2009’s funniest drama23 June, 2010 by Chad
Otomen is an under appreciated late night drama that that aired near the end of last year. The romance comedy is a live action version of one of the best selling shojo manga series. It stars an assortment of fresh faces such as Okada Masaki (Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu), Kaho (Engine) and Seto Koji (Kamen Rider Kiva, Atashinchi no Danshi).
The title Otomen, is a fictional term created by the author Kanno Aya to describe the stereotypical shojo manga pretty boy character. The whimsical story revolves around the “Otomen” Okada Masaki’s meeting and eventual romance with the clumsy and overly boyish Kaho. Unknown to them, their awkward relationship is being compiled into a manga by a close friend. Amusingly, the two air-headed characters follow the series faithfully. Effectively, Otomen is a drama based on a manga, about the creation of the manga, which is inspired by the two main characters, who love to read the manga. The plot hardly takes itself seriously.
In each episode, the characters tackle familiar high school problems. The exaggerated personalities of the couple and the supporting characters lead to situations being blown out of control. Like the manga, the scenarios are well thought out. The show further benefits from the silly expressions and comedic timing made possible through film.
The rookie cast in Otomen may not be the most recognizable talents available but they do put up a good show. While some were guilty of overacting, most of the main cast were worthy of praise. When compared to past undertakings, their performance in Otomen is certainly more natural and expressive.
When watching foreign comedies, many of the jokes are often lost in translation. I too have a hard time appreciating the slapstick gags found in many Japanese shows. Thankfully, most of Otomen’s humor is derived from recent pop culture and there’s even a surprisingly number of Western influences. Apart from witty puns, the show featured some delightfully dark humor, something rarely found in Japan. The scenarios were pulled off skillfully for maximum comedic impact such that I couldn’t help but laugh, despite already expecting the outcome.
To top things up, Otomen features one of the coolest closing credits in a drama ever. Though I’ve never considered Shibasaki Kou as much of an actress, let alone singer, her song lover soul is brought to life skillfully in this dramatic scenario. Despite a completely separate theme, the conclusion of each episode blends in seamlessly into the credits.