Protocol Snow

Buzzer Beat post-mortem

with 5 comments

After my cautiously optimistic impressions of the first three Buzzer Beat episodes, this Japanese drama continued to get better, transforming into a genuinely and surprisingly great show. The pacing in particular was impressive. Revelations that might take a few episodes to unravel in other shows were quickly addressed by the characters, forsaking much of the agonizing waiting found in stereotypical dramas. The plot was moving forward swiftly, the characters had great chemistry amongst them… this show was looking like a slam dunk.

But as the finale approached, Buzzer Beat lost its momentum and concluded with an utterly worthless final episode. Where did it all go wrong?

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

Refer to my first post about Buzzer Beat for the background and character introductions

What I loved about the first half of Buzzer Beat probably caused its downfall. The plot was advancing so quickly that I felt the complications introduced later in the show were thrown in just to fill out the remainder of the episodes. Sure, in the context of the storyline they weren’t completely unwarranted, but those plot developments carried a lot of angst and frustration that brought down the show. And were they really necessary? I say no.

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

The last episode in particular was plain awful. The bulk of that hour consisted of meaningless scenes plus a time-skip leading to a lackluster basketball match. I spent that episode wondering when something important was going to happen and asking myself, “THIS is the last episode?” Was there a different group of writers for the finale? Because it sure felt that way.

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

One point in the finale almost made me stop watching. The female violinist (Keiko Kitagawa) was practicing for an important orchestra concert and was going to miss her love interest’s (Yamashita Tomohisa) basketball game, so she stands up to ditch practice. What does the foreign conductor say in English? “Everything is ok. Love makes us strong.”

Never mind that one of the major settings in the drama is a park with the phrase “Love makes us strong” prominently featured on a wall. Hearing the conductor say it, which made no sense in that context by the way, made me grimace. One of the worst moments in a drama for me yet, only rivaled by the “Water! WATER!” screams early in My Boss My Hero, which almost made me quit THAT drama.

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

Despite the disappointing last few episodes of the show, one strong constant was the chemistry between Keiko and Yamashita (aka Yamapi). They play off each other well and have very natural interactions. At times, Yamapi seems slightly stiff and his hair is completely distracting, but Keiko is fantastic throughout. She probably made a lot of new fans with this drama. I can’t wait to see what’s next for her!

One final note: since Keiko’s character is a musician, she loves to watch Yamapi practice basketball and closes her eyes to breathe in the notes of the basketball hitting the ground. I wish they could have emphasized this clever connection a bit more, as there’s something beautifully poetic in how she can musically connect with his basketball play this way.

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

As a whole, I believe the stellar first 7-8 episodes withstand the damage done by the remainder of the show. Buzzer Beat is a feel-good story about having dreams and working hard. It’s a simple story bolstered by two strong stars and well-written dialogue. What a shame the show lost steam towards the end because this drama could have been superb.

Buzzer Beat Keiko Kitagawa Yamapi Yamashita Tomohisa Japanese drama Jdrama J-drama

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Written by Protocol Snow

October 4th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Asian drama

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  • whipcracker

    I have been a follower of Shibuya246 for quite some time now. I checked your blog out and saw tat you like J-dramas as much as I do. I agree that Buzzer Beats last ep was a major let down.
    Nobuta wo produce was a hard drama to get into. It seemed slow moving but I’ll have to finish the series to fully understand it. Yampapi went on to star in another drama called “Code Blue’. He plays an intern at a hospital that has a helicopter rescue progam. he is the smartest intern of the bunch. haven’t finished that 1 either, but will get to it eventually. Might want to check it out when you have time. A couple more you might want to check out is GTO and Gokusen.
    hope to hear back from you.

  • http://www.protocolsnow.com Protocol Snow

    Thanks for visiting! I’ve heard good things about Code Blue but haven’t watched it yet. GTO is amazing.

    A lot of people like Gokusen, but I’m not a fan because it had so many similarities to GTO that it just felt like a cheap copy. I didn’t like the female teacher too much either.

  • http://aparoo.wordpress.com/ aparoo

    I really liked the love-romances and love-for-basketball in Buzzer Beat. I fell in love with Keiko! Totally agree that the last episode was not a formidable ending.

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