First Impressions on Zenkai Girl with Aragaki Yui and Nishikido Ryo

This drama? Is wonderfully cute. I’ve been indifferent to Aragaki Yui since she gave such a placid performance in Code Blue, so she doesn’t exactly call to mind determined, blunt, and cranky young lawyer Ayukawa Wakaba, a gunning for private jet and Manhattan penthouse type of character. Boy was I wrong. Zenkai Girl with Yui and Nishikido Ryo (as yummy and adorable as I’ve ever seen him) is a win right off the bat.

It’s not completely addicting like my other Summer J-dorama crack Ouran High School Host Club, but it’s charming and delightful in its own way. This drama wouldn’t work so well without the one-two sucker punch of a mini-version of the Yui-Ryo characters OTP. Get ready to squeal like stuck pigs over Hinata, the five-going-on-twenty-five little girl Wakaba is hired to baby sit as prerequisite to getting her dream law firm job, and Emitaro, the son of Shota (played by Ryo), the dreamboat of little Hinata’s heart. So grab your plushiest stuffed animal and get ready for a girl who’s going to get where she wants to go, no kids or hunk is going to stop her.

Meet Wakaba. People live their lives, she just studies. And studies. And studies. Because only armed with a top-notch education and academic pedigree can she achieve her lifelong dreams.

She’s going to be a bengoshi, yo! That’s lawyer to you non-Nihongo speaking folks. Which is how Wakaba talks, like everyone possess her extensive vocabulary and legal knowledge and she hasn’t the time to explain.

Why lawyer of all professions? Because it’s highly selective and guaranteed lucrative. She doesn’t want to help the poor or needy on the wrong side of the law. She just wants so much dough she can hand select her greasy European hottie, have her own private jet (this very important to Wakaba), and a penthouse apartment in Manhattan.

Oops, too bad at the opening gala party for her new job, the firm goes under. What’s Wakaba to do? Easy. Dart out of the door and start calling every major firm in Tokyo and lining up interviews. She did graduate top of her class and passed her exam with the highest score. Life gives her lemons? Wakaba says “I don’t acknowledge the existence of lemons!”

This is our OTP, who meet cute in a subway when he spills his bag containing random breast feeding gear and she treats him like a pervert deviant criminal. Wakaba must be blind. Does that face even look like anything other than the world’s sweetest cutest single dad?

Wakaba gets hired at another firm, and immediately scopes out the male lawyer candidates to join her sprint towards wealth and luxury. Most guys get an X-nay, but one bachelor lawyer in the office looks promising. Wakaba immediately imagines this.

Wakaba finds out her new job has a catch. She has to babysit HBIC’s five-year old princess Hinata for three months. If she lasts that long, then the firm will make her a lawyer. What does Hinata think? She give her 2 days max.

Hinata doesn’t need to learn Wakaba’s name. She’s not going to be around for long anyways.

The two sets of OTP meet outside the preschool. In case it’s not obvious, Hinata lurves Emitaro, Shota’s equally doofy son.

Please go make a happy family now.

Wakaba has work to do, so Shota gladly offers to watch Hinata at his place of employment along with other kids. Turns out he’s a chef at a tiny pub restaurant. Shota = the opposite of Wakaba’s dream guy. Clearly they are going to be OTP forever and ever and find utter happiness together. I heartily approve. Let the man overflowing with kindness and warmth melt the prickly icicle that is Wakaba.

Wakaba can’t change a diaper? Pfft, let Hinata show her the basics. Complete with a hair toss after she’s done. Hinata – already HBIC here.

Shota’s single daddy friends want to pimp Shota out. Wakaba gives them the hand. The man she wants is rich, has a powerful job, and hates children. Oops, I think it’s three strikes for Shota.

Shota runs into Wakaba at the playground where she’s observing the kids to learn how they behave. She’s already created a full dossier on Hinata and children’s education, complete with post-it notes and extensive research. Shota wonders why she bothers, since she’s only going to nanny for 3 months. Wakaba schools him on her mantra – anything she does, she does it all the way. She gives it her all, and there is no possibility or room for failure in her vocabulary. Shota is impressed, and I think this is where his heart thumps an extra beat for go-getter Wakaba.

