Juhan Shuttai is a 10 episodes japanese drama that aired on TBS in 2016. It was directed by Doi Nobuhiro, Fukuda Ryosuke and Tsukahara Ayuko, and written by Nogi Akiko, based on a manga by Matsuda Naoko. It stars Kuroki Haru, the ever perfect Odagiri Joe, Sakaguchi Kentaro aka Sakappy, Yasuda Ken, Nagayama Kento, Kohinata Fumiyo, and really, a lot of people. It follows Kurokawa Kokoro who’s just become an editor for a manga magazine, after giving up a promising career in judo, because of a leg injury.
Another Sakappy-including drama, yay !
… but who cares lol.
T.T I’m sorry Sakappy, I love you, but how do you compete with:
Okay, so I watched this drama because OdaJoe, OdaJoe, OdaJoe, and also OdaJoe. See, I was frustrated because Tokyo Tarareba Musume didn’t deliver on the promise it never made, so I had to watch Juhan Shuttai. Because OdaJoe. But also because I was interested in the manga theme, because Ara recommended it (I swear, I sometimes watch stuff recommended by other people…), and because the show stars other actors I like, like Sakappy or bb Eita Nagayama Kento. Still, mostly: OdaJoe, OdaJoe, ODAJOE DAMN IT. And I very much enjoyed the drama. Not only because it was good (which it was) but also because, this drama clearly gets me, as this screencaps demonstrates:
This captures my everyday life so well…
Also, yes, the drama was good.
That said, I’ve got to warn you, potential reader: Juhan Shuttai was a “special” experience for me. I have an OdaJoe bias (maybe you noticed… if you didn’t, I’d get those eyes/reading skills checked) but also, I was basically live-fangirling via twitter, spamming two people (dear Ara and Max’s Opa) that also love OdaJoe, as all humans with eyes (and/or ears) do. Actually, just in case there isn’t enough OdaJoe in your life (and trust me, there isn’t… you could be living with the dude that there still wouldn’t be), you can get a quick look at what it was like by clicking here (don’t worry, it doesn’t spoil the plot, it’s 99.99% me fangirling over how perfect he is… because SOMEONE’s got to wear that Captain Obvious cape è.é). I’m actually quite good at seeing past actor bias (I think… I mean, I can’t be sure, that’s what a bias is, but I’ve hated enough movies/dramas starring my favs to think I do), but obviously, tweeting while watching alters the experience, so do take my post with a grain of salt.
Except don’t. Because its conclusion (spoiler :O) is that you should totally watch Juhan Shuttai, and don’t take that with a grain of salt, as, guess what, you totally should. Because, again, it was good (which is a pretty good reason to watch stuff).
First of all, it was really cool getting a glimpse into the world of mangas. We spend a lot of time with the editors, as our main lead learns the ropes, but actually, we get to see how authors work too, and even booksellers. We also briefly meet the printers, the people in charge of covers, and of course the readers. We even quickly get to see the sad fate awaiting all unsold copies of mangas. The drama obviously can’t go into every technical aspect in details, otherwise it’d be a documentary, but it does try to show us all the “parts” involved in the life of a manga. And to me, it felt interesting, because I like mangas, but to be honest, I don’t read that many of them, and don’t know a lot about how the “manga creating world” works. Especially the “manga magazine world” because when I do buy mangas and read them it’s always after they’ve become books. So it was nice watching the process, and learning stuff, like what a “name” is (basically it’s a storyboard), or an “aori” (want to know what it is ? watch the show !… or, you know, google it… but also: do watch the show), or of course what “Juhan Shuttai” means (it’s when a book’s sold out, gets a second impression, and editors get to make a little dance).
And while the drama shows us the “technical stuff”, it also explores what books and mangas mean. How they can help people from different countries communicate because they share a love for one manga, how books are shaped like birds when open and can become wings for people who need to escape hardship, or just want to elevate themselves, how they can touch you so deeply you might just find a part of yourself you had lost and feel human again, etc. Although I read less now, I do love books (and fiction in general), and was that kid that read as if her life depended on it, so I was often touched by the way the drama talked about them. And of course, it doesn’t just explore what books mean to their readers, but also what they mean to their authors who put so much of themselves in their work, and how the “life” of those books affect the life of their creators. It’s not dwelled upon too long but I also liked the little pieces about some bookshops having a hard time, or how e-books have become better and can be seen as a danger to paperbacks, but are also a great way to bring back old works and present them to a new generation, giving those works a new life. The times are changing, and mangas are adapting. Juhan Shuttai is not a think-piece on those things but it gives a nice feel of what working in that industry might be like. Now, again, as the quirky vibe does remind us, this is not a documentary, so it shouldn’t be taken as such, but it is a manga adaptation, so at least, the original author probably has an idea how things work (or at least work around her), and the love for manga really comes through. Which is nice.
Also nice: the characters.
There are quite a lot of them, and I’m happy to report that I basically liked all of them. Our female lead, Kokoro, was especially engaging. She’s fun, and cute, and bright, and super-motivated… it could be annoying, but it really isn’t. Sometimes the always-cheerful characters can be grating, but Kokoro never is, and to me, there was three reasons for this:
(1) the actress, Kuroki Haru, finds the right balance, and is very charming. Kokoro is quirky and enthusiastic but not hyper.
