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To begin with, I'm very skeptical with this drama although it's Ryo-chan's drama. First, he play a daddy role for 2 drama season in a row. To me, that's over-kill, is he that hot commodity that they cannot find any other guy to play Sho-chan? Second, I don't really like first episode. It doesn't start with a bang, even with the kiss as the ending (or is that even called a kiss?). So, with these 2 reason, what I did is to just skip up till episode 6 to see the development. If there's nothing exciting, then this drama goes to my meh list, and judging with the trending of Getsu9 drama, the chance are high. So, what did I saw in episode 6 that actually makes me rewatch episode 1 and start watching this drama?

To keep it short, Zenkai Girl story line is well, nothing new. It's about a girl named Wakaba who grows up in a very poor family with the dad being conned into loan agreement and then harrashed by gangster. Wakaba, doesn't want to be poor forever, so she worked hard, study hard and finally graduated from Tokyo University as a lawyer. Her dream, well, it's like any girl's dream, having a high profile husband, living in an upclass apartment in Manhattan, honeymoon with private jet etc etc. But, after graduate, she needs to find a job to reach all her dreams and she ends up in Sakuragawa Law Firm working as a nanny for the boss' 5 year old daughter, Hinata. Then she met up with Shota, a single dad of Pitaro, Hinata's friend from the same kindergarden. Shota is total opposite of Wakaba's ideal of a man, working as cook in a small restaurant with not much money and a kid on his tow. So, how this will lead to a happy end as you know, Getsu9 ending is usually the guy gets the girl?

I have to admit, I have a weak spot for kids in drama, and especially when they're being cute, but when they cry... it's oh so heartbreaking. And that's what I saw in Episode 6. Yep, the pulling factor for me on this drama is the kids, not the lead lady or lead guy. Am sure Aragaki Yui acts as Wakaba really well, because I do enjoy her acting. However, there's something missing on her character, it's not pulling me into the drama, and her antics that maybe supposed to be LOL are not that, that funny. And Ryo-chan... sigh... I'm not trying to be mean, but I think he's been playing the roles that has not much difference on each other. I kind of understand his character, but his acting is a bit indifferent to me. All his emotion expression is very subtle and it's already episode 8, and don't tell me he's just going to really act by the final episode? So, if the adults are a bit lacking, the kids are the opposite! I like Hinata and Pitaro chemistry. Both are portrayed as smart kids and I don't think I see this on real life, but kids in drama are surprisingly sensitive and mindful to their parents situation. Hinata, grows up with everything that she needs materially, but not her mother's love. She totally understand that her mom needs to work, but at the same time, she's also a kid who wants her mom to come and see her playing at school play just once, or have the mom making her bentou, for example. All of dissapointments and having hopes but at the end gets crushed because her mom keeps on not making her promise bottles up and explode at the end in a such heart breaking cry. She did her best to put up the tough front including bullying Wakaba with her antics, but in the end she's still a kid. Pitaro, is totally different from Hinata. He's a very go lucky and cheerful kid who likes playing and loves his daddy so much, even though they're not blood related. However, though cheerful, Pitaro used to be a crybaby kid and bullied by the neighborhood kids. However, with the love showered by daddy Shota, he grows up to be strong and be the cheerful kid as he is. Pitaro also always keeps in mind that he doesn't have blood relation with Shota, hence he always want Shota to find happiness.

I love drama which has a message behind it, whether it's intentional or unintentional, that's not really my problem. But here's the way I see it in Zenkai Girl. The family element in here is very clear. Although it's meant to be a romantic drama, Episode 6 to 8 is a human drama. In episode 6, we see that for parents, they work so hard to earn money, and they always will say it's for the sake of the kids. However, from the children's point of view, do they really need money that much? They also need their parents love and attention to grow. They still love their parents unconditionally however, that will change if the parents not cultivate that love. Episode 7 shows us how when the parents separated or divorced in this case, the ones who suffer the most are the kid. More than anything, children will always love to see their mom and dad together, and to have to choose who he/she should live with and once chosen, he/she cannot see the other one, it must be a very stressful and heartbreaking decision. And Shota's argument in here makes sense, he's cheating in the sense that kids will choose who they're around with the most and the question is whether that's actually fair for the kid. Episoe 8 is focused on the parents. What a parent do for their kids is just... a total tear jerker. I was bawling as I watch how Wakaba's dad saving on his money every year for the past 24 years for Wakaba's wedding present. It's not a huge sum, but it shows how the dad loved and treasured Wakaba all this time. FYI, I think Wakaba's dad is slightly autistic, and it's played briliantly by Kanbe Hiroshi, and bawled more as Wakaba only realized how much her dad loved her a little bit too late (don't worry no too sad moment here). Another tear jerker moment for me in this episode is when Pitaro tells Wakaba's dad that he's always proud when people said he has the smile as Sho-chan. That shows how Shota loved Pitaro so much and does his best to make Pitaro happy (me: awwww tissue, where are u?).

