mec: (Sparky & Sam)
[personal profile] mec
Title: Pride
Genre: Sports, romance
Episodes: 11
Cast: Kimura Takuya (SMAP), Takeuchi Yuko, Sakaguchi Kenji, Sato Koichi, Sato Ryuta, Ichikawa Somegoro
Plot: Will opposing seasons Spring (haru) and Autumn (aki) ever connect? Maybe.

Satonaka Halu (Kimura) is the captain of the Blue Scorpions, the ice hockey team of a company where Murase Aki (Takeuchi) is an office lady. Halu's one hell of an athlete, not to mention well-liked, well-respected, and with no shortage of women looking to hook up with him.

Aki's not one of them. She's waiting for her boyfriend, who left Japan two years ago for work and hasn't contacted her since. He said one day they'd meet again on a certain bridge, and she still goes there every week to wait for him. (The boyfriend, incidentally, isn't worth waiting for. I think she should've thrown him off the bridge, myself.) She says she's not lonely, but when her friends Chika and Yuri persuade her to join them at a hockey game, she soon finds that's not exactly the case.

Halu's dead serious about his hockey but finds it impossible to be serious about women. If he falls in love and settles down, he can never be a true "iceman", or so his much-admired former coach, Anzai, has told him. Aki's not looking for a boyfriend either - she's still waiting for hers to come back. The solution? They make a contract for a temporary relationship, to be called off when Aki's boyfriend returns. No one falls in love, no one gets hurt, they just get to have fun. But not fun like *that*, because Aki is, as Halu likes to describe her, a woman from the last century - unlike Chika, the fun-loving flirt, or Yuri, a sweet girl obsessed with finding a wealthy man to marry.

Unfortunately for Yuri's love of money, she winds up with Yamato (Sakaguchi), a sweet, gentle guy who happens to be Halu's best friend. He's far from rich, but owing to a misunderstanding over a borrowed car, Yuri thinks otherwise, and Yamato likes her too much to risk losing her, even though he keeps trying to tell her the truth. Chika doesn't have nearly so many problems, involved with Tomo (Ichikawa), the wealthiest guy on the team and a definite lover of ladies.

Of course it's Halu and Aki's relationship that has the most ups and downs, for the simple reason that at first, it's not a relationship at all. But as Aki gradually sees there's a lot more to Halu than meets the eye and admits that she'd actually given up in her heart on waiting for her boyfriend to return, she does start to fall for him...and he, despite himself, falls for her.

See, Halu's got a lot of secrets, and most of them belong to other people. Yamato's got an angsty past, Makoto (Sato Ryuta - the coach from Rookies) has fear he's desperately trying to hide, and Tomo isn't just a shallow, carefree rich guy. Halu cares deeply about his friends and there isn't much he won't do to help them (even if it involves beating them up and yelling at them). He even cares about his new coach, Hyodo (Sato Koichi - Kame's easygoing boss from Sapuri), who argues with him frequently and spends suspicious amounts of time with Anzai's widow and young son, both of whom Halu treats like his own family. (Better than his own family, in fact, since he's got issues there, too.)

Aki, also, is more than she appears. While she seems very ladylike and dignified, she's not averse to some playful fun, and her strength of character and determination is impressive. (Watch episode 4 if you need proof.) At first she's bewildered by Halu's mischievous side and unsure how to handle it, but she learns to play along soon enough. Both her friends and Halu's agree she's the only woman for a guy like him.

This being a drama, it's not enough to simply get the main couple together. Oh no. Once they're happy, they have to be torn apart, only to get together in the end. This series has it all. Hospital drama, extortion, an arrest, longlost boyfriend turns out to be a hypocrite, one character is secretly losing his eyesight, another has guilt over killing someone, the opponents for the finals are fiendish villains led by an arrogant rich brat and one major heartbreak could've been avoided by somebody choosing to stay home one night.

But it's not all sob stories. Pride actually made me laugh as much as it made me cry and go "Aww..." over things. For a start, Halu's teammates enjoy teasing - read *flirting with* - each other and joking around about how they're not allowed to have relationships within the team. For victory celebrations, going shirtless, hugging and lots of armwrestling is always on the cards, and impromptu comedy duos by the name of 'Love & Fight' could spring up at any time. Halu's so deadpan, most of the time, but he does have a great sense of humour and he and Aki spark off each other well because she keeps the best straight face in the world, right up until she breaks into a cute little smile. They're adorable. Their love is about orange lamps and ice skating and when they're finally together everything clicks into place.

This is only the second Kimura Takuya drama I've watched (first was Mr. Brain) but it came highly recommended by friends and I can see why. Despite it being a sports series, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it at first, mostly because there seemed to be more action off the rink than on it. Once I got to know the characters, though, I got hooked. And Kimura gave me a lot of Kame flashbacks. I don't know what it is but they seem to have some of the same mannerisms when acting. I guess now I know what Kame will be like in a decade or so?

Also, the soundtrack is fantastic. BGM is gorgeous and I don't know what it is about ice hockey but Queen songs seem to be mandatory - there are a lot of them used in the show and the timing is always apppropriate. There are times when the music alone will make you cry, be they tears of happiness or sadness, before you even look at the screen.

Whether you're watching for the hockey, the romance, or something else altogether, I think you'll find what you're looking for. I didn't even know what I was looking for, and I had to search for a little while, but I definitely found it in the end.

J drama review index is here.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-06 08:16 am (UTC)
ext_167: (Car shrimp)
From: [identity profile]
I am still going to watch that show, so did not read your review and cannot comment, but hey! Piano Man!! I love that song. :-)


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