I have RETURNED, my Asian Drama-loving brethren! I am back with a tiny vengeance!
Specifically, I watched my first Asian Drama in... I believe it's been over a year? Oh, I am so sorry. I can't believe I neglected the silliness for so long.
But I am back, and for good reason: Netflix decided to jump on the Asian drama train, and they made the adorkable mess that is Good Morning Call, and I am in love.
Good Morning Call is about two high school juniors, Yoshikawa Nao and Uehara Hisashi, who get caught in a double-booking scam that results in them having to live together in the same 2-bedroom apartment. Nao is a flighty, silly, sub-par student with passionate, funny friends. Uehara, on the other hand, is the hottest guy in their year (one of the Top 3 in the school), cold as ice, and incredibly intelligent. They've never spoken to each other, except for this one time Uehara mistook Nao for one of his admirers and told her to buzz off.
So they're off to a great start. Neither can afford to move elsewhere right now, so they agree to live together with a set of strict rules (i.e. no one comes over) that quickly fall apart because, you know, Asian Drama.
There is a pretty large cast to this one despite the main plot revolving pretty heavily around our dynamic duo. Nao's got a boatload of friends: Marina, her overdramatic gal pal; Michan, their doofus guy friend; Daichan, the upperclassmen she's known since she was a child in the countryside; and more as the story goes on. Uehara, as his sister-in-law Yuri kindly puts it, has no friends - but he does have her, his first love, and his brother Takuya (a surprise cameo by Tanaka Kei!), her husband. There's also his boss at one of his part-time jobs, and his boss' daughter, and...
Yeah, it's a huge cast. And there's kind of a shift in the middle of the show (it's unusually 17 episodes long, so it has more plot to it than most 10/11-episode Jdrama), so there's also a cast shift, too, as new characters are dropped in and old characters drop out. Still, the chemistry on the whole is pretty excellent, and just about every character meets every other character, resulting in hilarious personality clashes that just make my life better.
Let's face it, the plot is purely fanciful drama fair - it's based on a manga that ran from 1997-2002, so the plot feels a little dated in the 21st century. But suspending your disbelief is pretty typical, and the story is aware enough of itself to know when it's gotten a little ridiculous. It doesn't dwell on any one plot bunny too long, which is refreshing in the face of Asian drama that like to extend the angst for the entire series.
So you're not going to tune in for the story, the cast is sometimes large and unwieldy, but at the end of the day, Good Morning Call succeeds because the actors make you believe in all this nonsense. Newcomer Fukuhara Haruka (Nao) is so energetic even I got tired watching her, but she's not dim in the annoying way many an Asian Drama heroine is - she's not beyond hope, she's just naive and has other focuses. She's a great match for Uehara (played by Shiraishi Shunya, a Kamen Rider alumnus), who is stiff at first, but has rather masterful control over his expressions - the kid was clearly made to act on screen. The supporting cast is equally stunning - every single role is a stand out, no matter how brief their appearance. I could watch a spin off series about any of them.
I blasted through this show. It's just what I needed. I even got my mum to watch a few episodes with me, and she ended up getting hooked, needing to see until the very end. As this is a show about high school students (regardless of the age of the actors), it's a little TOO innocent at times, but it's got some fun innuendo in there too. If you, like me, needed something to get you back into Asian drama land again, this is the one to do it - it's got everything that got me hooked on Jdrama in the first place, with Tanaka Kei too, who I love and adore and need more of. Stat.