The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: Rich Man, Poor Woman [Japan]

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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.

I actually believe that if I were a bigger Oguri Shun fan, that I would’ve liked this show more. Fangirl lenses can do a lot, heh.

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.

It’s a pretty great smile, but still.

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+

TEASER:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

27 thoughts on “Flash Review: Rich Man, Poor Woman [Japan]

  1. Then make me the 4th one!

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  2. Ummm… I’m the 5th then. 😉 People were squeeing all over about this but I never got the memo. I dropped it after… can’t even remember which ep, ha.

    Btw, there’s also a oneshot special called Rich Man, Poor Woman in New York. No idea if that brings anyting new to the table. Annnnd apparently a korean remake in the works. 😒

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    • Heh. I’m so pleased to find that I’m not as alone as I thought I was, in not loving this show! 😆 You were smart to drop this one, if it wasn’t working for you.. I kept waiting for it to work for me, but it never did. Sometimes I want to slap myself upside the back of my head, for making dumb drama decisions! 😝

      I don’t think I’ll check out the oneshot special.. I figure if I didn’t love the drama itself, that I’m unlikely to love the drama special.. 😛 As for the Korean remake.. I wonder how that’s going to go, honestly. Apparently they’ve cast a pretty green lead. Even though I don’t love this one myself, I recognize that a large part of this show’s appeal is Oguri Shun’s delivery and personal charisma. So unless writer-nim is able to really beef up the story itself, this remake thing isn’t looking too good right off the bat.. 😛

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  3. Japan has done much, much better rom-coms. I haven’t seen this but from what I’ve read of it, I did not like. Still, I might give it a go for Oguri Shun.

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    • I think this one appeals way more to fans of Oguri Shun. In terms of story, this one feels lacking in development and consistency. But, there is lots of Oguri Shun 😉

      Do you have a much, much better J rom-com or two, to recommend? It sounds like you’d have quite a few at your fingertips!

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      • I’m not an Oguri Shun fangirl. I admit, I want to watch it so I can write about it and be… *nice*. For a better Oguri outing, I recommend BORDER.

        As for rom-coms, I do not know what you’ve seen, but I will always recommend these:
        – Love Revolution
        – Love Shuffle
        – Long Vacation
        – Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi
        – Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
        – Hotaru no Hikari
        – Over Time

        Kekkon Shinai is not a must-rec, but Tamaki Hiroshi’s character is a sweetheart.

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        • Wow, thanks junny!! I haven’t seen any of the shows that you mentioned, so they’re ALL going on my list! 😀 I literally have a list. In Excel. Divided by country, with notes on who recommended what, and why. I am such a drama nerd. 😛

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          • None of them are recent, though – 2012 is the latest for the rom-com recs (Kekkon Shinai and Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi). The newer idol-fuelled rom-coms are crap for me, so I don’t bother. Japan used to make really solid rom-coms and some of the older stuff were great. I would recommend Nodame Cantabile as well, but it’s not really a rom-com.

            Share your Excel list sometime 🙂

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            • Ah, ok, thanks for the heads-up! I’ll do what I can to hunt down the older shows! 🙂

              Eep. My list isn’t.. whole? As in, once I’ve actually watched something on the list, I delete it. So, it’s not a comprehensive list of stuff that people have recommended to me. But.. here’s what’s on the J-list at the moment (excluding the ones you gave me today, but including the ones you gave me previously). I’m guessing you’ve seen a lot of this already!

