Hotaru works for a famous interior design company. It's a glamorous job, but Hotaru's private life is totally the opposite of glamorous. She lives alone, and when she isn't working, she's mostly lazing about her rented house in training wear. She's not interested in men. In fact, she isn't interested in anything. "I'd rather lay around than fool around," is her motto. Her landlord is a bar owner, and one day, his son, who has just separated from his wife, comes to inspect the rental property, not knowing that someone is living there. He is shocked at the mess, but not as shocked as Hotaru. He turns out to be her boss, Takano. (Source: Japan Times Online) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
But first, to anyone who hasn't seen this drama yet, I have to say that if you're fond of out-of-the box story arcs, impressive plot twists and memorable confessions, this drama is devoid of any of these things because CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT is the main focus. Thus, the plot is pretty basic, simple and predictable (from the get-go you will see who she'll end up with). There are no bitchy ex-girlfriends/fiancee's. No scary mothers. No amnesia. No birth secrets. No angst. Every single character is loveable and positive. The main girl is a 20-something office lady who goes by the name of Amemiya Hotaru. She's an efficient and responsible employee who works for an interior design company. She's very good at what she does and enjoys a great relationship with her co-workers. On the outside, Hotaru exemplifies a well-mannered, classy intelligent young woman. However, she harbors a "dirty" little secret: at home, she's a TOTAL SLOB who loves to laze around in tattered jerseys and a stained t-shirt with a can of beer in hand. She loves reading manga, doesn't cook, sleeps on her porch with stacks of newspapers for a blanket and talks to stray cats in her backyard. She hates socializing and is so not interested in dating. She's perfectly fine with her lifestyle until her manager, a 40-something soon-to-be divorcee neat freak, moves in with her.
Every character endeared itself to me. I don't think I've ever hated anybody. No one had managed to raise my blood pressure. I don't even think there was a villain in the story.
Amemiya Hotaru is the type of female lead that every ordinary girl can relate to. It's not because she is dirt poor and average-looking. In fact, she's pretty, smart, optimistic, and more than capable of whatever task she's given. But the childish side to her character as well as her quirks made her loveable. Although her disorganized and klutzy personality was exaggerated (to elicit laughs and provide comic relief, I'm sure), I found myself thinking "that is SO me" most of the time, whether it was about her being too lazy to clean her room, or being insecure in her interactions with the guy she really liked.
Unlike other dramas, most conflicts were cause by misunderstandings and a lack of communication. Yes, there were a LOT of unrequited side romances but the "love rivals" were understanding and considerate. I loved the interactions and relationships in the office as well. They all seemed like one big family who had concern for each other even with regards to matters that were more love-related than work-related. LOL, It made me think. The world would be so much better if things were like that, empty of crab mentality, envy and pettiness. Wouldn't it be wonderful? The characters suffered from lovesick problems from time to time, but they always seemed to be willing to help each other out and give advice to the ones who were problematic.
There are actually two love stories in this drama:
The first was between Hotaru and Teshima. I honestly preferred Teshima throughout the drama because IMO, their romance was sweet and innocent. Kind of like that puppy love you experience for the first time in high school, you know? Butterflies in the stomach and racing heartbeats. I really liked the fact that he accepted her for who she is, weird habits and all. It was funny watching him and Hotaru being SO clueless as to how to express their feelings properly. In that aspect, they were very much alike. He was patient and sweet albeit a little dull in terms of personality (which gave a negative effect on the acting, unfortunately). However, I blame this on the writing. If only the character had been written with more depth, I would've found him to be a lot more interesting.
The second love story was between Hotaru and her boss, the main guy who, strangely enough, had the classic Second Male Lead Syndrome, Takano. Unlike her love story with Teshima which started with a kiss, theirs was a "slow burning" one. It started on the wrong foot as there was NO attraction on first sight. IMO, it was the best because both of them got to know each other's WORST traits first before they appreciated each other's positive areas. I admit though. At first though, I preferred Teshima over the boss because the latter treated her in a way that was typical of a father or an older brother. He constantly berated her for her untidiness, cooked for her, gave her love advice and basically became this all around go-to guy. They seemed more like best friends who often bickered over the tiniest things than potential lovers. Yet as the story progressed, I understood why they were so perfect for each other despite being TOTAL opposites. They helped each other grow and develop their weak areas. Takano helped her develop a little bit of finesse and taught her (begrudgingly) how to become, er, less of a slob, encouraged her whenever she was plagued with insecurities and guided her as she navigated her way to womanhood. Hotaru, on the other hand, taught him how to be more self-giving and considerate. Before they lived together, Takano was a workaholic and didn't know how to treasure personal relationships. When she came into his life, he learned to consider another person's well-being other than his own without being aware of it. They were also very comfortable around each other. Hotaru didn't need to force herself to change nor did she become too self-conscious when she was around him. It was the kind of relationship that is much needed in a long-term companionship like marriage. The steady kind of love that makes you feel secure and content, contrary to the blazing fire of passion often mistaken as "love" in a lot of romantic stories.
I don't think there's anything negative to comment except the stiff acting and underdeveloped character of Teshima. He was the sole weak link. Maybe a veteran actor would've been better? Also, I thought it was weird that there was no sexual tension between Hotaru and Takano considering that they were still woman and man living under the same roof. I guess the writer of the manga preferred not to give it some focus in favor of the personal connection between the two. Dramas will always be dramas; you can never expect them to be a 100% reflection of reality, not even biographies.
A "highly recommended" rom-com. The main reason why I love this drama is because I can relate to it so much! I developed this connection with the characters, especially the main girl Hotaru because in many ways I could see myself in her. Her journey back to love after years of being independent and single, her insecurities with her relationship, her heartbreak and growth from being a "dried up fish" for many years to womanhood, not to mention the wonderful humor and acting that made this little J-drama such a gem! I can't remember how many times I burst out laughing because of her and Takano's squabbles and antics. I loved the slow romantic development between the OTP. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves romantic comedies or just any person looking for a very light and funny drama that's full of heart.
I'm looking forward to watching the second season next.