I conclude that I might be one of maybe 3 people in the entire dramaverse who doesn’t love this drama to bits.
I really wanted to like this one, especially after long-time drama pal DDee told me that she loved this so much that she felt like going right back to the beginning of this show, once she got to the end. In my experience, that’s serious high praise for any drama, and not to be taken lightly. So I promptly moved Rich Man, Poor Woman to the top of my watch list and dived right in.
Sadly, I never felt the same kind of love for this show that just about everyone else seems to have. I do concede that Oguri Shun can be very sexy, though.
STUFF THAT DIDN’T SIT WELL FOR ME
To be honest, I found myself asking the same question at the end of each episode, during my watch: Why do so many people like this show?
I never got bit by the love bug with this one, and I really did try. I even felt a little curious right off the bat, with Show pairing Natsui’s (Ishihara Satomi) photographic memory with Hyuga’s (Oguri Shun) Prosopanosia, a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.
Sadly, this one never did hit that drama sweet spot for me. After some drama soul-searching, here’s a quick list of things that just didn’t work so well for me.
1. I found Hyuga too abrasive.
For the record, I didn’t hate Hyuga as a character. In fact, I found his Steve Jobs-inspired character reasonably interesting, and I liked that he genuinely wanted to change the world. What I didn’t like about him, was his explosive temper and his tendency to say mean things to everyone in his orbit.
I get that Hyuga is introduced as a high-and-mighty meanie to give him room to grow. I guess the rub for me, was the fact that his growth was so long in the coming. And, it doesn’t help that Oguri Shun is so good at portraying angry rage; every time Hyuga lost his temper and threatened to blow up my screen with his fury, I winced.
2. I didn’t take to Natsui very well.
I’m not opposed to Ishihara Satomi, since I liked her well enough in 2015’s From Five To Nine. I didn’t take to Natsui as a character, though.
I liked that Natsui was portrayed as sincere, loyal and positive. But I didn’t like that she was shown as easily flustered and pretty ditzy, for the most part. Given that we’re introduced to her as a character with a photographic memory, I was pretty disappointed by the ditziness. Also, I didn’t take to Natsui’s brand of giggly cutesy, which didn’t help.
3. I didn’t buy into the main loveline – much.
I found it hard to get on board with the main loveline. Partly, this was because I found the introduction of Natsui’s feelings for Hyuga rather sudden. It felt like her feelings came out of nowhere, so it felt odd to see her getting all flustered at the sight of him.
The other thing was, Hyuga’s shown as not being very nice to Natsui, consistently. He’s often shown barking at her, berating her for something or other. In fact, in episode 4, he tells her that she is powerfully stupid. I mean, I get that Hyuga isn’t portrayed as a terrible person, but this stuff.. just did not make me feel like rooting for these two people to be together.
4. I didn’t find Hyuga’s Big Project very exciting.
I mean, seriously. A Very Exciting Project named.. Personal File? Pfft. I’m sorry, I found it really hard to root for this project, because it sounded far from exciting to my ears.
Props to Show, it took its project seriously through to the very end, but I.. couldn’t.
STUFF THAT WAS BETTER [MODERATE SPOILERS]
At the 7-episode mark, Hyuga finally falls off his high horse and is forced to start over. This was the point in the show when I finally felt relatively more engaged. I was interested to see how he would pick himself up all over again, and I was interested to see how Natsui would help him. Granted, 7 episodes into an 11-episode run is very late in the game, but I rationalize that late is better than never.
I suppose it’s dipping down to a real low, that makes heading back up again more exciting (similar to rollercoasters, I would say). This stretch of the show feels like that. Hyuga gets taken to as low as he can go, with no shares, no company, no colleagues, no money. But then Natsui helps to pick him back up again, and with happy music pumping, they start to look forward to a new chapter of Hyuga’s journey.
I liked the shift in the power balance, as Natsui started to get more involved in helping Hyuga. Seeing him look to her for help and approval was refreshing and quite cute, since he’d always been portrayed as the boy genius that everyone else looked to. It was also nice to see Hyuga growing fond of his colleagues and even buying them servings of pudding.
At this point, I wasn’t loving the show, but I was at least interested to see how the story ended, and that counts for something.
It’s too bad that in the end, Show’s finale didn’t feel very satisfying to me, despite this late-game uptick.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
As cheerful and pat as the final episode is, I just can’t shake an analogy that popped into my head while watching Hyuga running around like a mad man this hour, trying to find Natsui. He’s had every opportunity to talk to her and tell her how he feels about her, this past 10 episodes. But he doesn’t, and waits until the last possible minute, and then starts sprinting in every direction in order to find her and tell her how he feels.
I feel like Show pretty much did the same thing.
I know that romance doesn’t have to be the Main Point of every story, but since Show’s choosing to make this romance one of its main points in its finale, I feel it’s relevant to take Show to task, a little bit. Show had every opportunity to develop this romance more, in its 10 episodes prior, but chose to take a detour into a tangle of miscommunication and non-communication instead. And then, Show ramps the romantic confessions, kisses and hugs into gear, only in its final minutes.
Talk about saving your best for last, and then not having enough time to enjoy it.
In addition, while I appreciate that Hyuga chooses to forgive Asahina (Iura Arata), and that the healing of their friendship is another of Show’s main points, I found the execution odd and unwieldy. I mean, Asahina explaining his criminal intentions by saying that he’d felt hurt because Hyuga had stopped consulting him when Natsui came into his life, and then Hyuga smiling and saying that he probably got what he deserved? Seriously? This scene basically says that it’s understandable if you stab your best friend in the back and commit criminal breach of trust, if he hurt your feelings by ignoring you.
And then we have our third and final main point of the finale, which is Hyuga’s own personal growth. Again, I appreciate the sentiment that Hyuga is no longer the self-centered asshat that we meet in episode 1. I dig that angle quite a lot, in fact. However, whatever happened to Hyuga’s Prosopanosia? I mean, Show set him up as having a medical condition that made it really hard for him to recognize people’s faces. Without actually showing us how he overcame that medical condition – say, by memorizing little details peculiar to each person, or, making an extra effort by listening to their voices, for example – it’s kind of odd that we’re suddenly shown that Hyuga’s able to remember everyone now, almost simply by the magic of his smile.
All in all, I found this finale less than satisfying. The happy pumping music worked well to lift my emotional expectations, but the thing is, when my heart got me to where Show likely wanted me to be, my mind found too many things wanting.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Not terribly strong on logic, but Oguri Shun is handsome.
FINAL GRADE: C+