Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jdrama Review: Algernon ni Hanataba wo

It's been awhile since I have last done a Japanese drama review and this time I'm reviewing yet again another drama starring Yamapi. Since I have reviewed all his other dramas from when I first started this blog, I thought why not let the tradition continue? lol. But this time it'll be a little different because I'll actually be doing a FULL drama review whereas in the past I have only done episode reviews of just my highlights of the first few episodes and random thoughts as I was still watching the drama. This time I decided to wait until I finish watching all the episodes before I do a full review on the drama. 

And because this drama is actually too good to not write a review on. It has been one of the BEST Yamapi dramas I have seen in years since Nobuta wo Produce which was the drama that got to become a Yamapi fan. I am beyond impressed with Yamapi's acting in this drama and I'm so glad that he took on such a challenging role. He proved that he can be a better actor and this is the first time I ever felt that I'm watching a Yamapi drama where I actually enjoy and anticipate to watch the next episode because I'm curious to know what will happen. To be honest, his past dramas such as Ending Planner, Monster, SUMMER NUDE had rather plain story plots and his characters are more or less the same that they didn't interest me and the only reason why I was still watching them was because Yamapi was in it and I just wanted to stare at his pretty face, lol. 

But this drama is different! Everything about it is superb. The drama script, the story line, the actors in it, the acting and everything is just amazing! And it's the first time I felt in years that I'm actually watching Yamapi act in a character role and not as himself. Yamapi has always been known as the actor with an expressionless face or what the fandom calls "dead fish eye" in which he shows no expressions through his eyes. But in this drama he's different. He shows expressions through his eyes and he also shows so much more expressions that I have never seen him act before. I think the problem with his character roles in his past dramas is that they are too similar to his real personality. Yamapi has also mentioned many times in TV interviews that he's a very boring person in real life and I agree, LOL! So it is only when he is given a character that is complete opposite of himself that he can fully study the character and find ways to act it out and make it more three dimensional. And I know for a fact that Yamapi's true passion isn't in acting, it's singing and music. So perhaps that's why he didn't put too much thought in his past character roles.  

Drama synopsis: Shiratori Sakuto is 28, but has the intelligence of a 6-year-old boy. He works for Dream Flower Service, a flower distribution centre which provides employment for problem youth. Sakuto's father passed away when he was only 15 and he was left behind for care by the owner of the Dreams Flower Service who is a great friend of his father. His father and him separated from his mother and younger sister because Sakuto's mother could not accept a mentally disabled son as she hate stupid kids and Sakuto has not seen his mother since then. One day, he and a colleague, Yanagawa Ryuichi, delivers a rose bouquet to the apartment building where Mochizuki Haruka lives and who Sakuto later have romantic feelings for. Haruka works for a brain physiology research centre where Professor Hachisuka Daigo has been studying the improvement of mental performance. He has succeeded in lab experiments on a white mouse called Algernon. Sakuto meets Algernon by chance and because of this coincidence Sakuto is chosen as a patient to undergo surgery and transformed to become a genius. Sakuto has always had a dream of becoming smarter because he wishes to see his mother again and be liked by her. But the super intelligent transformation of Sakuto did not seem to make life better for him as he has imagined it would but instead he goes through some major life changes of experiencing pain and sorrow.  

Before the air of this drama, there has been critics online of people doubting Yamapi's capability to take on such a challenging role and make it believable given his past acting and drama history and I can say he proved these people wrong. Surely, even I as a fan myself for almost 10 years didn't expect his acting to turn out to what it was. Yamapi really poured out his heart to act this role and he worked hard and put many thoughts into it that he even visited a facility of the mentally disabled to spend time with them to help prepare for his role. So yes, Yamapi may not be known as a great actor, but I feel like some people should just let go of their hate/dislike for him and watch how well he can perform this role as it really is a very great and touching drama with an inspirational message. 

Okay, enough of my rambles, let's get on to the review. I'm doing a review based on my favourite scenes from the drama and my thoughts on them. 

Note: This review may contain spoilers for the drama, read at your own discreet.

