Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu Episode 1 Recap

After two long years away from the urge to recap a J-dorama, the arrival of the romance-centric love triangle Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu (Today I Take the Day Off Work) flips the dormant switch right when I was mourning the lack of cracktastic offerings from Japan. Thanks to the collective charisma of Ayase Haruka, Fukushi Sota, and Tamaki Hiroshi, KwKY is way better than the story ought to be and anchored with a sweet and funny touch. I like all three lead characters (and performances), not to mention the chemistry is off the charts already with Haruka and both male leads. RAWR.

Before I dive into the recap, let me dispel all notions that KwKY is simply Last Cinderella v.2. It’s not at all, not by a long shot. The story is completely different despite the love triangle between one woman choosing between an older versus young man. KwKY is adapted from the same name manga by Fujimura Mari which started its run in November of 2011, a full year and a half before Last Cinderella aired. If anything, LC cribbed off KwKY and failed whereas I sense so much potential here I can’t wait for this dorama to really get going after this set up episode. Japan appears to love it as well as episode 1 earned a 14.3% rating.

Episode 1 recap:

Narrator Aoishi Hanae tells us that she’s really this close to losing all her feminine aspects. It’s a busy morning at the company where she works for the last 10 years dutifully without ever missing a day of work. In the hustle bustle we briefly glimpse a handsome part time employee Tanokura Yuto going about his business. Chirpy young female coworker Ookawa Hitomi gossips with the office about running into a gorgeous man in the elevator who she thinks might be working at the company one floor above them.

The work day ends and Hanae goes about her usual routine of tidying up the office kitchen and even going up to the roof to make sure the plants are tucked in for the night. As she’s leaving the office, Hanae asks if Hitomi is going to yet another singles meet-and-greet dinner. Hitomi is going to dinner with college friends who want to make up her birthday from last month, but she figures its really a bunch of still single loser ladies meeting to complain about the lack of a love life. Hanae compliments Hitomi as being lovable to anyone who meets her. Hanae is impressed at Hitomi’s go-getter nature when it comes to dating since Hanae is painfully awkward around eligible young men.

Another coworker Ooshiro So bounds over to ask Hanae to come with him to a dinner where he wants to introduce her to a friend. Apparently the friend wants to meet an older woman that fits Hanae’s near thirty years old profile, someone to settle down with. Hanae blurts out a lie that she has a boyfriend to extricate herself from this set up which shocks her two coworkers since she’s the epitome of asexual at work.

Hanae goes about her scheduled evening plans, buying a pretty wooden bowl at a shop before going to watch an old movie alone but enjoying the experience. Her coworkers gossip about the fuddy duddy Hanae actually dating and hear that her boyfriend is named Mamoru (to guard) and works in security. When she gets home, we see that she still lives her with doting parents and a pudgy bulldog Mamoru, whose name Hanae appropriated to describe her fictional boyfriend. She gives her dog the wooden bowl as a new food bowl and apologizes for making him her boyfriend and we see Mamoru as the guard dog to the house. Cute. Her coworkers hear that boyfriend Mamoru’s hobbies are to take walks while eating snacks. LOL.

Hanae sits down at the dinner table with her mom while dad reads a paper on the sofa. She gets a text from best friend Sasano Ichika who is not only married but just had her second baby. Mom coos over the picture sent of the newborn but doesn’t nag Hanae to get married or have kids. Ichika sends another text urging Hanae to get a boyfriend as she’s about to turn the big 3-0 but Hanae not only doesn’t have a prospect but she’s still a virgin with zero dating experience.

As Hanae prepares for bed and the clock ticks towards midnight, she wonders what her life would be like had she had dating experience. Back in college, there was a senpai who liked her and one night made it clear he wanted to take her to a love motel. Hanae turned him down with the excuse that she had a curfew and the boy didn’t pressure her but that was the end of that almost relationship.

Hanae gets out of bed and makes a phone call to arrange a birthday treat for herself as a spa, remaining ever frugal and organized to ask for a birthday special. Hanae gets ready for work and muses that she doesn’t even need an alarm clock to wake up anymore. Her routine is so well-worn she wakes up naturally and goes about doing the exact same things every day. She has breakfast with parents and admit things are stagnant, whether it’s because she is too close to her parents and doesn’t want to leave them or they love her too much to push her to leave and get married.

As Hanae waits for the bus to work and gets on, she admits to daydreaming that a prince on a white horse would ride up and whisk her away when she first started working. But now she doesn’t have any dreams anymore and the bus ride is just the mode of transportation to get her to work.

Hanae arrives at the office much earlier than anyone else and efficiently takes care of all the little chores such as preparing coffee, watering the plants, wiping down the conference room, putting paper in the copy machine, etc.

The next person to arrive is her boss Tachibana Takaaki, a nice guy who nevertheless is quite a talker when he gets started. Boss has heard the latest on-dit about shy reserved Hanae actually having a boyfriend and is very happy for her. Turns out he dated his now wife when she also worked at this company even though it was against company policy. Boss sighs that loves comes unexpectedly and even he never imagined he would have a work place romance and end up honeymooning in Hawaii.

