Moon Lovers

God, can we just look at those GQMFs right there. Just look at them.

Anyhoo, I’ve been meaning to watch a Kimura Takuya drama for forever but I’m still pretty new to Japanese fandom in general, and getting into a new country’s fandom is intense. Every kind of fandom — TV, film, books — has its own rules, and even moreso if the fandom originates from another country. I’m already comfortable in my Korean — and to a lesser extent, Chinese — pop bubble, because I know where to look for discussions on the pop culture and I know where to find that material on my own to sample it. Totally not fluent in J-fandom, which is why I’ve really put it off for so long. Also, I have a huge problem remembering Japanese names. They’re so much longer than their East Asian counterparts D:

More rambling after the jump, oh and yeah, off to watch every single drama Kimura Takuya has ever done.

I’m liking Moon Lovers. Not the best, but I think it’s a really good intro to Kimura for me. The writing’s kind of shoddy and the acting from Lin Chi Ling makes me want to die, but I like Kimura’s acting for the role. I’ve read somewhere that he personally doesn’t like the character or the role, but as work for me to judge his acting on, I think this is a good role.

STORY

Our characters:

  • Kimura Takuya as Hazuki Rensuke (Ren)

  • Lin Chi Ling as Xiu Mei
  • Shinohara Ryoko as Ninomiya Naemi
  • Matsuda Shota as Sai Kazami
  • Kitagawa Keiko as Onuki Yuzuki
  • Ren is the president of Regolith, a furniture company, and it’s his ambition to make it the biggest and most successful company in Japan, no matter what it takes. Xiu Mei is a worker at the Shanghai manufacturing plant for Regolith, a plant that is faced with unpleasant work conditions and is in the midst of protest against Regolith. She catches Ren’s eyes and he originally plans to use her as the company’s model so that he can earn the good favor of the workers in Shanghai, but things get complicated.

    Naemi is a college friend of Ren, and continues to work for him at the company. We can tell that they’ve had a good friendship for a while, but Naemi may like Ren more than just as friends. Kazami is Ren’s personal assistant, and Yuzuki is the daughter of a rival company who dated Ren in the past.

    ACTING

    Let’s start with Lin Chi Ling because she is the fork in my eye. Lord kill meh, she is so bad. Maybe I would feel less inclined to criticize her if I saw her acting in her own language, but she does most of her dialogue in Japanese and it’s completely absurd. There is no depth in any of her emotions and she’s just not emoting at all sometimes. It’s even more painfully obvious because she’s acting alongside Kimura — who is so excellent — and Shinohara Ryoko, who is also the bomb diggity. Even Kitagawa Keiko is adorbs, probably the most adorbs jealous second female lead ever. Maybe I’m experiencing more secondhand embarrassment because she’s Chinese, maybe not. Whatever the case, severe secondhand embarrassment in so many of her scenes with Kimura.

    But on the appearance quota, I can see why they cast her, because she is stunning:



    Kimura Takuya. Like I’ve said, I’ve been wanting to watch some of his stuff for forever now and this is my first official KimuTaku drama. Personally, I judge how good an actor/actress is by how subtle his/her expressions are, and Kimura is so pro. Why was he ever part of a boy band again???? He should’ve only done acting from the start, so that he has none of that boyband stuff tainting his resume ;P

    Even though I think that the music editing severely ruins some of the scenes in this drama, Kimura’s expressions really set the tone of whatever scene he does, whether it be a solo scene or one with other actors:

    LENGTH

    From what I’ve gathered, this drama is not doing well ratings-wise, and is going from its initial 10 episode block down to 8 episodes, which is cutting it really close. I constantly complain that Korean dramas are too long for their own good, but on the flip side, I don’t think Japanese dramas are perfect at 10/11 episodes either. For zippy, easy-breezy dramas with no vested love lines, I think 10/11 episodes are good. But in stories that involve a lot of character development that simultaneously intertwine with romantic plotlines, 10 is not enough, and 8 is just straight-up cheating.

    This is one of those dramas that needs to be fleshed out. Kimura’s character Hazuki is a cold man who doesn’t really believe in anything but success, but him meeting Lin Chi Ling’s Xiu Mei changes that. I have a bone to pick with that pairing (which we’ll get to later), but the point is that that’s what changes him, and you can’t really show believable romantic and character development in 8 episodes. By episode 5, he’s asking her to marry him.

    This is the equivalent of episode 14.5 in Korean dramas!!!

    VERDICT

    My big bone to pick with this story is that I don’t really believe in the love that blossoms between Ren and Xiu Mei. It feels especially contrived in this drama, and I’m hyper-aware at all times this is kind of like a China/Japan production. It’s not really a joint production in technical terms, but the fact that Xiu Mei is Chinese makes me feel like the writers are forcing more love out of this relationship than is necessarily believable. I think the two country’s histories together are not negligible in ventures like these, because nationalities are always crucial to the character’s identities. I feel like sometimes both countries are overly cautious and extremely overly compensating in making sure everyone appears courteous and welcoming, like, “Yeah those bad times in the past never happened! We are welcoming of you Japanese, and we are welcoming of you Chinese! Our love overcomes nationalities! Anything can happen!” It makes me cringe.

