And I blame YOU, Japanator!
A couple weeks ago, I dipped my toes into the world of J-Drama. The Show was Nodame Cantabile, a show which many of you know. What got me to watch was simply the associated anime and manga. I'm a big fan of both, and lucky enough to find a link to the entire series one day, making it easily downloadable. It sat on my hard drive for about a week, and once I started watching, I was hooked. By the end I was in love with the entire cast.
But I didn't consider myself a fan of the J-Drama... Although I was definitely intrigued...
So poking around on Japanator, both recommendations and comments, I was directed towards DramaCrazy. The site seemed simple enough to browse through, so I bookmarked it. Planned to 'check it out sometime.'
That 'sometime' came Saturday night. Again on recommendation of you guys, I went with Mei-Chan No Shitsuji
. I sat down telling myself I'd watch one episode, then either do something else, or head to bed. I ended up watching the first FIVE episodes. I was immediately hooked. The next morning, I watched the final 5 episodes. And I needed more...
But before I go into what I started watching next, I'll tackle Mei-Chan. One of my primary thoughts on anime in general is that sometimes the best shows have the most silly 'sounding' titles. When you try to explain them at their most basic to people not 'in the hobby', they'd come off sounding weird. When I got in, and I wanted to tell my parents about these amazing stories, I thought "bounty hunters in space set to jazz and blues music..." or "kids with psychological problems piloting giant robots fighting big monsters called 'angels...'"... I couldn't actually tell them these short plot descriptions... they sound too wacky. They wouldn't 'get it'.
So I wasn't shocked
when these same strange story ideas were also apparent in j-drama. They just seemed a little jarring at first, because they were 'live'. When you watch a cartoon, a certain 'suspension of disbelief' takes control and you accept things easier. But when I actually see an all girls school where each girl has a personal butler... When I see it 'live'; in my world
, it hits a spot most media doesn't hit.
But it doesn't stop you from watching. You go with it, and you want to see where it takes you. And where it took me was to an interesting place.
Everything I know about TV production, acting, editing, etc., all screamed out 'bad' and 'wrong'. Nothing seemed as it should. I didn't want to outright call it 'bad'. I assumed it was just a product of the environment. "This is how they do things over there" I thought. Maybe it was just a different way of doing things. Scenes would end and cut away to others when I least expected. In the midst of good acting, i found lines to be laughable. Moments of tension and drama I actually laughed out loud in a few spots. I felt bad, but I was just unfamiliar. And in other media I can put up with a lot of so called 'bad', as long as other elements are good. So it was no different here. I kept watching, and was immediately hooked.
I can't explain what exactly I loved about the show. All the little details broken down, some fun, some bad, so good, some decent, some awkward... But as a whole is where it shines. When it all comes together, the resulting package touches a warm, fun place in your heart. It's not in the details, but rather the experience.
At least those were my first thoughts. And then last night, I started my next show: Hana Kimi
. There was so much that was similar, and at the same time, different. The 'silly' plot line. The girl (who is obviously a girl) dressing up as a boy to enter an all boys school. The acting which felt strange to me. Not as awkward as Mei-chan, but still something off. The sets seemed more 'real', and while I realize this could simply be something like production budget, it was different enough to be noticed, but at the same time not different enough to take it out of the 'category' Mei-chan fell into.
Now none of this is even making sense in my head, but my point is this: overall, something seemed off about these shows, and I couldn't figure out what. I couldn't call them 'bad', simply because I loved them so much. And then I got confirmation of my theory. One of the guy's from Hana Kimi looked familiar. "But I've only watched one of these shows; I can't recognize someone. And I've only just watched the one show, so who could it be?"
And then I caught the 'dorm-head's face from a different angle. It looked JUST like the main character from Mei-chan. But then the angle changed again, and I was sure it wasn't him. Afterall, what I saw earlier as awkward and 'bad' acting would be negated. A calm, serious butler with a soothing voice, was completely different from this loud, wacky, womanizer only looking for fun at school. But the resemblance was uncanny.
And that's when it hit me. My theory on their acting style just being different, was true. These people are good at what they do, and this guy was a good one. To transition between two completely different personalities like that, to the point where I found him near-unrecognizable, is no easy task.
So my level of appreciation on these shows was kicked up a notch. Even as i watched through the 3rd or 4th episode, I still wasn't entirely convinced it was the same guy. But later last night, I did some Google searching and confirmed my suspicions. And this made me incredibly happy.
And with that, I have a new hobby. I need to watch more of these shows. NEED. And I have Japanator to thank for it. :D read