So arrives at work next and Hanae softly chastises him for telling the entire office about her (nonexistent) boyfriend. So is pretty dense and doesn’t think he did anything wrong while Hanae voiceovers that So is the resident sunshine boy who is always outgoing and has none of the Japanese reserve and stoicism. Hitomi swans in openly kvetching about how she’s totally hung over while Hanae thinks to herself that Hitomi is the resident cutie that wheedles all the men for attention and they happily give it.

A few more coworkers arrive – newbie ice prince Kagami Ryusei who Hanae hasn’t seen do anything impressive yet at the job but seems quite self-absorbed, a nice guy who always subtly takes advantage of others to do his busy work, and a manly ace performer at work who shattered all the ladies expectations when it turns out he acts very feminine once he gets drunk.

Finally there is part time employee and third year college student Tanokura Yuto, the resident go-to guy for all the office little things but he works hard and does everything meticulously so everyone likes him.

Hanae heads out for lunch and goes to a noodle restaurant nearby to slurp down a bowl of curry udon. A handsome man in a suit walks in and the proprietor asks if Hanae minds if the customer shares her table since the restaurant is packed. The man, Asao Yu, sits down across from Hanae and she immediately tenses and keeps her head lowered to eat her noodles, not to mention wiping sweat from her brow with a handkerchief since the arrival of handsome eligible men is Hanae’s big fear because she doesn’t know how to interact with them.

Yu notices Hanae’s discomfort and tries to break the ice with his charm, asking for the same noodles as her and complimenting her nails as being very pretty despite bucking the trend of having nail color. He recognizes her as working in the same building as him and explains he works at the company a floor above.

Hanae continues to not look up at him so Yu keeps on going, sharing a story about someone he knows that reminds him of Hanae. That person was also very ordinary and didn’t wear nail color but she embezzled funds from her company to pay off her housing mortgage. Could Hanae be secretly an embezzler?

Hanae finally can’t take it and retorts that she lives with her parents and doesn’t have any debt! Yu smiles to finally have Hanae make eye contact with him and laughs that he was just joking is all. Hanae glares at him before grabbing her check and running out of the restaurant, declining Yu’s offer to pay for her meal since he ruined her enjoyment. She leaves her handkerchief behind which Yu picks up.

Hanae goes up to the rooftop to tend to the plants and regain her composure only to overhear Yuto on the phone telling his ex-girlfriend to stop calling because they’ve broken up, and she needs to focus on something more in her life other than romance. Yuto sees Hanae and figures she knows what he’s going through with a messy break up. Hanae thinks to herself that she has no clue since she’s never dated despite the entire office now thinking she has a boyfriend.

The office heads out to a new employee welcome dinner together and a drunk So announces that he knows a secret about the cool aloof Ryusei. Everyone guesses wrong until So reveals that Ryusei is still a virgin which gets Hanae’s rapt attention. Ryusei doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he’s a virgin by choice not because he can’t get a girl to sleep with him but because he only wants to sleep with the woman he wants to marry. Hanae’s opinion of Ryusei changes right there with how confident he is with his own dating inexperience.

Hitomi then asks Yuto if he’s dating and Yuto lies that he has a girlfriend. For some reason that gets Hanae’s goat up that he’s using the same lie she recently used and the normally non-confrontational her blurts out that Yuto is lying because he recently broke up with his girlfriend. She heard him say that earlier. Yuto turns and stares at Hanae for calling him out on his fib which then makes everyone laugh that Yuto was clearly lying to make himself unavailable to the boy crazy Hitomi.

After dinner talk turns to round 2 with karaoke but aloof Ryusei declines to join since he doesn’t like to sing. Hitomi spots handsome debonair Yu chatting on the street with another person. He looks over with a smile to spot their group and saunters over cool as can be. Hitomi readies herself to greet him when Yu slices through the group straight for the hunched over Hanae.

Yu returns Hanae’s handkerchief to her and when all the other coworkers gape he explains that she left it behind when they had lunch together today. Hanae quickly explains that they just shared a table is all and asks Yu not to keep joking with her. Yu apologizes to the other coworkers for interrupting their night out and strolls away. Everyone crowds Hanae asking if that guy is her boyfriend and she dispels that suggestion since she doesn’t even know that guy’s name!

Hitomi grabs both Hanae and Yuto from the rest of the group going to sing karaoke and makes them go to a bar with her to hang out and explain to her satisfaction what exactly is going on. Hitomi is satisfied with Hanae’s explanation about how Yu got her handkerchief and vows to win the man over eventually. Hanae is impressed with Hitomo’s determination in landing a man but Hitomi thinks she’s being sarcastic since Hanae already has a boyfriend.

Hanae explains that her good friend is still single and hasn’t dated because she’s too shy and is waiting for the right man to come along. Hitomi chews out such women for being too scared to take initiative in the dating pool while bemoaning the lack of a good man in their lives. Such women are self-absorbed and stuck up to Hitomi and have no one to blame but themselves for their dating woes.

Hitomi is pretty drunk by now so when Yuto comes back into the bar after stepping out to take a call, he offers to take Hitomi home. Hanae sits alone in the bar brooding over what Hitomi just said about women too scared to date.

