Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku

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I recently watched a Japanese drama called Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku (translation: Summer Romance Shines in Rainbow Color). The drama starred Matsumoto Jun, Takeuchi Yuko, and a great young artist, named Kobayashi Seiran (who played Yuko’s daugther).

Taiga is a struggling second-generation actor who has developed a complex due to his father, a famous actor in his time. Most of the time, Taiga only gets to appear in variety shows. One day when his friend brings him out skydiving, a big wind drags him away from the dropping point and he gets stuck in a tree. A beautiful woman, Shiori (Takeuchi Yuko), rescues him. Shiori is a cheerful woman who laughs away all of her worries. She’s exactly the opposite of Taiga…

Credits: Dramawiki

The drama is about a second-generation actor named Kusunoki Taiga, who has been known all his life as his famous father’s son. While he has wanted to be an actor, any jobs he has gotten are because people want to see a famous person’s son. Because of this, he lacks confidence in himself. He also comes to resent his father, thus creating a distance between himself and his father. When his father passes away, he is lost. Taiga has a mother who needs taking care of, and a brother who is a man in his own right. He has a best friend, who suffers from the same second-generation status he does, and a rival (Irabu Joe) who comes to be a friend.

Around this time, a woman named Kitamura Shiori (Yuko) comes into his life. She is a single mother of  a precocious kindergartner named Umi (Seiran). Shiori lost her husband a long time ago, and while she may seem confident and strong on the outside, she is afraid to love again. She is also linked to Taiga through his father (Shiori is a big fan of his, he named Shiori’s daughter, and asked her to be a fan of Taiga in the future).

The drama is the tale of how these two come together and let down their guard with each other. Taiga finds this much easier than Shiori, because he has not been as hurt as Shiori was in the past. Taiga grows through his love of Shiori, and extends himself (by taking any acting job he can get, by working part-time, and by limiting his frivolous activities), and Shiori softens through her new emotions for Taiga. In the drama, Taiga takes an actors’ workshop, and is abused on a daily basis, but his determination to be an actor like his father and his love for Shiori push him on. In the end, he is rewarded with the opportunity to work with a great director in a production of Hamlet. The audience finally gets to see Taiga in a scene where he is not flubbing his lines, he is not over thinking, he is just acting. This scene, where every member of the cast (who have all invested something in Taiga, be it: time, money, care, love, competition) sees Taiga perform his line, was a profound scene and brought a smile to my face, and, ultimately, tears to my eyes (when Taiga sees the ghost of his father in the crowd).

I don’t usually watch Japanese dramas. They are not much to my taste. Sometimes they feel too short. Or they feel unfinished. Or they may feel too dry. This drama was a bit slow, and a bit quiet, but I ended up liking it anyways because of Taiga’s moment of triumph.

I have watched Matsumoto Jun from Kimi Wa Petto, through Gokusen, Hana Yori Dango … all the way to this. I see him growing as an actor and I like him in this. Taiga had a nervous vibe in the drama, his body moving awkwardly most of the time. It was as if he did not know what to do with himself, mentally or physically. It was only when he was at peace with himself, did we see Taiga relax. Matsumoto Jun did a great job as Taiga.

I have liked Takeuchi Yuko since I saw her in Pride, and while I may not have agreed with some of her drama choices, I do like her acting. She was a natural Shiori. She could play the character straight, as a carefree, single mother. But she was able to bring out the vulnerabilities of the character in the blink of an eye.

The greatest gem in the cast was Kobayashi Serian, the child actor who played Kitamura Umi. She was such a tiny little thing, but she played her part well. Child actors always amaze me with their talent, and Seiran was exceptional in her performance. She was a natural as she went from being aloof to scared to open and happy to being distraught at the discovery that Taiga wanted to be her father. She emoted beautifully with her voice. I loved her scenes.

I enjoyed the drama, because it didn’t just focus on the main couple. Shiori was able to form relationships at her workplace, and to become friends with a rival for Taiga’s affections. Taiga moved beyond just being a second-generation actor, and was able to become friends with his rival in acting. The progress of Taiga and Joe becoming friends happened so gradually and naturally, that I ended up enjoying that more than I thought I would. I think the drama deserves a watch, though it may not be a keeper.

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