Okay, this is a huge call but I’m going start that this drama is my all time favourite drama ever. Sometimes I watch a drama and think I like it better than Kizarazu Cat’s Eye but it’s a passing whim. When it comes to dramas, KCE is my lasting love.
The guy who wrote this drama also wrote some other awesome stuff – like Ikebukuro West Gate Park (totally false advertising by the way) and Tiger and Dragon, which I may review at a later stage. One of things I absolutely love about his dramas is that the setting becomes such a vibrant part of the story. In Kizarazu, he takes a town that doesn’t have much going on and makes that a pivotal part of the story. All the small town quirks and weird characters and traditions – especially the local dance, the Yassai Mossai.
The story is about a group of guys who live in the town and played baseball together in high school. They almost made it to Koshien (massive Japanese high school baseball tournament and focus of many dramas) but someone screwed up.
Mostly the drama centres on Bussan (Okada Junichi), who finds out he has cancer and only has 6 months to live. That sounds like a bunch of laughs, you think… and, while Japan loves it’s ultra-depressing ‘terminal illness’ dramas with an unhealthy passion, this isn’t one of them. In an instant you can go from getting all teary eyed to shrieking with laughter. Pure brilliance.
Because of the aforementioned baseball drama, Bussan and his best friend, Bambi (Sakurai Sho) have had a falling out. Of course, in drama terms “falling out” means unspoken gay love. Bambi is in love with Moko who is in love with Bussan which doesn’t help their friendship (but doesn’t harm the gay love).
The other members of the cat’s eyes are Master (Sato Ryuta – who I love in everything he does and seriously, I swear to god, the guy serving my coffee in a fancy Omotesando cafe the other day had to be his brother) as the bar owner with the rarely seen but very controlling wife.
Ani (Tsukamoto Takashi)– which is Japanese for older brother, because his younger brother is the only one people remember and Uchie (Okada Yoshinori) who is so weird and funny in this that’s only later, when I saw him in something else that I realised he’s quite cute.
So anyway, until Bussan finds out he is dying all any of them, apart from Bambi (who goes to uni in Tokyo) do is play baseball against the yakuza and drink at Master’s bar. But, they need to make money fast, so they turn to crime – based on a manga called Cat’s Eyes (about a group of female cat burglars).
This results in high calibre wacky hi-jinx that seem to be linked together by far-fetched coincidences – until you see the other other “innings” when it all comes together.
It takes about 5 minutes to fall in love with the cast of this drama. Even the minor characters are so freaken awesome. Ozzie – the town drunk who hates the dark, Miss Rose – the local aging stripper “The Second Generation Kisarazu Rose” who tries to drum up business by pretending to be foreign, Busan’s dad who is taking impersonation lessons at night, the wacky Yakuza guy…. you feel like you want to live in this town and be best friends with these guys.
My favourite scene in this drama is when Bambi is trying to convince Moko to go out with him. She tells him there is a legend that if you carry someone over the red bridge in the town, you will always be with them. He, of course, carries her across the bridge – against her will because she just made the story up. I’ve been to that town and crossed that bridge and it’s really freaken steep. You’d have to seriously love someone to carry them across it.
The hotness rating in this drama is high. It’s the only drama I’ve seen Okada Junichi in that he’s not being drippy and he’s awfully cute in this. He totally wins my heart.
Of course, Kizarazu Cat’s Eye does star my all time favourite Japanese idol, Sakurai Sho, but I have to say, I don’t love him in this. It’s like when he was younger, he had a hot, surly rebel thing happening and now he’s older, he has the hot hotness going on but the Bambi period was not a good one for him. Maybe it’s the hair. I really don’t like the orange hair. He looks much better in the later movie with his hair black.
If you only watch one Japanese drama, then I’d recommend this be the one you watch. I have not even begun to scrap the surface of the awesome.