Original Japan Broadcast: 2009-Jul-13 to 2009-Sep (currently airing)
Theme Song: Ichibutozenbu by B'z
Notable awards: None yet, but this one is a sure contender for a Best Drama nomination!
I'll be honest with you -- right out of the gate, I was not assured that I was going to enjoy Buzzer Beat. I am a Yamashita Tomohisa fan, but sports dramas are really not my thing. In fact, I had to hear a few reviews about the show before I was convinced I should go watch it. I'm glad I did though, because it has a lot more to offer than just pretty faces (although god knows it has plenty of that too).
We are introduced to central character Kamiya Naoki, played by Yamashita Tomohisa (Proposal Daisakusen) more or less right off the bat. Player for popular basketball team JC Arcs, he is a soft spoken type that is less than confident about his abilities. I'm not sure why, considering he still seems to be able to play a solid game and looks like a god with his shirt off, but hey, who can explain people's insecurities? His girlfriend, Nanami Natsuki, is played by Aibu Saki (Zettai Kareshi) and also is a cheerleader for the team.
Naoki meets Riko, played by Kitagawa Keiko (Taiyo to Umi no Kyoushitsu), by accident as he leaves his cell phone on a bus and she picks it up. When she returns it, it ends up falling into the hands of the JC Arcs head coach, Kawasaki Tomoya (played by Ito Hideaki), who is more or less taken with Riko right off the bat and aggressively makes moves to date her. And the character entanglement begins ...
There are so many worthwhile pairings in this show, but my absolute favorite is the friendship between Riko and her roommate, Ebina Mai (played by Kanjiya Shihori).The girls share an engaging and hilarious bond, and it's this underlying theme that ties so much of the show's narrative together.
The kind of girls you wish were your friends
While we get to know the characters, the dynamics between them are always changing. Soon enough, we watch Naoki's girlfriend Natsuki moving into predictable but less-than-wise waters, while Naoki's basketball practice spot happens to be right next to Riko's apartment and gives the two an opportunity to get to know one another under the guise of friendship. Sure, you can see it all coming a mile away, but that doesn't make one moment of this show any less enjoyable.
Oh yeah, these two are definitely "just friends".
Another point worth making about the show is that the first episode you get to know the JC Arcs team is no less than blatant fanservice for male idol fans, with sweaty shirtless scenes galore and lots of locker room posturing. If you're male and hate this kind of thing, know that it's gone after that one episode and you'll never see it again. For ladies who love their ikemen, you're going to be simply thrilled.
Well, helloooo, boys!
I've heard consistently mixed responses about Buzzer Beat from the communities watching it, from anger that the basketball games are obviously not perfect to swooning adoration of the characters and developments. Simply put, this is a show for a drama fan who likes an old-fashioned romance and excellent chemistry between members of a large ensemble cast. Every character is solidly portrayed and likable (well, except for that awful Yoyogi, maybe), but more importantly, you can relate to all of them in one way or another. For me, Naoki and Riko were a couple I really cheered for, not only because I liked them together, but because both were people struggling to grasp hold of their true dreams -- something every human being feels at one time or another. If this rings true to you too, don't miss Buzzer Beat -- it's well worth a watch.