Wakamonotachi 2014: Eps 1-2

Drama ReviewsJapanese Dramas

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Wakamonotachi 2014 has been my most anticipated jdrama of the 2014 summer season.  Why?  Well for one, the cast is amazing.  They went all out with the casting of experienced (and popular) actors including Mitsushima Hikari (my FAVORITE), Aoi Yu, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Eita, etc.  To see them all together is even better!  Another reason why I had high expectations for the drama is that it has the same producer (Ishii Koji) and director (Namiki Michiko; also director of Saikou no Rikon & won awards as Best Director for both dramas.) from Soredemo Ikite Yuku. If you haven’t seen Soredemo, I would highly recommend it as it is a very dark and introspective jdrama.  Interestingly enough, it also casted Eita & Mitsushima Hikari as main characters so it’s interesting to see them reunite in Wakamonotachi.

Another interesting thing about Wakamonotachi 2014 is that it’s a remake of the original 1966 drama, made especially to commemorate Fuji TV’s 55th anniversary.  I’m not sure if that indicates that Wakamonotachi will be aiming for higher quality to do justice to Fuji TV’s anniversary, but I figure that means that at least Wakamonotachi will not be half-baked?  Too bad I haven’t seen the original drama, so I can’t compare the new version to the original. >_<

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Wakamonotachi’s title literally translates into “Young People” or “Youngsters,” and has also been listed with an alternative title “All About My Siblings” under Dramafever.  The story is about the lives of five young adult siblings who have grown up together ever since their parents died at an early age.

The oldest sibling, Asahi (also called Asa-nii by his younger sibings), is the head of the family and is also the most impulsive and passionate one out of the bunch.  Unfortunately even though Asahi is played by the popular actor Tsumabuki Satoshi…I just cannot bring myself to like his character.  It’s not that he has no redeeming qualities, but Asahi just really gets on my nerves.  He is the type who always gets angry and annoyed at every little thing; he always has passionate outbursts and angry rants, etc. (think Nick from the American show New Girl)  I do feel sorry for him though, because the poor guy always has his foot stuck in his mouth.  His words don’t come out the way he wants them to and because of that, he ends up hurting the people around him with his insensitivity.  Asahi is a good guy–I just don’t want to hear his character yelling at the top of his lungs all the time.

It seems like Wakamonotachi is going in the episodic character arc format, with each episode mainly focusing on one of the siblings and their problems.  Episode 1 is mainly about Asahi’s struggle to accept that he accidentally got his girlfriend Asuza (Aoi Yu) pregnant.  There is more to Asuza than her just ‘accidentally’ getting pregnant since it turns out she planned it all along but..whatever.  I LOVE Aoi Yu.   Can you believe this girl is actually 29 years old, soon to be 30!?!!  She looks like she’s still 20!!!!  O:  I think her character Asuza is a good addition to the family because she is much calmer in comparison to the fiery Asahi.

Anyways, although I’m glad that Asuza and Asahi finally reconcile and decide to stay together……..the ending of the episode is borderline cheesy and drags out way too long.  Asahi dramatically sings the theme song while getting beat up in a boxing ring, while Asuza is moved to tears as she watches from the audience.  Meh.  I know they want to include the theme song, but I think the scene would’ve been much better without the singing.  There’s also another cheesy ending scene in ep2, which make me a bit apprehensive about the tone & direction of the drama.  These ending scenes are obviously designed to tug at our heartstrings to give us a touching feel-good moment.  In this sense, I cannot totally call Wakamonotachi a raw drama because instead it feels like it’s trying to make us go ‘awww’ at the end rather than giving us a thought-provoking ending.

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^top 2 pics: Very intense scene, excellent acting!

Mitsushima Hikari is another one of my favorite Japanese actresses, so obviously I am super happy to see her in this drama!  I thought it was hilarious hearing her say “Benedict Cumberbatch” and “Sherlock” in ep1, ahaha!  😀   Mitsushima Hikari plays the role of the 3rd sibling and the only daughter..who also is named Hikari.  (What a coincidence eh)  At times she is more delicate than the guys, especially because she is in a vulnerable position due to her relationship with a married man.  Hikari is often ‘protected’ by her brothers (more like they’re meddlesome) but that doesn’t mean she has no influence in the family.  She’s a breadwinner alongside Asahi and she also has her younger siblings wrapped around her finger.  Hikari hasn’t gotten her own episode yet, so I’m really looking forward to finding out more about her affair & her relationship dynamics with Eita’s character (the 2nd oldest brother).  Usually Hikari has no problem standing up to Asahi, whereas with Eita’s character she’s is less assertive. Hmm!

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Eita plays the role of Satoru, also called Sato-nii by his younger siblings.  We only see one short scene with him in ep1, where he is released from prison and a mysterious woman asks him if he’s the one that killed her mother.  This led me to assume that he was in prison for murder, but then in ep2 he mentions he served 2 years in prison…so something was not adding up….it turns out that he committed fraud and the woman he swindled later died.   Satoru is generally a care-free guy and is the other alpha male in the house.  Apparently he might’ve used the money he swindled for a ‘good cause’ but I don’t care about that part of the mystery; I’m more interested in seeing how he interacts with his siblings since he’s been gone for 2 years and he is on bad terms with most of them.

