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Buzzer Beat: A series of awkward pictures


Buzzer Beat: The show that seems to think I should take Yamapi seriously (yeah, like that’s happening anytime soon!)

The story of the first episode, told in pictures…

Yamapi is a 24-year old salaryman, on the basketball team (at his company).

Their team colors are delightful and masculine (I promise I did not photoshop this.)
Picture 50

The delightfully adorable Aibu Saki is his girlfriend. And, a cheerleader. I’m glad to see she has stopped dating robots like she did last summer. Whoops.
Picture 49

But clearly, Yamapi is a very insecure dude. Especially about his relationship with Saki. But luckily, we can be assured that he will not end up alone. Through a series of coincidental run-ins, he meets a violinist (Kitagawa Keiko). One night she sees him practicing, and appreciates the *rhythm* of his *basketball* skills. No, I’m serious.

But during a recital, she breaks a violin string. AWKWARD. Also, the recital was happening in parallel with the basketball game of pinkness above.
Picture 59

Yamapi has great matching pants & bag. True fashion sense, man.
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Yamapi’s mom is the ever-wise and amazing Maya Miki. I’ve never seen her be anything other than fabulous. She did give Aibu Saki great advice last year about that robot boyfriend, so I’m sure she’ll advise everyone well again this time.Picture 53

Buzzer Beat appears to have basketball as a backdrop, but it’s clearly not *about* basketball (thank goodness) — more in a Seventeen Again kind of way, where Yamapi=Zac Efron is dissatisfied with his life, and has something to do with basketball, and cute hair. (No, actually, Yamapi has weird hair in this show.)

Episode 1 aired this week on Fuji TV at 9PM (not that I was there). Now, this means it’s a 月9 (getsu-ku) drama. (Japanese language explanation– 月 is the first kanji in “Monday” and the 9 refers to the time). In general, this is *the* slot to have a drama with high ratings. I suppose everyone comes home Monday night and just needs to get their drama on (though, I don’t really think Japan has a case of the Mondays, not compared to the US anyway).

There is a Wikipedia page (Japanese) that’s a list of which dramas have been 月9 dramas since the late 80’s. Extremely successful 月9 dramas have included Love Generation, Long Vacation, Yamato Nadeshiko, and others.

One interesting thing is that last season’s 月9 drama was actually Konkatsu! which had the lowest rated 月9 episode ever. Hopefully Buzzer Beat fares a bit better, and I do love Fuji-TV.

Apparently this is what basketball guys do in the locker room.
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And one last lovely picture:
Yamapi shows his matching skills again, as he selects a t-shirt, a girl’s bicycle, and graffiti in the same shade.
Picture 54


Dandy Daddy? Episode 1


Classy opening quote from this show:

A girl who is not in love is unfortunate,
But a father who knows his daughter is in love, is even more unfortunate.

What happens when a romance-author-single-dad’s teenage daughter finally finds a boyfriend? Mayhem. And existential crisis.

Dandy Daddy? is one of this summer’s dramas, starring Tachi Hiroshi, and the first episode aired last week. The story is very reminiscent of the summer 2007 drama Papa to Musume no Nanokakan (think Freaky Friday, but a father/daughter swap). Tachi Hiroshi again plays the overprotective father, but this summer, instead of a metaphysical dilemma, he faces a more philosophical dilemma. He writes romance novels for a living, and preaches people to follow love wherever it will take them — yet of course is ready to pounce as soon as he sees even the most feminine hair-clip-wearing high school boy take one glance at his daughter. Hypocritical much?

Snooping in his daughter’s phone when he suspects she has a boyfriend
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Akari, his daughter, goes to high school that just went coed — imagine the backlash! She is appropriately annoyed at her father’s antics (phone theft? really??)

Note the collection of dad’s romance novels on the shelf.
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Tachi Hiroshi spends the whole of episode 1 sneaking around, following his daughter in case she might be going on a date, or talking to a boy. After meeting a nice boy, Yuki, from Akari’s class, he uses him as a pawn to help do his spying. Sometimes, dad has to meet with Yuki in public, and disguises are necessary.

Nice hat!
Picture 47

Yuki provides some insider info on Akari’s alleged “date”. Dad is furious to find out the boy in question is a brown-haired earring-wearing prettyboy, and things get a little rough down by the ferris wheel. Too bad daddy jumped too conclusions — this dude is NOT Akari’s date.
Picture 44

Ironically, by the end of episode 1, Akari straight up confronts her dad about her new boyfriend (maybe all the spying on her wasn’t necessary?) and it’s none other than his former ally, Yuki!

But if his daughter already has a boyfriend by the end of episode 1, what’s going to happen in the other 10 episodes…?って感じ ( ´_ゝ`)フーン

Based on the first episode, my impressions of: cheesy, cute, and totally relies on Tachi Hiroshi’s facial expressions. A little silly, and I’m not really digging the actress who plays Akari (I liked Aragaki Yui as his daughter!), but let’s give it another week or two to prove itself.


