Pimp That Drama: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi

It’s time for another installment of Pimp That Drama. The first post was months ago, when I pimped out Hotaru no Hikari, and in the interim I simply got swept up into a veritable tidal wave of love for a certain kissy kissy drama.

While I write formal reviews for Thundie, a PTD post is not a formal review inasmuch as it’s a shout-out to a certain drama that I really liked and want to revisit. Today’s recipient of my PTD love is none other than J-dorama Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (Just One Love). For those of who wondering why I replaced a picture of Kim Hyun Joong (in the previous post which topped this blog) with a scrawny elf-like dude, don’t worry, looks aren’t everything. Right, Kame (you know I secretly can’t get enough of you or your KAT-TUN boys)?

Do you remember your first love? Likely it wasn’t anything dramatic, meaningful, or all that memorable. It happened, and we moved on. Dramas have been gradually shying away from the first love concept, because its antiquated and mined-to-death. How many times can two innocent youngsters meet, fall in love for the first time, and have a soul-searing love affair.

Until Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (THnK) came along, I was of the belief that a honest-to-goodness pure love story wasn’t possible anymore as a drama concept. The viewers appear to want exciting and unusual set-ups, outlandish and bombastic creations. I thought so myself, until I got a recommendation to check out THnK. I adore lead actress Ayase Haruka, one of the best young stars in her generation, and drop-dead gorgeous in a down-to-earth way. Lead actor Kamenishi Kazuya and I have a love-hate relationship – I love his acting (he’s probably the best acting Johnny of the bunch and can hold his own even against non-idol actors), but I’m pretty turned-off by his looks. I called him elf-like earlier, I’ll amend that to say that Kame looks like a very skinny troll to me. Gomen, Kame, you know you love it when I critique you.

Okay, so how can a skinny troll convince he is a believable romantic leading man against one of the reigning beauties of the J-scene? Why, by acting his pants off in a role so perfect for his brand of droll, could-care-less-but-secretly-angsty acting that I had to blink a few times to believe it. Yup, in THnK, Kame is a smoldering, rebellious, angsty, sexy leading man. So this is what people mean when they say a great actor makes you believe. You’ve made a believer out of me, Kame my boy.

THnK is an old-fashioned love story, the timeless one that never ever gets forgotten. Kame plays Hiroto, a poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks who is the sole breadwinner for his messed-up family consisting of an alcoholic mom and a handicapped younger brother. Ayase plays Nao, the only daughter of a uber-rich family that owns a chain of jewelry stores, who is sheltered and innocently charming. Hiroto and Nao meet cute, then meet cute again, and then continue their keep-attraction-at-bay dance until their resolve melts under the tender and tentative moments of chancing upon a first love in each other.

It’s a credit to famed screenwriter Kitagawa Eriko that she crafts this seemingly trite love story in a way that feels fresh, moving, and believable. When you watch THnK, you’re not bored thinking you’ve seen it before. You’re captivated by this beautiful story regardless of its novelty, or lack thereof. Simply having good writing and great acting is not enough, and what glues together this story is the execution. If PK were directed by the dude who did THnK (who also directed Nobuta wo Produce), then PK may have been good enough to make it to my top-10 favorite dramas of all time list.

The camera swoops, swirls, and dances over Tokyo. Morning, afternoon, evening, the story moves the lovers through the locales and moments that bathe their relationship in the warm embrace of passing time. The soundtrack is exquisite, elevating each scene a notch, perfectly paired with the emotion and setting the mood. THnK is genuinely romantic – a throwback to a drama that makes us root for the simplicity of love without all the shackles of real life worries. Within moments of meeting Hiroto and Nao, they are instantly relatable as individuals, which makes their coupling something we care about.

I thoroughly enjoyed THnK, way more than I thought I would or could based on the concept of the drama and my previous experiences with the leading man.

Have a MV of the drama, set to one of its lyrical OST scores:


What THnK has is a straightforward approach to presenting the love story between two young people. You get their disparate backgrounds, their interfering parents, their personal struggles and set-backs. But none of it feels mawkish or contrived, and even the side characters have a chance to breathe and feel like real people.

Will Hiroto and Nao get their happily ever after. Maybe? I cried a lot watching it, but I think I smiled much more. It’s a love story that may not imprint itself on your heart when you finish, but it will linger on your periphery with its beautiful and elegant approach to sharing the experience of a first love.

[Edit: For a real review of THnK, and not my tourette’s PTD version of a shout-out, please see my drama chingu/tomodachi Ender’s Girl‘s eloquent and moving review of this lovely gem of a drama: http://endersgirrrl.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/drama-review-tatta-hitotsu-no-koi-just-one-love-ntv-2006/  *waves Orenji right back atcha, EG-babe!]


Pimp That Drama: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi — 24 Comments

  1. Gomen ne, I have a confession to make: I watch the first 3 episodes and the last episode; skipped the rest. I loved both of the actors, but the storyline was just meh.

    Can I be a pimp mama too? You gotta try Orange Days, it’s one of my favorites. I also plan to do a Top 10 list for jdramas on my blog soon. But for now, you MUST try Orange Days. Sugoi des!!! You won’t regret it koala bear!