Hanae is surprised to see Yuto return shortly and hears he put Hitomi in a cab and she’s an adult so should be fine. Hanae calls out Yuto for being cold hearted but he returns it to her for the way she just outed his earlier lie about having a girlfriend. Hanae is also cold and doesn’t explain things either since she never told Hitomi about running into Yu at the restaurant earlier despite knowing Hitomi has her eyes on him.

Hanae claims it’s different but it’s the same to Yuto, sometimes a person just doesn’t feel the need to explain everything to others. That’s why he lied about having the girlfriend so he doesn’t get asked all about the break up. He finds it better to keep a certain distance with others so it doesn’t get too exhausting.

Yuto smiles at Hanae who he finds quite similar to him. That triggers a nerve in Hanae and she chews him out because they are nothing similar. Yuto just broke up with his girlfriend and probably had many girlfriends before that one so he knows nothing about what Hanae is like. Yuto reads between the lines and asks if Hanae lied about having a boyfriend? He asks why she would lie about something like that but it only makes Hanae start to cry in earnest. Yuto apologizes for probing but Hanae runs off to the bathroom.

Good friend Ichika sends a happy birthday text to Hanae and Yuto reads the scrolling text on her phone left at the bar. When Hanae comes back to quickly take her leave, Yuto asks her to stay for a moment which is when the bartender comes out with a slice of birthday cake and a candle on it.

Yuto wishes Hanae a happy birthday and she is so touched as she blows out the candle. Hanae takes off her glasses to wipe away the happy tears and Yuto compliments her as being much prettier when she doesn’t wear glasses.

Yuto and Hanae are walking home and he’s rather taken aback at how happy Hanae was with the birthday celebration at the bar. He wonders if she’s fine with him being the person to celebrate with her? Hanae nods which makes Yuto break into a giant boyish smile. He takes her hand and asks if she can hang out with him until morning? That freaks Hanae out and she pulls her hand away from him and says that’s not appropriate.

Yuto apologizes for making her feel uncomfortable or he overstepped his bounds and walks away. Hanae remembers ten years ago when the college senpai wanted to spend the night with her and she pulled away. She makes up her mind and runs after Yuto, taking his hand and indicating she wants to hang out with him.

The two run off together, first to the arcade where Yuto catches a mommy duck with ducklings from the claw machine for her and then they play video games. They go to the batting cages to hit some balls before ending a night cruise enjoying the view.

Hanae takes out her cell phone to snap pictures which Yuto takes from her hand and uses his longer arms to take selcas of them together with the night view in the background. He then takes off Hanae’s glasses and tells her that she looks better not wearing it. Shy Hanae lifts her eyes and the two of them stare at each other.

Hanae wakes up the next morning next to a still sleeping Yuto. She’s frazzled and quickly grabs her glasses before dressing hastily. Yuto wakes up and greets Hanae with a smile but she refuses to look at him, leaving money on the table for the hotel room and running out of there. Man, if I woke up next to Yuto I would lock the hotel room and order room service for a week.

Hanae wanders through the streets completely out of sorts. She gets a call from her worried mom about staying out all night and we see her dad was sleeping on the sofa waiting for her to come back. Hanae lies that she drank too much and spent the night as a friend’s place.

Hanae arrives at work and runs into Yu outside the building. He immediately sidles up to her and notes that she’s wearing the same outfit as yesterday which means she spent the night out. Hanae’s weak denials fly right over him and he wonders if the guy works at the same office as her? If so then he’ll also show up in the same clothes and the other employees is sure to notice. Hanae freaks out and then walks right past the office building without going inside.

Hanae calls her boss to take the day off work which is so unusual her boss immediately tries to suss out the reason. He belatedly realizes it was Hanae’s birthday yesterday and thinks she is upset that no one in the office celebrated for her. Yuto arrives at work and hears that Hanae took the day off. He’s asked if she said anything yesterday and Yuto brings up hearing that it was her birthday. That further confirms for the others that Hanae is mad at them for forgetting which is why she’s not coming to work today.

Hanae pays a visit to her best friend Ichika in the hospital to see her newborn and also to get some advice. Ichika is naturally impressed that Hanae hooked up with a young 21 year old college student and finally lost her virginity on her 30th birthday. Ichika thinks Hanae shouldn’t be frazzled and instead should be thrilled like a heavy weight has been lifted.

Hanae is considering quitting her job because she doesn’t know how to face Yuto at work. Ichika calls her an idiot since all she did was sleep with the boy. Hanae is so embarrassed because he’s seen her naked body now but Ichiko sasses back that he didn’t just “see” it. LOL. Ichika wonders if the boy might be serious but Hanae can’t believe that since he’s still in college. Ichika asks if Hanae likes the boy but she says that’s not it either. She’s just so confused.

Yu waltzes into Hanae’s office looking for her and hears from Hitomi that she took today off work. Yu then notices Yuto at his desk and pointedly says Yuto is wearing the same outfit he wore yesterday. Yuto asks why it’s even worth noting and Yu just smiles and says Yuto looks good in that outfit is all.