Peanut-allergic Hinata kisses Emitaro and goes into shock. Shota apologizes to Hinata’s mom even though technically his son didn’t do anything wrong. Later Wakaba schools him – why is he so deferential, kind, and apologetic to everyone? Because he’s just a really decent guy who hates conflict and prefers his laissez-faire lifestyle?

Poor Hinata. All she wants is some motherly love and attention.

Wakaba explains the birds and the bees to Hinata, who thought kissing Emitaro was the way to make a baby. She just wants someone to love and be loved. If she can’t get it, she’ll make it.

HBIC fires Wakaba for dereliction of duty. Wakaba, who never drinks, get wasted and runs into Shota and his boys. She bitches him out for explaining to Emitaro that kissing could make babies, which the boy then passed on the Hinata.

Kissing is nothing special, Wakaba asserts. The guys all disagree – many wonderful things all begin with a kiss. Wakaba refutes that romantic drivel. And she’ll prove it. She’ll prove that a kiss can be just two lips pressed together. Nothing more. She grabs Shota in for a demonstration. And we have achieved kissage at the end of episode 1. This J-dorama rocks!

Zenkai Girl is just such an easy drama to watch, with bits and pieces of story and characters integrated to create an absorbing storyboard. I like both the adult interactions and the kids stories. But above all else, I can sense that this drama has a lovely message to share. I love Wakaba and Shota’s diametrically opposite characters, and Gakki and Ryo bring such intensity and warmth to their performances that their chemistry is almost instantaneously perfect. I think this will be a great drama to marathon, so I’m tabling it for now, but would highly recommend as a great Summer treat to anyone looking for a cute but adult rom-com.


First Impressions on Zenkai Girl with Aragaki Yui and Nishikido Ryo — 33 Comments

  1. It’s a cute, fun, light, and entertaining J-dorama for 20-30 y.o. female viewers for this summer !
    Nice to see another side of Aragaki Yui since Hanamizuki last year.
    Nishikido Ryo also looks mature maybe because he became “father” this time.
    Have a nice journey till the end, Shota & Wakaba… ^^

  2. Hi Koala, off topic but, the video of MGY’s dance she did on her fan meeting was released^^


  3. I’m completely addicted to this drama! I read a recap in another blog and decided to give it a try. The drama is easy to watch, entertaining and full of heart! I love how the characters complement each other, and I’m also so in love with Shota! Where can I find one of those?

  4. Watched the first episode last night and made me up till 3am
    I love it!!! Shota is such a sweet heart while Wakaba is a biatch with a twist.
    Both love ’em!!!

  5. I’m also addicted to this funny drama…mainly because of the characters. The kids?…so version of Wakaba and Shota!

    Thanks for posting this…surely looking forward to ur recaps(?). As always, thanks for ur hardwork.

  6. I love this j-drama. I love all the characters, even the creepy guy at Wakaba’s law firm who keeps talking when she walks away. The kids are squeefully adorable, Wakaba is fierce, and Souta’s such a sweetheart. <3

  7. Ooob. I’ve been following this j-drama along with Ouran! I love it. Makes my Mondays a bit more bearable knowing I have this to look forward to at the end of it all.

  8. Thanks for the reminder about this one! I watched the first episode and then, in my love for PTB and SOAW I forgot about it… I watched episode two and three this morning and am now back on board! Such fun characters…

  9. RYOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I’d so marry that kid, if well he wasn’t a kid? (And he’s entirely too thin. *shudders*) I’ve missed him. I usually shy away from dramas with kids and this is his 2nd this year? But I’ll check it out cause he looks great and it seems so cute. Didn’t read the ‘cap but your thoughts are enough to induce me. The little girl is beautiful though! WOW her parents are in for a treat…kekkekee.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    • OMG, that little girl playing Hinata might be a real life doll come alive. She is indescribably beautiful. I want to adopt her, attitude and all.