2) she’s not “too happy to be human”… she’s very cheerful, but it’s implied that after hurting her leg, she had a dark period in her life that she had to overcome, and from time to time, you can see her doubting herself, getting depressed over setbacks and mistakes, etc. She’s not Positivity Incarnated, she’s just a positive person, and it feels good being around her.
(3) she’s competent. She’s certainly NOT a “happy idiot”. Sure, during her interview, she demonstrated her judo skills in a comical scene, but she wasn’t hired “because comedy”: she got hired because her interview was convincing and she aced the test. Obviously, there are things she doesn’t know, and she makes mistakes, that’s to be expected since she’s a rookie, but aside from that, she’s got skills, she’s got drive, she’s clever and she wants to learn, so she never comes off a bumbling idiot.
So yep, liked her a lot. And although I wanted to see someone (anyone, really) kiss OdaJoe (because if I can’t, someone has to, and I need to see it), I was glad the drama didn’t waste time in romantic subplots. Well, okay, Sakappy seems to have a crush on Kokoro (and so do I), but it’s very much in the background, and that’s fine, coz this way we get more time to spend on all the characters and, as previously stated, there are a lot, among which, yes, Iokibe does stand out.
And no, it’s not (just) because OdaJoe apparently can make any (or no) shirt work (shirts that he’s too sexy for)(so sexy it hurts), has magical hair and is the sexiest man on Earth (if aliens invade one day, he’s what they’ll be coming for) but because, well, he just really does stand-out. His kouhais are completely fangirl.boying over him (as they should) as he dispenses wisdom and advice, his colleagues look up to him and even his boss comes crying to him when he can’t do something (Excel is tricky guys ><). I mean, this is the kind of discussion Sakappy and Kokoro have about Iokibe:
And half the time, when he’s on screen, they’re mesmerized, there’s even a whole part of the drama where Kokoro tries to find out the secret to Iokibe’s perfection (hint: it’s on the dramawiki page, in the “casting” section). Mostly, Iokibe is the “reliable grown up” in that office. Well… actually, all the others (okay, most of them) are good at what they do, which I appreciated a lot, but he does have that grown-up aura, compared to them. All other characters have one quirk, or a “thing”, but Iokibe is toned-down, less exuberant than the people he works with (or the shirts he wears). This very in-control personality is his thing actually, and in the midst of more “out-there” characters (I put “” because we’re far from reaching the caricature level some Jdramas can reach, for better or worse), he’s the straight man. Which gives OdaJoe lots of opportunities to show off his “I judge you/wth are you saying?/srsly wtf” faces, and he does them so well ❤ That said, despite all the “what are you on about?” faces, he’s in no way snobby, and clearly enjoys his work and the people he works with, which makes him likeable (well, among other things).
But, really, I liked all the characters. And the cast. Yasuda Ken is always good, Kohinata Fumiyo is also a favorite of mine (and yes, he did make me cry, as he always ends up doing at some point). I of course really enjoyed Sakappy… I liked the editors, the mangakas, the bookseller (she also made me cry, haha… then again, I cry very easily, true… One Litre of Tears, to me = yay, we got a new pool), I even liked the judo girls when we saw them, which wasn’t often. As for characters who stood out to me, Nakata was one, partly because I think Nagayama Kento’s a good actor, and partly because, although I got a little annoyed at him sometimes, I was also often touched by his relationship to Kokoro, the “goddess who found him”, as he says. I completely melted, seeing him all thankful and dedicated to making her happy. Aw. I also quite felt for his sempai, the mangaka’s assistant that tried to be a mangaka himself but failed. I got his frustration, although he did get on my nerves at times. Anyway, in general, I was happy to see all involved grow together.
Obviously only 10 episodes + large cast = can’t spend a lot of time on everyone. So it meant some things were quite accelerated, like Koizumi’s (Sakappy) evolution which was welcome, but so fast it felt almost unnatural, almost like the female lead got her magic wand out, and transformed him with a bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. It was frustrating at times, mostly because I wanted to spend more time getting to know everyone, but I liked that all characters came back. Some were more “anecdotic” than others, but although episodes would focus on one (or several) characters, the drama wouldn’t discard them afterwards, we’d see them often, or occasionally, so it didn’t feel too “case of the week”-y. Especially since episodes didn’t really have a formula. It was all people relating to people and since people are different, so were the episodes. I didn’t feel like the drama had “obligatory scenes”, it didn’t feel artificial.
I wouldn’t say Juhan Shuttai touched me on a deep level, like Sakamoto Yuji dramas usually do (this is me shamelessly plugging Sakamoto Yuji, yes) but, first of all, there’s no reason to compare those (seriously, who would do that ? except maybe someone who just really wants to tell you to watch Soredemo Ikite Yuku ?). Also it was touching at times, and it was fun, it was colorful, it was interesting, it was full of likeable characters I wanted to see more of, there obviously was effort put into it from everyone involved in its production, it succeeded at what it wanted to do, and it made me happy. And I like things that make me happy. Happy is good. And so is OdaJoe.
OdaJoe isn’t good. OdaJoe is … err… you know I’m trying to find a word, but…
Okay, to quote SHINee (but not quite): OdaJoe is… fantelastic.
And also, you should watch Juhan Shuttai !
(ring diggi ding diggi ding ding ding)