So, bottom line is, I'd category Zenkai Girl as a family drama, not a rom-com drama. How real is the story? 0, but so does all the previous Getsu9 drama. The most obvious point, there's no way in real life we see a hot single dad with such a good hearted to the point of idiotic character. I hope they keep the momentum until the end of the series. On final note, ending OST is by Kanjani8, Tsubasa ni Koi. It's a nice song, but unfortunately not as pulling as My Home, and worse, I find it even a little bit flat, not as moving, especially after a tear jerker episode.
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A good follow up drama just right after Bartender finished. I'm still dissapointed with Bartender because of the fact that it's too short and the ending didn't justify anything but a prequel to the anime. I don't blame Aiba for this, but I blame the production for making a drama with a good start sucks at the end. Enough with the ranting, let's move on. Inu wo Kau to Iu Koto is not Arashi drama, but at least it's Ryo-chan's first leading drama and it's family drama, which I prefer compare to rom-com nowadays. Actually, the main lead of this drama is the dog, which will make a heart warming drama.

The drama starts with Hongo household, a family of four. The dad, Yuji, is currently working in an HR department and is given tasks to let go his older co-workers. The wife, Sachiko, works part time in a supermarket to help with the family finance. Both parents are in distress because of the dire financial situation and moreover, with later on Yuji's being fired too. In this shaken household, an additional family member appear and from then on, we'll see some changes in the family. The dog's name comes from the new Tokyo Sky Tree, which is also the background of this drama.

Casting wise, this is the first time Nishikido Ryo acting as a dad, a very different role from his regular phsychotic/semi-phsychotic roles (Last Friends, Joker, Orthros). So it's interesting in watching how he's going to portray this role on the next episodes. Judging from the first one, he's quite OK to me, though not much on the daddy role yet, but more on the unhappy employee with tough tasks to deliver (yes, firing people is never an easy job). I don't really like Mizukawa Asami as the naggy detective in Orthros, but as a naggy mother, she's wonderful, and I laugh on the scene when she's ready to lecture both daddy and daughter with full authority. As for the kids, I like the daughter, Mako.The scene when she's begging mommy to keep the dog feels real. There's not many scenes on the son, Wataru, yet, so I can't comment on it.

One heartwarming scene on this episode is when Mako is on the way to take Sky Tree home, she meets daddy on the way. Then Yuji spend some time playing with Sky and that's the first time I see Yuji smile in this episode, and Mako's expression seeing daddy's smiling melts me.

And off course, just like any other Johnny's staring drama, OST must be done by the lead's boyband. The song for the ending OST is 'My Home' by Kanjani8. I'm hoping Ryo gets to sing in this drama since Yuji's dream is to be in the music world, so looking forward to this drama.
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Don't mistake this drama with the other drama, Oh! My Girl (which theme is very similar too). I always thought that this one is the same drama and I happily overlooked this last year. Even when Arashi released the single My Girl, I thought that it's just another typical Arashi song, only to wonder why such a rush in releasing new single after another... until I watched the subbed M-station of My Girl that I found out that it's OST of Aiba's drama. Yeah, by now it should be noted that every time Arashi released a single, you should expect that it's either for CM or their own drama/movie (talk about productivity and cash cow). Now, Aiba is Arashi member with the least drama under his belt, after all, this is his first lead drama, compare to Nino and Matsujun who got tons under their resume. But fear not, his performance here is totally not to be underestimated, even I was surprised with this and wonder he should get more chances on drama instead of being baka-tensai of variety shows which he's too good at it, which means taking more challanges.

