Tokyo Love Story (2020) poster
7.4
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 398 users
# of Watchers: 1,671
Reviews: 9 users
Ranked #7240
Popularity #6112
Watchers 398

Nagao Kanji works for an advertising agency in his hometown of Ehime Prefecture. He is assigned to the Tokyo sales department where his colleague Akana Rika takes care of his work. One day, Kanji is invited to drinks by Mikami Kenichi, a former classmate from his hometown who is now in Tokyo, and he is also reunited with Sekiguchi Satomi who has feelings for him. However, Rika ends up joining them when she delivers Kanji’s wallet which he had left in office. On the way back, Rika tells him, “Kanchi, shall we kiss?” and he is rattled. There have been rumours in office that Rika is in a relationship with their boss Waga Natsuki. (Source: Jdrama Weblog) ~~ Adapted from the manga "Tokyo Love Story" (東京ラブストーリー) by Fumi Saimon (柴門ふみ) Edit Translation

  • English
  • magyar / magyar nyelv
  • dansk
  • Norsk
  • Country: Japan
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Apr 29, 2020 - Jun 3, 2020
  • Aired On: Wednesday
  • Original Network: Amazon Prime Fuji TV
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Score: 7.4 (scored by 398 users)
  • Ranked: #7240
  • Popularity: #6112
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Cast & Credits

Reviews

Completed
realdeal
15 people found this review helpful
Jun 3, 2020
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0

Tokyo is all bark but no bite

More than a love story this whole tale is a commentary on Tokyo's state during different period of time, the Manga which is written during the bubble era, the 1991 drama before it pops, and the modern version when the economy is more stabilized. Each represents Wild Energy, Uncertainty and Resolve which would resonate in the character of Rika. The story described her as the living image of Tokyo, and in these 3 versions there is a dialogue where kanji says Rika is Tokyo itself. Having said that Tokyo Love Story is not remake but a reimagine, reimagining the same characters and story beats in modern times, similar with Final Fantasy 7, and just like how gameplay in modern Final Fantasy changes over time and so for Japanese dramas, the mundanity of the old was replaced by more fast paced approach, and elements such as female empowerment was added to fit the theme different from its predecessors. Tokyo as a city has this scary and intimidating vibe, and that never change. It's still the hub for lonely people. But "Tokyo is all bark but no bite" they say, so it's up to you whether you allow it to swallow you, tame it or run from it.

Just a heads up their journey as couples won't be that pretty at all, so if you want the same cute romantic stories then just watch until episode 3 and make that airport scene as your ending. After that the story will go into the more realistic territory, misunderstandings will develop, triangles will form, they will also go back and forth as a couple, and as a viewer it may feel personal to you especially if you relate to either of these couples. You'll witness the start of a toxic relationship, and you decide the source of that toxicity. You may take sides or no side; you may hate one or both of them.

The clash between their beliefs might be a fresh concept for a romance genre, but it's still the same misunderstanding between couples. It also feels a bit preachy, but that's fine since it's a mainstream drama, and by doing that they made Rika a bit comprehensible. The philosophical element of their relationship will fascinate you, its realism will immerse you, now the question is, would that be entertaining for you, because honestly the storytelling became weaker as the story goes, the second couple felt like a supporting characters, and it even dragged in the middle episodes. But for me before knowing it I already got invested in these characters that it made me curious what would be their fate, especially for Akana Rika.

Rika in this version is the anti thesis of everything we love about the romance genre, concepts like "destiny", "the one", "love never dies", those fairy tale words didn't exist in her vocabulary, then partnered it with her personality, moody, self assertive, independent, selfish but selfless then you get a complicated yet compelling character. She's flawed and many would misunderstand her, but that only makes her less of a manic pixie dream girl trope similar to the Manga.

Then there is Kanji the voice of us normies, sane people or whatever you want to call it. He is shouting all the time like a shonen character for hopeless romantics. Kanji is the traditional guy who just wants security and dependability different from Rika who is for mystery, exploration and freedom. Kanji is also obsessed with this thing called romantic possessiveness, he wanted to own Rika, but Rika doesn't feel the same way, she doesn't want to own Kanji, she just wanted to own the wants.

It's a bold move from the writer to incorporate the concept of "Modern Love" in this story and I like it, it enriches the psychological and philosophical aspect of this entire thing. I also love how they handled it, the drama could have criticize Romanticism so much and to be honest I had a feeling they are going in that direction, but the drama choose not to, it remained gray in the end and let the audience decide what to feel especially for its principal character Rika. Personally I get her, that mindset is common nowadays at least for me since I am surrounded with these kind of people and I notice there is one thing common to them, their work is somewhat related to art, just like Rika. I would say this topic is well researched or maybe the writer feels the same way. The problem is in Japan, people there would be too traditional, so I can't even imagine them being open to this type of relationship.

Production quality is not what you would expect in a typical Japanese drama it's WOWOW level or even Japanese dramas on Netflix. Cinematography is absolutely beautiful especially long shots, those shots that wonderfully captured Tokyo's vibrant and colorful lifestyle. Fashion is a thing is Tokyo Love Story, since they wanted to convey a particular period in time, from Rika's sophisticated office attire to Kanji's normie get up, I think they nailed that part. It also seems they wanted to play parallels with the 1991 drama, they not only altered Rika, but most shots are also during the night. Music is really good and I wonder how they found those English insert songs because it feels both are written for this story. Those songs didn't just provide modern vibe, but western vibe as well. I also love main theme "Touka", it's so catchy, so modern, sounds a bit like bump of chicken, and it brilliantly served its purpose as the cliffhanger song. The cinematography is beautiful and songs are exceptional but more importantly the casting for the main couple is spot on.

