If there's one thing about Ninomiya Kazunari which strikes a chord in me, it's his acting ability. I could rave about his versatility and on-screen presence until Doomsday comes but for the purposes of this blog post I'll just rave about the two dramas I've watched him in recently.
Cast your mind back to the late 1990s. Arashi wasn't even born yet! Nino was still in ranks of being a Johnny's Jnr member, but already he was making a name for himself in television, butai, as well as appearing in various Japanese concerts for other Johnny's groups such as V6 and KinKi Kids. Now, I've recently watched The Last Recipe, albeit in raw format, and Nino has since had twenty years experience in film and television. I
like love to watch Nino act, with or without the privilege of English subtitles, and in just the last four years I've watched his acting capabilities blossom and deepen. It's no surprise that for me period dramas are my favourite genre for Nino to appear in, but he also shines in family, comedy and drama. In short, he can do anything. Just look at his impressive resume.
Okay so, first of all I watched Akimahende. This originally aired from October — December 1998. Nino played the part of Aoki Taiki, a brother to three sisters. Out of the two dramas Akimahende outweighed Abunai Houkago for many reasons. Akimahende was a great comedy, with many tears and tantrums thrown in for added effect. I loved the cast, especially Nakamura Tamao who played housekeeper Kiyomizu Katsura. Thankfully, I could watch the entire series with English subtitles which was wonderful. Nino played his part so well, *when he was in the moment*. There were glimpses of his perfection even twenty years ago, if he only concentrated on the scene instead of the crew! If you've ever watched Akimahende, did you notice he looked off-camera several times? I spotted it more than once and it had me chuckling most of the time. However, I'm sure he was ticked off by his acting coach because in less than a year he stopped looking away and really focused on his craft.
Abunai Houkago... this originally aired from April — June 1999. Nino played the part of Katsuyuki Natsuki, an only child with a single mother (for about five minutes until she brings home her new husband and his son, Haru, played by Shibutani Suburu). In less than one year, Nino was present for every scene, nuance and emotion change. He was fully focused on the girl of his dreams, Kyoko Nagasawa, if only he could strike up the nerve to confess! The times I spent shouting at my laptop screen, "TELL HER YOU LIKE HER, NATSUKI KUN!" The love triangle which played out was at times nail biting and extremely frustrating. Nino's pubescent angst was all over the screen!
One thing I will say about Natsuki is he has a very vivid imagination and his fantasies were at times heartachingly sweet, irreverent and hilarious! My favourite of all has to be the shoot-out between Natsuki and Haru to win the affections of Kyoko chan.
The notable difference between Natsuki kun and Taiki kun was apparent when it came to confessing to his intended. In Akimahende he confessed rather boldly by episode 3 but in Abunai Houkago he didn't get around to it until episode 11! It gave any Mills & Boon novel I've ever read a run for its money, I can tell you. Talk about stubborn pride, Taiki! The other notable difference between the two doramas for me personally was I watched 5 episodes of Abunai Houkago raw. Sadly the English subtitles were never finished so I had no choice. It was tough going at times but I saw it through to the end. For all the stubborn pride and pigheadedness Nino portrayed as Natsuki, I just found myself floundering whilst watching this drama. I loved the scenes with Takahashi Katsumi as Principal and Shibutani Suburu is one hell of an impressive actor too, but overall this angsty school drama just wasn't for me.
Abunai Houkago 4.5/10