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J-dorama: Orange Days (2004)

Picked up this drama a week ago after I realized it was sitting in my hard disk. I have heard of this drama and it seems to have achieved cult status with lovers of this genre. It should have been right up my alley but since I mostly watch kdramas, I didn't have a lot of time for jdoramas. I discovered that it is quite a charming drama that most university graduates or students on the brink of graduation can relate to. The screenshot above pretty much captures the dilemma of these university students.

For starters, Dramawiki tells me that Kai Yuuki (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is in his senior year at university studying social welfare psychology. At present, he is in the middle of job-hunting season. He is finding it difficult with no job offers so far. One day, he meets a girl who is playing violin in the campus. She is Sae Hagio (Kou Shibasaki). In marked contrast to her beautiful tone and attractive looks, her personality is somewhat impertinent. And to top it off, she communicates through very vulgar sign language. Four years ago, she lost the most important thing for a violinist - her hearing. As a result Sae closed off her inner self from the outside world. Kai finds himself on a date with Sae, in place of his best friend. Unexpectedly, he comes into contact with Sae's private side. Love, job-hunting, friendship... Setting a campus in spring as a dorama's backdrop, it's the start of a glittering youth drama. 

Things I love about this drama:

The close bond between the friends! Lovely to see Kou Shibasaki in this, she's a very talented actress. I even watched Battle Royale just to check out what was her breakout role. It was an eye-opener and I loved it! Satoshi Tsumabuki is so easy on the eyes (his smile! *swoon*), he can be listed as one of my fave Japanese actors along with Osamu Mukai, Nino, Yamapi, Shun Oguri, Sousuke Takaoka, Koike Teppei, Eita, Abe Hiroshi and Takayuki Yamada! I also like how it's not just another Slice Of Life jdorama and more of a simple romcom. No trace of suicide/bullying/terminal disease that is so rampant in dramas these days. I think what makes this drama stand out is also the use of sign language! A lot of the drama's big moments is communicated in silence with subtitles but you can 'feel' every gesture they make because of how the actors emote. 

Another big plus is Eita! Love this actor in everything he does, truly. Hiroki Narimiya is hilariously acting as a university student here when he acted in the far more recent Yankee-kun to Megane-chan as a high school student. Brief appearances by Yamada Yu and Ueno Juri have me scratching my head because they have a lot of star power these days! Miho Shiraishi as Akane is a rock for Sae and I'm glad Sae has a friend like her around. I also love the length of this drama which is both good and bad because it's short (at 11 episodes). 

Favourite moments:

  • The end of episode 1. Completely shoujo-esque but not in a cheesy way. Knew I had to keep watching.
  • Vacation scene with the Orange Society! Shanghai Honey by Orange Range is now burned into my mind.
  • Beach scene with Kai and Sae.
  • Bus scene where Sae is saying goodbye in the rear window. Sign language can be really convenient!
  • Graduation. 

Since I will be suffering from Orange Days withdrawal for the next few days, I'm going to be watching Dororo the movie (2007) in the not-too-distant future. It stars both Shibasaki Kou and Tsumabuki Satoshi as well as Eita!

Till we meet again!
Five stars for Orange Days!!


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