Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de with Kitagawa Keiko and Sakurai Sho Makes a Winning Debut

So when I did the post about J-actors, I was called out for ignoring so-and-so actor, regardless of my preemption in saying this was simply my list. However, there was one actor that I ought to have included but didn’t because I had a brain fart. Rather than go back and insert him, I was waiting for his new drama to come out and then say a mea culpa to Sakurai Sho. Yes, how could I have forgotten Sho-sama, actor and Arashi member. My only excuse is that I don’t watch any Sho doramas so only know him from being in Arashi. But I know plenty of folks who adore him. Since he was cast opposite Kitagawa Keiko in Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (Let’s Discuss the Mystery after Dinner), I decided to hit a couple of birds with one stone and discuss him now.

With that said, I saw these gorgeous pictures of Keiko for this month’s Ray magazine and stunning pictures of Sho for the recent edition of ACT magazine, giving me the idea to combine Keiko and Sho goodies, with my first impression of NwD. Episode 1 of the drama debuted with a stellar 18% in ratings, and I found the story and execution to be an eye-opening and unique mash up of shoujo ladies manga with gumshoe detective mysteries. Keiko plays an heiress moonlighting as a detective, and Sho is her new butler who is a combination Sherlock Holmes and perfectionist butler. The dorama is adapted from a best-selling novel of the same name, and in each episode Keiko and Sho solve a mystery after dinner. Episode 1 was adorable and quirky, absolutely something I plan to keep watching.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Keiko look prettier. She’s having a stellar 2011, with two doramas under her belt (LADY and now NwD) and a well-received movie Paradise Kiss giving her added name recognition.

Sho looks so yummy in these pictures he simply begs to be nibbled on like a bon bon.

Keiko and Sho have a surprisingly sophisticated chemistry. He’s playing her butler, so clearly there won’t be a lot of heightened emotions going on. He seems like a professional servant and a bemused brother at the same time. She a cross between a ditzy debutante and a serious policewoman. The dichotomy of this set up, and the whole “heiress is a crime-solver” complication makes this dorama rife with possibilities. Though knowing the Japanese penchant to keep their mystery-solving doramas free of messy relationship subplots, I’m not holding my breath for any romantic development to occur between the OTP.

As for the dorama, all I can say about NwD is that it’s as eccentric as the characters populating that story. The presentation is very glossy, using comic book framing to present the more odd-ball moments so it doesn’t seem as doofy. The crime-solving aspect uses stop-action framing so that the OTP move through the scene in their mind while analyzing the mystery, while the victim, witnesses, and perpetrator are frozen in the moment. While the story is just okay, and the presentation may seem gimmicky, but combined together it just works and feels quite refreshing to watch.

Acting-wise, Sho is anchoring this drama solely on his shoulders. He is the epitome of what you would expect to see as a young butler, yet he has this hidden twinkle in his eyes that just makes you dying to get to know him better. Keiko’s not yet made her character come alive, and so far she’s acting the role of the heiress who wants to be a detective without making it wholly believable (yet).

The mystery in episode 1 was pretty low-key, but I’m wondering if there will be an over-arching mystery that flows from episode-to-episode before getting solved at the end in the grand finale. I think this dorama is all about the experience more than any single element working on its own. It creates this unique world where the super-rich offspring of Japanese billionaires are more into being detectives than being pampered. What really makes NwD is the long conversations between Keiko’s character Hosho Reiko, and Sho’s butler character Kageyama.

Kageyama helps his mistress solve her mysteries by talking with her, asking questions and forming logical deductions. He leads, she follows, and together they have a great rapport that is like watching two friends deconstructing a puzzle backwards. It’s different, and amusing because Kasegawa and Reiko hold their conversations in her family’s ornate library while sipping tea. It’s so civilized, and yet they are discussing a murder. The dichotomy of this drama is ultimately it’s hook. For now, it’s a pleasant diversion that I hope will become more gripping as the story goes along.


Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de with Kitagawa Keiko and Sakurai Sho Makes a Winning Debut — 18 Comments

  1. Do you know if this is similar to Jikou Keisatsu? I really love that show. It starred Odagiri Joe with a great ensamble cast. That show made me wish I knew Japanese so I can understand all the puns and jokes.

