Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: Last Friends


Summary
Alternative Title: ラスト・フレンズ
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 11
Broadcast: Apr. - Jun. 2008
Starring:

  • Nagasawa Masami as Aida Michiru
  • Ueno Juri as Kishimoto Ruka
  • Eita as Mizushima Takeru
  • Nishikido Ryo as Oikawa Sosuke
Michiru has to deal with many life issues. Her father died when she was young and her mom constantly drinks and invites other men to her home. She is also bullied at her workplace where she is a hairdresser. Michiru decides to live with her boyfriend, Sosuke, a man who works at Child Welfare. Later on, Michiru coincidentally meets Ruka, a childhood friend that Michiru hasn’t seen since high school.

Review

After seeing the cast of Last Friends, I knew I had to give this drama a try. It probably has one of the most all-star casts I’ve ever. All the main characters are played by actors you’ve probably seen in another popular drama. Ueno, Eita and Mizukawa also starred in Nodame no Cantabile. Nagasawa is in just about every romance J-movie out there and Nishikido is from the J-pop group NewS.

Let’s start with the good stuff first. I thought the number one thing this drama did good was the story. First of all, it was fast-paced. Each episode ended with an interesting cliff-hanger and I didn’t feel that much time was wasted. Secondly, the story touches on issues you normally don’t see in other dramas. In other words, there aren’t the usual clichés that you would find in other dramas. Another aspect of the story I liked was how it ended. The last episode didn’t introduce anything too new or introduce another twist in the story. The series just ended exactly the way that I wanted it to end.

Even though, most aspects of the story were very well done, there were some negatives about it as well. Some episodes felt a little repetitive with same thing happening over and over again. Also, I felt that some episodes had a slower story midway through and didn’t continue on the previous episode’s cliff-hanger. The biggest downside for me was Nishikido Ryo (the guy from NewS who plays Sosuke). I know the girls will disagree but Nishikido should not be allowed to act. He is probably my pick as the worst actor ever. He shows absolutely no emotion and always seems to act cool. However, with the exception of Nishikido, the rest of the cast was superb in acting, especially the actresses who played Michiru and Ruka.



Pros
  • Fast-paced story (for most episodes)
  • Touches on issues you don’t find in other dramas
  • Ending was perfect
  • Most of the acting was very good
Cons
  • Nishikido Ryo’s acting
  • Story was a bit repetitive at times
  • Story was slow midway through some of the episode
Recommendation
If you’re looking for a unique J-drama that deals with sensitive issues then watch Last Friends.

Rating: 8/10

Video Preview
Here’s a short CM for Last Friends.

4 comments:

H . Y . P . E December 23, 2008 at 12:38 AM  

I have to agree that this drama is very unique and I was hooked on it right away.
Ueno Juri just dazzles me with her acting. So much emotion comes from just her acting. I already knew she was good though from Nodame. She's truly a versatile actress.

But I have to disagree with your view on Nikishido's acting. At least partially. His character is supposed to be "cold" and somewhat bland. Maybe it's just his face, but I really believe that he is a "cold, heartless, bastard" when I watched this drama. Although I won't praise him as a 'good' actor either, but I think you gave him far less credit than what he's worth.

Anonymous February 26, 2009 at 1:03 AM  

I agree with you with your point on the stories. I agree with you on that.

But I think Nishikido Ryo did a fine job.
He was originally the "nice guy" image from 1 Litre of Tears. I personally think it was a brave thing he did to do such a cold and violent character. It's not easy to act as a super violent creep when you're originally concept was good guy image. NewS does have its fame for quite the positive and happy songs. He pulled it off quite nicely.

Other than that, I think I agree with you totally.

zuna May 4, 2009 at 7:26 AM  

Same like both comments above, I think Nishikido really plays a good acting. He and others really made the dorama "alive". This dorama is really high recommended.

Roa July 14, 2009 at 9:41 PM  

For me, I thought Nishikido did an excellent job. I don't know if you've misunderstood his character. At first, I was surprised that Nishikido took on the role of the 'cold, bad man' because he was always the good guy in the dramas I've seen him in so far. (I even almost didn't realize he was Nishikido Ryo!! And I agree with H.Y.P.E btw.) So, I thought it was weird the way he acted. It was so... different. He wasn't endearing, happy or humorous. Further on in the drama, I understood why he was this way because he was in an abusive relationship where he was the offender. The emotion he laid out for us was amazing. I didn't think for a second, 'oh, this is just acting'(except for when I was fangirling on how good he was). I realized, "Wow! He really performed his part well!" So, I'm glad that he undertook the role of Sousuke. He was an actor I was familiar with from other projects, and I got to see how he was able to change his demeanor: from the usual happy-go-lucky guy to becoming an abuser in Last Friends.
He may not be the best of actors, but I felt I was most drawn to him emotionally, and in my opinion no one could've done it better than him. :)
(Just for the heck of it, have you ever watched LIFE? If not, its a good one too :D)

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