I had to take a few days to process what exactly I liked about Pride, besides the amazingly scrumptious Mr. Kimura Takuya. I'm going to take a different approach to my usual way of reviewing to explain. I'm a working independent filmmaker. I’ve made a couple shorts and am working toward a feature film debut. However, when I watch tv or film & write reviews I tend to focus on entertainment value rather production value (unless the latter is so glaringly bad it warrants a comment) because most people outside the industry couldn’t care less about the technicalities of film production ... so why bother with that stuff. Every once in a while, though, I come across a show or movie that makes the creative in me sit up and take notice. You start to wonder how your colleagues behind the production got the results they got & how can you do something similar but with your own spin? My first viewing of Pride consisted mostly of me fangirling over Kimura Takuya like an idiot. For a guy who generally isn't the type of man I’d go crazy for I was just consumed by the sheer beauty, sexiness and utter magnetism of the man. I really couldn’t pay attention to anything else. But on my second viewing, Pride offered up the type of creative epiphany I mentioned above. The show isn't based on the most stellar of scripts, but where it had its moments of mediocrity (or your standard drama fare, if you will), there were also moments of pure genius that really gave the actors great material to work with. Forget about plot. What this drama got right was exceptionally well crafted characters, brought to life by performances so natural and understated you'll get that feeling of being a fly on the wall eavesdropping on the lives of REAL people. The chemistry between Halu-san and Aki was ridiculous. Sparks flew every time they were on-screen together. Aki surprised me a lot throughout the drama. At first glance she's your typical Asian female lead -- sweet, dutiful, uncomplaining & from all indication emotionally stable enough to be the perfect helpmate. But Aki, unlike Halu-san, is not really all that meets the eye. Where Halu often speaks of his vulnerabilities Aki keeps so much of her true emotions under wraps that your initial impression of her -- that she's this pillar of strength Halu can lean on -- is severely challenged. There were times when her actions baffled me. I was pretty convinced the writers just wanted to drag things out and frustrate the audience. However, as the show progressed her character unfolds with remarkable depth. She slowly reveals the true Aki, the woman she's kept hidden away from everyone, including us, the audience. Her unfortunate experience in love has shaped her behaviour for the worse, but no one knew to what depth her insecurities ran. When I understood, I got her. Kimura Takuya's performance was sensational. He's a great actor who took your standard tortured hero and made him quite layered and human. Halu-san is a man of deep passions. He's among those type of people who live by a strict moral code. He's prideful, fiercely loyal, protective of those he cares about, but with an undercurrent of ruthlessness to his character that both excite and scare you. But still Aki was the stand-out character for me. How she's presented at the beginning of the show to what she becomes is just remarkably well written and actress Yuko Takeuchi did a brilliant job of portraying her. This definitely turned out to be a great character portrait of two people dealing with issues of abandonment and a potent fear of rejection. Pride was a strong theme throughout. Having pride in the pursuit of a dream and having too much pride to pursue what REALLY matters, love. What fascinates me the most about this drama, not just as a viewer who wants to be entertained, but as a creative who wants to write good scripts and attract great talent to my work … is the question of how can I write characters of equal depth and layers? Even if this script wasn’t 100% perfect if I can achieve such moments of pure genius in my own work I’d be well on my way to becoming the filmmaker I want to be. I can say without much hesitation that Pride is absolutely one of my favourite dramas. I gave it an overall score of 9, instead of 10, because it wasn’t a masterpiece. After 9 episodes I felt like an otherwise appropriately paced story was made to drag a little. I’m satisfied with how things turned out, but not how we got there. The last two episodes toyed with the audience unnecessarily, leading us on a wild goose chase that stressed me out a little because I thought everything was going to fall apart for characters I had invested so much in. I would have preferred being spared the hassle, especially since the story did not benefit from the added drama. They could've wrapped up the whole thing at 10 episodes or choose a different path to the end. But I guess Asian dramas ain't Asian without all the angst. I also did not care for the theme song, Queen's ‘I was born to love you’. The lyrics are very appropriate to the story, but for a relatively “young” drama it seemed an outdated choice. Pride was released in the early 2000s, but there's nothing remotely 80s about it in style or content so I didn’t like the song in the context of the show. Overall, I loved this drama. Pride will always have a special place in my heart and I’ll re-watch this for years to come. I’m also never gonna get tired of looking at Takuya-san. Sooo excited that I have all his other dramas to look forward to! Big shout out to Elisabetta and NinaJade82 who “introduced” this beautiful, talented man to me. Now if only I could get a hold of him in real life…! :)
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