Nazo no Tenkousei: Eps 1-3

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

At first I was trying not to get my hopes up for Nazo no Tenkousei since I didn’t really know what to expect from it.  Also I’m a wimp so I was very apprehensive about the mention of ghost appearances in the synopsis, LOL.  Anyways, fear not!  The drama isn’t scary (it’s not supernatural, actually more slice of life & a bit of a sci-fi) and it actually turned out to be a really pleasant surprise! 😀  I’m loving it so far!

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First of all, I just want to clarify that Nazo is not ‘just another alien drama’ and it’s for sure not a spin off of other alien dramas.  In other words, no, it is not another Man From the Stars.  T_T  Nazo is actually based off of an original novel Nazo no Tenkousei which was written by Mayumura Taku.  So do not go into Nazo expecting it to be a rom-com with a hot alien roaming the earth & falling in love with humans.  😛

Nazo actually has more of a slice-of-life feel to it along with some sci-fi elements mixed in.  The only way to describe its pacing and storyline is that it’s kinda off-the-wall.  Eccentric even.  O_O  It is also very slow-paced since it takes its dear time to linger on each scene.  For these reasons alone I think that most people will not instantly take to liking Nazo.  It may be too slow & weird for people’s tastes.  But so far I really love the way Nazo is paced & the way it portrays the story because it is more unique than the typical jdrama.  Its style reminds me A LOT of Sprout, especially since it seems to use more saturated colors, shaky camera movements (this effect makes it feel more intimate almost), long periods of silence, etc.  In fact I was so convinced that it was like Sprout that I checked to see if the producer/directer was the same.  They weren’t. O_O But I really thought for a moment that it might be the same director, heh.  Anyways it also has a short 30-minute episode format as well as an awesome peaceful soundtrack!  As for the differences between Nazo & Sprout, I’d say that Nazo is more bizarre and it is a much more different genre.  It still has the elements of school life and such, but it has more of a mysterious feel to it rather than the bittersweet nostalgia of Sprout.

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So the beginning of Nazo starts out with two of the main characters witnessing a strange shooting star in the sky.  The shooting stars are going upwards instead of downwards.  Obviously it has something to do with the ‘alien’ that will appear later on.  😉  One of these characters is Koichi (Nakamura Aoi) who is also stuck with the funny nickname “Mu-kun”.  He is kinda a sci-fi geek who loves reading sci-fi and speculating about UFO’s.  He’s also pretty easygoing and tends to go with the flow.  I guess the simplest way to describe him is that he is a really nice and cute dork, LOL.   I’d say that Koichi is kinda on the borderline between being super smart and gullible.  O_O  He is fascinated by sci-fi theories & UFO’s, but at the same time he is also slow to pick up on some of the odd behaviors exhibited by the alien later on.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen Nakamura Aoi in a drama, although he was in the remake of Hanakimi as Sano.  O_O  I think he’s portraying the dorky sci-fi nerd pretty well but I also wonder how he’ll do later on in darker scenes!

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The other person who witnesses the odd shooting star is Midori, who is Koichi’s bestie and potential crush.  The actress for Midori, Sakurai Minami, is a newbie but she’s doing a great job so far.  She has this kind of ‘effortless’ feel to her as though she is just naturally becoming Midori, rather than forcing herself to overact.  Somehow Midori just exudes this sort of cool, laissez faire aura around her.  She is generally unfazed by things and is quite perceptive of the people around her.  The awesome thing about Midori is she is assertive & in control without having to be the usual super spunky loud & over the top heroine.

Midori’s relationship with Koichi is kinda ambiguous because both of them sorta acknowledge that there is something more between them than just friendship but nothing ever becomes of it.  Midori will even assertively bring up the topic of their relationship status at random, (YEAH!  NO WISHY WASHYNESS HERE!)  casually asking Koichi whether or not he likes her or whether or not they are a couple.  I was surprised by this openness between them because usually this is not the way things happen in dramas!  Usually it takes FOREVER for an OTP to even utter the word “LIKE,” HAHA!  I think the two of them do like each other but have never gotten out of the friendship zone.  Midori obviously knows that Koichi likes her, (she’s really perceptive O_O)  but Koichi has never directly affirmed it.  😉

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The last character in the OT3 is, of course, the ‘alien,’ who goes by the name Norio (Hongo Kanata).  Apparently Hongo Kanata has lots of fangirls, but I’ve only seen him in a supporting role in Nana 2 & Seigi no Mikata.  So I don’t have a really good feel for his acting range yet.   BUT HE CAN PLAY THE PIANO!

