Do you guys remember when I dropped Graceful Family because I felt like it wasn’t quite hammy or makjang enough to be truly glorious to watch? I’d wanted it to achieve heightened pinnacles of blithe makjang-ness, trucking out trope after trope of juicy makjang nonsense, kinda like The Last Empress, and because it didn’t, that show kinda fell flat, for me.
Well, this is almost sorta the same thing, except what I’m wishing for, from this show, is more weirdness.
I know that sounds, well.. weird, but hear me out.
WHAT I LIKED: The amped up bizarre bits
This show is based on a manga, and the premise is on the weird and bizarre end of the spectrum, with our male lead boss fetishizing being our female lead’s slave.
Show starts strong, with a zany pair of episodes where everything is just as oddball and peculiar as the premise promises, and I felt quite happily entertained.
For reference, in my mind, a show that does a great job of this all the way through, is 2007’s Hana Kimi (also known as Hanazakari no Kimitachi e). I don’t have a review proper for Hana Kimi, but I do talk about it at some length in my review of To The Beautiful You, which you can find here.
In Hana Kimi, everything feels quite random and wacky, with kooky events taking place on my screen on a pretty intense, regular basis. It was zealously weird, and it was glorious. I loved that show from beginning to end, and rewatched it several times.
Unfortunately, in terms of This Guy, only the first 2 and last 2 episodes achieved that intensity of kooky weirdness, for me.
The first 2 and last 2 episodes serve up a rollercoaster of events and emotion that I found pitch perfect.
[SPOILER] For example, in episode 1, first, we see that Sato (Matsui Airi) is heartbroken as if for a lost dead boyfriend, but it turns out it’s her dog that’s died, and then, Amagi (Hayami Mokomichi) comes along and talks down to her like any aloof CEO would do in a drama, and then Sato fights right back, not just tripping him and causing him to fall flat on his face, but she rebuts everything that he says, and with fiery badassery too. All in the space of just a few minutes. I’m.. slightly blindsided, but in a positive way.
And then I kinda love it when later, Sato loses her cool in Amagi’s office and throws him against the wall for offering her a credit card in exchange for allowing him to be her slave. What makes it hilarious is Amagi’s look of pure wonder, as he responds by asking her for more of the same treatment. [END SPOILER]
It’s all very bizarre, but strangely entertaining, and I was hopeful that Show would keep this up all the way through. Unfortunately, Show’s middle stretch was quite the let-down.
WHAT I LIKED LESS: The middling middle stretch
From episodes 3 to 8, I have to say that I felt a lot less entertained.
For one thing, the premise is less fresh by this point, and therefore, so are Sato’s repeated run-ins with Amagi, where she often roughs him up, to his delight.
Show also lets up on the intensity of the random and weird, and that doesn’t do Show any favors, unfortunately. It allows my brain to go to more normal places, because of the relative normalcy on my screen, and that’s when Amagi’s behavior feels much more starkly disturbing, because my brain forgets that I’m supposed to be in Weird Manga territory, where normal people rules don’t necessarily apply.
I also didn’t like the pockets here and there, when we see Sato softening to Amagi. I found that unsettling, and I much preferred it when she stuck to her guns and told him off for being creepy.
On the upside, The Weird comes back in episodes 9 and 10, so it’s not all bad.
WHAT I LIKED: Matsui Airi as Sato
I like Sato because she’s consistently commonsensical in her thoughts and voiceovers, even though she may not always voice her thoughts out loud. She’s curious and quizzical when it comes to weighing what’s going on around her, and why she might feel a certain way. She’s almost like an analytical bystander of her own life, and I feel like her quizzical reactions help to keep everything grounded.
I also like that Sato is never swayed by Amagi’s position or power, and stands her ground that he’s creepy. Also, I like that Sato’s smart and thinks fast on her feet. [SPOILER] I loved that right in episode 1, Sato uses Amagi’s whole slave fetish to her advantage, by ordering him never to approach her again. And he actually complies! Ha, how cool. [END SPOILER]
Additionally, I have to admit, even though this did get a bit old, after a while, that Sato’s got some nice moves. Each time she throws Amagi down, her moves are quick, slick and effective. It’s almost like she only has to flick an ankle or something, and he’s down on the floor, asking for more. I do like the air of badassery this lends her, and I do like that she keeps this badassery hidden until provoked.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH: Hayami Mokomichi as Amagi
When Show is at its best, I find Amagi creepy, but in a ridiculous and entertaining way.