Hitomi stops Yu by the elevators asking if the two offices can have a meet-and-greet dinner since they work in the same building. Yu agrees knowing what Hitomi wants and agrees to it before offering her his business card finally. She reads that he’s actually the CEO of the company on the floor above.

Hanae goes home and soaks for a long time in the bath. Afterwards she finds a birthday cake on the counter from a place where her dad waiting in line to buy it for her. She eats the cake while her dad quietly wishes her a sweet happy birthday which makes Hanae cry.

Hanae is back to her usual routine of arriving at work early and setting up the office. She walks by Yuto’s desk and practices saying good morning casually when the real Yuto arrives at work. Hanae tries to make a quick escape from his company but she’s so nervous all the papers in her hand goes flying when she trips. She books it for the conference room and pulls down all the blinds to hide form Yuto.

Hanae peeks at Yuto sitting at his desk like nothing is out of the ordinary and eating his breakfast. She wonders how he can be so composed under such circumstances. Hanae keeps trying to avoid Yuto but her plan is immediately scuttled when her boss comes by to give her a belated birthday present and to take work off her plate to hand to Yuto. She offers to keep doing it but the boss wants to train Yuto and asks her to directly supervise him.

Hanae and Yuto end up in the conference sorting pistachios together and she makes it clear it’s all business between them when she writes “no talking about personal matters at work” on the white board. When Yuto tries to bring up yesterday she cuts him off repeatedly until he abides by her request to keep it professional.

Hanae is exhausted by lunch time with all this tension and quickly runs out of the office. Yuto follows her into the elevator since this is lunch time and her rules don’t apply anymore. He wants to know why she left yesterday so abruptly and is avoiding him now. He doesn’t go to a hotel casually and he’s serious about her.

Yuto asks Hanae to date him which shocks her to the core. Yuto pins her against the elevator and asks why can’t it be him? Yuto leans in and kisses Hanae who takes a few seconds to push Yuto off her. Hanae reminds Yuto that it’s still work hours and then runs out of the elevator once the door opens.

Yu gets out of the other elevator when he sees Hanae running out of the elevator like it was on fire. He stares in shock before turning to look into the elevator that Hanae ran out of and sees Yuto inside. The two men make eye contact briefly before the elevator door closes on Yuto.

Hanae is eating lunch at the same noodle place when Yu walks in and this time he goes directly to sit down across from her. He points out that she seems stressed and offers to hear what is bothering her and give her advice. It must be her very young boyfriend from work that is stressing her out, right? Hanae finally looks up at Yu.

Thoughts of Mine:

Until now, the only dorama I loved this year was Border with Oguri Shun, a thrilling and sleek supernatural police procedure that was great to watch but not all that compelling to recap or blog about. Even earlier this year Shitsuren Chocolatier pretended to be all romantic but was just a pile of stinky poo with unlikable characters in lame romantic entanglements. I have to look all the way back to Rich Man, Poor Woman to experience the rush of a nicely rendered renzouku. And no, Last Cinderalla sucked donkey balls IMO so it doesn’t count and I want to erase it from my memory other than for the forever hotness of Fujiki Naohito. I love that Ayase Haruka followed up headlining last year’s Taiga Yae no Sakura with this light romance dorama. KwKY is less comedic than Hotaru no Hikari, and she does need to break away from the goofy Hotaru image, nor is it as wistfully melancholy as Tatta Hitosu no Koi with the class love illness struggles. If anything KwKY is low key and rather mundane with the conflicts, but within that ordinariness is a lot of heart.

The screenwriter for this dorama did Summer Nude, Honey and Clover, and Operation Love, all doramas I watched and mostly liked but didn’t love. Having this story adapted from a manga source gives the characters the room to build upon already established foundations that are well received. The leads are all good people and no one behaves abominably in any way. The conflict and tension is the regular stuff that comes from dating conflicts, different expectations, inexperienced confusion, and incremental fears. As Hanae starts to interact with the two men that dropped into her life when she turned 30, she blossoms realistically but it’s not because of the men but because she doesn’t want to stick with the status quo due to fear of the dating unknown. She wants to change and she makes the effort, that’s why she’s a very easy to like leading lady despite her overly fearful attitude when it comes to romance. My only quibble so far with the dorama is the awkward soundtrack, this show could be so much better if the music was better and used judiciously. The cinematography is also rather dull but that’s not a deal breaker, especially when the three leads compensate by being the eye candy.

I’ve read all the manga chapters out already which is currently at chapter 17. The dorama differs quite a bit from the manga right from the beginning so I’m assuming the deviations will continue and that works for me. For starters Yu’s character is much more prominent in the dorama, he meets Hanae and also gets involved in her romantic life earlier than in the manga. The manga is really the romance between Hanae and Yuto with Yu as the distant third wheel, yet with Tamaki Hiroshi playing Yu I can’t see him being put in the corner which would be a waste of his smirky manly charisma. I love Fukushi Sota and having him play Yuto is a stroke of brilliant casting. I like Yuto as a character because he’s so direct and sincere towards Hanae, but in the manga it was Yu who was way more interesting. Fukushi Sota is all sorts of ridiculously adorable it’s easy to buy that Hanae would actually take a leap of faith with him. Hitomi actually represents the quintessential modern woman, she can spot, identify, and appreciate sexy men whether it’s the mature Yu or the fresh-faced Yuto, both of whom are prime catches all around. Unfortunately it’s Hanae that both of those guys have their eyes on and for good reason. She’s really a lovely person inside all that bundled up hesitation.