This is one of the very first scene of the drama and it is also one of the most important scenes to the whole drama itself. I cannot explain how brilliantly done this scene was. Sakuto is in a car with his colleague, Yanagawa, and they drive pass a kid who is spotted walking with his mother holding a yellow balloon. Sakuto notices them ahead and he smiles happily in the car watching from afar when suddenly the balloon flew away from the child's hand and Sakuto watches the balloon fly up in the sky from the car window. He reminiscence about a similar memory he had when he was a kid and recalls a sad past experience with his mother. The way how the scene was shot along with the flashback of Sakuto's memory from his past was like a scene from a fairy tale book. Yamapi's reaction of seeing the balloon and his hand movement as he watches the balloon fly into the sky and wishes to reach for it was done perfectly. It totally depicts that child-like image of a child seeing cotton candy for the first time as he gazes over the sky of a flying airplane. 

This is the scene of Sakuto meeting Haruka for the very first time when he delivers a bouquet of flowers to her apartment. I just find it soooooo cute how Sakuto was peeking through the eye hole on the door. So silly and adorable like something a 6 year old child would do! XD 

In this scene, Sakuto ask the flower shop owner how to become a smarter person. The flower shop owner says to Sakuto how he believes that is it best for him to stay this way, there is no need to change as he pats his head like a little boy. I agree with him on this. Sakuto is perfect the way he is even though he may not be smart. You will see why this is important later on in the dramas as after Sakuto's transformation to become a genius. He becomes a complete different person than from what he originally was. Sakuto cries and yells out that he dislike being stupid as he runs away and falls down from a hill. The flower shop owner runs after him and tells him to calm down and Sakuto cries even harder saying he doesn't want to be stupid and the flower shop owner said he understands, he will never leave him and will always be by his side no matter what happens. Poor Sakuto! You can really feel the pain and sorrow in Sakuto's character in this scene. Even though he behaves and acts like a kid and appears to be happy all the time, he understands and knows that he's stupid and that he's different from other people and wishes to become smart so that he can be accepted. Behind Sakuto's cheerful smile, there is a deep sorrow that nobody sees. T_T

The second time Sakuto and Haruka meet again. She begs him to give her back the little mouse Algernon in which she had let it escape from the research centre. She explains to him that if she doesn't get it back, she will not be able to see someone important to her again. Sakuto is hesitant to give Algernon back to her because he thinks she abandoned him just like how his mother did because he's dumb. Haruka cries and Sakuto cries with her as he felt sad and touched by her emotions. He reaches out to her gold earring that was shinning in the light. Haruka removes her earring and gives it to Sakuto and asked if he could do an exchange with her. She gives him the earring and he will in return give Algernon back. Finally, Sakuto gives Algernon back to Haruka as Haruka happily smiles in tears of joy and Sakuto laughs and smile along to her happiness. This is actually a very heart warming scene. You see a special connection that Sakuto and Haruka has developed like as if Sakuto just made a new friend and he was in a delight of excitement and joy. 

In this scene, Yanagawa, Sakuto's colleague who he works with at the flower shop and who he considers as a great friend got into a horrible situation where he got beaten up by the other guys at the residence. Sakuto follows him around as he was worried for him but Yanagawa finds Sakuto to be a nuisance and he becomes mad and tells Sakuto he must have hit bottom rock to be pitied by someone like Sakuto. Because he asked Sakuto if he could lend him money as he needs money the most now and Sakuto takes out all the money he has but Yanagawa didn't take money from him. He also said friends should be equal and that Sakuto is not his friend or any person to him. Sakuto is puzzled by what Yanagawa means by "equal" as he doesn't understand and Yanagawa faints on the ground. 

Fast forward to the hospital. Sakuto ask Haruka what does equality mean? Haruka explains that if you are referring to equality as in being equal, then it means to be equal in terms of being the same as others. Soon after, the flower shop owner and Hiyama arrives at the hospital and the flower shop owner pats Sakuto's head and said he's been a good friend. He was worried and looking out for Yanagawa as Sakuto suddenly says we're not friends. Yanagawa and I are not equal, therefore we are not friends. Yanagawa was feeling really hurt and depressed, but I could not understand him, I cannot do anything. I dislike being stupid. I want to become smarter. To know what to say when a friend is feeling down. I don't want to be stupid. I have no friends. Poor Sakuto! I just want to hug and him and tell him that it's okay! You're a good boy with a kind and pure heart and that is all you need. Yamapi acted out this scene really well. The way he cries and how he said his lines was just perfect. It was no more or less but just spot on and you could really feel the pain and sorrow Sakuto was going through and you can't help but feel sad for him.  

