First Impressions of Lucky 7 with Matsumoto Jun and Eita

I’ve got such low standards for J-doramas these days, because the favorite genre I grew up with has become a beast nearing extinction while the landscape is littered with depressing dramas about the meaning of life or cop/doctor/serial killer shows up the truckload. I long for my diehard romances, Japan! But occasionally I do enjoy the other stuff as well, if it’s done right. Last Season I adored Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de with Kitagawa Keiko and Sakurai Sho (which is scheduled to come back as an SP this Spring), a kooky cheeky detective mystery.

This season I’ve found my go-to weekly dorama fix, the wonderfully casted misfit detective trifle Lucky 7, starring another Arashi member Matsumoto Jun, Eita, Naka Riisa, Oizumi Yo, and Matsushima Nanako. Only two episodes have aired so far, but both are excellent and start this dorama off with a ton of energy, humor, and quirky spirit. It doesn’t try too hard, and in doing so straddles the right balance between making a story fun and full of heart. But my biggest takeaway so far is that Eita is running away with the show, both in terms of having the best character to play and knocking it out of the park with his effortless performance. LOVE.

The members of a detective agency are staking out a hotel to catch a cheating wife with her latest boy toy, an aimless young man named Tokita Shuntaro (MatsuJun). Shuntaro not terribly interested in doing anything meaningful with his life, but he happens to be a world class ladies man who doesn’t even need to try to unleash his charm.

Team Looks-Hapless-But-Is-Surprisingly-Effective Ragtag Detectives include – the elder leader of sorts Asahi Junpei (a droll and witty Oizumi Yo) coordinating the outing, a sarcastic and sassy lone female ace Mizuno Asuka (terrifically played by Naka Riisa but so far underused), and team’s effective hands on guy Nitta Teru (Eita, who is just PERFECT in this role). The three detective grouch about being kept waiting for the trysting cheaters to exit that darn hotel room already, how long can they stay holed up inside doing the horizontal mambo.

Finally, Shuntaro and his rich lady love walk down to the lobby and proceed to split up immediately. The team almost loses their money shot until Nitta improvises and Junpei swoops in to get the incriminating evidence for their client.

Shuntaro calls his lady love only to be told she is breaking it off because her hubby caught her. Our loverboy turns out to be surprisingly perceptive, as he noticed Nitta at the hotel and later spots him on the street, leading to the first of many confrontations between these two guys. Shuntaro makes the correct guess that Nitta is responsible for the loss of his sugar mommy.

Nitta easily ducks Shuntaro’s punches and then appears to lose the guy because Nitta can run like a gazelle. Turns out Shuntaro isn’t all that hapless or useless, as he not only kept up with Nitta, he follows the man back to his detective agency. Roh roh.

Before Shuntaro can cause a ruckus (or more likely, get his ass kicked by Nitta six-ways to Sunday), head detective Fujisaki Touko (Matsushima Nanako turning in a Mita-lite cameo performance of sorts) walks out to check out the new blood.

Shuntaro immediately starts flirting with her. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. Instead of kicking him out on his arse, Touko hires him on the spot. Because he’s got something she senses would make him a good detective, and a good addition to the team. Now we’ve got our Lucky 7, once you add in the elder office manager Tsukushi Masayoshi and the resident IT genius nerd girl Kirihara Yuki.

First day on the job, Junpei is saddled with mentoring Shuntaro. Junpei makes the laddie prepare flyers to be handed out on the street corner to drum up clients. Junpei doesn’t have much use for pretty boys like Shuntaro.

A new client arrives just then, a young lady who needs the detectives to find her brother. He was a former firefighter who lost a colleague in a deadly fire, and after that he quit his job and just vanished. The police won’t expend resources to search for a man who doesn’t want to be found. The team sits down to discuss their plan of action.

The detectives quickly find the MIA firefighter and track him to an underground fight club. I firmly believe this plot point exists for the sake of getting Nitta and Shuntaro shirtless later on. The man is engaging in underground fights solely to get beat up, as he’s still feeling immense guilt for not being able to save his colleague. Shuntaro is a mite taken with the whole fight club ethos.

Touko orders the man’s whereabouts reported to the client and then it’s the end of this case, since they did their sole job which was to locate the man. Shuntaro doesn’t feel right about that, especially after he talks with the client privately afterwards and hears how she’s so worried her brother will get himself beaten to death one of these days. Nitta and Shuntaro butt heads over what their detective job entails.

Shuntaro heads back to the fight club, where he runs into Nitta, both guys with the same idea of helping out the beaten up firefighter. In a series of misunderstandings, the two men end up shirtless in the ring fighting each other.

