Wednesday, February 27, 2013

JDrama Review: Hana Kimi

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The Gist: Athlete Ashiya Mizuki (Horikita Maki) is very inspired by high jump hopeful Sano Izumi (Oguri Shun) and therefore crushed when he quits the sport after an accident. Going to extreme measures to help him, Mizuki begins attending Sano’s school, even though it’s an all boys’ school. Fairly androgynous looking, Mizuki passes without too much question and is even able to room with Sano. Sano discovers Mizuki’s true identity without much delay, but neither shares the truth with the other. Still, persuading Sano to pick up the mantle again proves difficult, especially when Mizuki’s feelings for him start growing beyond hero idolization.
1.The Talent
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No matter what you feel about the show, the cast is a pretty impressive collection of characters. Maki makes for a cute and earnest main character, probably best known for her totally different role as Nobuta in Nobuta Wo Produce. While it’s not unusual for her to play someone so fired up, it’s definitely surprising coming from someone so cute and compact. Opposite her is Oguri Shun, whose resume is about as deep as Maki’s, recognizable (though with a different hair color) as Hanazawa Rui from Hana Yori Dango. The whole show is peppered with familiar faces, whose acting is top notch.
2.The Funny
Anytime someone does the cross dressing bit, there’s always a few good laughs that are guaranteed out of it. It reminded me of Amanda Bynes’ She’s The Man a bit, though I’m pretty sure Hana Kimi came first. Ikuta Toma as Mizuki’s friend Shuichi is hysterical as he clearly develops feelings for Mizuki without knowing her real gender. His reaction is reminiscent of a similar storyline in KDrama You’re Beautiful, when Jeremy tries to ignore blossoming feelings for a boy who’s actually a girl. The silliness of the drama makes it enjoyable, easy watching.
1.The Romance
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As much as I love the characters individually, I wasn’t crazy about the romance of Hana Kimi, which surprised me for what a classic tale and popular manga this story is. It’s difficult to get much development when Mizuki isn’t being honest about being a girl and the chemistry between them felt only so/so to me. There are some nice moments between them though, such as when Sano realizes Mizuki is hurt during a race, but pushes through it anyway to try to get him back on track. It could have used more, I think, since the romance is the main feature of this drama.
2.The Sports
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This is totally a personal preference and not a universal problem with the show. I get bored and uninterested in sports based shows and this one was not an exception. I haven’t quite figured out why that is as I like sports just fine, but I tend to avoid sports shows altogether. Still, it gave Mizuki a goal to work towards, so I understand it, I just didn’t care too much about it.
While the silliness of this show is a strength, I think the premise and execution veers so hard into completely unbelievable that it weakens the story. I could not believe that anyone would go as far as Mizuki did for Sano, when she doesn’t even know him. Who cares about a high school high jumper that much, to concoct such a farfetched plan? The dorm and school situations were also all over the place, with over the top charicatures (Minami’s playboy, anyone?) of students that I feel like I lost a level of depth to the show. A lot (read: all) of dramas are ridiculously unrealistic, but I think this one kept me from really connecting with the characters.
So…don’t expect to take this show too seriously. This is one time when I feel like my opinion clashes pretty strongly with the public’s general opinion. For how popular this show is, I didn’t love love it – it was fine for what it was, but I wanted to be blown away. Once again, this is a drama where I feel like I could get something similar but better with another show.
Final Grade: C

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