Okay, too much sadness so let me put in some super cute and adorable Sakuto moments.

gif credit miyamapi from tumblr.

SAKUTO BABY! Such an adorable and cute expression. I agree soooo much with the drama director that Yamapi has the ability to resemble a child because he has such a 孩子臉 (child-like face) and 单纯心 (pure heart). I mean just look at him and tell me how he doesn't look like a 10 year old child here?! His little head nod and that smile grin just like an obedient child. I just want to hug him! Poor Sakuto, I'll play baseball with you. *pats his head and hugs him* XD  


gif credit runinwelkin from tumblr

Sakuto in a car all whining and being cute and adorable just like a kid! 

gif credit nihondoramaotaku from tumblr

This was such a cute and heart warming scene. It totally shows what a kind and loving person Sakuto really is. He saw that Haruka was crying and he follows her and asked her what's wrong? Why are you crying? Haruka said she is upset with herself for a misunderstanding of someone who she truly admires and looks up to was not who she had thought him to be. Although Sakuto probably didn't understand what Haruka was saying to him but what he knew was she is sad and he wanted to be able to cheer her up so he hugs her. His action took Haruka by surprise but what surprised her the most was when Sakuto decided to place his hand on her chest because he wanted to feel her heart beat and feel his own to see if his heart would beat faster, lol. Sakuto is the most pure and innocent kid ever. (ෆ╹ .̮ ╹ෆ)

photo credit to m_love926 on twitter.

I consider this to be one of the most touching scene in the drama. Sakuto was suppose to do surgery to become a genius but he ran away because Haruka wasn't there and she had promised him that she would be by his side on the day of the surgery. He walked to her apartment in bare feet because he forgot to put on his shoes and his feet were covered in blood. Haruka nurses him as she cleans his feet and puts a band-aid on. Haruka said she didn't expect him to show up at her apartment and asked did he get mad at her? Sakuto said he was mad but he wanted to see her so much and that his heart was beating really fast. He then took Haruka's hand and placed it on his chest and said "doki doki" for her to feel his heart beat. Sakuto then said in excitement "I understand now! I understand" as he takes out the picture Haruka had shown him previously during a test. Sakuto points to the picture and said "Haruka, this is Haruka. Haruka is the girl I like the most in this world." Haruka is surprised and touched by Sakuto's words and actions and she smiles and says "thank you" to him. In this scene, you can see that Sakuto is slowly beginning to know what love is and he realizes that the feelings that he has developed for Haruka has blossomed into what is called "love". 

photo credit to m_love926 on twitter.

This is yet another very touching and sad scene in the drama that I think both Yamapi and Chiaki acted really well in. Sakuto goes to Haruka's apartment and tells her that the professor does not love her, that he is only using her to stay by his side. Haruka is hurt by Sakuto's words and tells him to stop. She said she knows she is being used but there are some things and emotions that you cannot control. Sakuto gets frustrated and mad at himself and he starts to cry. He put the blame on himself that even though he has become smarter, he still doesn't understand what Haruka is feeling. He wants to be able to understand so that he can say things that will make her feel better. Haruka cries and hugs him and said "I'm so sorry for making you go through all this pain." T___T This was such a heart breaking scene to watch. Sakuto has such a pure and kind heart. He only wants the best for Haruka by telling her that the professor was using her. He wanted to protect her. But what he failed to realize was he was also hurting Haruka at the same time.  

