On the hunt: Hello Harinezumi & Keiji Yugami

Greetings again on the first day of spring! Real life disrupted my drama-watching time, so I’ve only been able to complete two dramas that didn’t require too much brain power. Both featured actors I enjoy watching, but the quality was uneven and the differences obvious from the get-go.

I. Hello Harinezumi

I went into this drama solely for Eita, with Yamaguchi Tomoko and Aoi Yu as a bonus. Detective dramas are usually my cup of tea, the cast seemed mostly solid and the premise sounded interesting. I was even willing to overlook the one major no-no, which was Fukada Kyoko, who really should stop getting roles alongside people who can actually act. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but at the very least the drama should have a solid, cohesive narrative.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The drama seemed more like a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas, much like how the detective agency in the drama was made up of people who weren’t quite sure what they were doing there. The Akatsuka Detective Agency, run by Kaze Kahoru (Yamaguchi), featured two people who couldn’t really cut it as detectives – Nanase Goro (Eita) and Kogure Kyusaku (Gure), played by Morita Go – and the useless Shidawara Ranko (Fukada), who mostly did paperwork and the occasional legwork in her high heels. The “cases” were so run-of-the-mill they were boring, and didn’t seem to have a coherent thread linking them. Some of the clues were so obvious that it was amazing how long it took for everyone to figure things out. The “detectives” seemed more like odd-jobbers and handymen, and the agency took on whatever cases that put money on the table, much like how the drama didn’t really have a clue how to make things work and so lumbered on for the sake of getting to the finish line.

Eita did a credible job, but neither he nor Yamaguchi could save the drama. I did like the supernatural case featuring Aoi Yu as a medium, but that was mostly due to Aoi making the character and storyline work, and her fun chemistry with Eita. I wish she’d appeared more, for she would have made the drama more watchable and her character had at least more purpose than Fukada’s. The latter needs to stop pretending she can act, because it was tiring watching her try to emote when it was blindingly obvious she couldn’t. Even Eita in phoned-in mode showed her up badly, and Morita Go had more expressions in five minutes than Fukada did in 10 episodes. The ending theme song was catchy, but overall this was mediocre and forgettable. Eita needs to start picking better drama projects, or stick to film.

~

II. Keiji Yugami

Keiji Yugami, which is adapted from a manga of the same name by Iura Hideo, fared better in the acting department even if the cases were not particularly outstanding. Asano Tadanobu plays eccentric detective Yugami Yukimasa, whose unorthodox sleuthing methods frustrate his younger, more go-by-the-book partner Hanyu Torao (Kamiki Ryunosuke). Over 10 episodes, the pair learn to work better with each other as they crack cases together, and Hanyu picks up various useful pointers on how to look beyond the surface and see Yugami in a new light. Their bickering relationship is a source of much comic relief – especially the running gag about Hanyu being a virgin – with Yugami often getting the upper hand by taking photos and videos of Hanyu in incriminating situations, haha.

I enjoyed the drama mostly for the chemistry between Asano and Kamiki, and it was a pleasure watching them play off each other wonderfully. I hadn’t seen much of Kamiki but remember him well from Rurouni Kenshin, so it was lovely seeing how he had grown as an actor and could hold his own against Asano, whose screen presence is nothing to sniff at. Kamiki was expressive as Hanyu and had many hilarious reactions at being played by Yugami – for example, Hanyu’s chagrin when Yugami discovers his Instagram is full of model-like poses is gold, and you could feel his embarrassment burning through the screen. It was also fun to see how gullible Hanyu was at times, yet even as he learnt to be astute he still retained some of the innocence that made him Hanyu. I enjoyed seeing how Yugami, the unlikely mentor, taught Hanyu in his subtle “show, not tell” ways and Hanyu growing to care for his partner even if he’d never admit it. Asano was great as the irreverent Yugami, who did things his own way and never let up on a chance to tease Hanyu. Yet, nobody could fault his dedication to uncovering the truth and his keen powers of observation, even if it looked like he never gave a damn about his work. After the fiasco that was A LIFE, it was lovely to see Asano back in a leading TV role and working with people who could act. Asano and Inamori Izumi were also natural as subordinate and boss who used to be from the same police batch and are constantly ribbing each other about it.

The drama featured an impressive guest cast, from Sugisaki Hana to Odagiri Joe, and it was fun playing “spot the cameo” and wondering if the episode’s guest star(s) would turn out to be the antagonist of the week. Some, like Nikaido Fumi, were a bit wasted in their roles (Nikaido did well, but it just felt like she deserved a meatier character), but others were well worth their short starring time. I liked Odagiri’s turn and the storyline, which was already hinted at in the earlier episodes, but just felt it was a bit of a shame he and Asano didn’t seem to get much screentime together. You’ll never look at snails the same way again, that’s for sure!