    Anyway, aside from that bit, I hate romances in dramas — any drama from any country — that happen really fast, especially romances that involve at least one character that proves to be unyielding to change. I think I prefer the journey in a relationship more than I like the outright declarations, which is why I have no patience for rushed romances. It’s a really big turn-off. Why does Xiu Mei like Ren? Why does Xiu Mei captivate Ren so much? Gahhhhhh.

    Second bone: sloppy writing. So many obstacles in this story are written away through plot contrivances. We need to get make Xiu Mei get mad at Ren…so we’ll take her dad away because he’s accused of credit card fraud and that’s bad for the company’s image. We need Xiu Mei to have a legitimate reason to be the Regolith model, so we make her friend take her money so she has nothing left and has to model. I mean, there are better ways to write in contrivances. This is something I really tend to have a problem with in J-dramas.

    Obviously I’m going to watch this until it’s over (so much easier to say this with Jdramas than Kdramas because of the length), but I’ve been reading people’s reactions to the preview for the finale and it…sounds confusing. I’m confused. They’re going to try to reroute this and make it a Ren/Naemi coupling? What in the what? Way to make this writing even shoddier than it already has been. Gah. I wanted my first Kimura drama experience to be perfect!

    • inquinn

      oh, Takuya Kimura is one of the best actors of all time! i mean, his characters in dramas are not that much different but he has never disappoint. and i agree, i started off with Japanese entertainment way before Korean but (back then) the sources are pretty limited. then i got disconnected for a while and when i wanted to resume, my old references are gone. but try J-dramas, they’re definitely different. my personal favourite of Takuya Kimura is Good Luck, and to a lesser extent, Pride.

    • cranberrysheep

      If you like Kimura, check out Pride. It’s by far and away my favorite drama of his.

      Tsuki no Koibito has been a bitter disappointment to me for the most part. There is so much talent in the cast (minus the obvious) but the pacing of the drama is making it really hard to enjoy. Like you said, it’s all so rushed.

    • http://me.astromantic.org f

      They’re going to try to reroute this and make it a Ren/Maemi coupling?
      I think they are, and that disappoints me. Kind of like, “oh, your TRUE love was in front of you all along? Xiu Mei? That was just a fling.” :/

      I’m struggling through Pride, but you should watch that and Hero (my intro to Kimutaku … he was younger then, but the ratings were OUT OF CONTROL).

      • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/ Amy

        Not gonna lie, I am a huge romance lover when I watch dramas. J-dramas fall a little short on the love department for me (maybe I’ve just been watching bad ones?). Anyhoo, is Hero more of a profession drama (ie, lawyer talk 24/7) or is it romance as well?

        • mintyboy

          Definitely go watch Pride for your fix of romance. BUT brace yourself, it’s no sweet-korean-type of relationship. I’m glad that j-drama are short this one time since the storyline wouldn’t have work with a longer run.

        • http://me.astromantic.org f

          I love romance in my dramas, too. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched a drama and it’s just not enough for me. :|

          It’s more professional (not too much lawyer talk since they’re rarely in the court room). He and Matsu Takako have good chemistry together that they expand on a bit more in the movie, and the rest of the cast is hilarious (Abe Hiroshi? Yes, please!). Pride is definitely a drama for romance, though.

    • Christine

      I totally agree with the first two comments. Pride was a really good Kimura drama. Mr. BRAIN was .. also an interesting one. His character can be considered quite unexpected due to his J-pop image.

    • S

      If you want a classic Kimura drama you should try Long Vacation…its a really good watch

    • http://www.myspece.com/lakinetica kinella

      yes, Long Vacation is the drama you should watch
      that one and One Million Stars Falling from the Sky; gosh that one is sooo dark and it will break your heart.
      Gift is also funny and KimuTaku is stunning there

      dunno, pick any drama an dit will be worth watching: Kimura Takuya never fails

    • yosh!

      I like Engine, Hero and Change and for classic romance Long vacation, Pride and Beautiful Life. Hero the movie is terrific as well. and Kimura has the reputation of taking only one drama per year,he’s a quality man and also because he is such a hot stuff he is SURE to make the ratings went over the roof haha. Anyway Moon Lovers are one of his lowest ratings, i think the audience doesnt really like bad Kimutaku.

      Anyway Moon Lovers fan, DONT DESPAIR IT GETS BETTER AND BETTER AFTER EPISODE 5. LAST EPISODE IS PHENOMENAL.

      I actually liked Japanese dramas more than the Koreans because if you can find good ones, they’re are breezy,snappy and pretty good.the problem is, trying to find really good ones are very hard.

      The actress for Maemi is terrific as well, shes a veteran. She has a reputation of acting roles that can shine by itself, can carry the drama by herself, as of all her recent work was. You finish the dramas by Kimura firts then i’ll recommend you where you should watch Maemi-san’s (Shinohara Ryoko) other dramas.

      • http://evacuatewithstyle.org/ Amy

        I finished Moon Lovers and I thought the series took a definite turn for the worst after episode 5 and a half or so, haha. I’m not a fan of the Maemi/Rensuke pairing, so the last two episodes did nothing for me.

        • neryl

          haha i guess it depends on the people. i have been a loyal ren/maemi shipper since ep 1 lol

          maybe i’m biased because both the actor and actress are two of my fav japanese entertainers.(they both sing too)

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