Drama Digest #12 Caught in the Middle?


Shitsuren Chocolatier spawning a boom of “Ishihara Satomi girls”?Shitsuren Chocolatier, the rare love story among the many detective and medical dramas that dominate this dreaded winter season, has apparently been very popular among young females who are glued to it because of: 1) Frequent close ups of Matsumoto Jun’s expressions as his character Sota makes chocolate and privately thinks of love interest Saeko. There have been many posts and reactions from Matsumoto’s fans. One fan has this explanation for the big interest in the drama, “Many among Matsumoto’s fans recommend Kimi wa Petto as his best work, but the character is also similar in Shitsuren Chocolatier in that he secretly anguishes over his emotions for one woman. A handsome guy stubbornly harbours feelings for a woman who dumped him in the past. On top of that, he has to make the wedding cake for her nuptials. Fans cannot bear it because the heartrending role certainly fits Matsumoto. I’ve replayed and watched the scene where he pushes Ishihara down and kisses her in episode 1 countless times.” 2) Scenes of Ishihara’s character acting cute by playing sweet and innocent again and again and her air of sensuality has also drawn numerous comments about Saeko being “kind of wicked but rather suited” and Ishihara’s “too amazing” lips. In fact, females modelling themselves after the behaviour of the heroine are appearing one after another. Saeko plays games with Sota while she readily marries an older man. Even after she becomes a married woman, she continues to toy with him. With a timid expression like a small animal, she repeatedly speaks in a lispy manner, “Go out (shopping) with me” “You’re always good-looking but today you’re much more good-looking!”. Then in the shop, she clings to his arm in slight excitement and holds her chest. When Sota closes in, she apologises with moist eyes, “I’m sorry! That wasn’t my intention …” While there are female viewers who sympathise with Sota and feel irritated with Saeko, as the episodes progress there are also those who want to be like Saeko and find this informative about men’s feelings.

Voices of distressed CM sponsors in Ashita, Mama ga Inai controversy … The pull out of all eight sponsors Kao, Kewpie, Nissin Foods, Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries), Ebara Foods, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, Mitsubishi Homes and Eneos (JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation) of Ashita, Mama ga Inai before episode 3 generated as much attention as the “controversial” content of the drama. But each company said the sponsorship contract was not according to the contents of the programme but to the broadcast time slot. Because the sponsor companies cannot interfere in the contents of a programme, the only thing for them to do is respond after the uproar. According to Ebara which decided to shelve its CM, “We signed a year-long contract for the Wednesday 10 pm time slot 5-6 years ago. It’s been like this so far. But because the content of the programme was not our concern, we received dozens of inquiries after episode 1 aired and made the judgment to replace ours with AC’s (Advertising Council Japan).” Likewise Kewpie explained, “We contracted the Wednesday 10 pm time slot with NTV, but we have now put off the sponsorship. We arrived at this decision because there were a lot of inquiries (from consumers) hoping that we would stop the sponsorship itself.” On the other hand, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s comment was “We watched the drama and we have customers for and against it. Our company has taken NTV’s Wednesday 10 pm time slot for about two years. This is probably the eighth drama. Of course we were not privy to the details of the programme. There are many who believe that we decided to sponsor because of the drama’s content, but this is not correct …” Then there is Nissin Foods, a sponsor for the Wednesday 10 pm time slot from last October to this March. The company received various feedback through its website and telephone hotline and “decided to be taken off the credits after a comprehensive evaluation because it could not support the programme”. Now that Ashita, Mama ga Inai has been sanitised with the removal of violence and abusive language toward children since episode 4, and has become what some viewers are calling an “insipid”, typical drama”, maybe it’s time the sponsors come back.

Hanzawa Naoki sequel and movie appear unlikely … It was recently reported in various media that Sakai Masato, the lead actor of last year’s runaway hit Hanzawa Naoki, will be starring in WOWOW’s drama special Pandora ~ Eien no Inochi in late April. A TV representative said the fact that Sakai decided on this drama greatly reflects his intent. “Sakai is very particular as an actor, and as a matter of policy, he has disliked being connected with a single character’s image from the very start. Nevertheless, there was the Legal High sequel but it was all in order to erase the Hanzawa Naoki image. So he had a hectic schedule with Hanzawa Naoki in July and Legal High in October. The timing of Fuji TV’s offer was perfect.” An entertainment reporter noted that Sakai does not appear to have interest at present. Although his co-stars Kagawa Teruyuki and Kataoka Ainosuke seem prepared to clear their schedules to film a sequel or movie, Sakai has no intention to do so. He has also said that he wants to prioritise time with his wife this year and the couple were recently spotted on a date. Furthermore, when Sakai appeared on the variety programme Ousama no Brunch in early February, he unexpectedly revealed that he was already tired of Hanzawa Naoki and wished for some time off in response to a question from Yamamoto Koji who was also a guest on the programme.


About jadefrost

This blog contains information and musings on current and upcoming Japanese dramas but is not intended to be comprehensive.
This entry was posted in Drama Digest, Winter 2014 Dramas and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Drama Digest #12 Caught in the Middle?

  1. yuki says:

    I don’t think it’s a good decision for Sakai not to reprise his role as Hanzawa Naoki on career wise.

  2. Rootabega says:

    I wonder for who’s benefit the Hanzawa Naoki TV rep issued that nonsense statement. “He was in this show to get over that show, so he won’t be doing this other show, etc. etc.” Sakai is probably holding out for bigger buck$ on the sequel, thus the empty threats. Everyone has his price, and the pursed-mouth pretender will cave sooner than later.

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