Kimura T as hairdresser


Just finished watching the 12 episode J-drama  “Beautiful Life” (TBS,2000) starring Kimura Takuya as Okishima Shuji, a 27-year old talented and popular hairdresser and  Tokiwa Takako as Machida Kyoko, a 27-year old physically handicapped wheelchair bound librarian with an incurable  disease.  Both met “on the road” under not so friendly circumstances in the beginning, but later the animosity gave way to a stormy love relationship.  This was the focus of the “love story”–the development of the relationship between a supposedly “normal” person in the character  of Shuji and a not normal (?) person in the character of Kyoko as they struggled with so many personal issues related to their “circumstances.”  Kyoko fell in love with Shuji because of Shuji’s being a person with a “barrier free” heart, a pun on a “barrier free” environment  where physically challenged people can move freely around.  Shuji was a guy who have never said the cliche “I will protect you”  to Kyoko; instead he said the unusual “We will face the challenge together” .  Neither did Shuji display any pity but rather had a unique way of  viewing Kyoko’s  physically challenged circunstances by saying “I wonder how the world looks like from a 100 cm height.”   Kyoko says she finds strength in Shuji; after all Shuji never gave up their relationship when he found out that Kyoko had a terminal illness; instead he even pursued her  (I thought I would hear the following line from Shuji when he learned that the Kyoko he loves will soon die:  “I would rather die having loved you even for a minute, than not having a chance to love you at all.”)

Takuya was very convincing as a  hairstylist (it was said that Takuya became a licensed hairstylist after that drama) but I really was so amazed at the last episode when he was shown for the first time putting on make-up for the dead Tokiwa.  Having seen Takuya play “macho” roles, I felt quite uneasy seeing  Takuya weild his cutting scissors through a woman’s hair; but all the more when he put make up on a woman  (in my country, the best hairstylists are mostly gays, you know….), but sasuga Takuya, he was able to get away with it.

The other actors were good as well.  I liked Kyoko’s brother, Masao (Watabe Atsuro)’s acting the best–he was cute as the bumbling and clumsy brother of the smart Kyoko.   Both Kimura and Tokiwa won Best Actor and Actress in the 24th Television Drama Awards, as well as  Atsuro and Mizuno Miki (role as Sachi, Kyoko’s best friend) for best supporting actor and actress.  In fact, according to drama-wiki, this drama holds the record for the most awards won from the television Drama Academy awards. Other awards went to: Best Newcomer: Nishikawa Takanori (satoru, the rival hairdresser); Screenwriter: Kitagawa Eriko; Best Director: Shono Jiro; Best Theme Song (Konya tsuki no mieru oka ni” by B’z) and Best Opening.

According to several drama database sites, as of March 2000, it was the second most watched drama ever in Japan with a 41.3 % rating with the no 1 drama being way back in 1983 with a 45.1% rating. I wouldn’t say this was my personal best drama starring Kimura Takuya  (I like Long vacation better and loved Takuya’s acting  in Pride and Miliion Stars Falling from the Sky).  However, I liked my learnings from the relationship bet the two characters–consider the feelings of both parties in a relationship (Kyoko would always say that she didn’t want Shuji to be disadvanatged with the relationship  so she would break their relationship without considering how Shuji feels ; that is Shuji on the other hand feels “disadvanatged” by not continuing the relationship with Kyoko).

Beautiful Life is the 12th J drama of Kimura Takuya that I have seen so far, and judging from the character that he played here and interviews I read about him, Shuji’s character seem to echo the real Takuya–straightforward, candid, rather than saying that he doesn’t really care about what people will say ; I may be wrong but he may be  a person who doesn’t get affected or mind what people thinks of him or his actions (although being in showbiz and being looked upon as an “idol” I don’t know how he practices this because he has a great responsibility as a “role model’ ).

Just as aside.  Kimura smoked a lot here and this reminded me of one side of Kimura that I do not appreciate–he IS a smoker in real life. I wish he would soon realize that smoking is not healthy not only for the smoker himself but to non-smokers as well.

