthday?

Who ends up with whom, why, and how?

This received a paltry 8.7 viewer rating in Japan, and that comes as a huge shock to me.

WHY?

What was wrong with this one that no one wanted to watch?

I, for one, loved it - and the standings at aznv.tv clearly indicate that I'm right about this one being a hit, too.

Go figure.

Of course, 2009 was a banner year for JDorama, so I wonder if that had anything to do with it?

Something even better than this was airing at the same time maybe.

If you didn't watch because of bad reviews, don't be silly and give this one a go ... see if you agree.

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