Hanae comes off as overly naïve and inexperienced in the first episode and that is exactly the way she’s written. She has a lot of voiceovers in the manga to explain her thought processes which helps flesh out her character whereas in the dorama we have to rely on Ayase Haruka to convey Hanae’s anxiety and awkwardness. The good part is that she’s not dumb or clueless, being inexperienced and a naturally shy person explains why she’s gone so long with being single and okay with it. In all other respects she’s a functioning normal adult, good at her job and casual friends with everyone she works with, able to carry on conversations and make excuses when needed to extricate herself. Seeing the juxtaposition of mundane Hanae with flustered Hanae after she slept with Yuto was a nice moment of seeing just how her first romantic tryst really rocked her world. Yuto is doing all the right overtures if he’s really serious about dating Hanae. He probably has a straight shot with her except for that mysterious all-seeing Yu that keeps showing up around Hanae. Which guy will win Hanae’s heart in the end? Even I don’t know and that’s what makes this dorama a clincher for me to follow.


Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu Episode 1 Recap — 80 Comments

  1. Omg that last screencap *drools* Rawrrrrr, Tamaki Hiroshi is so hot and charismatic in this already, he really knows how to work that suit! Yu sounds like a winner, and those smiles, ahhhh. I’d totally go for Yu if I were Hanae!

    Thanks for the lovely recap, and appreciate all the yummy screencaps you have of Tamaki!

    • Tamaki Hiroshi is still gorgeous as he ages. He’s less rangy than during the Nodame era and definitely fills out that suit so divinely.

      I can’t believe what a let down K-Nodame turned out to be even with zero expectations on my part. Poor Joo Won, his pale imitation version of Chiaki comes out the same week as a new Hiroshi dorama and all it does is emphasize how much Joo Won is lacking in comparison in charisma and acting talent. I tried but I still can’t connect with him.

      I like Sota and Hiroshi equally so expect tons of double male lead stills to come!

      • i’m with you on the k-version of the Nodama Cantabile, though I thought Joo Won was the only one that’s doing a decent job. Not Tamaki’s Chiaki but decent. ESK is way over the top, Nodame is not a flighty dimwit that ESK portrays her to be. I seriously did not have expectations and wad open mind to a different interpretation but just cannot connect to the music nor the execution of the drama.
        That said, I can how it will still appeal to viewers whom may not have liked the original jdorama or have not watched it. Unfortunately being a fan of the manga first and then the jdorama adaptation, this k-version is really a pale comparison. I’ll keep watching though since it’s only 2 eps in. Maybe it will do better later on.

        Thanks for the recap of KWKY. My last jdorama was RMPW and was waiting for your take on this drama. looks like I will give it a watch.

      • I promised myself I wouldn’t finish watching Nodame Cantabile so I could enjoy the K-version, but I couldn’t stop myself and with the J-drama so fresh in my mind, I can’t get behind the K-version as much. I’ll probably watch it still but I’m going to keep flashing back to how much MORE the J-drama was.

        And finally, a j-drama recap from you! I haven’t watched a new j-drama for a long time and I was hoping you’d have some recommendations soon. Will be watching this 😀

      • I’ve been watching a LOT of Jdramas every season… although lately, it takes much longer to finish watching one series mainly due to subtitles taking such a long time to be released/lack of English subtitles. Then again, I don’t have much preferential in watching Jdramas – sometimes I’ll check out the new series because I know the cast (even if I don’t like the plot) or sometimes I’ll check out the new series because the plot is interesting (even if I don’t know/like the cast)… But I would still enjoy it, Jdramas are weird like that.

        Not watching a lot of Kdramas lately, Prime Minister and I was the last one I finished watching and I’m struggling to finish Marriage Not Dating at episode 12 (mainly because the female lead STILL does not like the male leaad, so irritating).

        I agree with K-Nodame… read the recaps for episode 1 and I knew immediately that it is not for me, no need to waste time to actually watch the episode. I ended up watching the J-Nodame Cantabile instead. Skimmed comments in episode 2 in dramabeans – some commenters (alua, K) there really explained the difference… Isn’t it weird that Jdrama is 45 minutes and the story has continuity, while Kdrama version is 1 hour and it was missing things important for exposition? Kdramas tend to amp up the dramatics to create conflicts/issues, never mind that the characterization suffers. Hmm.

      • ockoala, I totally agree with you on Tamaki, isn’t he just so swoonsome? That screen presence, that charisma, the sex appeal! I love love love how he brightens the screen with that smile… ahhhhhhh…

        Agree with the comments on K-Nodame, it’s a trainwreck. The storytelling is all over the place and lacks the depth and substance of the manga/anime/J-drama. The music selection is just awful and doesn’t understand the relevance of the pieces to the characters in question. Characterisation was a fail – Nodame and Chiaki do not behave like that. Shim Eun-kyung made her look like a 12-year-old and Joo Won’s take is indeed a pale imitation, he has none of the zing, arrogance and screen presence of Tamaki (or even the manga Chiaki!). It’s just sad watching him and Shim mugging it up for the camera.

