Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi: first impression

Spring Japanese drama season has begun and the first dorama i checked out is Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi for simple reason: it’s Ohno first romance drama. Well, it’s technically a rom-com, but either way, it isn’t a genre taken up by Arashi members besides Jun, which therefore makes it interesting to see how they’ll fare in those roles when they do. And perhaps because it’s rom-com that i’m giving SekaMuzu a go; separately, Japanese brand of romance and/or comedy don’t usually sit well with me, but who knows together they might work?

Nevertheless, i didn’t go into the first episode with high hopes — the plot doesn’t excite me after all — and it certainly isn’t what i expected it to be.

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Samejima Reiji (Ohno Satoshi) is the president of Samejima Hotels. Strict and perfectionist, he’d make his rounds around the premise to ensure everything is up to the high standard. No discrepancy is allowed, no mistake is tolerated, no matter how small it is: be it a doorman caught using his mobile to check the condition of his about-to-deliver wife or a 35-year veteran housekeeper failing to clean the dust building up under a sofa, you’re fired if your lapse is spotted by the tactless shachou’s radar.

Interestingly, despite the stony management, the hotel chain doesn’t make it to Top 10 of World Good Hotels ranking. Even more interestingly, Reiji’s top priority isn’t to inch closer to Samejima Hotels’ main competition, No.1 Stay Gold Hotel, but to requite the taunt delivered by its president, Wada Hideo (Kitamura Kazuki), for staying single at his age. The problem doesn’t lie with Reiji being the typical too-busy-to-date kind of executive but with his too frank and blunt a personality, so much so that all 20ish of his omiai partners bow out from the process after only the first meeting. Still interestingly, he doesn’t have too high a standard when it comes to his potential marriage partner; in fact, he falls in like a bit too easily that the rejection cuts his feelings more deeply than anticipated.

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Since omiai doesn’t seem to solve the problem, Reiji decides to find love the more modern way: by throwing himself at the love interest’s head. The target is Shibayama Misaki (Haru), the hotel’s new recruit whom he can’t bring to fire regardless of the overstepping ‘mistakes’ she’s committed. What he finds attractive about her is unclear yet he deems her “just right” for the role to make Wada eat his own words. We’ll see how she’ll fit the bill, but for now, the mission is to court her… done through a series of unsubtle/ungracious ways. Many may find it cute or funny, yet i was cringing in secondhand embarrassment during those scenes.

I mean, Reiji is a mid-30s shachou, so why his wooing techniques are at elementary school level? Sure, he is portrayed to have zero experience with love and quirky character, but his method of getting Misaki to notice him is so childlike and somewhat campy that it’s hard to take him seriously. (Erm, his right-hand woman Muraoki Maiko (Koike Eiko) can surely help in that department too, right?) Not sure if it’s the writing, directing, or Ohno’s interpretation but the execution can be done more subtly. Otherwise, Reiji comes off as a mixture of Kaibutsu-kun’s petulance and Shinigami-kun’s gauche, which isn’t the characterization i had in mind. I admittedly expected him to be closer to Naruse Ryo than those two roles, since appearance-wise Reiji can be an effective throwback to those glorious Maou days (Ohno looks really good in dark hair in my opinion), and while i’m not disappointed that Reiji isn’t, i suppose he would be more watchable if the hamming is dialed down.

Or… should i just go with the zany?

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[World’s most difficult romance?]

Well, this is just the first episode, and i hope everything looks up in the coming episodes. For a series opener, things are progressing fast. Reiji is already head over heels for Misaki despite having two months to win her heart. Hopefully there is enough story to fill the duration because that alone won’t suffice. The first hurdle to overcome is the rumor of her having a boyfriend. I wonder if it’s a wise move to tell us viewers that they’re no longer an item, since the early revelation kinda kills the tension.

It’s too early to tell, yet the plot feels rough around the edges. I actually looked up the screenwriter since it’s the first name appearing on the opening credits. It’s surprising to discover that Kaneko Shigeki was the one behind Proposal Daisakusen that i loved to bits; however, the more recent works weren’t as exciting: i watched only a couple episodes of Hachimitsu to Clover (drama version) and Summer Nude while i didn’t even finish Kyou wa Kaisha YasumimasuSaigo no Yakusoku is also on the list, unfortunately i didn’t love it as much as ProDai. This writer has more misses than hits in my book, but let’s see how SekaMuzu plays out. It’s only the first episode after all.

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~poster is from asianwiki~

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