The last time I watched a Japanese drama was over a year ago, and since I had some free time this past weekend, I browsed for something new to watch and came across Buzzer Beat. This show just started airing a few weeks ago and has a few big names in the cast, most notably Yamashita Tomohisa (aka Yamapi) from Nobuta wo Produce and Keiko Kitagawa. Yamapi is a super popular male idol and is without a doubt the reason most people are interested in Buzzer Beat, but I’m watching the show for Keiko. I was introduced to her on a very amusing episode of the variety show Shoujiki Shindoi, and I’ve been following her blog for quite a while. She is very honest and I like how genuine she seems.
Yamapi plays Kamiya Naoki, a professional basketball player in Japan who is in a slump and doesn’t have any confidence in himself. He had planned on proposing to his girlfriend if his team won the league championships, but they lost early in the playoffs. Things aren’t going well for him until he meets and bonds with a cheery new girl in the neighborhood. Will they fall in love? Of course!
Asian dramas definitely are a guilty pleasure for me. Most of the plots are predictable. Many big names first became famous in another facet of the entertainment industry before going into acting, which is why their acting skills aren’t particularly impressive. But this mindless entertainment nevertheless still captivates me and I become engrossed in the world and the characters of the show. Watching these dramas is a good way for me to practice my Japanese skills, but ultimately the reason why I watch is for the ladies. I will watch almost anything if the leading actress is somebody I like.
Aibu Saki plays the evil girlfriend who is starting to get bored with Naoki and cheats on him in the very first episode (and in subsequent ones). However, she has an innocent appearance and is well-liked by everybody, including Naoki’s family. The sparks will fly once everybody discovers what she’s done…
Keiko Kitagawa plays Shirakawa Riko, an aspiring musician who lives near Naoki and can see him practicing basketball from her apartment. They become friends, and although it’s obvious that they will fall in love as the show progresses, at this point they’re tied up in relationships and haven’t realized their feelings for each other yet. There’s somebody standing in the way of their future pairing though…
…and that would be the coach of the basketball team, played by Ito Hideaki. He seems to be a swell person so far, but he met Riko before Naoki did and quickly asked her out. Naoki and his girlfriend will likely separate as soon as he discovers her unfaithfulness, but unless the coach turns out to be a jerk, it could be difficult for Naoki to start dating Riko without being a bad guy and breaking them up. That’s not going to happen because Naoki is portrayed as a naive and pure hearted character, so this will likely be the main conflict of the show. Well, aside from the evil cheating girlfriend.
That’s the basic set-up for the show. Not all that original or creative, but Buzzer Beat is fun to watch so far and I’ll be sticking with it. There’s a healthy dose of humor provided by the secondary characters. Luckily the basketball action isn’t a big focus because I always find sports scenes to be unrealistic and awkwardly filmed. What’s ridiculous is that the directors find every opportunity possible to film the guys walking around with their shirts off. No doubt catering to the fangirls, but there’s too many gratuitous locker room scenes. There have been multiple topless scenes in all three episodes aired so far.
At least they went to the beach one time to have a different backdrop for some more topless scenes.
Enjoyable drama so far! I will have a post-mortem wrap-up after the show finishes airing.
UPDATE: Final thoughts on the show
Airing Summer 2009
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Sports