    • ohh orange days… I LOVE love LOVE that drama….
      i actually watched it cause Eita and Tsumabuki Satoshi was there..
      but in the end i just came to love the story…

  2. I love watching Kame, although not so much in Gokusen 2, because he was really, really scrawny back then. Loved him in 1 Pound no Fukuin, perhaps because he had filled out a little for the part and didn’t look as emaciated. He was absolutely adorable in that drama and I think that was when I fell in love with him. I still haven’t seen Tatta Hitotsu no Koi or Nobuta wo Produce, now you’ve recommended the first and my nephew recommended the latter, (although I’m convinced his recommendation was purely based on Yamapi) I’ll watch these two dramas now.

    I think Kame is one of the better all round entertainers from Johnny’s, and he’s grown into a fine young actor and if I could visit Japan I would love watching Dream Boys live. I’ll have to start saving.

  3. Hi Ockoala
    I enjoyed this drama. I watched all of it one weekend. I never expected to like it that much. Yep, I did shed a tear or two.

  4. one of my favorite Jdarama besides ‘orange days’.
    I love how the two of them finally meet again and how they officially start dating.
    Can watch this drama hundred times and not get tired of if it!
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. How many episode is this drama? I will try to buy a DVD copy of this base on your recommendation and the very, very pretty MV. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I just realised Hiraoka Yuta and Kaname Jun are in THnK as well, plus Kame, three very good actors. I’m not so sure about Koki although I liked him enough in My boss, my hero and I liked watching Ayase Haruka in Mr. Brain and Jin, and even though I’m not a big fan of Toda Erika her acting is OK – still fairly good casting of young actors and actresses so will definitely give this drama a try sometime soon.

    Thanks Ockoala for reminding me of this series and take another look at it.

  7. Absolutely one of my favorite Jdramas. It’s such a sweet (in a good way)story. I’ve probably seen it 4 or 5 times over the years and I still love it. 🙂

  8. When a dude’s eyebrows are better groomed and sculpted than mine I have a problem taking him seriously. I mean, the arches are perfect! So I am skeptical. I have a feeling I’d end up watching just the eyebrows, and ignore the rest of the action and characters.

    Can anyone convince me otherwise? Cuz if so, I’ll check it out. Ockoala had me at her review of Friend, Our Legend (which I cannot find in its entirety any where on the web. Lotsa broken links).

  9. yes, you are right. This one is a really nice drama. Seems a simple story of nothing, but still not one boring moment in 10 eps and one you will not forget.

    • *hugs back* I need to write about more J-doramas, maybe along the same vein as your bloggerversary vow to write more about K-dramas? 😉

      I add a link to your review of THnK in my post, people ought to read the real deal to inspire them to check this gem out, not my piffle of a drive-by shout-out.

      Anyhoo, I’ve got Sora Kara queued up but am too scared to press play – KimuTaku please promise me you’ll curl my toes in this drama.

      • Hey thanks for linking the review! *brushes — er blushes*

        Re that Kdrama/Jdorama vow thingy — agreed! *handshake* Pacta sunt servanda! (Uh-oh, guess I better get cracking now… @_@)

        Sora Kara? Wow. Killer of a drama, heh heh. And oh baby, believe me — KimuTaku gets nekkid so many times in this drama you’ll be curling your toes all the way to… your larynx or something. Lawl. (As always, would love to hear your thoughts when you’re done watching! ;-))

  10. I really liked this drama, cried a little bit too… But I kept feeling weird about the fact that he had better shaped eyebrows than me, sometimes I could not buy that tough image of his, with those perfect and non-masculines eyebrows….. But overall its a good drama, a little bit sad, like most of J-Drama…

  11. THANKS for what seems to be another great Jdrama, Ockoala.

    I have liked adorable Ayase Haruka since I stumbled upon Hotaru no Hikari sometime back, but can’t say I was as thrilled recently with Season 2 of that drama.

    Will be checking your PTD out pront0, esp since there is somewhat of a lull with a couple of my K-preoccupations out of the way (SKKS, PK).

    I picked up Buzzer Beat after you mentioned it, and didn’t regret it. Thanks!
    Been procrastinating a whole yr about Black and White too .. but read your comments on it and those were the catalyst which finally got me going and started 2 wks ago.
    Don’t kill me for this … but Vic Chou there reminds me so much of HK’s Tony Leung Chiu-wai/Liang Chao-wei (in some similar police role), acting-wise.
    And Mark Chao is pretty decent for a complete newbie.

  12. Kame is one of the good actors in JE(others being Nino and Kusanagi Tsyoshi) but yeah his looks can most likely scare away some people even though I found him adorable in one pound gospel.
    This wasn’t the best Kame or Ayase dorama but it was quite sweet with some flawas though but still very enteraining.

  13. I really love this drama. Reading this made my remember all those million times I’ve seen it. ^^

    But, you wrote, that it located in Tokyo, which is not quite correct. The story happens in Yokohama. It is really close to Tokyo, but it is counted as a differrent city. Just pointing out 😉

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