Monday, March 11, 2013

Hungry! Review (2012)

Drama Rating: ****
Personal Rating: Loved it!

After a particularly brutal reception at a performance, Yamate Eisuke, a former bassist of the rock band ROCKHEAD disbands his band and takes up the reins at Le Petit Chou, the restaurant run by his chef mother who recently passed away. As a culinary genius himself, Eisuke is torn between his two professions and goes through various struggles to find his true calling.

*Spoiler warning*

Written by the same screenwriter as Lunch Queen, this drama carries a bit of nostalgia as it hearkens back to the glory days of jdramas a decade past. While not entirely polished and lacking coherence in some places, this was by far the most solid jdrama that has emerged in the last few years. There is actually a compelling, albeit light, story to follow and loveable characters that the audience can grow to cheer and love. And surprisingly, the unexpected ending was most appreciated in terms of its creativity and ingenuity.

Although the cast were not made of seasoned veterans, they did a reasonable enough job with their roles that the story came alive. Mukai Osamu leads the cast in this drama and while his acting is a bit inconsistent at times, he manages an adequate performance to carry the story. Takamoto Miori plays the shy Okusu Chie quite well although somehow, I found her performance remarkably similar to that of Megumi in Nodame Cantabile. Perhaps this was intentional but her adorable ways do give the drama some seasoning. Kekkon Dekinai Otoko alumni Tsukamoto Takashi and Kuninaka Ryoko, whose acting chops have matured somewhat, were firm supporting characters that definitely helped to add the sizzle to the mix. Inagaki Goro as the Eisuke's rival and owner of the nearby French restaurant added the needed tension and hurdles to the story.

Chie's theme was probably one of the most catchy and definitely had a Nodame-feel to it. It was nicely used along with the wide variety of musical genres used throughout the series. The arrangement was very nicely done and the music generally gives a very uplifting, 'feel good' mood to the series. And I have to say that making a rock band background as part of the story was a surprising inspiration and definitely an interesting contrast to the typically reserved and refined style of French gourmet cuisine.

I've been avoiding japanese dramas for a pretty long time given the recent quality but I've been randomly sampling them every now and again to see if there were any gems out there. Hungry! was definitely an unexpected and welcome surprise for me. It tells an interesting story in an inspirational manner and keeps you entertained and hooked for more. And with mouthwatering dishes floating past your screen every so often, you'll definitely be salivating by the end of every episode!

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