[MINOR SPOILER] For example, in episode 1, the way he bows on the floor and makes all the company researchers apologize to Sato is bizarre, and the way he matches her bow and strives to bow deeper than she does, is stupidly hilarious. [END SPOILER]
However, like I mentioned, in episodes 3 to 8, it’s much easier to see how problematic Show is, Amagi’s behavior in particular.
So, let me put on my serious lens for a bit.
Show normalizes and even glamorizes violence, like how Amagi is basically blown away and turned on when Sato is violent with him, and keeps seeking out more of the same. It also normalizes troubling behavior like stalking, coz Amagi is basically stalking Sato, and even gets the cops called on him by neighbors, because he’s just being that creepy. And OMG is he creepy.
[SPOILER] For example, the way he fetishes Sato and sniffs her scent off the bedding after she’s left, is just freaky. I’d find it sweet if this was a boyfriend delving into the covers to revel in the scent of his beloved, for a bit, but he’s not her boyfriend. He’s basically an almost stranger who just happens to be the President of her company, who’s decided that he wants to be her slave, whether she wants it or not. That makes it creepy. Also, the way that he’s pleased with himself after she leaves, saying to himself that his plan sort of worked, shows that he’s working to manipulate Sato into wanting to be around him, and this, combined with everything else, just comes across as very stalkery and creepy. [END SPOILER]
Amagi basically keeps up his manipulating ways through the entire show, and in the middle episodes, without the Intense Kooky to distract me, this all landed as extra creepy and obsessive instead of ridiculous and entertaining. I didn’t enjoy that much.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
How a story ends makes a huge difference to how I ultimately feel about a show, and I have to say, I’m more satisfied with Show’s ending than I’d expected to be.
Thanks to my rom-com expectations (which were no one else’s fault but my own), I’d been expecting an ending where we would see Amagi and Sato mutually in love, living happily ever after, together. And, to be honest, this had been niggling at me, particularly in Show’s later episodes, because I agree with Sato; Amagi, for all his hidden angst and positive qualities, is still a creep.
So, I’m pleasantly surprised that Show turned all my expectations of the ending on their head, and instead, gave me an ending that was the opposite of what I’d imagined, and which I like a whole lot more.
I was extremely annoyed at Amagi for pretending to be dead, while Sato made her tearful confession that she maybe-probably liked him, and that’s why she’s been feeling unsettled. BUT. Once Amagi shows that he’s well and alive, thanks to being stabbed right in the thick stack of Sato’s photos that he keeps with him at all times (ha), Sato is quick to go back to keeping him at a distance, and when Amagi presses the issue by having her transferred to work directly for him in his office so that they can see each other constantly, Sato quits her job on the spot. You go, girl!
Amagi’s secretary Natori (Irie Jingi) delivers a suitcase full of money to Sato, and on his knees no less, to persuade her to accept the so-called severance pay. Sato reluctantly obliges, then decides to use the money to travel the world. We see her twirl and pose in front of various famous landmarks, as she jets around the globe on her generous severance package.
When she gets to Dubai, Sato decides to send a few photos of her travels to Aida (Hiraoka Yuta), which is when she discovers that in each and every photo, Amagi’s somewhere in the background, just waiting to be spotted, kinda like a creepy Cheshire cat version of Where’s Wally.
..Which is exactly the moment that Amagi pops up outside her window, dangling upside down like a bat, wearing his signature Cheshire cat grin. Cue more love declarations amid Amagi’s admission that he’d planned it all, as Sato throws him down yet again, while he relishes being roughed up, yet again.
As Sato races out of the hotel, thinking to herself, “I can’t stand this, he’s creeping me out!”, Amagi runs after her, practically tripping over himself as he gushes about how happy he is. Which is when Sato yells at the universe, “This guy is the biggest mistake in my life!!!”
Haha. I can totally see this as the ending frame of a manga, so that’s quite perfect. I would much rather have Sato continue to resist Amagi’s creepy ways, instead of actually giving in to his questionable charms. And, to end the story with a view to a future that’s essentially one long-running gag of Sato continuing to dodge Amagi and his dubious devotion seems about right, for this manga-inspired story.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Weird and quite bizarre, but mostly, not quite weird enough.
FINAL GRADE: B-
You can check out a teaser here.