I watched Japanese drama Rich Man, Poor Woman a few weeks back, and it was a sweet but unexceptional romance. Oguri Shun is Hyuga Toru, a Steve-Jobs-esque tech genius who has founded his own company and graced multiple magazine covers before his 30th birthday. His fledgling IT company is off the ground and he’s looking for the next exciting innovation that will change the quality of human lives. Ishihara Satomi meanwhile is Sawaki Chihiro, a recent college graduate who has done absolutely everything possible to make herself an ideal job hire for businesses, but who faces an overwhelming amount of competition in a crowded job market.
After applying to hundreds of jobs and interviewing at dozens, she finds herself defeated and nearly hopeless. She sees the announcement that Toru’s company is hiring and takes herself there in a last-ditch effort, since she has a small personal connection to Toru (which he doesn’t remember). Ultimately, however, he does hire her due to one small characteristic: she has a photographic memory that allows her to take in vast amounts of information in a very small amount of time.
I really really liked the setup – Shun’s character is completely kooky, your traditional tech genius constantly operating five wavelengths above every else, very nearly oblivious to emotional nuance, and hyper-energetic and focused. Shun plays him with empathy and delight in one of the better performances I’ve seen him give – but the plot of this is just rather silly. The fate of Toru’s company is what most of the drama revolves around, and frankly, no-one watches dramas for business plots – we want interpersonal relationships and drama, and yes, some measure of underdog success. Toru is hardly an underdog however which is why, as sweet as it is when several of his employees take a drastic risk and support him and his ideas, getting the company back off the ground after a crash, it ultimately doesn’t quite grab the heart. Millionaire briefly loses money, will easily become millionaire again because is a clear genius who pops out new ideas like they’re popcorn and is even pretty good at delivering them and making business deals. Toru doesn’t really need anyone to help or rescue him professionally.
Satomi is adorable as Chihiro, all warmth, bubbly kindness, and determination, but I was very annoyed that yet AGAIN we have your naive professional girl who isn’t the brightest cookie on the block. Her photographic memory was such a promising early development – and the drama does show her as competent overall – but there’s nothing brilliant or exceptional about her intelligence or capabilities, and that was very disappointing. I am extremely tired of unintelligent, cutesy drama heroines, and while Satomi has such natural screen charm I was willing to forgive her for much of it, it did make the drama and her dynamic with Toru much more predictable than it otherwise would have been.
The romance, however, was very cute, and both slowly developed but also very present, which is a combination I like, and culminated in a very satisfying aiport scene which I will post pictures of in another post.
Do I recommend this drama? Well it’s cute and somewhat romantic,but large parts of it are throwaways. Overall I’d say there are much better dramas out there but watch this if you are madly in love with Oguri Shun or you don’t have anything better to do. Also, I was obsessed with the camerawork here – it was so unusually stunning, as you’ll see in some of the screenshots below.
You can watch it here or torrent it here.
On to Shun’s facial expressions!
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