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Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer Nude (2013)


Country: Japan
Format: drama in 11 episodes
Genre: romance, youth
Cast: Yamashita Tomohisa, Karina, Toda Erika, Nagasawa Masami, Katsuji Ryo, Kubota Masataka, Sato Shori, Yamamoto Mizuki, Chiba Yudai, Nakajo Ayami, Hashimoto Nanami, Takahashi Katsunori, Itaya Yuka, Saiki Shigeru, Okamoto Sho (OKAMOTO'S)
Synopsis: It is the start of summer and the manager of well-known Italian restaurant Chiyohara Natsuki is getting married to her long time boyfriend. Mikuriya Asahi is the photographer at the local town and also happens to be a photographer for Natsuki's weddings. Unfortunately, the groom has second thoughts and ditches Natsuki right before registration, which all is gotten on the photos by Asahi. From one event to another, Natsuki soon finds herself working in the same town as a chef at Aoyama cafe and befriends with the locals: outgoing Hanae, who has been in love with Asahi for 10 years; "the leader" Asahi, who sees Hanae as a friend, because he has not been able to overcome his love for his ex-girlfriend who suddenly disappeared 3 years ago; intelligent and silent Hikaru, who hates sea, but is unable to leave; positive mood-maker Takashi, who falls for every beautiful women and more.
Rating: 3/5
When the production of "Summer Nude" was announced, it became my most waited drama of the summer season - Kaneko Shigeki as the scriptwriter, amazing cast, summer and sea, what could have gone wrong? I did have some doubts about the first storyline, but I had a hope that they will be cleared. Unfortunately, in the end I understood that I had my hopes too high.