So the thing I like about Norio is that we don’t really know where he came from or exactly what he is.  Of course, I call him an alien but it’s actually not clear yet if he really is an alien. Is he an android, an alien being, or a human that lives on another planet?  Did he come from another dimension or from the future?   Is this human form even his true self, or is it a borrowed body?  Questions abound!  All we know so far is that he came from a technologically advanced world called D-12 that is in dangerous conditions.  He also mentions that he is on Earth because he needs to help save the ‘princess’ in the other world.   So far I think Norio is from another dimension & world.  There are plenty of hints all throughout ep3 that there are many parallel universes & worlds and that Norio comes from one of them.  Whether he is alien or human or android though, remains unknown. I am leaning more towards him being an android/cyborg, since in the beginning, he claims that he is ‘installing files’.  Also there are some…erm..lasers in his eyes or something O_O.

Anyways what makes the parallel universes theory so interesting is that we don’t even know if the earth that is portrayed in the drama is supposed to be ‘the original’ or if it is just another parallel world.  For instance, Norio finds out that no one has ever heard of Chopin and that Chopin actually did not exist in this world.  O_O  So maybe something happened to change reality and the earth is actually a parallel copy of the original earth!?!?  Also Norio knows things that will happen in the future.  Or at least, he knows what happened to earth (not sure which earth this is…it could either be earth in the future or another earth in a parallel universe) and it hasn’t happened yet to this earth.  Ok I know that just sounded really confusing. >_>  It’s just me speculating about the mystery, hehe.

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Of course, Koichi is the first one to befriend Norio in ep2.  The two of them together are really amusing because Koichi is kinda unsure whether Norio is some crazy guy or whether he’s just another sci-fi geek like him, HAHA.  This is why I say that Koichi is both smart and gullible–he has heard Norio say some questionable and bizarre things but he doesn’t think there’s something too off about him.  I think it’s because Koichi feels like he has finally found someone who can talk on the same level as him in terms of his sci-fi obsession & theories.  I wonder what he’ll do when he finds out Norio is actually an alien, it’ll be like his dreams finally came true or something. 😛

There’s a really hilarious scene in ep2 with Norio & Koichi, when the two of them play baseball together.  The best part is when Koichi grabs Norio’s hand and leads him to run across all the bases for a home run.  This all happens in SLO-MO with romantic piano music in the background.  Also note that Koichi is holding a flower in his other hand while running with Norio.  Omg, I totally cracked up at this part.  I think I’m liking the bromance!  On the other hand there are some other moments in ep3 where it seems like Koichi is also a bit jealous & wary of Norio whenever he gets close to Midori!!

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^Top 3: Koichi & Midori / Bottom pic: Norio & Midori in ep3

Overall

I feel like Nazo no Tenkousei is the only drama this season so far (at least, from what I’ve seen) that is not just scratching the surface & fulfilling the bare minimum of drama requirements.   None of it feels ‘meh’.  It’s a great change of pace from the usual dramas & it also feels refreshing to have a younger cast.  Overall, love the raw feeling I get from this drama!  Looking forward to the next episodes!

I also LOVE the opening & ending MV’s!  The OP is especially my favorite because I can watch it over and over again.  I have no idea how they managed to make themselves look so graceful while covered in……goey white stuff.  😛  And if you’re wondering why they’re covered in the white stuff, I think it actually has a meaning because Norio is first shown in the drama with this appearance.  Also there is symbolism behind the flowers, (there are lots of flowers everywhere in this drama) but I’m not sure what they represent yet.

Update: I rewatched episode 3 with subs (I initially watched it raw) and I’m so glad I did because it cleared up a lot of parts that I didn’t understand before.  I love it even more now since the sci-fi elements are even more complicated than I thought they were!!!

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • *Flail* Yeah, someone else is watching this! This is definitely my favorite drama for this season. It’s better than I thought it would be, not following the typical alien/time-traveler/robot drama and I think that’s working for me since I usually can’t get into those dramas.

    Bwahaha, yes the running scene with Norio and Koichi, that was so cute, but I couldn’t stop laughing because I think the director knew how weird it was since Ai comments, “What is this digusting feeling?”

    I really like the slow pacing of this show and all the quiet moments, but I agree, I don’t think a lot of people will like it since there’s no clear-cut plot yet.

    Last thing, since I’m rambling, but I also love the music in this drama, must find the OST.

