Wednesday, October 16, 2013

JDrama Review: Last Cinderella

The Gist: Hairstylist Toyama Sakura (Shinohara Ryoko) is pushing forty and with a masculine side, has little chance of snagging a guy. That’s the least of her worries when Tachibana Rintaro (Fujiki Naohito), an old rival, takes over her salon when she doesn’t get promoted. Tachibana’s obsessive fan, Ogami Chiyoko (Nanao), can’t stand to have Sakura and Tachibana so close together, so she hires Saeki Hiroto (Miura Haruma) to woo Sakura despite being 15 years her junior. Hiroto eventually gets Sakura to overcome her worry about their age differences when they both find that they’re actually pretty compatible. All of this only serves to counteract Chiyoko’s master plan as Tachibana is now very aware of Sakura’s positive traits and even harbors some jealousy towards Hiroto. Flanked by best friends Miki (Otsuka Nene) and Shima (Iijima Naoko), Sakura has some very complicated decisions to make about her love life, all while Hiroto tries to hide the secret of how they met. 


1.Saeki Hiroto!

Last time we saw heartthrob Miura, I was critiquing his acting limitations in Bloody Monday. I feel somewhat as if I owe him an apology because this show really benefited from his versatility as Hiroto. At first his smarmy, conniving nature had me ready to punch him through the screen, but slowly his actions turned genuine. It’s odd because most shows have a moment where it’s an obvious turning point, whereas Hiroto’s transformation was absolutely gradual, so that I didn’t notice when I really began rooting for him. Hiroto brought about so many sweet moments that I really didn’t expect out of his character and his loyalty both to Sakura and Chiyoko really speaks volumes about the way he treats women. 

2.Let’s Talk about Sex

Really though! What a breath of fresh air to get everything out in the open. I loved the honesty between Sakura and her best friends about their own desires and their love goals. Not only that, we got some gosh darn intimacy between the characters- YAY! This drama read more in line with a Taiwanese than a Japanese as far as affection goes. I’m so proud of it for really pushing the boundaries and just laying it all out there. Not that this drama’s X-rated or anything, but you get a sense of reality of the relationship for people who are a bit more mature than your usual drama fanfare. And you get to see Miura shirtless a fair amount, so there’s always that. 

3. Unpredictable Love Triangle

Some people might fight me on this one, but in the last few episodes I really didn’t know whether we were favoring Tachibana or Hiroto. While they both developed relationships of a sort with Sakura, it seemed that both could have been a good match for her. Normally a story’s structure will let me know who I should be rooting for, but Tachibana and Hiroto probably got equal screen time, which let me be a bit surprised (if not worried!) towards the end about the outcome. Still, I was very satisfied with the wrap up. 


1.Put your hair down!

For someone who works in a trendy salon with stylish best friends, Sakura seems hell bent on being as unattractive as possible. While I understand that part of the story is that Sakura isn’t exactly refined, I don’t get why she can’t style her own hair! Oh my gosh, every scene I was just waiting for Hiroto to rip that clip out of her hair because having it down looks so much nicer. Seriously though, despite her old man personality, you’d think she’d at least get some cute clothes for work, or from her friends. Bad friends. 


So while this character does manage some redemption at the end, she sure is totally insane. The whole plot hinges on her schemes, but the further along it goes, the crueler it seems to Hiroto whom she actually cares a lot about. Then when he’s finally happy, she seems determined to ruin that too. Her attitude towards Tachibana is totally creepy (the pictures in her room, anyone??) and her insecurities are blown way out of proportion. She’s so blessed and yet throws it all away. Still, without our main villain, who Chiyoko pretty much is, there wouldn’t be any tension so we have to love her a bit for that anyway. 


1.Just Get Ahead of It

Oh my gosh. With how far down the road Hiroto was, I can’t believe he didn’t just tell her the truth. Yes, this is a show, so things have to go as dramatic as possible, but I feel as if he was just honest about how things went down, Sakura would understand. People in dramas like this seem just intent to make things as complicated as possible. How hard is it to say “Honestly, the reason I was at that meet up was because Chiyoko asked me to get to know you?” While that would certainly be a little off putting for a minute, it was always going to be better coming from him. 


So… I really didn’t have any expectations for this show. I pretty much just watched it because KDrama’s long episodes/series were starting to bug me and reviewers seemed to like this show best of last year’s picks. Now I can see why. Honestly, I really loved this show. I watched through it very quickly, the pacing was dead on and I was very impressed with Miura’s acting and his chemistry with Ryoko. I’d definitely recommend this show for its fearless attitude towards relationships balanced with moments that just make you go aww. 

Final Grade: A-

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