The male main character is Asahi - a photographer who once dreamed of high flight in photography industry, but dropped everything in order to wait for a ex-girlfriend who left without a word. His behavior is not just waiting, but also saying every day "Good morning" and "Good night" to big advertisement with her picture on it and sitting and drinking under it. As a man he does not have balls to stand up for himself. I understand 100% why Natsuki got so angry at him all the time. In the end of the drama I understood that Asahi is actually the kind of guy I dislike - the one who takes
all relationships really seriously and has the whole forever-together in his head.
 I know that in reality if you do not think about the future, then there is no reason to be together, but I think if we do not know even what happens tomorrow, then how can we make promises for life-time? If we leave Asahi's personality problems aside and concentrate on acting, then Yamashita Tomohisa is good in this role. There is something believable, but at the same time, it is definitely one of the weakest roles he has had in recent years. That is because Asahi does not have any development and though he should be one of the main characters, he is missing a lot of things.
On the other hand, we have slightly stronger woman character Natsuki, who was willing to leave her career to become housewife. She actually does not seem to fit into housewife role.  She is independent, but at the same time she has her doubts and moments of weakness. Again I felt that as a lead, she was missing something that she should have had. I feel so helpless, that I cannot exactly say what it is. In a way, to me she felt too neutral about her situation and many things seemed weird to me, like how easily she started to trust Hanae and how quickly she understood that she had developed feelings for Asahi. Even though she is the character with  biggest emotional luggage, she hardly lets it show - she is the kind of person who drowns her sorrows into work. She gains plus points as she didn't break any friend-codes - even after she was given free hands, she found it difficult to admit her feelings for "her friend's ex-crush".
With Hanae I had a love-hate relationship. At first, I thought I will root for her, because I could not
stand the thought of 10 years and the situation when she would just lose Asahi to Natsuki. Then I found out what she is like. Sometimes it felt that her mental age was 15, because each time when Asahi gave her a bit more gentle respond she acted like a total teenager - What to wear, how to act, what to do etc. Come on! You are already over 25! I like when people are playful, but not childish. Fortunately, this summer makes her finally grow up as she gets to know things that she was unable to see before.
From that point I started to root for her again. I feel like she is one character who has the second biggest development in herself. I liked Toda Erika's acting, because she had to show so many emotions and feelings - she had the largest variety of face expressions in the drama - and I think that she delivered them the most too. Whether she had to laugh like a lunatic, act childish, happy or be nervous, sad, disorientated, she acted them all. I bet only angry-scene was missing from the collection. From the bad point, has she always been so skinny? I have not noticed it before, but in here she looked like a stick that might break any minute.
The character who has the biggest development is Hikaru. Guy, who hates sea, likes to read, works at video rental, though wants to become a movie director, on the top of it most of his sayings are full of sarcasm to others but still does not leave the city. Of course there has to be something that is holding him there and that is the one and only person by whose side he wants to be. I hope it does not come as a surprise, but we are talking about Hanae who has been running to Hikaru every year to cry on his shoulder because Asahi still has not accepted her. Only now I understand that Hikaru might be the best male character of the drama - he has that something that Asahi is missing from his character. I hope Kubota Masataka will get roles with more important value from now on.
The last male from the friends is Takashi - a bright guy, who makes a joker out of him in every situation. It seems that it is difficult for him to be serious, but it is just the type of person he is (which reminds me of myself, because at many times I rather make a fool of myself than fit into the serious atmosphere) He puts others before himself and supports everyone as much as he can. He is the person who keeps the group together in fights and misunderstandings. He acts like a ladies man, but in reality he has not have a girlfriend for a long time. He uses his tactics to bring more people into their group and make them feel welcomed in an unfamiliar city.
A very important couple is married couple Kenji and Setsuko. There is a long background story of them and their love. They are about 10 years older than others, but they are still really good friends with everyone. Kenji and Setsuko are the founders of the seaside bars, so they mean a lot to the local people. I felt that their love story had already become a local legend of invincible love. They notice a lot what is going around and many times they have the best advice to share.
One important female character in the drama is Kasumi - Asahi's ex-girlfriend, who suddenly
disappeared. She is very mysterious character for at least of the drama. For "Proposal Daisakusen" lovers it was heart-filling to see Yamashita Tomohisa and Nagasawa Masami together again, but in their case you can feel that they are not Kenzo and Rei, but Asahi and Kasumi. Though, I made a spin-off from KenzoxRei story to fit into "Summer Nude" (with a prelude with Karina and Toda Erika as they all have acted with Yamashita Tomohisa before), but it is too long to write it here.
To be honest, my favorite characters through out the drama were Kiyoko and Haruo. They were
side-characters who had little to do with others, but their story was put in for comical-effect. They are colleagues (more looked like highschool-ers) who are into arts and poetry and their young first love is unstoppable. In order to take out the maximum of these characters Chiba Yudai and Hashimoto Nanami are extremely over-acting their parts. They are a story by themselves  and the obstacles on their road of love kept me watching the drama. For a moment I was more into their storyline than the real story.
One of the best things about the drama is amazing scenery. Japan has many beautiful countryside
place and definitely one of the best are location's close to sea. The mountains and sea looks really beautiful and they make every outside scene look like a painting.On the contrary, I do not approve the stylist's work. I did not like the usual outfits of the characters, only Yamashita Tomohisa was able to wear out his sweaters (which is cool, when a man looks hot with sweater). In a way women clothes seemed too baggy and cheap and if you are justifying it with "Hei! It's summer" then my country does have summer too, they are not so hot and sunny as in Japan, but they are summer!
The biggest reason why I was not so hooked with the drama, was that Yamashita Tomohisa and
Karina do not have on-screen chemistry. They both act their parts perfectly, but I just did not see the love sparkling between their characters. It might be caused by the fact that they have acted together when they were younger, but as a professionals it should not have troubled them. Even during the romance-scenes my heart did not beat faster and when I finally felt that I might see some sparks the drama suddenly had made it to the end. I could feel the taste of disappointment in my mouth and brought down one star. On the other hand, Toda Erika and Kubota Masataka had it in their scenes. If they had been the main characters of the drama instead of Yamashita and Karina, it would have gotten much more stars from me.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the time division, which I did not like from the start. To hung over unrequited love for 10 years and to wait for 3 years for someone who left without saying goodbye just feels too much for me. Not to mention that Asahi and Kasumi were together for less than a year, it is weird that Asahi literally waited for her longer than he actually knew her. But let's leave the past and suddenly withing a month both Asahi and Hanae decide to leave it and move on. Same goes to Natsuki who after years of being together with her fiance and just getting ditched by him 2 months before, finds herself in love with Asahi. If they took so much time before, it is weird that in drama everything suddenly happened within 3 months! My brain is unable to make these calculations to make it seem right. I know that it is impossible to make these kind of changes (in heart) with a second and though in the end of the drama they once try to show the uncertainty it feels already too late! So it gave me more mixed feelings about the drama.
The end is like put together about the most important things that came in next year. It looked like they had concentrated on other things before and suddenly discovered that they do not have enough air time to show more. In addition, the way they show time passing is really bad, because it took a lot of time to finally understand how much time has passed from something.
As you know, it is much easier to bring out all bad things, than to say what is so good about it. It is easier to watch the good things - like great cast, summer, sea and many high light moments which from some made into lists on Second Blog! and I bet there is more. For fan-girls, Yamashita Tomohisa is not wearing shirt at some scenes..



SPOILER-Review: The kiss-scenes between Hanae and Hikaru were amazing and you could really feel the chemistry between them. Just one look from Hikaru said everything - exactly, he only needs 10 minutes which may be spent in silent, so that he could say everything within last 10 seconds. I was disappointed that Asahi's character was the same in the end of the drama as he was at the start - willing to wait for a woman who disappears from his life. The change in his heart came really fast and it did not look natural to me. I did like his confession in the last episode because he finally seemed like a man, but I hated Natsuki's reaction. It ruined the moment for me.
One more thing, the reason why Asahi was willing to date Hanae at one moment, was because he felt he was responsible - she had liked him for 10 years and the whole town knew it! Everybody would have given him angry looks if he still would have rejected her. But I am happy that Hanae understood everything.

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