        Oh and for the funnies:

      • @kdramaholic91

        …and I was only touching on the tip of the iceberg of the problems in my DB comments (since some commenters there are quite sensitive and I really didn’t want to get into some sort of flame war). Truly, there’s a whole lot more that could be said. I actually went and watched both ep. 1 of J-Nodame and ep. 1 and 2 of K-Nodame to compare (yes, because I think if you are making an adaptations comparisons are going to happen. If they want to ride on the success of the original – which they do, b/c this drama wouldn’t have had half the buzz if it had been an original story –, that’s a risk you have to be prepared for).

        I don’t think the issues are taking liberties in adaptations (which is fine, not everything needs to be a carbon copy), but them not grasping the importance/meaning of some details in the source and the nuance that should go into the development of a narrative. I’m still baffled by them having Yoo-jin lure Nae-il with his cooking, when they didn’t establish her food obsession and/or how Yoo-jin learned about this food obsession. I felt like I was supposed to “know” this from having watched the J-version since they cut both the scenes that establish this in the original, once for the viewer, and once for Chiaki. K-Nodame only has a scene with her eating chocolate and feeling slightly guilty towards her Mom about this… but that’s not enough to establish that she’ll drop anything if you wave a bit of food under her nose.

        I do agree with madqueen that Joo Won is doing a “decent job”, but this isn’t much of a compliment – because a) his Chiaki is still very toned down (where has all the arrogance gone? where is the huge dichotomy in his character?) and b) everyone else is doing much worse. I can’t quite believe the Streseman we’ve got, after the first episode the only impression you get of him is of someone who has a long lost love, which is absolutely not the defining characteristic of his person!

        I will also say I sort of like Su-min, although he absolutely isn’t Eita / Mine and his character is rather different (rich boy?!?!?!), I at least feel he’s inhabiting his character rather than acting him out… which is what I feel with pretty all the others (esp. Nae-il).

        Ultimately, I think K-Nodame will work for viewers who didn’t like some aspects of the original (e.g. mangaseque violence) or those who didn’t see the original – because two episodes in it fits into the mould of most K-drama rom-coms.

        I’ll stop rambling now!

      • The k-remake of Nodame Cantabile is so bad I wanted to fork myself in the eye while watching. Gave up after episode 2. The whole thing reeks of farcical parody.

  2. Oh no I was going to put off watching this until it ended and I knew who got the girl so I didnt end up jumping on the wrong ship but now I might have to try it out

  3. After a recent few kdramas that were ok but didn’t capture my heart, I’m ready for a good rom-com. Koala, if you continue recapping, then I’m IN! Fingers crossed KwKY keeps up the good energy, chemistry AND storyline.

  4. oh and Koala THANKS SO MUCH FOR RECAPPING THIS DRAMA! YOU DON’T KNOW HOW LOUD I SQUEALED THIS MORNING. (means a lot to people who dont understand japanese like me lol) wish someone would sub it already~

    • Are you kidding!? Fukushi Sota NOT good looking to you? I get that everybody doesn’t appreciate Tamaki Hiroshi “aging gracefully” but Omg there is something wrong with your eyesite in regards to Soya.. IMOP!

  5. I saw ep. 1 raw. I know a miniscule amount of Japanese but it looks promising. The lead actress is my favorite Japanese actress. Yuto is so skinny, he is swimming in his clothes. I only know of one site,, that has Japanese dramas with subs.

  6. Ugh! Why does every ‘romantic’ drama have to be about stupid one-night stands now? I guess everyone has run out of ideas for anything good. Sad.

    • I would have agreed with you before I watched this, but I liked how unlike what the summary suggested – in the drama hanae is not that drunk, and she makes the decision to have a one night stand/to sleep with him. It was refreshing than the usual drunken don’t remember anything, and much more mature. I could appreciate hanae wanting to take a risk, when she hasn’t done before.

  7. oohhh… I am excited. I’m going to watch with chinese subs then. I also was going to wait until it finished airing to marathon it, but after reading this, I just can’t wait. I think the biggest reason is that I haven’t gotten into any kdramas at all this past season so I went back to jdramas. I just watched the j-version of ISWAK! LOL can’t believe I did that cause I had zero interest in it when it aired in japan, but I enjoyed it now. Seriously ISWAK was better than LC. So I am glad this one is not like LC.

    I haven’t read the manga so I don’t really know anything about it. Tamaki – love him!! They had better keep him right in with the thick of things. No LC way of doing it.

    thanks for the recap!!

  8. Thanks for introducing this drama to me, we have similar taste as in iagw. I love watching ayase and this drama is nice to watch, at least ayase looks very compatible with the younger actor compared to the couple in LC.