Back to My Girl, the drama is about Kazama Masamune-kun who mopped around for 6 years for being dumped (I can't really find the right word for this because things just left hanging between them) by his girlfriend only to find out that he has a daughter (a cute one in deed) after the girlfriend passed away. And the journey of presto fatherhood starts and you'll be definitely rooting on the young father who works so hard to be a father while making ends meet and searching his own path, after all he's only 24 years old.

By now, there're tons of drama about single parenthood in both K-drama and J-drama land. But to me, My Girl holds a different feeling when you watch it. It touches on so many aspects of parenthood, regardless whether you're a single parent or not. In some way, My Girl brings out a far heavier atmosphere than regular commedy drama (I'm talking about Oh! My Lady father & daughter relationship). Masamune and Koharu relationship here is more real and it's not always about cuteness that you'll say 'awwww', they don't affraid to show each other their ugly side and unhappiness because from there, they learn from each other to build what's called a family. And in here, we also see how the support from the people around us helps a lot when it comes to parenthood, especially being a single parent. It also helps that Koharu here is depicted as a child with surprisingly very mature way of thinking for her age. She also has the care and sensitivity towards the people around her at such a young age. And Masamune's character in here is the opposite of Koharu. In the beginning of the drama, Masamune is described to be in denial that he has a daughter and then learns to accept the reality and starts to build up his character from a wuss to a kakkoii dad (oh well, I have to also tag kawaii dad in here too). With this, by the end of every episode, I always feel like I'm a crybaby because I end up either bawling or tearing over the father and daughter.

Now the fun part. Though this drama is quite heavy in emotional part (or it's only me being emo over human drama), this drama also has cute moments though definitely can be counted by finger. BUT, when there's one, it's literally cute and you'll be really 'awwww' and follow by 'kyaaaaa' because you cannot tell which one is cuter, the dad or the daughter. Yes, Aiba is good at being cute, but surprisingly he's also good at crying scene. His crying is not as beautiful as Nino's (watch Yasashii Jikan and you'll know what I mean), but it'll pierce your heart and I cry with him. Another fun fact, other JE boys appearance. We have a Kanjani8 boy is also here as Tomoya sensei (always thought that he looks familiar) and at the final episode, Sho-chan appears as guest. My Girl also starts a new tradition for Arashi. For fans to know whose going to have a drama next, watch the final episode and the Arashi member making appearance will have his drama next season. So, as I said, My Girl has Sho-chan, then Tokujo Kabachi has Ohno, then Kaibutsu-kun has Matsujun, then Natsu Niji has Nino, so it'll be interesting to anticipate who will show up at Freeter's last episode. Many guess it'll be Sho-chan, but we'll see. Isn't it great that we have 1 year round of Arashi drama?

This drama also shows us some lessons to learn and appreciate, at least for me. It makes us appreciate what our parents has done for us year by year without fail and we often take it for granted and without realizing it, expecting it to happen just naturally. All the efforts that our parents have put through to raise us is learnt when we ourselves starts the journey of parenthood and come to appreciate our parents more. Also, in this drama, I can really feel how Masamune and Koharu grieves over Youko-san's passing because it reminds me of how I myself grieves over my mom's passing, so maybe that's why I bawl more on this drama compare to other father-daughter-themed dramas.

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 I usually write on my FB account, but since I open a LJ account, I thought why not write here too. Recently I've been devouring lots lots of old drama, not sure why but guess, drama is a good way to release stress so the equation goes to more stress = more drama.

** I still haven't master how to align the pics on the left-hand side of the article, notice this LJ setting is very similar to blogspot which is not very user-friendly to me OR I'm just so used to FB notes style.

