It’s been a while since I wrote in this blog–the last was in September. I had already watched HERO, the movie and series sometime October but have realized that I haven’t written a review on it. But let me talk about “Change.” My friend had bought this original 2-DVD set from a shop in Malaysia in October. CHANGE is the most recent J-drama series of J-pop idol Kimura Takuya. It premiered on Fuji TV on 12 May this year. Here, he is Asakura Keita, 35 years old, a curly-haired (“Mojakura”) primary school teacher in Nagano Prefecture, who gets thrown after his politician father, together with his older brother, gets killed in a plane crash in Vietnam. The father’s political party Seiyu-to, led by chief Kanbayashi-sensei, sends his secretary Miyami (Fukatsu Eri) to convince Asakura to try for the elections, which he won in his hometown in Fukuoka. His main appeal is his “non-traditional” politician stand and his sincerity to really create a better future for the citizens, especially the young people. This endeared him to voters, especially women. As part of Kanbayashi’s strategy to finally wrest the prime minister’s position at a later time, he maneuvers Asakura, through Miyama, to run for the prime minister position in the general elections, which he won. Kanbayashi thought that since Asakura was a political neophyte, Asakura could be a “puppet” leader with a shadow Cabinet run by “real” leader Kanbayashi. However, Asakura turns out to be a hardworking eager to learn prime minister who has his own mind and this creates some trouble for Kanbayashi’s political ambitions. Asakura is assisted by Hiroshi Abe, his election strategist and Rosa Kato, his campaign assistant, who both moves in with him at his father’s home in Tokyo. Miyama becomes his secreatry upon the suggestion of Kanbayashi (Asakura decides against staying inthe official prime minister’s residence because he thought this too big for his comfort). The highlight of the drama is when Asakura’s Cabinet is rocked by a political scandal that happened 18 years ago–a trading company Daidou had given money (bribes) to politicians, including his father and polticial ally, Onoda-sensei. Of the politicians, eight are now sitting in Asakura’s Cabinet. Note that the Cabinet was handpicked for him by Kanbayashi, who already had already plotted this political bomb from the very start. As a nontrad politician, Asakura seemed to have no option but to take responsibility for his Cabinet’s “scandal” and to resign. But just as he was about to announce his resignation at a Cabinet meeting, he lost consciousness as a result of stress related fatigue (karoshi), which the Diet doctor had already forewarned Miyama about. When Asakura recovered, he made a live broadcast to apologize to the citizens for overlooking the fact that his Cabinet members were scandal-tainted and to announce his decision to resign. (The speech was quite long and the English subs was not as good as the earlier parts). But in an unexpected move that surprised even his allies, he dissolved parliament and called for a general election, which would give him an opportunity to run again. Again, I thought Takuya performed superbly in this drama (his comeback drama on Fuji TV after three years since Engine). I just thought that he really is very thin (he might have worked out in Pride since he had muscles there). How I wish though that he had more romantic scene with his leading lady__I was expecting a kiss or two from him but the “closest” the pair had was when she accidentally leaned against Takuya after almost falling into the pool during a function sponsored by the French embassy. Then there was that time when Takuya proposed to Miyama and she had accepted. He held her hand and pulled her to his side. My most favorite scene (usually where I am inspired the most and get some philosphical learnings) was the reply of US TRade Sec Bigham who expressed his disappointment to Asakura about the Japanese response to the Structural Impediment talks (the Japanese side had not agreed to the demand of the US party to increase their purchase of US agri products by 20?percent). Bigham had barged in Asakura’s house without appointment on the latter’s day off (Asakura was supposed to fall in line for his favorite Beverly Hills Donut). Asakura said: When he was a teacher, in an effort to solve bullying in his class, he would talk to his students about the value of listening to the other side in order for the other to appreciate their individual differences and thereby understand different responses and reactions and circumstances of people. Bullying usually results when the bully wants the person to do what he wants and doesn’t understand why this person doesn’t act the same way that he does. So Asakura asked US to understand Jap position which is to protect the interests of its own citizens, just as the US also wants to protect the interests of its own citizens. Asakura also said that the talks are continuing so there would be time to thresh out the differences between the two and work out a more satisfactory solution. BTW, the theme song “Miles Away” was sung by Madonna. Also, I know the song “Yume with You” by Toshinobu Kubota was also for “Change” but I don’t think I heard it played in the drama. Or am I wrong? So far, there are no announcements to any future project of Kimura, other than the most recently coccluded SMAP 2008 concert tour, which I was fortunate enough to watch live in Nagoya.