    • Agreed. It is such a pleasant surprise, I am so happy I started watching it! And YES the running scene was just too funny, omg. I’m looking forward to more funny moments between these two. 😀

    • Its the only show I’ve been loving so far this season!! I really like the “laid back” pacing and the story going forward in a very subtle way. The camera work gives off a “nostalgia” feel to it as well. I think its a show that can fit any timeline. I don’t know if the actors are generally good, but in here they fit their roles. The soundtrack, op/end sequence are also pretty good 😉 I wish we can get 2 episodes a week or something 😛

  • I watched ep 1, and your post made me go watch ep 2 & 3. I like it precisely because it’s so unpredictable and so unlike anything else there. Not another more-of-the-same-we’ve-seen-this-before drama.

    I’ve seen Nakamura in Beck and Mitsuko Delivers, like him here so far. Kanata Hongo I think is quite intriguing. I watched him in Aikurushii (where he has a significant supporting role, and plays alongside Kamiki Ryunosuke). He was good in that – and played a quite different role than here. I think he’s doing brilliantly in Nazo no Tenkousei so far – that quirky being he’s playing is not an easy role! I also like that he hasn’t got cookie-cutter beautiful sort of looks (yeah for J entertainment here, which, unlike K-ent, accommodates a range of looks). He’s beautiful but in a really quite unique way (though I’m sure some would just say he’s weird looking). Not sure yet how wide his acting range is, but I think he can play anything eccentric or super-dark/evil, because he has a super poker face.

    I wish the episodes were longer than 30 minutes though!

    • Was just thinking… maybe the younger girl in the opening song is the hime?

      And… this drama is ticking so many more boxes for me than Shitsuren Chocolatier!

    • I figured you would like this drama. 😉 I also like the mysterious feeling of the story! I have no idea what’s gonna happen next! I’m so curious about what Norio’s motives are. Plus there were multiple shooting stars so I wonder if there are some other beings of his kind on earth too!

  • Nazo no Tenkousei is a pleasant surprise for me too so far. I like the tone (movie-like) and how the casts fit their roles effortlessly. I also like their interactions. I hope It won’t get worse toward the end.
    I was laughing when seeing someone said that This drama is “The Man from Another Star remake” though. LOL

    • I know, I do not know how people instantly jumped to conclusions that Nazo was a remake of Man From the Stars. O_O

      Well the episodes have been pretty consistent so far. Hopefully it’ll carry through ’til the end!

  • Ah my last comment didn’t get saved for some reason. Let’s try this again.

    So I just found Nazo; this show is pure gold. This feels like a new age of slice-of-life JDrama. The direction, style, and feeling are all so top notch. I know that this may be an odd comparison, but it gives me the same kind of feeling as when I first watched the anime Windy Tales back in 2005. Obviously it’s very different in many ways, but it has the same sort of ethereal flow to it.

    And this cast! I am in LOVE with this cast! The 3 leads are perfect in their roles so far, but the brightest star (I may be biased, being a guy who really likes Japanese girls) is clearly Sakurai Minami. What a career launch (singing as well; that theme song is wonderful!)! Now, what I’m going to say next may seem like I’m a bot off the deep end but it’s based on watching a ton of JDrama (I’m not afan of C, K, or T). I am hoping that she represents a turning point in how the Japanese view female youth in their society. She is confident, sweet, intelligent, and cute all at the same time without falling into the trope of being either the ditsy airhead girl or the over-the-top loud tough chick. She’s like the anti-AKB48, which is exactly what Japan needs right now. Oh AKB48, how you have aided in the downfall of that great nation… but that’s another story.

    You know what this show reminds me of? Nobuta Wo Produce. It’s got all the makings of becoming this generation’s great slice-of-life drama (forget the sci-fi stuff; that’s just a vehicle for the slice story). The parallels are eerie. Nobuta had Yamapi, Kamenashi Kazuya, and Horikita Maki in the roles that defined their early career and put them on top. Here, it’s happening all over again but with (I feel) a superior cast, story, direction, and overall quality show.

    Anyhow, it will be very interesting to see how it progresses. I really hope it lives up to what I think this is going to be; the next big thing.

    • I loveeee the feel of the drama & it only gets better and better! (I watched up to ep6 now.) It kinda reminds me a bit of the xxxholic live action too, with its mysterious vibes. It doesn’t quite remind me of Nobuta though..

      • Glad to see this post managed to go through!

        Maybe I should explain a bit about the Nobuta parallel.

        Yes they are very different shows in terms of style and feeling. This hsow feels entirely different than Nobuta, but they are very similar in cast structure and star launch potential.

