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Zettai Kareshi Ep 1-11 (complete) February 17, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Drama.
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800px-zettaikareshiI’ve been catching up on my old dorama and finally finished this lovely series. Zettai Kareshi is funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking and doesn’t fall too much into the ‘same plot every episode’ trap of many Jdoramas.

As with most of my dramas, this one is based on a manga, though the story is pretty different. Essentially though, it’s the story of an unlucky-in-love girl, Izawa Riiko, who for one reason or another ends up buying a ‘love robot’  she names Tenjo Night. Thankfully this is not the story of Japanese love dolls. The robot is a state of the art artificial intelligence customised to be Riiko’s ‘absolute boyfriend’. But how will Riiko cope with such an unconventional relationship?

SPOILER ALERT

The subject of artificial intelligence is fodder enough for many a sci-fi movie but I’m not going to pretend that this is addressed seriously here. As a science geek it is, nice to see such themes tackled in manga and Jdorama :p But I have to say, if a Japanese company were to really view the awakening of an AI as a ‘defect’ in its product rather than a groundbreaking scientific discovery I would seriously lose my faith in all things Japan! I haven’t seen loads of science/technology references or themes in the drama. The last time a scientist was in a lead role (Joudan Janai) a promising scientist become a bloody restaurant manager instead, so in a way I’m thankful we got a slightly better portrayal of scientist here. /end pontification on scientists portrayed in Jdorama.

Anyway, back to the series itself. It’s pretty well paced and to my mind has only one really stupid let down: episode 5 I think, when Night stubbornly refused to leave the restaurant before Mika arrived, even though it was burning down around him! I also got a bit worked up about the whole Mika bit, but that was intentional prodding on the writer’s part so not a criticism of the series. Chalk that as a success, I felt rather sorry for Riiko that one of the few friends she had was a back-stabbing bitch.

If I were to nitpick there were maybe a few too many characters (did we really need that many in the Asamoto office?) and a lot of convenient plot devices to keep the story moving (Night, and later the 02 robot, randomly getting a job as a janitor in Riiko’s office for example). But you expect that to some degree in dorama.

The actors did an entertaining job with their characters (I’m always relieved having seen some God-awful acting in dorama ^^;). I don’t know much about Hayami Mokomichi (apart from his brief appearance in Densha Otoko) but he was convincing enough as a manga-created robot (/jk Please don’t flame me Mokomichi fangirls) and Aibu Saki had an adorable number of comedy facial expressions. As a central two they certainly had enough charisma to carry the show.

The finale was also sensitively handled. Considering the tragic end was obvious for a long time, they managed not make it drawn out and I shed a few tears (on the bus rather embarrassingly — be careful what dorama you choose to watch on public transport!) over Night’s final recording in the mirror. That was a really nice touch and the kind of joined up thinking that rewards viewers, I think.

Random other thoughts about Zettai Kareshi:

  • Doesn’t Mizashima Hiro look a lot like a slightly older Sakurai Sho? I found that slightly distracting.
  • For a show about a robot, it works equally well as a cooking show! Watching Riiko bake almost every episode gave me a serious craving for cream puffs. Beard Papa anyone?
  • Having ranted about scientists in Jdorama, Namikiri-san was my favourite character. His passion for science/technology is admirable and good humour infectious. Plus, his laugh reminds me of Kogoro from Keroro Gunsou.
  • Favourite moment? Night brining in the giant fish for fresh sushi in episode 8 (I think). Good deadpan humour Mokomichi!
  • The series had a really good score and Ayako’s お帰り is still the most amazing ED song ever. I love it to bits ^^
  • If dorama teaches you life lessons I learned this: If you’re really good looking almost any behaviour is forgiveable not matter how pathetic, stalkerish or weird. :p

POST UPDATED 21/2/09: Fixed some grammar so it reads a bit nicer. Serves me right for forcing myself to blog in the middle of the night when knackered!

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