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Yamada Taro Monogatari Eps 1-10 (complete) October 7, 2007

Posted by ayasawada in Drama, TV.
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D-addicts

In short: Good clean family fun.

Thoughts: There’s a happy, smiling feeling one can only get from Jdorama and Yamada Taro delivers it in bucket-loads. As Jaalin put it on Random Curiosity, it’s a “sushi bar of smiles”, and when everyone in the show is smiling, how can you not join in?

(Warning: some spoilers)

Based on a manga (but not actually following much of the story), Yamada Taro is the tale of, well, Yamada Taro, the pin-up boy of an elite Japanese high-school. The twist is, despite his million-dollar smile and top grades — he’s really poor! Really, really poor, because he has to take care of six siblings, a poorly but spendthrift mother, and all without his artist-traveller father around. The series follows the honest Taro as he tries to make ends meet with a variety of part time jobs, looking out for his family first.

Yes, it’s so wholesome it almost makes you sick. Almost. It’s just wholesome enough to make you cry with happiness. You can’t help but feel heartened by Yamada’s honest nature and the love between him and his family. This is what family is all about dammit! (sob… sniff…).

I was surprised as much as anyone to find myself a bit of a Ninomiya Kazunari fan. I was really impressed with him in Letters from Iwo Jima, but the guy’s in a boy band. Yet he seems like such a great guy! A decent enough actor too. As are the rest of the cast. It’s not ground-breaking stuff — this is Jdorama after all — but suits the comedic nature of the series. I also found myself becoming a really big fan of Tabe Mikako, despite initially thinking she was rather plain. Now I’m smitten. Is this simply the power of Yamada Taro‘s characters?

Though I was thoroughly hooked for most of the series, if I’m honest it lost it’s way a bit for me after episode 6. I think I was really rooting for TaroXTakako and episode 6 was pretty much the pinnacle of that particulary plot strand. There were moments of goodness in the episodes after that, but the plot seemed to meander in the final few episodes and I can’t say I was entirely satisfied with the last two.

I guess I was disappointed about Taro chickening out from the US trip and can’t quite fathom the ‘selfish’ act of giving up the big house. Yes, this is a Jdorama but occasionally plot developments jar so much you just can’t accept them even in a ridiculous fantasy situation. And the start of the last episode reminded me a bit of Hana Yori Dango 2‘s penchant for ending on a cliffhanger, then swiftly resolving it in the first few minutes of the next to move on to another contrived scenario. I don’t want to criticise too much, as I really did love the series. But as always, a bit of focus and planning does wonders for good series build-up (and as always, see Nodame Cantabile for the best example of that). Yamada seemed to have it, but lost it a bit toward the end.

Simply put, Yamada is delightful and a real joy to watch. Well worth picking up for that special quality that only Jdorama has.

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