Hirosue Ryoko plays a pouty, blind girl with a chip on her shoulder (chips and grudges are in this quarter), whose very wealthy father has just died and left her his estate. Her mother left him years ago, taking her older brother, but leaving her behind. The sweet, but none-too-sharp brother, Reiji, writes her for years but the housekeeper throws the letters away. Now it turns out that this sweet Reiji (let's call him Reiji I), has gone to work as a cook for another guy named Reiji (Reiji II played by Watabe Atsuro), the cold-hearted head of a very successful Kabukicho host club. The girls all love him, but all he loves is his bankbook. Reiji II's life goes well until one day a rich executive's wife, who has been providing him with millions, turns out to be a poor bank clerk who has embezzled all the cash from her employer. Reiji II did not know this, but the police do not believe him and he heads off to serve six months as an accessory to the crime. The distraught, sweet Reiji I steps into the street to protest as Reiji II is driven off to jail, gets hit by a motorcycle and dies.
Six months later, Reiji II returns to find that the world of Kabukicho has turned against him and, during his incarceration, he has somehow run up a huge debt to the district's worst loan shark. As he prepares to be eaten alive by the nasty loan sharks, a private detective shows up looking for Reiji I, so he can reunite him with his long-lost sister. Somebody gets Reiji I and II confused, but Reiji II does a quick take on the situation. Seeing this as his only hope of swimming out of shark-infested waters, he takes it. He steals the identity of the other Reiji and heads off for a reunion with his newfound "sister." Bitter and angry about something as yet undisclosed, she is in no mood to be won over and slashes him on the cheek with her white cane. End of episode one. And yes, that was the best offering of the week. (Wm Penn, Excerpt from Daily Yomiuri, 2002-Jul-18)
Cast & Credits
Now, let’s leave my proud self aside and talk about the drama. This is the original root of both “Love Me Not” and “That Winter the Wind Blows”; the Korean film and drama are remade from this Ai Nante Iranai Yo Natsu. I always had this drama under my radar ever since I first saw the film few years back but the lack of subtitles pushed me away, luckily I had enough courage to pick it up lately.
If I compare versions; I would undeniably state that the original Japanese version is the most realistic one but not fast paced as I thought it would be. However, the flowing of events was quite smooth that the drama felt very addictive. Although I should’ve watched this drama slower, because after all, I had to be extra focused on what they say but I just couldn’t slow down. It didn’t even matter that I already knew what will happen next (except for the ending of course because I knew it would be dissimilar one way or the other).
What also lacked in the Japanese version is the skin ship; there was lots of skin ship in the Korean remakes especially the drama but in here, it was almost absent. Many people would consider that disappointing, as for me; I found nothing wrong with that because the genuine feelings spoke better than touches in here. Also, this drama’s ending is way better than the ending of Love Me Not and That Winter the Wind Blows combined.
For those who aren’t familiar with the plot, this drama had an enjoyable atypical story. It could have gone a little astray at some points but it always managed to come back to its usual pace in no time. What also catches the eye about this drama is the sincerity of emotions displayed even if some melodramatic moments were a bit too exaggerated.
The acting was pretty enjoyable and believable. I am somewhat having Watabe Atsuro’s phase and I am glad to see one of his older dramas where he did a great job with the role. As for Hirosue Ryoko, I really like to see that actress around; she always manages to attract me in. The rest of the cast did a respectable job.
The characters felt very real. For instance, the way Reiji was portrayed was straightforward in an almost perfect manner; the way he talks, smokes, acts around other people is the core of how that character should be like. As for Ako, she was also quite good and she didn’t show unbalanced contradictions which I truly appreciated. The side characters were also good but I am sure some of them could have been better than that.
It’s a given that the Korean remakes were more beautiful than this when it comes to visuals especially the drama because that’s what Koreans do best: their remakes are always glowing with dreamy cinematography and sceneries but you should keep in mind that this was produced back in 2002. I also should mention that this drama was set in the summer while the Korean film and drama took winter as their set. It’s a bit insignificant but I found the winter background way more appealing than the summer setting.
-You liked any of the Korean versions because this is what started it all.
-You like the Japanese way of making melodramas/Life productions.
-You want to watch something different and enjoyable.
Do not watch if:
-You dislike remakes; just stick with the version that you already watched.
-You dislike life and melodramatic dramas.
-You want to watch a vividly shot drama.
Ai Nante Iranai Yo Natsu is a well-made drama with a nice topic that deserves to be watched even if its Korean remakes got all the attention. It’s a loss that many are prevented from watching this drama due to the lack of subtitles.