              Soratobu Kohoushitsu (romance)
              Senryokugai Sousakan (procedural)
              Saikou no Rikon (funny with heart)
              Nemureru Mori no Jukujo (uplifting)
              Dakara Koya (housewife, uplifting)
              Tenno no Ryoriban or Emperor’s Cook. (beautiful, Gaksital-esque)
              Juhan Shuttai (addictive, manga publishing)
              Orange Days (coming of age)
              I am taking the day off (fun)
              One pound gospel (fun)
              Overprotected Kahoko (funny, growing up, family)
              A Life (medical)
              Yami no Bansosha
              Kageri Yuku Natsu
              Shunya Shokudo (slice of life)
              Gommen ne Seishun
              Quartet (quirky)
              Fuben na Benriya
              Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi (weird)
              The Last Cinderella
              Okitegami Kyoko (heartwarming, light, original)
              Legal High (light, comedy)
              Zenkai Girl (cute romance)
              Soredemo, Ikite Yuku (heavy but amazing)
              Gomen ne Seishun (school)
              Sora Karo Furu Ichioku no Hoshi (pschological thriller)

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              • I’ll tell you what you can skip: I’m taking the day off (Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu), A Life and Last Cinderella. All blah. I wrote about the first two. I didn’t like Saikou no Rikon, but plenty of others did, so you may like it too. I have Dakara Koya, Orange Days and Tenno no Ryoriban on my list as well.

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                • Ah, thanks for the tips, junny! I will adjust my list accordingly 😉

                  I took a peek at Tenno no Ryoriban, and it does look quite beautiful. I wasn’t in the mood for it, so I didn’t start on it at the time. But I’ve got good hopes for it being good!

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                  • I think Tenno no Ryoriban should be good, I’ve read some positive reviews. Also, it has Sato Takeru, and I’m quite partial to him – he has picked some very good projects so far. If you haven’t seen anything with him in it, give the Rurouni Kenshin film trilogy a go.

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                    • Film trilogy, added to the list! You certainly have a way of growing my list, junny! 😉 But I’ll probably watch Tenno no Ryoriban first, before trying the films.

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                  • Wow! You have an actual List. Mine is mostly in my head. 😊

                    Trust Junnyn to have good romcom suggestions. Only I really, really didn’t like Love Revolution, couldn’t stand any of the main chars. 😅 But yeah, there were some great ones back in the day.

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                    • Tee hee. My list began in my head, but I soon realized that I didn’t have the capacity to remember such a long list – and that was particularly true of the Jdramas, most of which don’t seem to have English titles. 😛 And that’s how the actual list came about, coz I didn’t want to miss out just because my brain failed to remember a recommendation! 😂

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  4. I saw this one a little before the hype, and then when the hype built up I wondered what all the fuss was. I think it was more-or-less the Oguri Shun fans rallying behind the drama. Yes he’s very good in it, but I never fully loved the character either. I forgot a lot of the details of it, that’s how memorable it was. Like that he had Prosopanosia and she had a photographic memory! Those are pretty big details to forget. I didn’t like the ending, she left him and ran off to do some science work? pfft.

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    • Haha! Well. Since you saw this pre-hype, your reaction isn’t swayed by the hype at all! Also, it’s not surprising that you forgot he had Prosopanosia or that she had a photographic memory, because Show seemed to forget those two things as well. There isn’t much screen time dedicated to either thing, beyond the initial episode or two.

      Going off to do the science work thing I could rationalize, if that was something she really wanted to do. But, I wasn’t ever truly convinced that she actually loved the science work stuff and that she genuinely wanted to do it. The impression I got, was that she jumped on the science work as a way of dealing with her feelings for him. Also, the ending just felt very rushed, to me. Altogether, this could’ve been done a lot better, I thought.

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      • That’s what it was with the science work. I guess I can rationalize the “running away.” But it felt like – where did that come from???
        Yes, this had a rushed ending. I think the following specials they made for the show take place during their time apart. I can’t remember.

        I hate when shows start something cool and then completely expect us forget about it. Or the character has some very special talent or ability and you’re wondering why they NEVER use it when it could’ve saved so much time or got them out of jams. etc.

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        • Yep, it really was all rather sudden. Where did that come from is right. It was so strange, the way she just decided that she was no longer useful to him, and therefore she needed to go away. 😝 And Show’s treatment of her photographic memory and his Prosopanosia was cursory at best. I mean, it’s almost like a throwaway remark one might make, in giving an introduction, just to add some momentary interest. “Please meet Hyuga. He happens to have Prosopanosia. And ah, please meet Natsui. She happens to have a photographic memory.” And that’s it. SO WEIRD. 😜 I would’ve much preferred to have those two traits woven into the story. I thought the set-up was perfect for that, since he was searching for his mother, but was medically terrible with faces, and she needed a job, and happened to have an amazing memory. I thought that was a huge wasted opportunity.

