Picture this scenario: you’re at a party and you meet a cute guy with whom you hit it off right away. For the next few weeks, you spend most of your waking hours daydreaming about what it would be like to spend the rest of your lives together. As you get to know him better, however, you start noticing little things that cool your ardour towards him. Before you know it, all the quirks you once found endearing now irritate the crap out of you, making you wonder how you could even have considered jumping him in the first place (and whether you should go get your eyes checked.)
This, gentle reader, basically sums up my relationship with Rich Man, Poor Woman. If you’re here looking for someone to share your OTP squee, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place because I don’t have much to say that doesn’t involve the gnashing of teeth. If you don’t want your buzz trampled on, please take your leave now.
Right. Still here? Don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning.
I must be a sucker for pain. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain how I managed to sit through the last four episodes of this drama. Wait, that’s not true. I endured the final leg of RMPW because I wanted to find out if it would be able to rediscover that spark of promise it showed in its early episodes. What can I say? Hope springs eternal.
A quick check reveals that RMPW was written by the same person responsible for Taisetsu na Koto Wa Subete blah, blah, blah. Well, I guess this would explain a number of things, one of them being that this writer doesn’t know how to get a grip on the big picture behind the situations that she sets up. At the start of this drama, we’re shown that the traditional method of job-hunting for graduates no longer works in Japan’s current economic climate. There is a lot the drama could have mined from using a start-up company as its main setting. At the very least, it could have been a story about growth and self-realisation — you have four characters from very different backgrounds with different goals and ambitions, why not do something with this? Your guess is as good as mine.
I watched the last four episodes with my finger on the FF button and I can’t remember the last time I was this disappointed with the characters in a drama. They started out decent, interesting even, but somewhere along the way, the writer had an onslaught of ADD and forgot about the need to continue developing them after the first few episodes.
In the end, Yoko was just a superfluous character who existed to come between Hyuga and Makoto. Was there even a reason Asahina needed a sister in the first place? As I said in my earlier posts, I’m probably the only one who likes her but even so, I have to admit that she was completely unnecessary in this drama; Hyuga’s medical condition ended up becoming little more than a gimmick to show that he and Makoto were meant to be. Instead of the tedious love triangle, I wish this drama had invested more time in his back story and explored the extent to which his condition affected the way he related to other people. If I didn’t know that he had prosopagnosia, I’d have thought he was just your garden-variety rom-com jerk who ends up getting reformed by the girl that he likes.
As for Asahina, he went from being a puppet master to an emo-wreck in the final stretch. Not only did his fall from grace seem like a rush job (did they really have to bring Tono in as a deus ex machina? I thought he was doing a pretty good job of sinking to rock bottom on his own), as the drama hurtled towards its conclusion, the character became so hammy that I actually felt second-hand embarrassment for Arata.
But the character who let me down the most by far was Makoto. I think this is the first drama I’ve watched where the heroine starts out strong and becomes drippier with each episode. I wouldn’t have been so frustrated if she had been a graduate of a second-tier college, or a high school grad from a rural town — at least that would have explained her lack of self-esteem and confidence. As I’ve said before, I find it extremely difficult to believe that a graduate of Japan’s equivalent of an Ivy League university would spend the entire drama putting herself down and gushing about how perfect her boss is. I nearly got a stomach ulcer listening to the way she kept saying she didn’t have Hyuga’s creativity and that she wasn’t capable of doing what he did. Are you even listening to yourself, woman?!
The problem with Makoto is not that she doesn’t have a spine but that she has such a dated and limited view of things in general. All throughout the drama, I was curious about what she wanted out of life, apart from, you know, sticking to Hyuga like glue. Her stint at Next Innovation should have opened her eyes to the possibilities that exist outside the conventional graduate career path but that never happened. That said, I don’t have a problem with her wanting to be a researcher but I dislike how she kept viewing the work that she did as being less innovative (and by implication, less important) than Hyuga’s. You know, many startup founders will tell you that creativity is not the be-all and end-all of a business, and that a lot of time is spent fine-tuning a product before it’s ready to be launched. Do you know how much money tech companies spend on R & D each year? But to listen to Makoto, it’s like every idea Hyuga comes up with is a sure winner and doesn’t have to be fine-tuned at all. *sigh* All these Asian dramas and their geniuses.
By right, the decision she made to further her career in episode 10 should have redeemed her for me but it didn’t because I hated the way this writer set up the entire situation. A better writer would have made this development an integral part of the story, instead of using it as a ploy to keep them apart and throw in a last-minute airport scene (because it’s only when the girl is about to leave for the other side of the planet that the hero is able to realise that he’s in love with her. URRRGGHH.)
RMPW is a frustrating drama to watch because so many interesting thematic elements ended up being wasted. In the hands of a more accomplished writer such as Ozaki Masaya, this would have been a very different show. Alas, we are stuck with this drivel instead.
I think I have spilled enough bile so I will conclude things here. Suffice it to say that I am purging this entire drama from my hard drive and I will be avoiding dramas by this writer in the future. Innovation may be at the heart of what Hyuga’s company does but RMPW is as derivative and generic as trendy dramas come.