Tuesday, February 19, 2013

JDrama Review: Love Shuffle

The Gist: Usama Kei (Tamaki Hiroshi) has love on the backburner and eye on the prize when his engagement to Mei guarantees him a spot in management at her father’s company. Doubting her feelings for him and his feelings for her, Mei (Kanjiya Shihori) delays their engagement and has Kei stressed out about his financial future. With this on the brain, Kei gets stuck in an elevator with three other people from his apartment complex: Airu (Karina), an interpreter, Ojiro (Matsuda Shota), a photographer, and Masato (Tanihara Shosuke), a psychologist. They begin talking of love and destiny, deciding to put it to the test – swap out their current partners and see what sticks. None of them brings a normal relationship to the table, however. Kei brings Mei, Airu brings her obsessive follower, Yukichi (Daigo), Ojiro brings Reiko (Kojima Hijiri), an unhappily married woman prone to affairs, and Masato brings one of his suicidal patients, Kairi (Yoshitaka Yuriko). Everybody gets a shot at love as the pairing continues to change.

1.The Plot
Normally, the characters are my favorite thing about any show, but this time I think it’s the plot. It takes a gimmick and uses it as an opportunity to figure out exactly what makes relationships between people work. Because it forces couplings, you get to compare and contrast every possible combination. While these relationships are being tested, you also get to see how the relationship between our core group of four develops a friendship more organically. All in all, I’d say it’s a brilliant idea, executed perfectly.
2. Kairi
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I’ve got a real respect for characters that don’t speak or smile that much because it makes the times they do speak or smile seem earned and genuine. Of all the characters, Kairi is the one who needs the most obvious help from this experience. I found it really intriguing to see how each character deals with Kairi because she doesn’t mesh with people easily like Mei. Of course, as time goes on, other characters emerged as just as messed up as Kairi, but she’s the most upfront about her issues. I found myself really looking forward to the Kairi pairings, excited to see what happened to her. Yay Panda!
3. The Ending
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
One of the most fun parts of this show is trying to figure out who goes best with whom as the show does. I was really pleased with the final couples as none of them seemed forced and no one was left out. It’s hard to do a shuffle and have the ending work out OK, but Love Shuffle does it well and keeps viewers happy.
1.Rom Com
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
With all romantic comedies are going to have its cheesy moments, where it’s trying to be funny and just doesn’t pan out. Luckily, LS has enough meaningful moments to balance out whatever doesn’t work. Especially our main character, Kei, can grate on your nerves a bit by being overly dramatic, but he turns around for some nice genuine moments.
2. Reiko
Picture credit: misszwen.blogspot.com
I wasn’t totally sure what to do with this character. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Reiko is more or less “allowed” to see other men because her husband doesn’t really care. On one level, that’s so sad and I just want happiness for Reiko, but on another, I feel weird about Reiko playing love shuffle when she’s already married. It just makes her seem kind of trampy. I did end up feeling rather sympathetic towards her, so I guess the story does its job well.
There’s not really anything I actually hated about this drama. It’s not perfect or one that’s really considered classic, but it doesn’t make any grievous errors.
So… I found this drama surprisingly pleasant. Familiar faces pepper the talented cast and their relationships really add to a smart plot. It’s fairly original for its genre, with some good twists in the middle - no M. Night Shyamalan moves but enough to keep things interesting.
Final Grade: B
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

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