婚カツ! Konkatsu!


Marriage hunting. That’s the meaning of the title of one of this summer’s jdramas, Konkatsu!, which ended this past Monday.

Kuniyuki (played by SMAP’s Nakai Masahiro) is a tragically unlucky guy, and when he gets accidentally and unfairly fired from his job, he has to go job-hunting. In today’s crap economy of course, this means he is especially desperate, and ends up lying to get a job that is looking for a married person, claiming that yes, he is intending to marry soon.

Everyone who knows Kuniyuki’s family hears the news, assumes he’s engaged, and throws a big engagement party in his honor. Great, now all he has to do is find someone to marry, so he doesn’t look like a complete ass.

Instead of going for the girl-next-door, Haruno (Ueto Aya) who has clearly been in love with him for YEARS, he remains completely oblivious to her feelings, and instead twiddles his thumbs while wondering, “who can I get to marry me?”

Kuniyuki and Haruno at their best:

He gets two other coworkers to accompany him on various 合コン (goukon) excursions (group dates), arranged by a matchmaking service. He has to be kind of sneaky about this, because it’s really not smooth to be seen at a goukon when you’re supposedly engaged…

The matchmaking (konkatsu) dates are essentially a bunch of different parties where the men and women mingle for fixed periods of times and then switch partners. In the show, konkatsu parties included: golf-konkatsu, cooking-konkatsu, pottery-konkatsu, even buddhist-meditation-konkatsu parties!

The woman who runs the matchmaking service, played by Ryo, is Kuniyuki’s childhood friend, and though she appears as a potential marriage candidate herself, she has gone through divorce before, has two small children, and is a little too wise to just let Kuniyuki marry her out of some obligatory feelings.

Ryo, just as hot as she was in her premier Long Vacation in 1996:

At the matchmaking dates, they discover Shaku Yumiko’s character, who is an unapologetic gold-digger. She considers herself too old, wise, and down-to-earth for those romantic ideals that Haruno, in her early 20s, still possesses. Every guy just has to fall for her at some point in the show, but she’s pretty hard to get.

Shaku Yumiko knows what she wants.

Meanwhile, the best friend, Sato Ryuta, goes through heartache after heartache, as he falls for each girl in turn, none of who return his feelings. He’s not the brightest crayon in the box, but his naiveté is charming and he’s very loyal to his friends. Kuniyuki would be nowhere without him.

Sato Ryuta is lovesick:

Konkatsu is real:
So it turns out that marriage hunting is an actual trend in Japan, perhaps to help counteract that pesky old declining birthrate. Even the matchmaking agencies depicted in the show are real and apparently thriving. See this Japan Times article for more info — apparently there are dating services that match women up with single doctors and dentists (maybe Shaku Yumiko should have tried one of those!)

On the title of the show:
I already explained that konkatsu is marriage hunting. Normally the word would be written like this: 婚活, and see Japannewbie’s article on konkatsu, a great explanation of where the word came from (it’s not a standard Japanese word, it’s actually one of those hip new combo words). But note that the show’s title is written 婚カツ in which the second character is written in katakana (but pronounced like “katsu” still). The title is actually a pun (Ohhh Japanese and puns…) on the word トンカツ tonkatsu, a food you may be familiar with. Kuniyuki’s dad runs a tonkatsu restaurant in a declining shopping center, and sees almost no customers. Kuniyuki himself, hates tonkatsu. There’s probably lots of cute symbolism here that I don’t care to explore.

Kuniyuki’s dad is played by Kohinata Fumiyo, who, if you haven’t seen before, you’re probably living under a rock. But seriously, he’s great in any and every role I’ve ever seen him in.

In Konkatsu, Kohinata is a stubborn dad and tonkatsu chef:
Picture 35

The show is cute, has an all-star cast, aside from the weakest link is Kuniyuki himself. He’s not awful, but a little dull and I don’t see what Haruno sees in him… Otherwise though, all the other characters are scene-stealers and despite a slightly underdeveloped script, the cast kept me coming back for more every week.

If you’re still desperate for one more reason to watch the show, and you happen to be a fangirl of the KAT-TUN member with some seriously oversized lips, Ueda Tatsuya… you can see him play Kuniyuki’s little brother, an ultra-feminine hairdressing fiend who has a small but memorable role.

Tatsuya’s lips from an angle that makes them look almost proportional. Don’t let them fool you:
Picture 34

And one last thing I just had to include…
Although Tatsuya’s character is allegedly straight, there is this one really weird moment halfway through the final episode, between Kuniyuki and his creepy coworker. I didn’t notice any similar incidents anywhere else in the drama, so while all the other characters ended up with their mates predictably, this was some way random unfinished business. All I can say is, uhhh……. enjoy? I left a few seconds of Haruno at the beginning of the clip so you can see her with an undistorted face, unlike in the screencap above :)