  2. That 3rd photo of Sho really made me gasp as I was scrolling down. *giggles* It was like he glanced my way for a second there. I love detective jdoramas and I was having a drama withdrawal from Mizobata Junpei’s Detective Conan so I will really watch this! It’s a super plus that I love her and she’s soooo purty. 🙂

  3. I started watching it too, and I love it!!
    Been looking out for Keiko ever since Lady, and detective j-dramas are my biggest weakness in the drama world. The story telling is so unique, and the characters refreshing.
    Let’s hope the mysteries get better in the future episodes! XDDD

  4. Her dramas have always been either a miss or disinterest to me.. Buzzer beat… no interest in the theme but i heard good reviews about it.. LADY…. boring.. Nazotoki Wa Dinner… so plain and ordinary that it bores me even when it’s supposed to be a detective drama… I rather watch Detective Conan. Although LADY’s rating kept on declining and this Fall 2011 season dramas have an average of pretty high ratings, her dramas are faring pretty good in ratings department.

    It’s such a pity that she just don’t connect with my taste =p Because i do find her pretty though the short distance between her lips and chin bother me at times (I know her debut from Live Action adaptation of Sailor Moon, LOL) but i find her acting a bit that flat for me.. But i do see improvement. Maybe her movies will fare better with me, paradise kiss is a good manga, if the adaptation stay true to its origin, it should be good enough.

    I think for me, this season, i like Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu the most. Reminds me of K-dramas Women who still want to marry and cable drama Need Romance, where it talks about the love and friendship of women. The music score, directing, acting and story is just right. A right mixture of romantic + comedy, though still lacking the romantic part so far.

  5. Sakurai Sho what can I say about him, not your typical handsome idol, I find his screen presence very quiet, almost soothing. Watching him and Ninomiya in Yamada Taro I had a wtf moment when both were portrayed as being so handsome to be almost princelike. Helloooo not in my wildest dream would I have elevated those two to princelike status, not when my sense of aesthetic was honed by Korean pretty boys. I should have known better by the end of the series I was seriously into Ninomiya. Most Japanese actors I would not classify as handsome but they bring energy and believability to their characters that you just can’t help liking them. Case in point, I was blown away by Kame in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. I mean who in their right mind would think of him as leading man material, he looks like a scrawny alien, but he sold it big time. To that mysterious mojo J-actors possess may you continue to flourish and blind us from your physical imperfections.
    Come to think of it most top Korean actors isn’t that handsome hmmmm maybe they have it too.

  6. i wonder how japanese achieve that pink lips in magazines? i had some japanese magazines with similar lips but that pink i couldnt find in real life:D wish i had:D

    • A lot of pinks can do that color, but you have to first put foundation on your lips to mask your lip’s natural redness before putting on the pink lipstick. Otherwise any pink lipstick will naturally turn your lips more berry than pink.

    • Lip concealer! Japenese makeup brands have a lot of those, as well as very nude, matte lipsticks. Canmake is a cheap brand to try out, as well as HEAVY ROTATION and candy doll is a little more expensive but also popular.

  7. As much as I love Arashi, I couldn’t sit through most of their dramas. Sho’s acting in my opinion is really… bad. Or maybe it’s my fault since I’m so used to “Sakurai Sho”.

    So far I’m enjoying this though! What a great rating to start with and I hope it will stay this way.

  8. I’m so glad to see that Sailor Mars is doing so well! 🙂

    I haven’t watched a jdrama in a while so I might have to start now.

  9. I like Sho. I like Keiko. The concept sounded interesting enough for me to check out the first episode, but the after dinner talk was just too formulaic and I found myself zoning out soon after and thinking whether they were going to stick to this “formula” for the entire series. Well, I really wanted to like it enough to watch, but in the end, I just found it too boring. But it did leave me with an urge to check out Sho’s other dramas. Btw, Keiko and Yamamoto Yusuke have crazy chemistry together. I haven’t seen Parakissu yet, but that one ensemble drama they had with Oda Yuji was electric. Hmmm, back to this drama, I did find it more amusing to watch than Kame’s Youkai ningen Bem–that one was just painful to watch—although Kame looked hot:)

  10. i had high expectation of this drama, but yet was disappoint for me. I read so many ba dcomments about this drama, but i really hope, in the future this drama will be better. for the rating, i dont really care.

  11. Watched ep 5 today, and I can say for sure that the episodes are getting better!! I know Sho’s a VERY good actor from watching The Quiz Show 2, and here he portrays his character really well ^^ and Keiko… I would be totally bias if I start to talk about her because I’ve been her fan ever since Sailor Mars, and then Mop Girl, and then Buzzer Beat, Lady and now this. So yeahh… I dig this series.

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