Japan has this stupid policy when casting actors in their dramas and god knows how many careers got derailed or even ruined just of that, but from time to time they do it right. Casting Ishibashi Shizuka for the role of Rika is the best thing they've done since Rena Nounen in Amachan. Their vision for Rika embodies Ishibashi so much, among the young Japanese actresses she's the one that exudes the strong modern woman type and her being an acclaimed indie actress means her acting style is more in a subtle category, the art of telling without telling, which fits perfectly for Rika, a woman who can't express herself properly. Ishibashi's contemplative look is so good that you would feel the psychological and emotional vulnerability in the character even her not saying a single word, so when she explodes in episode 10 you really feel it. She didn't just break the fourth wall; she drove a f-cking truck through it.

Kentaro is also a nice pick for the role of Kanji. I thought Ishibashi's captivating screen presence would eat him alive when I see his name in the cast but no he manage to stand his ground, he didn't disappear on the background. Kentaro's more japanese animated acting compliments Ishibashi's subtlety, un japanese acting style, it creates an interesting rapport between them. His goody-good image also fits this version of kanji which they describe as rice that goes well with anybody. Their chemistry might not be as good as those older classic Japanese dramas but to compare it with recent romance dramas with grounded characters then I think this is one of the best. I would give the acting a 10 if just for those 2 but since it's a collective effort I can't.

The problem is other couple, Anna Ishii is a great actress but she can only do so much with that boring character. I wish they put spice in her character and gave it a back-story just like what they did with Mikami. Her talent is wasted in this drama. Such a shame because I only watch this drama for her. Mikami in this version is more layered than the old Mikami. I kind of see why they put that disturbing scene in the drama but I don't agree with it, I don't think it's needed. If they want a stronger reason for Satomi to do what she has to do then why they didn't bother giving more backbone to her character. Sho Kiyohara is also the weakest actor among the four, I just wish he nailed that scene with Rika but the dude just can't cry, even the actress who played Nagasaki is better, now that girl can act. Mikami still fits him though. He's as charismatic as the old Mikami, like a model every time he's on screen.

It might seem I'm neutral, leaning towards trashing the show, but no because I really like this version. It has its flaws just like its characters, but for me I still consider it well made adaptation. Also, since I view it as a commentary my opinion on it just became better, not just this version but the 1991 drama as well. However if you want to know the difference between both, this one is less cheesy, more mature, less entertaining, but more realistic. For a story that is already 30 plus years old, it's given it would be a trope fest of a show, but for me there are 3 things they nailed right. It fascinates me, it immersed me, but more importantly, it makes sense.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HBZt3H8VXo
To understand Rika's mind watch this

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Completed
Dylan Rodrigues
3 people found this review helpful
Jun 10, 2021
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.5
This review may contain spoilers

One of the best melodrama/romance dramas I have seen

Despite the lacklustre plot summary here, the story was surprisingly good!! I binged all 11 episodes in a couple of days, I was enjoying my selves so much. There were more twists and turns in the romance between the three couples than a wending mountain road - couples formed and broke apart in what felt like the blink of an eye - but it was so damn interesting to watch and so much fun. The plot is also quite deep, investigating what in means to love, living for yourself, the spirit of Tokyo, the modern woman, and as one reviewer pointed out, a deconstruction of a manic pixie dream girl.

Speaking of Tokyo, the cinematography and production was definitely WOWOW level, not your avg made for TV graphics you get in jdramas. I loved all the beautiful shots of the city, I wanted to take screenshots all the time. The acting was amazing. Ishibashi Shizuka's acting skills has to be seen to be believed - she embodied Rika so damn well, from the strong, independent assertiveness, fun-loving childishness to the surprising vulnerability and loneliness. This was my second drama with Ito Kentaro, who also did an amazing job and he looked so young and cute here - did he age backwards from Ashi Girl??

The only problems I had were with That Incident and Satomi's character. The latter could have been written much better and Ishii Anna felt wasted in her role, even though she did what she could. Her character seemed to revolve around being obsessed with the men in her life and being treated like absolute garbage by them, leading to nothing but bouts of sobbing and depression. She needed to be more fleshed and given more strength or assertiveness? Also, the Incident - I do not want to spoil too much but there was a scene of rape in one of the later episodes. It felt extremely gratuitous and the way it was handled almost made me stop watching - no one in the story takes a literal sexual crime too seriously except for the victim and the offender gets a happy ending and everything?? I felt like I was watching a show from the 1940s not 2020! Regardless, the drama was still good and the story was engaging so I gave it a try again. Regardless, I do not like that scene or the character at all and I hope we never see anything like that in dramaland again.

The music was also simply amazing? I was surprised to see a couple of English language songs but they were are so well sung and pretty to listen to! I have everything in the OST saved on Spotify XD

I would give this drama a solid 8.7/10 and would recommend to anyone who likes extremely emotional or angsty romantic dramas. Just be careful of the sexual assault scene in one of the later episodes.

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Details

  • Drama: Tokyo Love Story
  • Country: Japan
  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Apr 29, 2020 - Jun 3, 2020
  • Aired On: Wednesday
  • Original Network: Amazon Prime, Fuji TV
  • Duration: 45 min.
  • Content Rating: Not Yet Rated

Statistics

  • Score: 7.4 (scored by 398 users)
  • Ranked: #7240
  • Popularity: #6112
  • Watchers: 1,671

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