Nada Sou Sou_Tears for You

I just finisheded watching a J movie shown in 2006, Nada Sou Sou.  It is a real tearjerker with a sad ending–the 25 year old stepbrother (Youtaro) of Kaoru (20 yrs) dies after wearing out his body trying to make a better life for his stepsister.  The setting is in Okinawa, and the background of Okinawan folk music is really beautiful.  He stopped going to school at 16 years and worked for realizing his dream of owing a restaurant.  At 21 years, he was able tor ealize his dream and thus asked his young sister to join him in Okinawa after she passed a good senior high.  However,on the eve of the blessing of the restaurant, Yotaru found out that he was swindled and that the property was never really sold by the rightful owner.  At the same time, he also broke up with his rich girlfriend upon realizing that the big gap in their backgrounds was not going to work out, especially so when the father of the girl had plans for the girlfriend to take over his hospital later.

teppei manpyou, why did you have to die?

Just finished watching Karei Naru Ichizoku (TBS, 2007) and ended up having puffy and reddish eyes from crying my heart out.  I had sensed a sad ending for the idealistic Teppei Manpyou, (Kimura Takuya) who at 36 years gave up his life in order to save the Manpyou family from further demoralization and destruction.  I cried because Teppei’s passion and ideal to pursue his dream of making Japan globally competitve through steel against all odds was very inspiring and I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t live to see it through.   His being able to defy all the odds was possible because of the support of his friends, family and staff whom he had valued and cherished and this I intended to emulate.  He actually didn’t give up his dream–he had thought that his death would pave the way for the others to pursue his dream, which did come true.  He gave up his life because he saw himself as the cause of  all his family’s dysfunctionality; that he would never really gain his father’s love despite all his achievements because of the deep seated hatred of his father for him for reasons not of his own doing.  “If I have not been born, then how would things have been?”, he asked.  However, in the end, we find that the hate relationship between Teppei and his father Daisuke should never have existed, that teh basis for the hatred an unintended mistake.  Daisuke thought that Teppei was not his true son and this was proven by Teppei’s blood type; only to find out from Teppei’s death certificate that Teppei;s bloodtype was erroneously listed as another because of the confusion during the war(?)  (wasn’t Teppei born in 1932?)which was the time the blood type was taken as I understood.

Again, Takuya Kimura gave an outstanding performance; in fact he won an award for his acting in this drama series.  Also, this drama was a TBS 50th anniversary special so it had this “cinematic” effect on it–spectacular scenes (love the snowstorm and snowcap mountain scenes and the view of the steel factory), cinematic music by Hattori Takayuki with the Philharmonic Orchestra and chorale.  I thought Daisuke (played by Kitaoji Kinya) gave out the most superb performance of a father that you would “love” to “hate.”  Again, Takuya had such expressive eyes here.  When he was mulling over what his father said about how he would  have been another person having an “ordinary” family had Teppei not been born, I thought his iris had a bluish grey tint and then later, “sparkling brown.” Just noticed Takuya was a little thin here but still retained his boyish charm.  Great drama, although a bit heavy for Takuya fans who are used to a Takuya doing “feel good” roles.  But then again, Takuya is such a verstile actor that one looks forward to him doing offbeat roles from time to time.

Got this synopsis from a website that sells DVD of this drama:

SYNOPSIS / Editorial Review about – Karei naru Ichizoku (The Wealthy Family)

With a big cast headlined by perennial favorite Kimura Takuya, TBS drama Karei naru Ichizoku, a.k.a. The Grand Tribe and The Family, has brought in equally big ratings. Set in the financial tumult of the 1970s, the sweeping TV series is based on Yamazaki Toyoko’s classic novel, which has previously been adapted for television and film. The story revolves around a wealthy and powerful family, and the inner conflicts, family secrets, and financial powerplay that tear them apart.Head of the family Manpyo Daisuke (Kitaoji Kinya) is a ruthless and powerful banker whose firm exercises great influence in the financial circle. Eldest son Teppei (Kimura Takuya) is the head of a steel firm, eldest daughter Sanae (Hasegawa Kyoko) is in the Ministry of Finance, second son Ginpei (Yamamoto Koji) works at his father’s bank, and youngest daughter Tsugiko (Aibu Saki) is a student. Along with Daisuke’s traditional wife (Harada Mieko) and scheming mistress (Suzuki Kyoka), the Manpyos form one of the most powerful families in Japan.