Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Review of Shitsuren Chocolatier 失恋ショコラティエ- Winter 2014
The following year on Valentine Day's eve, Souta who had been attending confectionery school after high school graduation, prepared some chocolates for Saeko. This led Saeko to realise that Souta had misunderstood the nature of their relationship and she blatantly told him that as long as they did not sleep together, she didn't see them as an item. The blow from this revelation led Souta to head to France for the sake of learning the art of making chocolates in a bid to win Saeko back.
As Souta grapples with guessing how Saeko really feels about him, he comes to befriend Kato Erena (Mizuhara Kiko), a beautiful model at a party hosted by celebrity chocolatier Rikudo Seinosuke (Sato Ryuta) who is impressed with Souta's talent. By a strange stroke of fate, Souta and Erena come to realise that they are both lonely souls being trapped in a one-sided love and become close friends very quickly. Erena suddenly suggests that they become sex friends (friends who sleep together for the sake of sexual satisfaction but with no emotional attachment) which Souta is not keen on at first but later accepts because he wants to show Saeko that he won't be emotionally manipulated by her anymore. However, as the two start to develop feelings for each other and when Souta finally resolves to let go of Saeko once and for all, he gets distracted by Saeko again which causes Erena to be hurt by his indecisiveness.
First of all, I have to admit that I was really frustrated while watching this drama. It's not just Souta or Saeko who gets to me althought these two are the worst of the lot. That's not to say that the others are flawless but comparatively, they are easier to relate to. Rikudo, Makoto and Sekiya don't have a lot of airtime so it's kind hard to put a finger on what kind of people they actually are.
Ishihara Satomi did well in making Saeko a detestable character right from the start. I don't know how guys actually view a woman like Saeko but from a woman's point of view, someone like Saeko is a common enemy among her peers, just like how Kaoruko views her. Manipulative, act-cute, pretentious, the negative descriptions keep coming out. However, you can't deny too that she looked so cute and appealing as Saeko so it's not difficult to imagine why Souta is besotted with her. I liked her scenes towards the end of the drama where she enjoyed the short-lived and fantasy-like happiness with Souta and yet was fully aware that she had to return to reality one day. In the past, I never paid that much attention to Ishihara but I think she's showing that she can manage a variety of roles and can look plain and pretty at the same time. That is an advantage she is clearly making full use of these days.
Mizukawa Asami was great in showing the insecurities of Kaoruko who wants to be more experienced in dating but is clueless about it. I thought her scenes with Ishihara Satomi were quite interesting but it sure took them a long time to bond. At the same time, it was a pity that things didn't work out with Sekiya which would have been a fun couple where one talks all the time and the other just listens. Of course, I didn't like it when Kaoruko was moping around for Souta but I think she still had one foot in reality to keep her grounded so that aspect didn't get on my nerves as much as Souta chanting "Saeko-san" all the time.
Last but not least, I've seen Mizuhara Kiko in relatively small roles in various movies but she's left quite a deep impression on me with her unique screen presence. This time, it was good that Erena wasn't some haughty model who thought the world of herself and I liked that she was a down-to-earth and frank girl who had emotions just like everyone else. It will be worth anticipating what Mizuhara can come up with next time especially if she gets a meatier role.
And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 6 out of 10 (It took too long for Souta to finally come to terms with the truth but I like the ending in a sense since Kaoruko and Saeko became friends. Brings across the message that you really need to interact with a person rather than let skewed perceptions get the better of you)
Acting: 7.5 out of 10 (Although Matsujun and his leading ladies did fairly well, I think there was severe under-usage of the supporting case. Mizobata Junpei and Arimura Kasumi were pretty forgettable because their characters had a relatively not-so-exciting love story while Takenaka Naoto only popped up once in a while. Sato Ryuta looked charismatic for the first time as Rikudo but there was really nothing much about him in the drama which was a pity.)
Theme song: 7 out of 10 (Arashi's theme song was catchy but didn't really appeal to me. I thought the BGM used was quite good though.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6.5 out 10 (Pretty nice sets but a lot of the filming was done indoors apparently so it would have been nice for them to venture out of the shop more often)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Considering that Souta was in a one-way relationship with Saeko while he hit it off really well with Erena, it wasn't surprising that Matsujun and Mizuhara Kiko had more chemistry.)
Total: 34 out of 50