Monday, February 25, 2013

JDrama Review: Orange Days

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The Gist: As Kai (Tsumabuki Satoshi) finishes up college, his world revolves around the job hunt, a hunt that isn’t going so smoothly. While on campus, he comes across a violinist playing outside. At first impressed by her skills, that impression is compounded once Kai realizes the beautiful violinist is deaf. He comes to know Sae (Shibasaki Kou), as he is fluent in sign language from class courses, but she isn’t what he expected. Despising pity and even help, Sae is brash and impolite, boldly doing things her own way. Her increasing hearing loss is slowly chipping away at her dream and that anger gets targeted at friends new and old. Kai, and his two friends, Keita (Eita) and Shohei (Narimiya Hiroko), support her and her best friend Akane (Shirashi Miho) to make their senior year the best one ever!
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Sae is such a lovely complicated character. She’s an original leading lady, who has so much pent up aggression, but is just sad at the core. She’s headstrong though and I have a feeling even if she could speak, she’d still have trouble communicating with people. I love to see her coming to terms with her problems and figuring out the relationship between her and Kai. There’s this moment with her and Kai in a band room I think, where she says something to the effect of “if the lights weren’t on I couldn’t even talk to you.” There’s quite a few poignant scenes between them and the star power is really in the moments where Sae is willing to open up, rather than throwing a fit.
2.The Sign Language
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Mad props to these characters who I believe are neither death nor native signers, for acting their roles so convincingly. The thing about sign language is that it’s not just about hand movements, but the emotions of the body and face to convey meaning. I found it incredibly intriguing to watch them communicate and the hurdles that needed to be overcome when Sae interacted with people who couldn’t speak her language. This is really a unique feature of this drama and adds an extra level to it.
3. The Music
While I’m not very familiar with Shabasaki as an actress, I was very impressed with both her violin and piano. Between that and her signing, I kept thinking, what a fantastically talented person! Even though it is really a plot device, every time she was at an instrument, I was delighted.
4.Friend Love Triangle
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With Sae and Kai doing their own thing, that left the three remaining friends to play amongst themselves. Keita quickly likes Akane, who is actually interested in Shohei. Without being overly dramatic, this secondary plot adds tension and a bit of interest. Akane is a little bit stubborn like Sae, but the moments between her and Shohei are cute. Their camping trip is particularly adorable as they really start to notice each other.
1.Learning Another Language
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One thing that really bothered me was how quickly Keita seemed to pick up sign language. Learning another language is difficult and as much as they interacted, it just didn’t seem realistic. Shohei’s progress was a little more practical, so I guess we can possibly just write off the fact that Keita is freakishly smart.
2.Spoiled Sae
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As much as I love Sae, I feel like we were missing some tension in the fact that her mom is ridiculously rich. It’s a nice touch that her mom is the musician that Sae can never be, but there’s also this safety net where Sae doesn’t really have to work because her life is comfortable. If music doesn’t work out and she can’t find a job, then she could, theoretically, stay at home and be fine. While that bugged me, the drama does a good job remedying the situation by making her not want to rely on other people, even if she could.
1.The Split Up
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Not really a spoiler when the setting is senior year of college. No matter what happens in the series, all your characters are going to be somewhat spread out by the end of it. While I understand getting to the point where you can be friends and not see each other every day, I wish the drama took place a little earlier in their college days to give them more time together. I hate shows that end with everyone separating!!! Most of them do, but still.
So…I love the originality of the romance of this show. The music and the sign language left me totally intrigued, even if the relationship isn’t totally unique. The characters are working through tough problems and even though Sae is tough to deal with, she’s awesome.
Final Grade: B

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