Some of these old drama probably are just drama that everybody already watch but for some reason I never be bothered to watch or got preoccupied with other stuff or just happen to be on the bottom of the list. Another thing that you might catch on is that there'll be repeated names w/in the series again and again. That's because I'm going down my old drama list by JE boys and looking back, over 80% of dramas from year 1998 (that's my cut off) has JE boys on them in 1 way or another. I just pick those where they are the lead and looks interesting (there are also lots of crappy ones but let's not go there). I'll start the Part 1 w/ Family-themed drama. So, now let's the list begin:

Dare Yori Mo Mama Wo Aisu ~ This is a family drama but with a twist and no JE boys in it (that I know of). The parent in this family has a reversed role, the father is a house-husband and the wife is the bread maker. The family has 3 children. The oldest son is a guy who somehow always running away from relationship. The second daughter is a girl who thinks marriage as an escape from working life. And the youngest son is rather embarrassed of having his dad coming to the PTA meeting. So, what's so special about this drama? First, because I like the father (he's also the father in Mukodono). He's a veteran actor and his acting is very good, you can feel the fatherly love in the family and though silly on the face value, he's the one who's working the hardest in keeping the family together. Second, this is the first family drama ever that actually bring up the topic of homosexual and the best thing is that in this drama, the family is the one who support the son to actually admit that he's gay (even American drama will never do this). Third, eye candy factor, the eldest son is the ex-EXILE member, which is an ikemen too *wink*. Too bad he's a gay here, but he acted the gayness in full fledge including the love confession scene etc, very different from his role in 'Tengoku Matteru' (a movie that I'm still searching on for the subbed version and also has Inohara (V6) in it). Overall, it's a refreshing and fun drama to watch, it also teaches you the value of family and what makes you happy the most.

Atashinchi No Danshi ~ This is a drama that everybody watch and I'm the late bloomer just watched it some months ago which starts this old drama re-look trend. The story is outrageous but the moral of the story is about family, again this is a family drama but very not normal family. I mean, it's a dream family for a fangirl because in that family there's 6 adopted sons which are all ikemen (except the youngest one). Most notable ones are the first (Kaname Jun), third (Mukai Osamu aka Seno!), fourth (Yamamoto Yusuke aka the aura reader from Hana Kimi), fifth (Seto Koji from Koizora). The story starts when the homeless girl have to marry an oji-san in order to pay her debt. Upon the death of the oji-san, she has to take care of his 6 adopted children which definitely not accepting her as the okaa-san. So, this drama is about how the girl manage to pull together these 6 ikemen as a family. Lots of fun, touchy moments and also LOTS of fan service (you'll know what I mean if you watched it already). Most notable acting in here is Mukai because his character is the one with lots of problem (single dad taking care of the son that's not even his). Plus point, for those Kamen Rider fans, this is a drama to watch because there're 3 Kamen Rider in here.

Yasashii Jikan ~ This 2005 drama is actually in a human drama genre, but still family themed. Basically it's about how time heals the wound of those who are left behind and time allows us to forgive those who we feel have wronged us. In this case, it's about how long a father (a very stubborn one in deed) takes to forgive his son for taking away the wife that he loves so much. I love this drama to the bits of it. It's a very slow pace (even the OST is killing the time with its slow tempo) but well thought drama with location setting in Furano, one of the very beautiful small town in Hokkaido. The seasons that they're portraying are autumn and winter. So you'll see lots of orange, red, green which basically are the autumn color and beautiful white for the winter. There're only 3 major set for this drama, the dad's cafe (which is very tasteful), the dad's friend cafe (which is very homey), and Takuro's workshop. Aside from the set, I like the dad's acting, played by Terao Akira. His character is always seemed so calm on the surface but he carries lots of pain and hatred toward his son and when he gaze with his pained eyes, you can't help but feeling sorry for him although you want to rip his head off for being so stubborn for closing his heart while his own son is reaching out for him. I also like Nino's acting here. He depicts the child with a very troubled past. His dad is never around because of his business trip and he has no role model to look up to (his mom is always there but the boy still needs his father, right?). He tried to reach out to his dad after the accident but was shut up clearly (take up to 8th episode for the stubborn dad to notice). One of the bawling moments is one night when Takuro missed his dad and peeking from behind the trees to see him, and just start crying there. A beautiful scene, and I cried along with Takuro.

