[So yeah, let me start my first post here after a long time with Nakajima Yuto's newest and first starring 9-pm drama :)]
I've seen the original Korean counterpart 'Misaeng' and truth be told, I got worried how would Yuto play the role Siwan so amazingly executed. I love Nakajima Yuto to bits but if I have to be very, very honest here, I was never a fan of his acting. Damn, he has given me enough face-palming moments and second-hand embarrassments in most of the roles he portrayed. However, as someone who followed his career for some time now as well, I've also seen his improvement and development on the acting department.
Now here goes the first episode of Hope. The story follows Ichinose Ayumu, a professional Go-player-wannabee who didn't attend university and was ready to spend his entire life playing the mind sport. Things didn't turn out well for him, however, and before he knew it, he ran out of time and couldn't become a professional go-player anymore--there was supposedly an age limit upon professional application to the sport. Dejected, he spent his time part-timing several jobs a day. His mom who couldn't stand his son's situation, asked help from her acquaintance to get him to a trading company. Aware of his mom's worries, he decided to take the job that marked the start of his career as a company worker. He became a clueless intern at a large trading company where people speak and understand more than one language. This also marked the beginning of his struggles as he tries to fit in a world far from what he dreamed of.
Basically, that's all of the first episode and the summary of what the story is all about really. The first episode was, to be honest, unexpectedly good. Unlike the Korean series with more episodes and longer air time, this version is rather fast-paced which is expected and understandable really. I actually rather enjoy slow-paced stories because it allows me appreciate the development of the character more, hence my preference for the Korean version. But with that said, it's only the first episode and there are a lot more to come. I'm excited how would this version tackle Ichinose's hardships, although I do have more hope for this drama since slice-of-life stories like this is where Japan is especially good at. We already got a portion of Ichinose's pain in the first episode and knowing where this drama go, I am definitely expecting more (i'm not being a masochist btw).
Now let's go back to Nakajima Yuto and his acting. All I can say is: good job, Yuto. He made the character his. His acting is not top-class but it was so, so much better than his previous works. I actually got an 'actor' vibe from him here rather than 'an-idol-trying-to-become-an-actor' that I usually get. I feel that Yuto's more confident now in acting. He looks more relaxed and it translates how his emotions can now be much more visible and easily captured. Probably him starring with different amazing actors from his generation to the older ones helped him grow so much in a short period of time.
I'd say Yuto did okay in Date~, but I really think this drama when it comes to acting, though first episode as it is, showed more of his vulnerability as an actor and that definitely surprised me a lot. And speaking of past performances, I guess I cannot leave this one out. I also watched his first starring role movie, Pink to Gray, and I must say I was surprised, very surprised, but mostly due to the scenes he decided to do and never expected he'd do even with all the spoilers going around for months (lol). His acting alongside Suda Masaki was his peak (
at least for now), but then that's a movie with limited audience so I wished for him to be able to do the same on television and actually make a larger audience believe he's a capable actor. So far, at least for me right now see this potential in him and I wish for him to only do better from here on out.
Anyway, with that said, I'm excited for the next episodes. Hopefully though, Hope's ratings will improve as TBS' drama counterpart is actually executing it by a large margin. Oh well~ (do your best, Ichinose!) :D