Sunday, September 2, 2012

J-Drama Review- Kaeru no Oujosama

I have been watching this drama for a while now (and it's over). Kaeru no Oujosama has the alternate title of The princess and the frog and from what is narrated in the drama, the story has a slightly different japanese version.
Kaeru no Oujosama is a musical drama that is an aural treat for all the jpop fans, especially those who like or want to hear older songs. The drama is quite recent (2012) but gives an oldish feeling because most of it happens in a small town.

Kaeru no Oujosama is the story of a city choir, the Chansons, who try to save the town's music hall from being scraped to build a waste treatment plant. Chansons, which was a four memeber female choir holds auditions and accepts new members to make them better. Amami Yuki plays Mio Kurasaka, the Chansons' coach from Broadway who is originally from Yume town. She helps everyone improve their lives and overcome their problems with music. Roughly, one episode is dedicated to each member's story with Amami Yuki, Yuko Oshima and the male lead (Zeruel) having more than one episode.

I like the drama because it is very touching and shows how music can make ordinary lives seem extraordinary. Amami Yuki is the driving force behind the Chansons and the drama. Her character and personality were certainly unique.

The Chansons start of as an amateur choir with no experience in singing or dancing but Mio trains them hard and keeps spotting gigs for them, making them quite good by the end of the show. There are instances when her Broadway past comes up but it keeps going underground again.

The best part of the drama is probably watching the transformations which can be very touching and inspiring. Through music, The Chansons give everyone in the choir as well as the town hope and teach them to believe in miracles. After watching the drama, I felt that music is such a powerful tool in bringing about positive change. These days, the music industry has become totally commercial with songs being released only to earn profits and achieve fame (not so much in Japan as in other countries). In these times, the drama shines more and makes us remember the true meaning of music.

The actors do their part well mostly because they need to sing more than act. Amami Yuki definitely remains the star of the show. Her experience in acting shines through here. The personalities of the characters in the choir was distinct and each came from a different background, adding to variety in the drama. Yuko Oshima's acting was a little bland but her singing was fine.

Kaeru no Oujosama kind of reminds me of GTO, I don't know why. It has the similar feel of one student discovering their potential in each episode under Onizuka/Amami's guidance. More than that, each GTO episode was a tear-jerker just like each Kaeru no Oujosama episode. This is a drama that has made me cry in a long time.

If you love j-pop, you'll love this drama. I knew a lot of songs in the drama but when I heard them in the context of the drama and the episodes, their meaning became clearer to me and I can appreciate them more now. The prime example of one of such songs is Dreams Come True's Nando Demo. I have heard this song so many times but when it features in the sixth episode, it brings a new meaning and angle to the lyric interpretation that I did not focus on. Other songs that I recognized included Momoe Yamaguchi's This is my trial, Playback, Imitation Gold, Yokosuka story, Yumi Matsutoya's Hello my frind, Chage and Aska's Yah yah yah, , Kome Kome Club's Romantic flight, Princess Princess' M, Sugar's Wedding Bell and some others that I am forgetting. A lot of the songs are from the 80s, 70s time period sung in show choir style. Songs I liked but hadn't listened to earlier were Kaze ni naritai (which I found better than the original), Miagetegoran yoru no hoshii etc.

The story wasn't wildly original or anything. We've seen these kind of stories many times. But, the interpretation and script stood out. The songs were appropriate and well-placed. Character development was the strongest point of this drama. The characterisation was strong as well. The setting was a little bland and quiet. I know it is a small town but there are hardly any people on the streets (a total contrast toTokyo). The script, in fact was well done. The ideas, development and lines were crafted well to appeal emotionally to the audience- japanese excel at these kinds of things.

Before I wind up, I want to mention the tale of the princess and the frog. As far as I know it, the princess kisses the frog and it transforms into a prince. But in the drama, the princess calls the frog to the palace but repulsed by its ugliness, slams it on the wall. That instant, it becomes a prince. This kind of behavior is often comapred to Mio Kurasaka's harsh words that actually help the members become better.

Overall, I quite liked the drama probably because I like j-pop. This year, there have been a lot of mediocre releases and Kaeru no Oujosama seems better to most. I am watching Rich man, poor woman currently and I'll review it sometime in the future when it ends. Despite the good plot and acting, the drama did not have stellar ratings or anything. Nevertheless, for anyone looking for inspiration or wanting to break the monotony of romance dramas, Kaeru no Oujosama is a welcome change. Needless to say, it is a must watch for j-pop fans.

Music- 4.6/5
Overall- 4.5/5


Amami's acting'
Character development


Typical story
Some actors lack experience/ do not act all that well

1 comment:

  1. Glad to find another person who likes this drama.It is much much better than i expected.I especially like the setting in small town and interaction between the characters...very heartwarming.I just hope Mio didn't have to leave.....