In a well choreographed fight, with jabs, kicks, and punches thrown left and right, Shuntaro manages to hold his own against the trained fighter that is Nitta. Until Nitta finally lays Shuntaro low, right around the time the cops storm the ring and break up the club, after an anonymous (Junpei) call goes in to tip them off.

The man is reunited with his sister (who has been brought to the scene by Masayoshi), who has a chance to help him return to living a normal life.

Nitta and Shuntaro admit they still can’t stand each other, but there is a good chance they can co-exist without trying to kill each other.

The episode ends with Team Ragtag bickering in the office.

What I loved about this drama is how fun it is. It doesn’t aspire to be realistic, nor dig deep into societal issues and try to be a moral of the week type of story. It focuses on one particular frayed relationship and then tries to resolve it properly on a micro level. The cast is having tons of fun in their roles, and it shows in the all-around great chemistry and a feeling of loose and easy-going delivery of their lines. There is a rat-a-tat tempo in the bickering between all the characters. The writer chooses not to tell us the personality and back story of the main characters, instead allowing it to trickle out through conversations and interactions. The drama is filmed in a very pretty color saturated way, with the brightly lit scenes appearing gloriously hazy and the darkened scenes with a sense of visual mystery. So far Lucky 7 is a lucky win, combining a great cast firing on all cylinders with a cheery-toned detective-of-the-week story mixed with some bickering buddy hijinks. I initially watched it for MatsuJun, but am totally staying for Eita.

© 2012, ockoala. All rights reserved.


Comments

First Impressions of Lucky 7 with Matsumoto Jun and Eita — 16 Comments

  1. You’re absolutely right on the lack of Jdoramas with romances. Japan should promote their stuff outside Japan. Hulu has a whole Korean drama genre category so why not a Japanese one, too?

    Wow, where did those muscles on the guys come from between the first capture shot and the actual fight scene shots?

    I love both MatsuJun and Eita. They both have so much charm (ladies men indeed) and angst that they make all their characters memorable. Nanako and Riisa are also great actresses with a lot to offer.

    This looks like a fun series.

  2. I totally agree with Koala and anime1234. J doramas rom coms were so good a few years ago : Hanakimi first shot, Hotaru no Hikari, GTO… But nothing hooked me recently. Between failed remakes of K dramas ( Ikemen desu ne : Ouch…) and unconvincing hiring of K stars on J shows ( boku to star )… Japan, what happened ??. Hmmm, i think they should use and cultivate the J touch, not trying to copy what works for the Hallyu. Each one his own cultural background, strong points and weaknesses.
    Imo, one thing they should do to promote doramas in foreign land is first : translating the name of the shows in meaningful english. I swear, sometime i find myself in the mood to watch specifically a J dorama, and i browse dramawiki or mysoju. But i end up watching nothing just because all those japanese titles to decipher leave me exhausted. Plus the genre is rarely indicated. You really need a strong motivation to find something for your taste unless you like to pick one randomly.
    That said and to go back to Lucky Seven subject, i love japan cop shows like Mr Brain with Kimutaku ( only 8 eps, why ? It was so good ! ). I’m happy to see this one is promising. I’ll check later to see if you still enjoy it.

  3. I just watched it couple nights ago too and Eita is, definitely, the reason why i’m staying on! He’s been the second lead for so long I wonder if he’ll ever be upped to leading man but in this show – it’s prolly not gonna matter, cos he’s totally a showstealer I think. So happy to see this post Koala, thanks!

  4. Yup3x Eita definitely nails it…
    the ring fighting scene is just awesome for dorama scale
    and the other detective members are also surprisingly refreshing …
    they only focus on MatsuJun and Eita in ep 1 and 2
    so hopefully in the future we can see more of the two of them plus more of the other members… they haven’t fully utilized Naka Riisa and Nanako Matsushima yet

  5. I started watching for Eita and will continue watching it for him!!! But Matsumoto Jun usually annoys me in shows, but I don’t find him annoying here ;) and like you said, while I didn’t think much of the show when I started watching it, but it is a lot of FUN!!!

    Did anyone start cheering for one of the guys during the fight?? I was cheering for Eita :P I’m not usually into any kind of sports but somehow I got into the fight :P

  6. Thank you for your first impressons on “Lucky 7″. It looks like a fun drama to watch.

    I too have noticed a decline in number of J-dramas that interest me. At first I thought maybe it is because there aren’t many “pretty faces” in J-dramas these days compared to K-dramas. But it is not the “pretty faces” that got me hooked in J-dramas. It is their family or community oriented stories, their respectful or reserved way of storytelling, their not-so-flashy yet compelling depictions of conflicts, and their heart-warming and down-to-earth resolutions of those conflicts. These qualities I’d like to believe are still present in J-dramas today; but why is it hard to find them? Is there a lack of J-dramas promotion? Few blogs write about them?

