Never thought I’d be doing one of these 30-day challenges, but I was a little inspired by mochirochi’s posts on this, so here goes – the 30-Day Drama Challenge. I was going to keep this challenge entirely on J-dramas, but that might be too limiting, so I’ll try to include a variety of dramas and also a Japanese component as far as possible.
I’ve watched many dramas since I was a wee kiddo, so I don’t rightly remember which exactly is the very first. But somehow, I’ve always vaguely remembered images of The Foundation (決戰玄武門) as one of my earliest dramas, so I’ll go with this. This is a 1984 Hong Kong drama about Li Shimin and how he became the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty. If you know your Chinese history, you’d know there was infighting between Li Shimin and his two brothers, which resulted in the Xuanwu Gate Incident, where he assassinated his brothers to eventually take control of the throne. Despite this bloody coup, Li Shimin was always regarded as one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, and indeed during his reign, the Tang Dynasty flourished in many aspects. This drama had a star-studded cast, such as Miu Kiu Wai, Felix Wong and Barbara Yung, who were very popular back in the 80s and even till now. Story-wise it was okay, but tended to drag a little given the love triangle involved. It did have a wonderful theme song, as was the norm for wuxia dramas back then, although this wasn’t really one since it had a good deal of court politics involved.
As for my first film, I really can’t remember since I grew up on a staple of Hong Kong films, so I’ll just go with the first Japanese film that left a lasting impression on me. That would be the 1995 film Love Letter by Iwai Shunji, about a young woman, Watanabe Hiroko, who loses her fiance Fujii Itsuki in a mountain climbing accident and in her grief, writes a letter to him but unexpectedly gets a reply from a woman who shares the same name as the dead man. Nakayama Miho was excellent in the dual roles of both Hiroko and female Itsuki, and what unfolded was a beautiful, moving story of an unusual first love and coming to terms with losing a loved one. Acting was solid throughout and there was also plenty of beautiful scenery of Otaru, Hokkaido. Definitely a must-watch.