So the winter season has started and needless to say, Sakamoto Yuji's Saikou no Rikon tops my to-watch list with a very promising cast consisting of Eita, Ono Machiko and Maki Yoko.
After his delivering two excellent and emotionally charging dramas that were Mother and Soredemo, Ikite Yuku, I was especially interested in seeing what he will explore with this love comedy, having not seen any of his more comedic dramas before. With names like Eita and Maki Yoko, this doesn't seem like it will disappoint.
Out of the main cast, Eita left me a deep impression after his outstanding performance in Soredemo as the scarred Hiroki and as Nitta - the somewhat eccentric in Lucky Seven. Maki Yoko, on the other hand, was very memorable as Nikaido Kahori - the doctor who was initially disdainful of her hometown but is ultimately passionate and fearless in Osozaki no Himawari. On a side note, Eita and Maki Yoko are starring in another drama named Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi, with Eita being a lead actor. Poor guy, this season is gonna be crazy busy for him.
The rest of the main cast, Ono Machiko and Ayano Go, didn't strike me as particularly good actors whose past performances I have enjoyed. I had to look up Ono Machiko to know that she was the abusive mother in Mother. I remember Ayano Go as being a supporting actor in several dramas and movies I have seen, but nothing noteworthy. In a love comedy of this kind where the interactions between the actors are the main highlight of the show, I was much anticipated to see how their chemistry will play out on screen.
Storyline-wise, the drama is about Hamasaki Mitsuo (Eita) who is an ordinary salaryman who works at a company that installs automatic vending machines. He is married to Yuka (Ono Machiko) for two years but the two seem to be completely incompatible. He is the meticulous and methodical kind, she is not the type who worries about details. Married for over two years, he is not even sure if he loves her. One day, after arguing about the confectionery that Mitsuo has looked forward to eating but was consumed by Yuka's friends, they impulsively print the official divorce registration papers and fill it up. Nevertheless, Mitsuo realizes that he might not be serious after all about divorcing Yuka when she leaves the papers on the table after he comes back from work. Hamasaki then happens to meet Akari (Maki Yoko), his ex-girlfriend from university days, at an aromatherapy massage shop. Akari is in fact newly married to Uehara Ryo (Ayano Go), an assistant at an arts college, and she has recently moved to Hamasaki’s neighborhood...
Episode one proved to be a very capable episode with entertaining conversation and monologue, great on-screen chemistry between the leads (especially Eita and Ono) and just a "show, not tell" way of story-telling that is very characteristic of Sakamoto. Eita commented on Hamasaki Kosei as being a very talky role and he admitted to this being the first time he has ever taken on such a role, as he claimed to be "good at keeping silent." So expect a lot of Kosei's monologue and Eita goodness in this drama. Ono is also good as the effervescent and out-going Yuka and I really enjoy watching her. I have nothing to complain about Maki and Ayano but nothing noteworthy about them either as they haven't got much screen time yet.
The ending credit features the four leads dressed up in tuxes and gowns dancing, and it's supposed to be a different dance each time.
The first episode achieved an average rating of 13.5%, which is not a bad start at all and is in fact the highest rating for a first episode of all dramas shown in the same time slot since Boss 2 (Spring 2011). I will continue watching this drama with great interest.