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  5. I love reading all these comments – as my husband says, “Feedback is a gift.”

    This is not a perfect show. Actually, I haven’t found a perfect Japanese show yet. Possibly, Egao no Hosoku (2003) with Abe Hiroshi but I digress. But “Rich Man, Poor Woman”meant so much to me that I bought the dvd set!

    This show hits so many of my favorite points in a drama: competent adults working at jobs they like, varied side characters in all shades of good and evil, some absolutely good looking actors (Oguri Shun) and some who are good looking by force of personality (Iura Arata) and finally, a fair amount of ambiguity. I’ve rewatched this many times and sometimes, I am struck by the sadness behind all these characters and sometimes, by the joy behind the creation of their company.

    Yes, the plot is spotty. Yes, the “Big Project” is kind of dull. Yes, Our Lead is never really kind to anyone. The heroine is kind and good but I think she’s really meant to be a mirror for the rest of the story. That isn’t really Real Life and she may be the weakest part of the story. But, despite this, everyone grows and changes from the office staff to the families to the leads and it all turns to good.

    Like that line from Doctor Who, “Everyone lives, Rose!”

    Gosh, just rethinking this drama has made me feel a little verklempt. I may have to watch a few episodes again.

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    • Aw, I like your hubs already, daisy! I personally really believe in feedback as well!

      It’s actually great to hear from someone who loves the show, to understand more of this show’s appeal. I really felt quite mystified during my watch, because I knew that loads of people loved this one, and I felt like I was possibly the only one missing something. That’s a great point, about the sadness behind the characters, and the joy behind the creation of the company. I noticed it, but didn’t fully appreciate that during my watch, I think. And as you said, everything does turn to good in the end, so in that sense, I appreciate that it’s a feel-good show. 🙂

      Hope you enjoy sinking into this show again, even if it’s via this less than glowing review! And, thanks for sharing your perspectives, even though they differed so much from mine. I appreciate that a lot! 😘

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  6. Thanks for this one too. I tried it, once upon a stormy night, and couldn’t get past ep 1. And I was in the mood for a romcom too. I became a fan of Oguri Shun ever since watching Nobunaga Concerto, so I thought I would like it.
    But… I didn’t even watch long enough to get into the details of the setup, much less the characters!
    And now, with your post, the death knell has sounded, and the crypt is closed on this one. DONGGGGGGG.

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    • Hahaha! OMG Webby, you sure have a way with words! 😍 Your closing made me giggle out loud, you are so brilliant! 😂 Yeppers, this one is probably not your cup of tea. I feel like those who loved this one did so on a pretty visceral level, in spite of this show’s flaws. So, if your gut didn’t love it right away, it’s unlikely that you would’ve ever like it. At least, that’s my theory, after watching the whole thing, and hearing from people from both the love-it and hate-it camps.

      Also, if you’re looking for a rom-com, this probably wouldn’t be it, coz I personally wouldn’t quite classify this one as a rom-com. This one feels more like a personal journey/personal growth type show, with romance thrown in on the side. And not a very well-developed story whichever way you slice it either. 😛

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  7. Pingback: Flash Review: 20th Century Boy And Girl | The Fangirl Verdict

  8. Thank you for this review! I was baffled by literally everyone I know when this aired, including my family and online, saying how this was a brilliant and romantic drama. I hated it and did not find a man barking at a woman and putting her down at every opportunity romantic. I hated that she was such as pushover and wouldn’t argue back when he was behaving outside of what would be considered professional in a work place. He was a bully, how could you develop feelings for your tormentor? Its such an unhealthy relationship.
    I felt like there was something wrong with me for not liking this drama but now after so many years I came across your blog and these comments and feel less alone!

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