The good and bad, plain and simple
Drama Short: Zutto Mae Kara
Yep here we go with yet another akb48 post. Unfortunately, the dorama scene just hasn’t been compelling enough lately and due to real life issues such as studies, exams and practical work, I really haven’t had the time to go through and review full series’ worth. On the other hand, akb48 has been a nice source of episodic comedic relief and of course pretty faces (that’s pretty important, isn’t it?).
As I’m unable to understand moonspeak to any form of usable degree, I’ve been following groups that provide english subtitles for various akb48 shows which led to me stumbling upon this gem of a film. Credit goes to Aidol for all their hard work in subbing the videos and unleashing them upon the internets no holds barred. If you want to watch this with subs, go to the Aidol website and there’ll be links and a password there somewhere, otherwise the drama short without subs is probably available on youtube somewhere.
Zutto Mae Kara is a dorama short film that ties in with the single of the same name sung by a subgroup of akb48 called “French Kiss” (or Furenchu kissu if you like). This song was used in a particular baseball anime called Major as an ED and so it comes as no surprise that the dorama short uses baseball as a main theme. I opened up the video website fully expecting a slipshod mismash of random scenes designed to gratuitously show off the 3 girls that make up French Kiss but was instead pleasantly surprised by the production values, amazing soundtrack and the care that went into crafting it.
First up, the main cast! I’ll probably refer to them by their nicknames just because they’re shorter and easier to type.
Playing the lead character is the lovely Kashiwagi Yuki (Yukirin) as herself. She’s rather cute in a nasomegaly (big nose hehe) kind of way and in variety shows is known as the reaction-jou because of her oldfashioned and extreme reactions to basically everything. I’ve had my doubts about her acting skills as I’ve never seen her try her hand at full blown acting before but I found she fit this role very naturally. She was good at conveying the feelings of her character and her voice was quite expressive (probably owing to her experience voicing an anime character before). What I didn’t like was the clothes that the wardrobe department decided to dress her up in…seriously, what were they thinking when they put together that formless collection of billowy cloth that they made her wear for the university segments? It’s a bit of a waste to hide away her amazing figure but I guess they didn’t want her to have a sexy image for this film.
Taking on the supporting roles are the two other members of “French Kiss”, Kuramochi Asuka (Mocchi) and Takajo Aki (Akicha) as…(surprise surprise) themselves. Mocchi’s definitely playing to her strengths with her delicate charm and in certain scenes this worked well but probably her lack of experience meant that some portions of her acting seem out of place. Akicha on the other hand looked like she was trying a little too hard to be the excitable bimbo in her first appearance but soon became more comfortable with her character so the rest of her acting was pretty good.
There’s no english information online regarding the rest of the cast of this dorama short so I can’t tell you the names of the actors other than the girls of “French Kiss” since I can’t read moonspeak and I’m definitely not gonna make an attempt at reading names.
The lead male is Matsumoto Kouhei. His performance was extremely difficult to watch because he looked stone in every scene and when he attempts to make his facial expression change, it almost felt like cracks were going to appear on his face.
In the meantime, the other more prominent male character is “the guy” or “Yankee catcher no. 1” or <spoiler>akicha’s boyfriend</spoiler>. I don’t think he’s given a name but he was awesome. Together with the 3 colourful delinquents, he livened up the second half of the film and injected some fun which somehow managed to balance out Kouhei’s dreadful gloominess.
Honestly, the cast isn’t particularly spectacular unless you’re a big AKB48 fan. It’s the camerawork and soundtrack that make this production spectacular. Every scene had perfect lighting and the most of the frames just made good design sense. You were never left wondering what you’re supposed to be looking at and the flow of imagery and direction progressed along at a nice pace. The soundtrack was amazing. Of note is the track that plays at the beginning while Yukirin is cycling to school and the track right at the end when the credits roll which are both different renditions of the title song “zutto mae kara”. It was interesting how the soft acoustics complemented Yukirin’s performance so well as if the tracks were composed solely and specifically for her.
The two vocal insert songs are typical of Japanese Pop but they seemed more personal since the actresses are the ones singing. Zutto Mae Kara was the better of the two songs but I found myself liking the orchestral rendition of it alot more than the original. It’s got a nice climax to it
Zutto Mae Kara dorama short is one of the few akb48 productions that I believe is decent enough on its own merits to warrant recommending to non-AKB fans (or generally, normal people I guess). Rational Dorama Reviews gives this a 3 out of 5. If this were irrational AKB reviews, it would probably get a 4.5 =P