Japanese Drama Review: Uta no Onii-san

uta no onii-san

I’ve been wanting to go through all the Arashi members’ dramas to determine who is the best actor of them all (my money’s still on Ohno), so my next reviews will most likely all be Japanese and most likely all have at least one Arashi member in it. Also, I thought it necessary to add a new category since the ending can ruin a whole drama, and Asian dramas don’t have a good track record with endings.

Ratings out of 10:

Acting: 7

Storyline/plot: 4

Plot Development 10

Characters: 5

Music: 6

Ending: 6

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Acting:

Ohno Satoshi played the lead character, Yano Kenta. He played a character who started out having no motivation for anything (very much like Shikamaru from Naruto) and then grew into a character who wanted to give it his all on the children’s show, and, as usual, Ohno acted his part well. Knowing that this was the drama he did after Maou, I was rather impressed that he was able to so naturally transition into this much different role. The great thing about Ohno is   that he seems to understand his characters so well that you are led to believe he is like them in real life, when in reality, he probably isn’t. So, another A+ for Ohno Satoshi and his funny and cute (he’s so tiny, so the various mascot costumes he dons throughout the show make him look so adorable) portrayal of an otherwise boring character.

The two most notable performances, above even that of Ohno’s, were the performances of Totsugi Shigeyuki (Prince Himuro) and Katase Nana (Mizuki Urara). Not only were these two hilarious together and apart from each other, their satire of stage performers was on point and quite funny. The way they enunciated more than any of the other characters in the show and how everything they did and said was so dramatic that it made me wonder if they were actually stage performers in real life, as I know that many stage actors try to transition into film, and it usually takes them a little while before they get used to camera-acting as opposed to stage-acting. I couldn’t find much information on either Totsugi or Katase, but I don’t believe they were stage actors before this, since their list of dramas is long, but that only makes their performances in Uta no Onii-san all the more impressive.

Kimura Yoshino (Manabe Kyoko) played the producer (or was it director?) of the children’s show. With what she was given, Kimura did a solid job, but her character was rather boring, and their really wasn’t much she could do with it.

Takara Hikari played the main little girl, Michiru, and her acting was decent. It was difficult not to get distracted by how tall she was, however. I know she can’t help it, but she was much taller (and probably older) than the other little kids on the show, and she was almost as tall as Ohno. I know kids grow at different rates, but it wouldn’t have hurt to find someone slightly shorter than she was.

The two weakest links of this drama, in terms of the main cast, were Chisa (Mizuno Akane) and Maruyama Ryuhei (Saito Mamoru). It’s understandable that Chisa didn’t act very well because she’s not an actress–she’s a singer. But, Maruyama Ryuhei, though he is first and foremost a member of a pop group, he doesn’t really have any excuse since this wasn’t his first drama. More than Chisa’s, Maruyama’s performance was cringe-worthy. He would sometimes speak in this baby voice which became really annoying really fast, and there was so much he could have done with his character, since his was the most realistic (using the kid’s show as a stepping stone to do something bigger). But, all he did was act like an untalented and whiny child throughout the whole drama, and I know that’s not the way his character is supposed to be perceived by the audience.

The minor actors, Kenta’s family and the children’s show staff, did okay work. None of them stood out as particularly good or particularly bad.

Plot, Plot Development and Ending:

The plot was mega boring. It was just about Kenta working on a children’s show and his everyday struggles and none of this was very interesting. Now, up until the sixth episode, my attention was fixed on the show, and I did like the slice-of-life aspect about it, but starting at episode six, everything started slowing down as the plot began thinning. Since this drama was based around a children’s show, and since children continue to be such fascinating creatures, the drama had potential to be more interesting, but it seems the writers/director chose to go the lazy route and create a drama that had very little emotional connection within it.

Although the storyline itself was uninteresting, the development of said storyline was smooth and well-implemented. Most episodes followed the three-act structure with some being modified versions or ending on a not-too-compelling cliff-hanger. And everything flowed swiftly to a proper ending. The ending was much too cheesy and slow to be considered a good ending, but since it tied up all the loose ends, it was a decent ending.

Characters:

Overall, the characters were boring and didn’t warrant any connection. As stated above, the two most interesting characters were Prince Himuro and Urara. Even though Kenta discovered what he really wanted to do with his life and became an intentional being, his character wasn’t one that could really be sympathized with and he nothing about him ever really changed–it was something that was there all along. Urara got a bit of development, from stuck-up to almost down-to-Earth, but she didn’t have enough screen time for the audience to really see it. Mamoru didn’t change one bit from beginning to end, and neither did Kenta’s family. Sure, being only eight episodes long, I’m sure it’s difficult to develop each and every character, but the writers should have at least put one character with which the audience could connect.

Music:

The music is nothing to write home about, but the tracks were well chosen for each scene, they were great mood-setters, and there wasn’t one song that was annoyingly played over and over again.

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Overall Rating out of 10: 6.3

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