Sakuto's most heartbreaking scene in the drama. Ugh, tell me how can someone look this beautiful when they are in pain and crying?!?!?! T____T Yamapi's tears are so beautiful it hurts. And I must give a best tear/crying award to Yamapi because he's one of those very rare actors that can make a crying scene look so real and convincing without overdoing it. He doesn't need a whole 5 minute scene of sobbing and crying but just one simple take of 5 seconds can already make you feel his pain and you cannot help but cry along. How? Just how does he do it?!?! T______T

THE KISS SCENE. The one scene that probably every Yamapi fan anticipates to watch the most, lol. This is Yamapi's 3rd passionate kiss scene in a drama but still nothing beats the long passionate kiss scene from Buzzer Beat. XD

And Yamapi's first official bed scene in a drama. It was actually very subtle. They basically just show them waking up in bed together the next morning and snuggling with each other, lol. 

A really sweet and cute scene where Sakuto and Haruka goes out shopping to buy a watch for the two of them in celebration of them being together. I like how they didn't pick matching watches but instead each got their own of different styles. 

Another sweet and romantic moment where Sakuto attempts to cook dinner but he failed miserably! Haruka teases him that he does not only write horribly but his cooking skill is just as bad. XD And then Sakuto kisses Haruka and hugs her gently from behind. SO SWEET! I rewatched this scene so many times. ღ˘◡˘ற♡.。oO

And because sleeping Yamapi is just soooo pretty. He is truly a sleeping beauty or sleeping angel. I mean I can just stare at his pretty sleeping face and not get bored of it. (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

gif credit mavera90 from tumblr

This scene was so heart breaking to watch. Sakuto is reaching the end of his limits on the ALG drug that he took which is having side effects on him to see illusions and he will revert back to his old mentally disabled self again. He's struggling hard to hold his pen to write himself a note and he sees an illusion of his father (who has passed away) holding his hand and helps him write the note in which he wrote "do not see Haruka anymore because you love her." T_____T 

gif credit mavera90 from tumblr

In this scene, Haruka sees Sakuto on the street and she is excited and happy to see him again after several days of not seeing him but Sakuto seems to have forgotton her? Sakuto mentioned that when he reverts back to his old self again, there is a possibility that he might not remember Haruka anymore or his feelings for her. Haruka was devastated and she broke down crying in tears as Sakuto walks away. Sakuto hears her crying and he turns back to her and takes out the earring Haruka has given to him and gives it back to her. It seems as though Sakuto was trying to cheer her up. This is the part where I was confused about as they never truly explained it in the drama so it's open to interpretation of what you think might have happened. Did Sakuto really lose his memory and not remember Haruka anymore or did he pretended that he did not remember her? I like to think that Sakuto does remember Haruka but he pretended not to remember her because he wanted her to be happy. I had mixed and complicated feelings at this scene as I wanted to see a happy ending for Haruka and Sakuto but perhaps this was the best ending for them. We don't know if Sakuto and Haruka will ever be together again in the end but Sakuto has chosen to leave her because he loves her and he doesn't want to see her cry or be sad. I wish there will be a drama special or movie to follow up on the drama as I was sooooo sad when it ended and there were so many unanswered questions I had that were not fully explained. 

I had much more favourite scenes than this but I had this keep this review short otherwise it'll be soooooo long if I had included all my favourite scenes, lol. 

Overall, I'm very impressed and satisfied with Yamapi's acting in the drama. He really improved a lot as an actor and he acted out his character really well. The little subtle details he puts into his character such as the way his hands move, how he kind of wobbles when he walks, the way he talks in a baby kid voice tone and all the expressions he showed through his face, especially his eye expressions have greatly improved a lot. You can feel the emotions that he's trying to convey through his eyes. He also depicted his before and after surgery character really well. It's like as if they were acted out by two different people. He also had great chemistry with his co-stars and this was a really challenging role for him and I'm glad he took on this role. I can tell he put in a lot of effort to act out this role and he did a brilliant job on it. I can honorably say I'm very proud to be a Yamapi fan and I am also very proud and happy for him to be able to surpass his acting abilities. Sakuto will always be in my heart and forever remain as a memorable character that he has played. I hope Yamapi will continue to grow as an actor and I will also continue to support him.

If you have haven't watched the drama already, I hope you will after reading this review because it is truly an inspirational drama. I have learned a lot from this drama and the beauty of pertaining a pure and innocent heart even when one has reached adulthood. 

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