Friday, January 27, 2012

Last Christmas Review (2004)

Drama Rating: *****
Personal Rating: All time favourite!!

Haruki Kenji works in the Operations Department at Heart Sports, where his longtime friend Shintani Goro is the son of the company's President and also his boss. It was on a ski outing in New Zealand where he first meets Goro's secretary and girlfriend Aoi Yuki. Much to his surprise, when he returned to Japan, he finds that Aoi has moved into the apartment beside his and is now his new neighbour. What will Goro do when he finds out? Watch and see as this drama takes you on an enchanting Christmas adventure.

*Spoiler warning*

This is the embodiment of what a romantic comedy should be! Despite the somewhat mundane position of working in the operations department and Aoi working as a secretary to the director, this jdrama keeps up a good pace and a tightly written script. Fun and memorable characters are colorfully interleaved throughout the story to keep everything fresh and entertaining. In terms of the main story arc, care was obviously taken so that everything flowed fluidly at a moderate pace so that there was no rushed scenes anywhere.  Aside from the main story though, several fun and captivating side stories were also woven in to create a sparkling backdrop to, though never overpowering, the beautiful main theme.

Oda Yuji's Haruki and Yada Akiko's Aoi make one great couple. Particularly in the early episodes, every back and forth conversation was gem. I relished every scene with the two of them and looked forward to every 'evening' when they both got home from work to share in some alone time. Aoi's charisma and Haruki's coolheadedness coupled together removed any sense of dissonance in the drama. To top that off, a very strong supporting cast kept the rest of the drama light and fun. Tamaki Hiroshi's Naoya, Moriyama Mirai's Tappei, Megumi's Ayaka, Ihara Tsuyoshi's Goro and Sakashita Chiriko's Miki were all delightful additions to the overall experience.

This drama won the 43rd television drama academy awards for best musical arrangement and its really not hard to see why. The music selections were very aptly chosen based on the different scenes and the drama really gives off a strong, joyous, Christmas feel. Musical selections were timed precisely for various scenes and incidents and clearly conveyed the raw emotions of each special moment.

Coming from the screenwriter for Tokyo Love Story back in 1991, I had high expectations for this drama and it certainly didn't disappoint. In fact, this drama handily exceeded my lofty expectations with a beautiful script, a charming cast and a wonderfully chosen soundtrack. The only thing keeping this drama from achieving a perfect score were just minor logic issues in the script and the perhaps too-oft used drama cliches which held the drama back a little bit. But aside from those barely noticeable issues, and believe me when I say I really tried to find fault in this drama, this drama just sparkled from beginning to end, leaving me in a happier, more celebratory mood than when I started =)

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