I was initially interested in Idaten because it's Ikuta Toma's current project and then we chose sports as our next "Ask MDL" topic so I decided now was the time to pick it up. It has turned out to be a very entertaining drama that has been made to raise the excitement of the Japanese people for the 2020 Olympics which are going to be held in Tokyo.
This story thus far has been the origins of Japan's participation in the Olympics. It starts in the year 1909 with the first IOC member from Japan and encapsulates the story of the beginning of the National Olympic Committee of Japan and the first two participants of the 1912 Stockholm Games. Sounds totally boring, right? If it were not for the actors, the direction taken and the script that is superb, it very well could have been a failure. You can tell they put a LOT of thought on how to engage as many people of all ages to raise the awareness of the Games themselves.
Our main character is a country bumpkin that has been running all his life. His straightforward and honest ways create a comedic situation without being over the top. His accent is super thick and his favourite word is "But-den". He is a complicated character despite his simple ways which is the beauty of this actor's portrayal.
The story begins in 1965 with the story being told by a Rakugo Master. This story serves as the framework for our tale, yet he has a story of his own to weave as well.
The young version of Kokontei Shinshō is a bit of a rogue and layabout that decides he wants to become a Rakugo master, and in true Rakugo tradition is the foil for our Idaten.
He is the second son to a rich family and is a SPORTSman. Whoowah! He is all about games, baseball, running, drinking, partying and more GAMES! The ladies love him...almost like being an idol -lol-. Now we know from previous movies (The Mole Song) that Ikuta-san has no issue baring it all for the camera. The Rokushaku fundoshi that he wears when he works out means you get lots of full body shots. He is also our second athlete to go to Stockholm with our Idaten.
Rakugo (落語, literally "fallen words") is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller (落語家 rakugoka) sits on stage, called kōza (高座). Using only a paper fan (扇子 sensu) and a small cloth (手拭 tenugui) as props, and without standing up from the seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical (or sometimes sentimental) story. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters. The difference between the characters is depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head. - Wikipedia
The story is told in this format and I found myself extremely grateful I had watched Aka Medaka before it. I became very familiar with this style and the way the apprentices are treated (don't worry, it's not bad treatment. Just, what does polishing floors have to do with storytelling? )
Historic vs. Dramatic License
Every time they got to show a historic photo, Ikuto Toma's character is hidden. Other than that they seem to be following the true story faithfully. And true to Taiga format you get a 2-minute history lesson at the end of each episode with the Taiga mascot.
I wasn't expecting to like this (sometimes Ikuta Toma works fail me), but this was a pleasant surprise and I am enjoying every minute of this.