Greetings again on the second day of spring, and also Sato Takeru’s birthday! Thought I’d whip up this quick post after a while of radio silence. We are living in difficult times, so I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Keep calm and watch more dramas!
Sakura Nanase (Kamishiraishi Mone) met Dr Tendo Kairi (Sato Takeru) during a chance encounter many years ago and fell in love with him. To meet him again, she studied hard to become a nurse. However, the Dr Tendo she enounters again is totally different from the person she imagined him to be. Nicknamed The Devil, Dr Tendo is cold, level-headed and a perfectionist who is hard on the people who work with him. Nevertheless, Sakura seeks to win him over…
It is safe to say I started and finished the drama purely for Sato Takeru. I was interested in his foray into the shoujo rom-com genre, as the role of a tsundere doctor was so different from what he’s done so far. I like a good rom-com as much as anyone else, and some light-hearted fun was always welcome. I wasn’t keen on his co-star, however, but thought I should keep an open mind, and my expectations low.
The story revolved almost entirely around Sakura Nanase, with very little characterisation development for the rest of the characters, with the end result being that if you can’t root for Sakura, you might not really care about the other characters who seem to exist only to serve her development. It is a rare rom-com that manages to balance plot and characterisation, but Koi Tsuzu isn’t it. There was some humour, quite a fair bit of misogyny and medical malpractice, and a good amount of romance and fanservice that would please most shippers of the leads and those in search of some sugary sweet-nothings. Yet the development of the romance somehow felt shoehorned and awkward.
Tendo Kairi is your typical tsundere male lead whose rough edges need to be chiselled down by the strong-willed female lead, in this case a lovesick Sakura who studied so hard to be a nurse only because she wanted to meet him again. That would be an insult to the people who have a real passion for nursing and work their socks off to excel in this profession. Nevertheless, Sakura is cheered on in her quest to wear down the Devil’s defences, and nicknamed the “warrior” or “hero”. She quickly wins people over not because of her nursing skills – which leave much to be desired – but for her observant nature and ability to relate to people. I think I would have been better able to relate to Sakura had the focus been more on her growth as a nurse, and the romance more natural, instead of it being so front and centre. It would have also helped had she not come across as so sickly sweet, cutesy and clingy – this last bit especially after she and Tendo are in an established romance and she cries if she can’t see him for a few hours. Sure, she tries to give it back to Tendo as good as she’s got (he constantly calls her “baka”, whether as admonishment or, later, a term of endearment), but they just seem really mismatched no matter how I look at it.
Sakura’s insecurity towards her relationship with Tendo often struck me as immature and frivolous, even if it is sometimes played for laughs, and I got tired of her constant refrain about studying hard to be a nurse in order to meet him. Her nursing skills do pick up, but I never felt she was a better nurse than her fellow nurse, Sakai Yuika (Yoshikawa Ai), who was loads more capable and professional. When compared to Tendo’s dead ex-girlfriend Minori (Renbutsu Misako), in almost every aspect Sakura came up short. Indeed, I could not understand what Tendo saw in Sakura and vice versa, and in that vein, I could not buy the romance the drama was selling, no matter how many kisses or swoony moments there were. It just felt like Sato Takeru was kissing an underaged actress, never mind that Kamishiraishi Mone was 22 – she looked and acted like a fifteen-year-old. I could put some of that down to the script, which did its female characters a big fat disservice, but the acting also played a part.
Sato played the tsundere aspect to a T, which meant an increasing amount of fangirls who found his Dr Tendo incredibly hot when he started spouting romantic lines in that low, husky voice of his. I felt rather uncomfortable on Sato’s behalf, because at times he seemed to have trouble keeping his voice consistently that low, to the extent that some of his lines were spoken so softly that he actually sounded more awkward than sexy. This was not a particularly difficult role for Sato and he had decent chemistry with Kamishiraishi – I liked it better when Tendo and Sakura were at work than any part of their romance. Sato had also apparently volunteered any number of ad-libs, which is probably something easier to do in rom-coms than in serious dramas. I think I would have liked Tendo’s story a little better had the drama shown more of his angst over the death of Minori, and how he still misses and loves her.
As for the other characters, I had very little interest in Tendo’s sister Ryuko (Karina), who is supposed to be this free-spirited, alcohol-loving woman who ends up having to toe the line and take over the family-run hospital. Her romance with a younger male nurse lacked zing and logic. Minori’s twin sister Miori (also Renbutsu Misako) could have been a great character – she was a skilled surgeon who had made a name for herself – but in the drama all she did was chase after Tendo, who she knew had a girlfriend, and who had repeatedly rejected her. I did like Tendo’s bromance with Dr Kisugi Koichi (Maiguma Katsuya), but sadly there were not enough scenes of that. Kisugi also had his own fangirl, the nurse Sakai, who eventually wins a curry date with him. I would have liked to see a little more development between those two, but the entire focus of the drama was really how Sakura got her man, so if you’re up for staring at Sato up close and personal, then this would probably be right up your alley.
The theme song by Official HIGE DANdism, “I Love”, is quite catchy and worth a listen: