It didn’t really take much for me to fall in love with this drama. Matsumoto Jun. Furusato. A plot that’s easy to relate to. Japanese countryside.
I don’t hide my purple so I’ll just go right ahead and say that I like Jun’s career choices so far. We don’t see him that often on television or in films but that helps keep his mystery (or whatever is left of it when you’re 1/5 of Arashi and on TV twice a week already) and builds excitement whenever he has a new project.
HAJIMARI NO UTA can be considered an unusual choice for Jun if you haven’t gotten over Domyoji Tsukasa (like many fangirls out there) or can’t separate the actor from the pop idol in Arashi. But come to think if it, when did Jun not make unusual choices in his roles? Whether it was a calculated decision or merely a coincidence that the roles he was offered and found interesting post-HANA YORI DANGO were a far cry from his iconic role as Domyoji, it worked for his growth as an artist.
That is true for this NHK drama special where he gets to play a different role.
As Wataru, a photographer from Tokyo who finds himself back in his hometown of Hagi for an assignment, Jun successfully combines the many layers of his character: vulnerability of still trying to find his place in the world, false bravado of proving that he has made something of himself since leaving his sleepy hometown and uncertainty on whether he is in the right direction. It’s a very common dilemma that confronts anyone especially when faced with home and what remains of it.
It’s not exactly a solo drama nor is it an ensemble in the fashion of say, LUCKY SEVEN. But the interaction of Wataru with the rest of the cast, particularly his nephew, the awkward, misfit “old lord” Satou, is so touching yet not manipulative. His chemistry with Eikura Nana, with who he played a twin in BOKU WA IMOTO NI KOI O SURU, is so natural it’s obvious they’re comfortable with each other that it’s fun watching them together.
The script itself is so breezy and I’m glad the production ignored the temptation to be melodramatic even if it would still have been acceptable. The mood of the drama is lilting, just like life in a rural town such as Hagi, and moves along at a tranquil pace even when Wataru’s father had a heart attack or when he and his friends had a major argument. It’s like the waters of the river that his father plies every day, taking passengers with their own stories 80 meters across to the other side on his boat: murky yet placid. It’s also like life itself: it’s constantly murky with all the battles that we have to fight everyday and yet we still manage to find the balance at least on the surface to prevent big waves from toppling us over.
In the case of Wataru, he finds himself and his dream again.
“I went to Tokyo because I wanted to see the world.
I like the camera but it was never my dream.
“It may be stupid to say this and too late to change…”
P.S. Aside from watching Jun play the piano (he and Sho should play Furusato together at this year’s Kouhaku), I really loved listening to the children singing the song. It was an added bonus to hear Arashi’s version at the end of the drama. Next to A.RA.SHI, I find this song a hallmark of what Arashi is and I’m glad that they were given the first option to sing it. I hope they get to include it in a future album. NHK, onegaishimasu?
“Yama mo kaze mo umino iro mo, koko wa furusato
The mountains, the wind, and the color of the sea. This is my hometown.”
And yes, I love how the lyrics of that song beautifully incorporate the “yama” and the “kaze” in 嵐. It truly is their song. And now, there’s a drama that goes with it.
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