Original Title: 金魚倶楽部, Kingyo Club
Theme: Friendship, Slice of Life, Angst, School
Plot: Kingyo Club is a short 10 episode slice of life Japanese drama, very much played out like a whimsical dream. Haru, a third year high school student, is completely uninterested in school and dramas within it. He often skips class and hangs out in an abandoned club-like room. His two best friends Kida Kayoko and Yanagihashi Sho are the ones who keep him from totally isolating himself. Furthermore, Kida has a crush on Haru while Sho is pinning for Kida. One day Haru’s apathy is broken when he sees a young girl named Koto being bullied by several other girls. These girls beat her up as well drench her clothes in paint, and Haru steps in to stop them. However, later he sees Koto up on the rooftop of the school and runs there in a frenzy thinking she is about to throw herself off the top. However, Koto is merely enjoying some time alone, trying to make sense of her troubles. Much of comes from the fact that her mother is basically a prostitute and she herself is painfully shy. Haru takes an odd interest in her and thus forms the friendship between the two teens. They form a unique little Goldfish club in the club room when Haru wins some goldfish from a game. The story flows along, angst filled, and overflowing with cuteness as the two figure each out and heal the wounds that each have suffered. Slowly Koto comes out of her shell while Haru takes more of a interest in his peers. Slowly, a romance blossoms between them.
He does his best to protect her from the bullying and especially tries to guard her against a creepy classmate of hers, Motoi, who has a dangerous crush on her. When things come to a head, and Koto is traumatized by the rough actions of Motoi with Kida’s meddling, Haru throws his indfference out of the window and almost beats Motoi to a pulp. With Koto not coming to class, Haru decides to go there himself to see if he can help Koto again. He ends up trying to talk some sense into her useless mother, but really couldn’t care less. However, Koto finds the support she needs in Haru, who promised to not let her fall apart. The story ends open-endedly as the the two teens grasp onto each other for the love and comfort they desperately crave.
Comments: This breezy little drama is certainly not your heavy melo-ladened usual Korean fare. True to many Japanese dramas, it offers a unique slice of life perspective, which makes you feel like you are just looking at this one chapter of someone’s life. The whole piece has a very dreamy feel to it and often the drama plays it up with beautiful colors, soft romance, and longing stares. The story is not complicated, but it’s this simplicity of young love that drew me in. Where two lost teens have nothing else to hold on but to each other. Though the drama does play up the sterotypes and cliches a bit, it is not grating because the episodes are so short in themselves. Ultimately, it is a feel-good drama with lots of cuteness, but still tender moments where your heart can’t help but ache for them.
Actor Review: Irie Jingi plays Haru very well in these short drama. A far cry from his character in another drama I saw, IS, his apathy and later disillusionment is lovely to watch. Though his character isn’t hard to play, he does breathe some warmth into Haru’s frozen personality. Kariya Yuiko as Koto, unfortunately is a little bland in my eyes. For the most part, it was hard for to emote during the tender scenes, but is a fairly good crier in the sad scenes. Her role was to play a damsel in distress, which I usually don’t like watching much, but the prettiness of the drama in its entirety kindly overrode it.
Quotes: “If we suppose that in this world there are gods or spirits and they are testing us all then there has to be a meaning in it all, right?”