  9. Koala, do you mind telling me how you are watching this drama? I noticed there are Japanese subtitles beneath Chinese ones and would love to be able to find the video with the Japanese subtitles. Thanks so much for the recap!

  10. Seems like a winner for me and the introspection done by the female lead is a nice touch. I like them both so whomever she ends up with is OK with me. Jdoramas are really the best when it comes to workplace shows: They take the casual & elevate it without being a caricature + people behave like human beings. Refreshing.

  11. I liked Hotaru no Hikari, but felt that the comedic elements were a little too much for me to really love the drama. So I’m glad for this one, which is sort of a mesh up of HNH and Last Cinderella. I’m ever excited to see Tamaki back on tv, and though Fukushi is really charming, I hope to see more of Tamaki on screen!

  12. Have yet to watch the first episode even though Chinese Subs was out a few days ago but skimming through the recap, I’m glad that they don’t exactly follow the manga so It won’t be too predictable.

    Shitsuren Chocolatier was a drama that I didn’t expect I would finish but end up finishing all episodes, it gets to the darker territory when they reveal more of the private life of Ishihara Satomi’s character and I think she unexpectedly turns out to be the most realistic and intriguing character after getting to know the reasons behind her actions. I didn’t care much about other characters though, haha! Speaking of Ishihara Satomi, I watched the pilot episode of Dear Sister and find it pretty decent.

  13. Personally I would prefer if we could get just one rom-com without a love triangle! Buy, I am getting tired of that old hobby horse trope.

    • Me too. I also don’t need another innocent 30 year old matched with two hot guys who of course are much more experienced.

      Just not enough for me at the moment to be interested in this – also because Fukushi does zero for me.

  14. Your recap makes me want to watch it more!

    OOT: I remember when Ayase Haruka & Tamaki Hiroshi were in that deer drama, can’t remember the name. The characters were too cute.

    Anyway, this looks promising, I definitely think it’s a must watch. I hope you will continue posting recap of this drama, Ms. Koala 😀

    • The “deer drama” is Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi, and I highly recommend it! A very underrated gem because of its fantastical plot, but really worth a watch as everything ties in so beautifully. Tamaki is so different in there – no shades of Chiaki at all. I love his versatility.

      • Yes, that’s the one, Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi!

        I remember waiting for the subbed episode in Crunchyroll every week because the story was just so fascinating. I had completely forgotten about Tamaki as Chiaki there because Tamaki did a great job in Shikaotoko, he played the character so well.

  15. Ms.koala,thank you for the recap!

    although im not a fan of one-night-stand love story, I love ayasa n tamaki, so maybe i’ll give this drama a try. The only lovestory jdramas that I love are rmpw and zenkai girl,but I love jdramas when they are tackling heavy issues like law and banking, jdrama has much more depth compared to kdrama when it comes to these theme, I cant even watch full 10 minutes of medic kdrama.
    i’m disappointed with knodame,the visual is really good,the setup and the buildings are awesome but I don’t feel any connection to the characters. I dont even feel the charisma from kstresseman. I’m not a fan of joowon *hiding* and his scene when conducting is not believable too,lacking in charisma.all in all knodame is just visually stunning.omg,i’m so dead when knodame’s n joowon’s fans read this post,better grab the passport now.hehehe…

    • If you’re looking for good Japanese rom-coms, I recommend the following:

      Love Revolution
      Love Shuffle
      Long Vacation
      Hotaru no Hikari
      Kekkon Dekinai Otoko

      Not a rom-com, but has Ayase and Tamaki: Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi

      • Wuahhh,tq so much for the lists! 🙂 yes2! Love shuffle and hotaru no hikari are so good, never watch the other 3 dramas,definitely gonna watch them soon! Thank you!

  16. Favorite quotation: “If I woke up next to Yuto I would lock the hotel room and order room service for a week” Hell, yeah. Can you imagine going to work and seeing him and Yu on a daily basis? I would wake up automatically and get on the bus with a smile on face EVERY day.

    I really want to watch this.

  17. yay ! thanks for recapping this, I VERY STRONGLY suggest you ckeck out nishikido ryo’s new drama GOMEN NE SEISHUN, the lead actress is very talented too, it has humor charm and a very smart script, you won’t be disappointed

  18. so glad I got to read the first paragraph of this recap and then I decided to watch the first ep.. best decision ever– so lovin’ this drama! Thanks for an awesome recap and hope to enjoy the rest of this jdrama with you!! <3

  19. I agree with you with the hotel situation; I would also do the same. LOL. I also hate “Last Cinderella,” it was a complete disappointment in my opinion.

    Thank you for the recap, it is greatly appreciated. I already love this drama, the first episode left a great impression on me and am looking forward for more. It is filled with cute romance, humor, and great acting from the main leads. The chemistry is just great.

  20. I haven’t watched any J-dramas besides reading recaps on your site but this one seems just like my taste lol particularly since I haven’t watched any K-dramas lately. I looked up the manga which has the main love line between Hanae and Yuto, with Yu being the third wheel. Do Japanese dramas tend to stay with the manga story line or do they make their own stories? So far I like both male leads, but I’m liking Yu a tiny bit more, mainly because I’m a little bored of the noona romances in K-dramas lol (I’m probably the only one!) Realistically, I’m guessing Yu’s probably going to be her daddy long legs and they’ll end up being friends which sucks because older *hot* guys need love too! And he’s not even that much older!