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^bottom left pic: Tadashi is in the plaid, Haru is in the dark blue T-shirt

Lastly, the two youngest brothers are Haru (Emoto Tasuku) and Tadashi (Nomura Shuhei), both of whom are students.  There’s not much to say about these two since they haven’t gotten as much screen time as the rest of the siblings & they generally serve as support characters.  I hope they don’t remain side characters because they are actually fun to watch and they have good screen presence.  (especially Emoto Tasuku)

Overall

Wakamonotachi is a fun slice-of-life watch so far because the sibling’s interactions are endearing and funny. The beauty of the drama is in simplicity, not in fancy camera-work, elaborate settings or rom-com scenarios. If you like any of the cast members, I would suggest watching it because it really is amazing to see all these great cast members collaborating together.  😀  Of course, that’s not to say that Wakamonotachi is perfect; it does have a lot of areas where it could improve on, particularly the writing.  I’m still looking forward to the upcoming episodes with the hope that the drama will improve.

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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  • Hm. I actually dropped this within minutes, from the writing to the directing to the most damning acting… everything is screaming at me of trying too hard and losing control. It is like everyone is vying for the brightest spot and flipping all over the place. It is mostly a gut feeling, premonition that i think the OTT from everyone will bug me more as i hang on. Biggest disappointment for me in a while.

    • Hmm I didn’t feel like the cast was in competition but I felt some of them were overacting. I do think the drama is trying too hard to be a feel-good drama though.

      BUT I WILL CONTINUE WATCHING (for now at least)..FOR MITSUSHIMA HIKARI…HUHUHU

  • I’m enjoying this one so far – to me it feels real. The characters are flawed, some of them I’d find annoying in real life, but that’s why the drama feels real to me. Their flaws are ones you’d find with actual people.

    I didn’t feel there was overacting. I got more the sense of people that have known each other forever and that have developed certain habits together, of what they do, of how they react, little “in” jokes, etc. Asahi is way over the top, takes things too seriously, but he also means well. He’ll learn. They’ll all learn. Asuza could have easily been the perfect girl, but her planning the pregnancy and deceiving Asahi was quite interesting. In real life, I’d totally hate her, because I don’t think such lying and deception is to be excused (how can you trust a person like that ever again?), here… it made her character more interesting because suddenly the perfect girl was gone. There are darker sides to explore with her now. I’m not sure if I’ll like/trust her by the end, but I don’t think that’s the point – more that none of these individuals is black and white, but they all have a more complex story. Hikari – I love how she’s both so tough and fragile at the same time, and I absolutely hate what she’s doing (there are no excuses for affairs). Good thing Mitsushima is playing her, or I would have just straight-out hated her, but of course the actress is so good that it’s not as easy as that. Sato’s crime was a cop-out (meh!)… and I didn’t care too much for his bond with the old lady, but again I think that’s because one episode to cover his story made it too rushed.

    Generally, I’m not much a fan of episodic storylines, which seems to be how they are doing this one (I prefer if conflicts to take time to evolve, not be resolved necessarily by the end of an episode). Well, sometimes it can work (I didn’t mind it in 11 Nin mo Iru! because the drama was held together by something else…. which could happen here as well, since it’s also a family drama).

    Disclaimer: haven’t watched ep. 3 yet.

    • After watching ep3 I am kinda divided on Wakamonotachi. I agree about the episodic story arcs. I too think that it would’ve been better to continually develop all the characters’ side stories throughout the drama rather than trying to resolve them in one episode.

  • For some reason, I’ve been getting the whole “Osozaki no Himawari” vibe from this, it must because of the youthful cast and also Emoto Tasuku is in both dramas. Emoto Tasuku has a very unique screen presence, I can’t pinpoint the vibe I’m getting from him but he’s eye-catching even though he isn’t exactly the most good looking actor, haha! Well, they’re not exactly youths but the story talks about the struggles and happiness in the lives of these youngsters so in a way, it’s kinda similar to Osozaki no Himawari.

    I really like Tsumabuki Satoshi but I agree that Asahi easily gets on my nerves. I only watched the first episode and been behind this show but I will probably marathon when it finish airing. I haven’t seen enough of Eita’s character to get a better understanding of him. Mitsushima Hikari is another uprising actress that I’ve been keeping my eye on, she seems to choose interesting projects and she have a natural style of acting just like Aoi Yu (I’ll admit that I was pretty indifferent towards Aoi Yu, I didn’t really understand her charms but I think I’m falling in love with her character in this drama). I’m definitely loving the cast, super talented and it’s like a dream cast if they’re well utilized.

    • HMM I never thought to compare it to Osozaki no Himawari actually…but now that you mention it, I guess the main characters are similar due to their age-range. Both dramas focus on characters in their mid-20’s. But I think the feel of both dramas is a bit different somehow.

      I know right?!? I don’t know what it is about Emoto Tasuku that makes me like his character so much. I don’t remember liking his character this much in Osozaki. Hm! For Aoi Yu, she’s one of those actresses that I have a bias towards, I’m not sure why. I really like her voice though! And Mitsushima Hikari is one of my all-time favorite Japanese actresses, she is amazing. I would definitely recommend her other dramas! 😉

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