  10. This drama is daebak! I think it’s the first J-drama I liked immediately. All the characters have actual depth. Every time Ryo does his wounded face…. my heart actually aches. He’s so ridiculously hot. I want to punch her every time she’s mean to him. The only thing I don’t like is that there’s only one episode per week and it goes by in what feels like 5 seconds. Any one know how many episodes are scheduled? You can watch it at – they sub fairly fast.

  11. I like this better than Ouran! I don’t maybe I just like my dramas with a good dose of realism in it plus I’ll take Ryo over all the hosts of Ouran any day. I can totally relate to Wakaba (ambition + no room for failure part).

  12. This drama was definitely a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting too much from it because I’m not really a fan of Aragaki Yui, but I loved Wakaba as soon as she came on screen. And Ryo’s so adorable as Shota, he kills me every time with his killer smile and then sad face. And the kids….sigh, I love this drama, so cute.

  13. Omg I totally love this drama! Sometimes I get a little frustrated with how materialistic wakaba is, but every time that happens Shota does something so swoon worthy I have to go back (and yes, that includes just a smile on his part because Nishikido Ryo is HOT). I think it’s definitely a smart decision to marathon the drama though, because I don’t know what it is about jdoramas but I always feel like they go WAY too long between episodes (the Korean system has spoiled me >.<). Anyways this drama is super cute, so I'm really excited that you're going to watch it too ^^

  14. dear koala,

    thanksies much for doing a feature on zenkai girl…i heard about it awhile back but totally forgot about it with my recent drama obsession and all *cough*cityhunter*cough*

    anyways just watched the first 2 eps after reading your recap and oh my precious…could Ryo be any hotter?!!! i think my ovaries just exploded watching him patiently teach Gaki how to make a bento lunch. why, oh why is this man/boy sooooo adorable?

    and yes, doroma is great too. i really love the role reversals. i didn’t think Gaki can portray an alpha girl either but i’m glad that i was wrong…she owns the character and Wakaba is so likeable, in her own quirky way. and like you said, their chemistry is really perfect. it kinda reminds me of Ryo-Erica Sawajiri waaaaay back during 1 Liter of Tears.

    thanks again for the feature!

    • Yes, I need to give Gakki more love. She is perfect as Wakaba. She brings Wakaba to life and makes her feel sympathetic and cute when she ought to be annoying and mean.

      When Gakki smiles her mega-watt smile, oh boy, Ryo/Shota better watch out. I think I’m turning into a Gakki fangirl, when I use to find her bland and, well, BLAND.

      • oh man..her megawatt smile is killer. same with Haruma Miura, her rumored boyfriend from awhile back…these two are so pretty its kinda ridiculous. haha. but yeah, i think i’m slowly becoming a Gakki fangirl too. she’s really a revelation here.

        as for Ryo-chan, i don’t know which incarnation of him i love better, smirky bad boy or sweet puppy-eyed dad, he’s excellent at both. ahhh..who am i kidding, i adore Ryo as Ryo, blunt and snarky with his gazillion moles and endless supply of white t-shirts. 😉

        oh, and Koala, i have a gift for you. Ryo-Pi bromance is one of the most beautiful things evah.

  15. The first time i saw Ryo-kun was in 1 liter of tears. I’ve watch a few of his other ones. I was going to skip this jdrama but once i saw Ryo-kun in it. I just had to watch it. He’s so cute of this ‘stay at home dad’

  16. Could this be the first drama after Jin 2 to end the drought that is engulfing the Jdrama season?! I’ve give it a shot seeing how you enjoyed it!

  17. Thank you Thank you Koala-san! I love J dorama’s, but there isn’t any other cool sites that I know of that let us know the new up and ups. I usually learn about it by harmless exploration of mysoju, etc. I would never have known to watch this if you hadn’t written about it though. I am SOOOO in LOVE with the OTP. The sassiness of Wakabe and the humbleness of Shota completes me. LOL. Princess Hinata and Pitaro too are super cute. Thanks again for the update. Keep them up please. As much as I love k-dramas, for some odd reason, the japanese ones crack me up and I end up smiling for days remembering a certain scene. 🙂

  18. for someone who doesnt live in Japan
    i always wondering whether in reality this perfect life is happening in Japan society
    because in my country.. most of the drama, are actually fictional and not potraying reality..

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