Thursday, April 20, 2023

Thoughts about "Ousama ni sasagu kusuriyubi" Ep 1 (spoiler alert!)

This drama is typical in the sense that it ticks all the boxes for a story about a couple who gets together/gets married for their respective reasons and later falls in love with each other.

* Money is involved in this transaction - be it paying it directly to the other party or one side spending it on the other party
* One side is much richer than the other
* The relationship usually comes with a limited time period
* They both have someone else who they truly love but cannot be together for some reason
* The "true loves" will come into the picture sooner or later to distract the main couple
* And of course, the main couple will fall in love with each other and be together for real at the end

Much as the ending is still months ago, it's not difficult to see where this is heading since the first episode already shows signs of moments when the main couple sees each other in a more favourable light. And romantic comedies tend not to head for a sad ending so unless the direction of this story takes a sudden turn, the couple in question here will definitely be together at the end.

Given that the main couple is still at the stage of faking it for others to see, it is no wonder that Hashimoto Kanna and Yamada Ryosuke are a bit lacking in the chemistry department for now which could be done on purpose to reflect the relationship state of Ayaka and Tougo. However, there is no denying that they do look very good together so the change in their characters' relationship will probably be reflected in their chemistry as the story progresses. 

There was this article which mentioned that despite the lovey-dovey scenes and having 2 kissing scenes in a single episode, the fans of both actors aren't so bothered because everyone knows that Hashimoto already has a boyfriend in real life i.e. Nakagawa Taishi. This can work both ways for the drama though. Viewers will be constantly reminded that it's all acting between the two actors which can mean that it's more difficult to immerse themselves into the story and imagine them as a couple. This is probably not so good for a love story because of the lack of engagement and emotional involvement. On the other hand, it keeps viewers mindful of the fact that this is nothing but acting so they don't get overly affected especially for fans of both actors who may not really like to see the lovey-dovey stuff that's a staple in such stories.

Despite the first episode being a full hour-long as compared to the usual 45 minutes, the pacing of the story was speedy so it didn't feel much longer while viewing. The problem though is, with the predictable direction of the story, how can the viewers feel engaged and continue to stay till the end? And would there be any hooks or special things that can make this drama stand out from the rest of the competition? Surely, banking on the visual compatibility of the main couple isn't going to last too long so the story is going to be the deciding factor as to whether this drama will be a success. Things aren't looking so good from the start though with a rating of just 7.5%.

What also bothered me is the blatant use of PPL (product placement). If you've watched Korean dramas, you will be surprised at how the characters always go to the same sandwich place or cafe for all sorts of occasions and the brands prominently displayed in the scenes with close-ups. Japanese dramas tend to be a bit subtle when it comes to this aspect. Even if there was a lingering shot on the product or shop, it wouldn't be that obvious. This drama takes it a notch higher by mentioning the brand names specifically in the lines and shooting long scenes at the shop itself. Guess Fendi and Harry Winston might have paid quite a fair bit to be featured so prominently.

The problem is, if you can't use the sponsored stuff appropriately, it actually ends up being quite an eyesore. For example, the Fendi outfit which Ayaka got from Tougo just simply didn't look flattering on her as it appeared to be a size bigger. And given her age, that outfit looked so mature and out of place in the workplace. Of course, given that she is the president's wife now, she needs to be distinguished from the rest but still, it stuck out like a sore thumb. I thought that there were other outfits which she tried at the Fendi shop that looked much better. Maybe the King's taste is different from commoners like us?

Perhaps what is rather unconventional about this story is the female lead's mindset. Given her tough circumstances and always being treated badly and unfairly because of her beauty, it is no wonder that Ayaka doesn't believe in people and tries to keep others at a distance by pretending to be a bad woman. However, her jaded mentality might be the best thing to keep her rooted to reality even as Tougo's little gestures of kindness do sway her a little bit at times. Comparatively, Tougo's personality hasn't really been fleshed out that much in this episode other than the fact that he is entering into marriage as a PR stunt for his bridal company and his relationship with his parents seem somewhat distant. 

On the whole, this was a decent start to the drama but whether it will continue to hold my interest is another thing.


Anonymous said...

About the rating, it seems like this drama has a younger/gen Z audience target? So, people like to stream more than watch it in real time? Besides, dominating japan trending topic when it aired on tv, i just saw the tweet about them got the first place in tver for the most watched drama yesterday (1 million views iirc). But idk if this kind of achievement can considered a success tho😅

Chiaki said...

Yeah, the ratings nowadays don't reflect much about the true popularity of a drama. Then again, you start to notice the TV stations "boasting" about their series achieving more than 1 million or 2 million views but such figures are "claimed" by themselves rather than something from a central or independent company like Video Research. And it's not clear at times whether the views are from one platform like TVer or the total of all platforms. Seems like since "silent", everyone is clamouring to claim superiority in the online arena as well since real time ratings don't really hog the headlines now.