Friday, March 2, 2012

Attention Please Review (2006)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Misaki Yoko, a tomboyish girl who is the lead singer of a band, sees the attention lavished on cabin attendants and in a wish to attain the same level of attention, she applies for a position. Little did she know that the training for a cabin attendant was not going to be as easy as she envisioned. The tough instructor Mikami appears to pose a formidable obstacle even as Yoko makes friends with Yayoi, Saori in their quest to become full fledge cabin attendants.

*Spoiler warning*

As a drama about cabin attendants, there was a structured and predictable storyline given the range of possible plot events during cabin attendant training. However, there were times when some of these were not handled particular realistically. Particularly in scenes involving unruly passengers, the screenwriter seems to take an overly pessimistic tone as to how passengers would react due to a short flight delay while also taking an overly optimistic tone upon resolution of the crisis. Additionally, the quality of the conversations between the characters, aside from Instructor Mikami, also felt a bit juvenile and dumbed down. Combined together, this unfortunately stretched the believability of the drama overall.

Probably the biggest weakness of this drama was the cast. While Maya Miki played an excellent Instructor Mikami, the same could not be said for most of the other main cast members as the entire series felt like amateur hour. Uniforms clearly do not make cabin attendants, airplane mechanics nor even pilots. Ueto Aya's overacting was a bit much to take, particularly when it came to her attempts at appearing professional. Despite her character's background as a lead singer for a band and supposed maturation into a full cabin attendant, Aya seems to try too hard to convince you of her authenticity. Nishikido Ryo was even less convincing as an airline mechanic with his too 'cool' attitude and poorly feigned sense of responsibility. Aibu Saki and Otsuka Chihiro were both turnoffs as they seemed to think that looking cute would be a suitable replacement for good acting. Koizumi Kotaro, training director Inoue Jun and Kohinata Fumiyo's Captain Sakurada all failed to make the cut as well, particularly when compared to the professional pilot vibe given off by the likes of Good Luck!! alumni Naoto Takenaka and Tsutsumi Shinichi.  All in all, aside from Maya Miki's performance, the cast was the biggest disappointment of the drama.

The music was well suited for the drama, often evincing a positive atmosphere but at the same time reflective of the characters and plot developments. Parts of the soundtrack actually reminded me of video game music which was suitable but rather unusual. The use of 'Pretty Woman' as the theme song was a bit odd when core message the drama was trying emphasize was service and not appearance. But overall, the music selection used during the series suited the various situations and it was unfortunate that the script and acting didn't quite measure up.

As another drama about airlines, comparisons with Good Luck!! are inevitable. While the focus this time was on cabin attendants, another aspect of the same industry, the screenwriters were pretty much limited to similar events that occur in the air and in the hangars. From emergency situations to handling unruly passengers to certification tests, Good Luck!! felt like a more credible and realistic drama with a stronger sense of professionalism, as opposed to the oftentimes juvenile antics in Attention Please. Understandably, the story is about the growth of cabin attendants-to-be, but even accounting for that, the weak characters and acting really weigh on drama.

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