        Nobuta had Yamapi, Kamenashi Kazuya, and Horikita Maki in a contemporary slice-of-life tale with brilliant character interaction.

        Nazo has Nakamura Aoi, Hongo Kanat, and Saurai Minami in the same structure. It’s structurally very similar with it’s character interaction. As far as I’m concerned the sci-fi elements of Nazo are so back-burner that it should not be viewed as a sci-fi show at all. They’re just the medium by which the slice-of-life elements are being delivered.

        That’s the way I see it.

        The only unknown element is the hime. I’m hoping she fits in to the cast well.

      • For me, atmosphere-wise it recalls my memory of Hana and Alice and Halfway. Not surprising though, more or less they share the same factor that make them good: Shunji Iwai

  • i’m also watching this drama! it’s kinda wierd but i see this very interesting. not just the typical drama 😀 and what was that “Norio knows the future” thing again?? i didn’t get it that much. :)) i just remembered the Chopin thing.

    i’m sooo looking forward to the subbed esisode 4!!

  • Kanata Hongo is a big factor to watch this drama. He’s quite a good actor, and he has a large following. Everytime I posted anything about him on tumblr, his fans love it. He’s the young tennis prodigy in Prince of Tennis and one other movie that can be described as dark and sinister – forget the title, but he was good even in that.

    I agree on the slow pacing. Don’t watch if you’re tired or came from work, I fell asleep in Ep1, but on second viewing, I love the slow pacing, and find the lead Aoi Nakamura perfect for the role. He is also making a name in the movie scene with a starring role in Tokyo Refugee.

    Sakurai Minami! Finally someone who is fresh and talented. I really hope they retire the young careers of Emi Takei and Gouriki Ayame – they destroyed the reputation of young Japanese actresses – inept, ridiculous and incredibly bad actresses.

  • ugh i love it i love it ! hongo kanata is amazinggggggggggggggggg

    why the hell isnt it getting subbed =(
    i keep checking everyday but nothing ever happens

  • Okay, I devoured the first three episodes and I’m ready for some more. ” Koichi is also a bit jealous & wary of Norio whenever he gets close to Midori!! ” Hah ! Midori was pumped when it looked like Norio was going to join the band, but elation turned into disappointment as Norio bailed out. The Science Fiction club reminded me of the geeks in Moyasimon. I liked how Norio defined what a wave was, but he carried it a bit too far when he started talking about 12th Dimensions. I wonder what capacity Norio serves in back home. Is he a doctor, a warrior, a member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service ? The flower thing and the talk of repairing DNA/ Organs makes me wonder if somehow Midori is going to be used to help save the Princess?

    • Yeah I think Norio was trying to test the waters to see how much people knew (such as the dimensions)….but he didn’t really catch on quick enough when people looked confused & flabbergasted. 😛 I have no idea how the DNA thing is gonna work out in the ‘current world’ since they don’t have the technology for it…but yeah the flower symbolism does seem to be important. I’m also not sure what status Norio is but I think he is not too high up on the hierarchy. (this is just my guess so far)

  • I’ve watched episode 1-3 but then episode 4 and later don’t have subtitles it’s so frustrating but in the end I keep watching them lol despite my lack of Japanese but it’s really okay because the cinematography is wayyy too beautiful. [*EDIT* Spoiler removed] The story get more interesting. I think the people from Norio’s world want to get Kouichi because he is identic of Nagisa-sama or something.

    And also, maybe Norio’s world is some kind of dystopia… People from that world are so dirty and they didn’t even know a real flower heheheh. I love your blog btw. I’m in the mode of Japanese dorama rigt now >< thank you so much,

    • Hey Ra, just wanted to let you know I removed the ep7 spoiler from your comment because I want to keep the comments on this post spoiler-free. >_< But yes, I was expecting the twist that you mentioned in ep7. 😉 I also think Norio's world must've been a dystopia considering the way he talks about his past world.

  • Great review. I’m glad to spot another fan of this drama. Pity though its taking awhile to get sub. But then again, I’ll patiently wait for it, since I only know basic Japanese when I watch the RAWS. I check on it almost every day too.
    I have taken a liking to the actress who plays Midori, a fresh new face who like what you said is effortless. She sometimes reminds me of Shida Mirai. Kanata has other dramas/movies and always end up seeing him in dark films.

    • Thanks! 🙂 I’m glad you’re enjoying the drama! I was also quite surprised by Sakurai Minami. I guess the thing I like about her is that she doesn’t overact.

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