The first episode was a little choppy, editing-wise, but otherwise the drama was a fun watch. It doesn’t offer anything new on the detective front, but the chemistry between the leads was great and Yugami and Hanyu constantly one-upping and blackmailing each other never gets old, which is always a good sign. It seems there may be a season 2, and since more Asano and Kamiki is welcome, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

junny@4.16am

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13 thoughts on “On the hunt: Hello Harinezumi & Keiji Yugami

  1. Ahh, I need to finish Keiji Yugami soon! I really enjoyed it mostly because of Kamiki and Asano. I wanted more Sugisaki Hana x Kamiki moments so I was a bit sad to realize that she only had a cameo role. >w<

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  2. I would love to see a season two for Keiji Yugami! It was a surprisingly fun drama. Asano Tadanobu is really funny IRL (well, at least to me — and his Instagram is also hilarious LOL) and I’m glad the drama capitalized on that.

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    • I follow Asano on Twitter and he’s outrageous, haha. I’m glad he got to show off his comic talents and he was so natural at it. Would be great to see a season 2 materialise, hopefully with better cases.

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  3. Your take om Hello Harinezumi pretty much mirror mine, though I never finished the drama. The whole thing bored me so I dropped it early on.

    I’ve been wondering about Keiji Yugami and looks like it might be worth checking out at some point.

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  4. Welcome back, junny!

    So Hello turns out to be disappointing? I actually plan to watch it for Eita, it’s been awhile since the last time I watch him in drama, but if this turns out to be like Lucky Seven (another detective agency drama with Matsujun), I’ll pass.

    Keiji Yugami was top on my watch list since it was announced, watching Kamiki and Asano together is dream come true! Even when the script turn out bad, but it will be worth just by seeing them together and fortunately it isn’t the case here. I like that the cases are rather ordinary btw, I’m sick of complicated tricks or geniuses or conspiracy things in procedural drama by now. Yes, when it’s done well it’s good, but most seems try too hard to be cool it end up look stupid.
    I’m watching some of Kamiki’s old works, I love his voice so much!

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    • Hi yukari,
      Yeah, I didn’t think Hello Harinezumi was any good, but maybe you can try an episode or two to see if you like it. Haven’t seen Lucky Seven since I’m allergic to Matsujun.

      Haha, I agree Kamiki has a nice voice, and I liked his chemistry with Asano. And yeah, sometimes simple cases are okay so long as they are done well.

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      • Really, I don’t understand why some ppl have allergy to Matsujun 😅.
        He’s not that bad, some of his dramas are watchable and even quite fun. I can even say that his acting is the best among Arashi boy (well, okay he’s no.2 after Nino). Yes, there’re a lot of time when he don’t deserve to get the lead role due his idol status and end up with him being overshadowed by the supporting cast which is the case with Lucky Seven.
        Matsujun himself didn’t enough to sell it to me, but with Eita, Matsushima Nanako, and Oizumi Yo, I’m in. Even the first eps was fun, I liked Eita’s character and I could see that he would steal the thunder from Matsujun later on. But then he disappeared! I kept watching just for hia return, and it’s really a last minute return. Later on I know that there were things behind the scene, but then what the point of putting his face on the poster!

        So no, thank you, in the beginning I was already a bit wary with Fukakyon in the cast, but thought I’ll gave it a chance for Eita. Now, your comment only add my resolve not to watch it.

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      • Haha, I guess I just don’t get Matsujun’s appeal enough to want to watch anything with him in it. There was drama behind the scenes for Lucky Seven? What happened? Eita and Matsujun didn’t get along or something like that?

        I think it’s better to just avoid everything that Fukakyon is in. Pity she manages to get roles alongside people who can actually act!

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      • From what I find in some comment by i-netz, it seems that he has other commitment and he only appeared in drama to “help”, but then what the point of putting him on the poster when his appearance only worth as guest star so there’s a speculation that may be someone affraid that Matsujun will be overshadowed by him (which I think it’s highly likely to happen).
        Well, Matsujun did fine with Ogurin in Hanadan, but it’s long time ago.

        Anyway, remember it somehow make me want to watch Ogurin and Eita work together, preferably drama. Both are known to do a quirky role (complete weird hairdo too), so it’ll be interesting to see.

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      • Ooh, I didn’t know that about Lucky Seven. Yeah, I’ve seen posters where some actor or actress is featured but only has a very tiny role – it’s all just to promote the drama and get people watching. Tenno no Ryoriban’s poster has a lot of people but two of them appear only in ep 1! I’m not surprised if people are scared Eita will overshadow Matsujun, and Hanadan was so long ago, Oguri was still growing as an actor then.

        Now that you mention it, I wanna see Eita and Oguri in a drama together too!

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