    Luckily, I read one blog’s commenter’s raving about “Soredemo Ikite Yuku” last year. So I watched it last month and loved it! It has all the qualities I admired in J-dramas in addition to a suspense-thriller kind of tone with a heart-tugging love story. Eita, one of the main leads, was awesome in this drama!

    This week I stumbled upon “Bara no Nai Hanaya”, an old one. I’ve only finished episode 1 but I’m already hooked. :)

    I hope to find more quality J-drama this year. Thanks again Captain for this “Lucky 7″ review.

    • I LOVED LOVED LOVED Soredemo sooo much!!! I usually never watch tragic (especially not Korean, even though even their comedies can sometimes turn tragic :P) but this one, I don’t know the story flows through easily and the characters are interesting and the acting Terrific!! I trust Eita’s choice of doramas that’s why I started watching this, and I don’t regret cuz its just fun :D

      Did anyone check Ending Planner?

  7. Hi Koala! Love your blog and like the fact that your passion for j-dorama hasn’t subsided despite the (inescapably depressing undertones of) existential crisis dramas that are all the rage these days. I’m curious to know your favourite doramas, so please share them! I must guiltily admit that I first fell in love with j-doramas because they probed into the dark corners of societal issues that Korean or Taiwanese(much less Chinese) dramas shied away from, and yet addressed/resolved the underlying issues from an Asian perspective. I can think of HIV (Kamisama mou sukoshi dake), love between a teacher & student (majo no jouken / kou kou kyoushi), bullying (Nobuta) or serious illness (1 litre/beautiful life). They featured a sort of deep romance line that made the doramas very moving and memorable, despite the dire circumstances, which is partly why I could finish Last Friends even if I tried. It was too realistic, in a way. But of course I love comedies and romance series too, GTO, nodame cantabile, shomuni and especially hotaru no hikari. Sorry for rambling, please do share your favourites koala (:

  8. Hi Koala…Unni?May I address you that way?

    I’m wondering where are you watching the drama from?since,for me,megaupload has been shutdown, the site that I usually go to is also down?
    do you watch them raw or with sub?

    hope you don’t mind sharing the link.thanks!

  9. Hi Koala!
    Thanx for the review! I’ve watched the first ep. and I’m agree – this show is really fun!
    And about romcoms : at first I watched only jdoramas. And had to switch on k-d’s because couldn’t find any good one last year or two (Ouran was an exception. And Gou – I even watched taiga, heh). I have nothing against kdoramas – they a romantic and funny. But they usually have some weak points (my opinion only!): sometimes I really wonder if the heroine really do has a job/school (job to work, not only to be cute and hopeless and helpless and provide the hero (or two) another opportunity (or two) to shine the armor), friends or life besides the relationship. (The remake of “Petto” really pissed me off – they had completly lost the main line><) And it makes me want to watch my old good jdoramas so much! Something like Nobuta or Nodame or…=)
    So I have some expectations for this season (L7 and Hungry).

  10. Am watching cuz of Eita. Found him cute in Nodame but totally fell for with him in Last Friends. I still think he and Ueno are an OTP. Hope they get together again in a rom-com some day. That will be a blast.

    • Thanks for the link yumi. Interesting points in that article, and i will join some of my thoughts here.
      It seems to me than Japan is like in a massive collective depression. When you isolate yourself from others, when you ” despise ” sex, when you don’t want to share love and have kids, obviously something is going wrong in the country. It’s like a sex strike because people feel there is nothing good to expect from the future ( literally No Future ). I blame here the lasting morose economy. But the recent tsunami / Fukushima catastrophe didn’t help either. And there is also a cultural aspect, something nihilistic proper to japanese collective unconscious.
      One thing the article didn’t expose is that a large part of human interactions ( sex and or affection ) are money based in Japan these days :
      - Schoolgirls sell their charms to older men to pay their studies and to buy branded stuff.
      - Women go to host bars which are acknowledged places for ” acceptable and
      polite ” prostitution. Sorry to kill your fantasies if you had any, but that world is nothing but glamourous. Sidenote : In Ouran HS drama, was i the only one who thought than a 8 years old girl talking about reversed harem was totally inappropriate ?
      - Men and women mostly marry each other to save face, to be upgraded in society and to share rents and bills. It’s cohabitating, not couple life.
      - And beside that, the japan pornography is one of the most active in the world, and perverts seem to stalk women in every public transportation facility.
      So on one side some people have unhealthy obsessed sexual life, while on the other side men and women barely know their respective anatomy and live separately in 2 different worlds. *cringe* at the romantic dating scenes in J dramas ( watch Shiawase ni narou yo if you want an enlightment ) : It’s like watching a cat and a dog who don’t know what to say and to do. ( Hide my face in my hands ).
      At the end, there is a big problem here, and i don’t have a magic solution. It’s just very sad.

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