Haikei, Chichiue-sama ~ This drama is about a family who owns a Ryoutei (a high class Japanese style restaurant) with a long tradition. Located in Kagurazaka, a small town in Tokyo, which houses lots of geishas, and still in existing as of now. In the midst of it, the plot leads you to see how the town is changing.And on top of this is the main lead, a struggling cook's story. Ippei, the cook, doesn't know who his dad is and always wonder if so and so is his dad and what his life would be like. In the midst of his wondering, lots of things happen, both funny and heartwarming, including him falling in love with the girl who speaks French 3 days a week (this is the funny part to the point of annoying when she speaks French, but she's Kuroki Meisa and she's forgiven). No bawling moment here, but I like the way the story goes and all the side stories surrounding it and how the old Japanese tradition should be passed over or not is interesting. Also, I like how every episodes starts off with the narration, basically recaping the previous episode and wonder what will happen next, and always citing 'Haikei, Chichiue-sama' on the beginning. And lastly, off course, other than Nino, there's another JE boys here, Yokoyama from Kanjani8.

Yamada Taro Monogatari ~ This is a happy family drama. The story is about the poor boy, Yamada Taro (and called An-chan by the siblings) who goes to elite school but everybody thought he's rich and he hangs out with the richest boy in school. What special about this boy? He has 6 little siblings, a loving but useless mom and a wanderer father, and they are all squeezed in a hut (in the middle of Tokyo). The absurdity of this drama is to the level of Hana Kimi, and its set up also reminds you of Hana Kimi minus the gender bending character. What's charming about this drama is the way An-chan character is portrayed, he's so loyal to his family that he's willing to sacrifice everything just to see his family smile. Example, in Ep 2, An-chan takes part time job as a maid in Takuya's house complete with the maid costume (fan service, much?) to buy the younger brother baseball gloves. And the way An-chan gaze when he see the siblings smile and laugh with happiness will melt any fangirls away (including me). Bonus point, 2 JE boys here, Nino and Sho from Arashi. And the OST is Happiness (Arashi) --> see how convinient this is?

OK *pause* you do realize by now what I'm listing dramas which has Nino keyword in it? Yep, that's because I'm running down Ninomiya Kazunari's drama list. He just happened to be in LOTS of good family drama. Even his latest one, now currently on air, 'Freeter Ie Wo Kau', is another family drama <-- a must watch because it has Takenaka Naoto, Stressman in Nodame.

Ryusei No Kizuna ~ This is one drama that I misjudged big time. I've been putting this one off since it's on air in 2008 because of : 1. See the poster? Oh so gloomy and dark 2. Read the synopsis on mysoju? Oh so depressing, it's about 3 siblings whose parents are murdered and they plan to kill the culprit for revenge 3. See Nishikido Ryo in there? He's so good in phsychotic roles (refer to Orthros no Inu and Last Friends) that if you combine point 1 & 2, you'll see all the gloominess in this drama. BUT, boy I was wrong. This drama is nothing but gloomy. Yes, it's sad and touchy to see the parents killed in a cold blooded way, but the way the story goes is nothing but it. Turn up the 3 siblings grow up just fine with the oldest working in curry restaurant (serving Hayashi No Rice), the 2nd one is running an adult video store and spending his money at host club, and the 3rd one just quit her job and got conned by some auntie. Shii (the sister) couldn't accept that she's been conned, so the eldest, Koichi, came up with the plan to con back the auntie. And the drama starts from here. Many hilarious moments especially on the conning skit and also when Sagi (Nakashima Mika) shows up. I particularly like Nino's acting in Ep 9 when Koichi realize who killed his parents and he portraying his anger very well there. Off course here there's 2 JE boys, Nino and Ryo-chan (Kanjani8 & NEWS, take your pick) and OST is by Arashi (Beautiful Days) and Nakashima Mika (Orion). Another convinient case of, you star, you sing, you promote, ne?

OK, I promise, last one from Nino's list (that of family-themed)

Marathon ~ A drama SP, means only 1 episode (yey). Marathon is similar to Door To Door (another bawling section drama) which is why I don't include Door To Door here. The main point to cross here is how big a mother's love is. This story is based the true story of an autistic marathon runner. While the boy end up not winning the marathon, but the hard work, patience and the tears that the mom put into raising him up then showering him with love until she find that his son has a keen in running and then training him to do marathon, is very touching and basically I just bawl and bawl because it reminds me of my late mom, and bawl again.

And now, stay tuned for Part 2 (it'll misc genre... anything thrown in, maybe there will be part 3, too)


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