  21. I haven’t watched a j-drama in a long time and literally get excited for the next episode. I was like OMG! in that elevator scene. The chemistry was just so hot, and then Tamaki joins in and stares….whew! Ok, so I was looking for the 2nd ep –which of course hasn’t been released yet:) I might just have to go and read the manga in the meantime.

  22. *bows* hontouni a gazillion arigato gozaimasu for recapping this… kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa <333 this is gonna be zettai grreeeattt <3<3

  23. I find the actor plays Yuto a bit wooden. So I like Yu. I hope she ends up with Yu. What’s wrong with being a virgin at 30s? Feels like it’s not a good thing. Since when has it changed? I’m being raised with the belief of staying virgin until you’re married.

  24. Thank you so much koala for your regular updates on Japanese and Taiwanese dramas and related news. For example I would never have known about this drama. I love the actors and enjoyed reading this recap.

  25. I’ve been waiting for this drama. I love Ayase Haruka and Hiroshi Tamaki so this is almost heaven. I don’t like the other male lead so that’s why it’s only almost and I would pretty darn upset if Hiroshi doesn’t get the girl in the drama. If it happens that Hiroshi will not get the girl in the drama, I still want him to get the girl in real life. I ship Hiroshi and Ayase. They’re good people. They need to be together.

  26. Thanks for doing a recap for this J-drama! I think I’m going to wait till the drama finishes before I watch the whole thing because I’m afraid I’ll just get disappointed if she doesn’t end up with Yu.

    I just finished rewatching Nodame Cantabile again after being sorely disappointed in the Korean remake, and seeing that Tamaki has a currently airing drama is an added bonus.

  27. Hoping this drama works out better than “Last Cinderella”, so far I’m enjoying the leads – and the character introductions.

    lol everyone’s talking about Nodame. I watched 2 episodes of the Korean Version, and I want to erase it from my head. There’s nothing refreshing about it’s just a copycat version with added side characters. The Korean “Liar Game” however is really good – they’ve taken elements from the original and revamped it into an individual piece.

    • I’m hesitant to watch Liar Game because Cantabile Tomorrow was just bleh. This is my bias but the Japanese actors were just SO GOOD – and better looking? Lol.

  28. Enjoyed the first episode and looking forward to the next. Fine acting by Ayase as Hanae ..I was so touched when she cried after eating the birthday cake her father bought her and he wished her happy birthday. An ordinary scene but done so well. Tamaki’s Yu is interesting and will like to see more of him. There are no irritating or bullying supporting characters in the office and boss seems a good man.

  29. Hiroshi Tamaki has aged well. Older with an older man’s charm that would blow any fresh faced cutie out of the water.

    Ugh I would need about an hour after seeing this episode to objectively review his performance….oh to hell with objectivity, that last capture just SWOON.

  30. Thank goodness Tamaki’s ‘Chiaki’ face is back. After Nodame he looked so skinny that it worried me. He’s hotter now. That’s good. I like Tamaki this way.

  31. Hello. Happened to stumble upon here and I like your recaps! Well done! *claps* I m currently catching this drama and find it rather relaxing to watch (though there’s gonna be a Love Triangle happening soon!) and seriously, this drama reminds me of “Anego” (2005), starring Shinohara Ryoko and Jin Akanishi!!! Both dramas has some similarities = Office Love / An Older Girlfriend vs A Younger Boyfriend / A better and age wise more compatible Love Rival. Hahaha. I think dats 1 of the reason y I m watching this drama now.

    And the cast is simply funny but good. The biggest surprise is Fukushi Sota. Back then in the movie “The Library War”, he looked cute & kiddy. But now, in the drama, he carries the more mature look/charisma perfectly fine. And “Chiaki Senpai”, always the Gentleman x Handsome guy like! Not forgetting abt Haruka-San. Cute!!!! *screams*

  32. omg Sota Fukushi is everywhere .
    Say I Love you is lovely <3 i've watched it and he's hot 😉
    this month he'll be in new movie , omg i so excited to watched it .
    i think next year he'll be the lead for Strobe Edge too . he's awesome <3

  33. I finished watching ‘Dear Sister’ which I enjoyed immensely, not long ago and needed another outstanding jdorama fix. So, I stopped by your website to find out what drama everyone was watching and commenting on, which led me to this one. I just started watching it and its already a winner. Her two love interest, the 3rd year college student and the CEO are both handsome. For the time being, its a moot point as to who I favor her ending up with. So, I’ll just enjoy watching how each situation plays out.

  34. P.S. I find Hanae’s imagination about the age difference between her and Yuto whimsical. Itz interesting how she’s handling being noticed by 2 men. She’s beginning to relax and feel safe with the college student. Thinking their relationship won’t go anywhere. While with the CEO, she questions why would someone like him be interested in someone like her. She doesn’t realize that he probably hates being chased and pursued by women and wants to initiate the chase himself. Which makes her even more alluring to him.

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