A sweet and funny suicide story (Ashita no Kita Yoshio reviewed)


Ashita no Kita Yoshio (Japan, 2008)

Finished Watching: Saturday, 20th June 2009
Runtime: 11 episodes (45min. each)
Director: Ten Shimoyama (ep1-2,5,7,10-11), Manabu Asou (ep3-4), Yoshishige Miyake (ep6,9), Akira Hibino (ep8)
Cast: Fumiyo Kohinata, Ryuhei Matsuda, Manami Konishi, Chiaki Kuriyama, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Jun Kaname
Network: Fuji TV, KTV
Plot: Kita Yoshio has decided to commit suicide in 11 days. He meets a host of weird characters during his last days and finds out some strange things about his past.

Couldn’t find any suitable video to embed :-/ (there are mostly only entire episodes on the streaming sites and they don’t have subtitles).

Impressions In Short
A relatively watchable, but not amazing J-Drama I guess. Very bizarre to see Matsuda Ryuhei in a part like this *grin*

More About the Series
I think the idea was much better than what they did with it and I don’t think they had enough plot for an 11 episode drama… There were a lot of episodes where the plot just seemed to be running around in circles and they kept killing the suspense in dumb ways. The strongest points IMO were all the strange dreams and visions and the whole mental instability of Kita Yoshio. His negative alter ego was pretty interesting. Though even the mental illness thing could have been done much better.
The acting was a bit stiff. The roles I liked the most were actually background characters. Yoshitaka Yuriko as Shinobu was hilarious and cute. And Kanabe Jun did a really good job as Moriwaki.
Ryuhei was… weird ;) Prior to seeing this, if I had tried to write a character that he’d be least likely to deliver well then it would have been similar to what he played in this ;) Heita, you see, is the owner of a go-go club. He’s very extroverted, social and quite friendly. Though if he has a problem with someone he usually reacts with spontaneous violence. This is quite a far step from what I’ve seen him do before. I know him for extremely introverted characters (not to mention sexually ambiguous and even a bit “genderless” ones - Heita is quite macho and heterosexual in comparison ;) ). The way he was dressed and styled with his facial hair and short haircut was quite weird as well - for once he did not look like a beautiful porcelain doll, but just a regular looking guy ;)
On the whole, he wasn’t bad. He adjusted his body language quite a bit and he actually got better and more natural as the series progressed. What, to me, seemed like the bigger challenge for him was not the character, but the convention. He’s one of the most restrained and subtle actors I know of, so pulling off the loud and exaggerated style of J-drama doesn’t really seem in his nature. I thought he was rather uneven with it. He got the spontaneous, macho violence right ;) But some of the other bits were a bit fake and he does have a tendency to “play it small”. I think he was at his best during the sentimental and soppy stuff actually cause everybody else was playing it big and corny and he was just doing his subtle thing ;)
Oh, and IMO he has no chemistry with women on screen ;-P I think my “least likely to be played well” character for Ryuhei now is a romantic hero - intense and soppy love for a woman and all that… especially a possessive sort of love would challenge him I think *grin* Seriously though, he had more chemistry with the leading man in this than with any of the women - there was a scene in the last episode where they were looking into each others eyes and it looked like they were going to kiss or something ;-P
And while we’re on chemistry, I thought it was hilarious how this series has so many potential romantic pairings and yet only breakups and disappointments seem to materialize ;) I thought Mizuho and Moriwaki in particular were perfect for each other (though of course Mizuho could have ended up with at least two other men and Moriwaki had at least one other woman he could have been paired up with lol).

No ;-P Except for Ryuhei fans that is, cause this part is just so weird *grin*

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