‘Hate to Love or Love to Hate?’
With a title like Good Morning Call it is quite hard to gage just what you are in for when it comes to this Japanese drama tv-show, nor are you able to predict both the levels of awe and frustration you feel while you watch. Take what you know western drama shows to be like, and then, forget it completely. To put it lightly, JDramas completely flip the concept of the ‘western’ drama tv-show, and then some. This being the first Japanese drama, or ‘JDrama’, I’ve watched, whatever expectations I had – if any – were definitely blown away in a whirlwind of screaming girls, borderline ridiculous facial expressions, and a protagonist pair which I honestly hated to love. Setting this aside, Good Morning Call (2016) brings you a selection of fascinating characters in a situation which seems to go from bad, to worse, to unbelievable…with a side of solid humour, but hey, that is this part of the genre.
Meet Nao (Fukuhara Haruka), high school girl, just moved out of home to live closer to her new school, and hopelessly in love with one of the ‘top three’ Uehara (Shiraishi Shun’ya) – the ‘top three’, we soon discover, are the three most popular and handsome guys in the school, one for each year. Uehara has just moved out in order to live alone, away from his older brother and his fiancé. It is here that things start getting crazy: one rental agreement fraud, a suspiciously smug looking elderly realestate agent, and a reluctant decision made by two almost strangers later…Uehara and Nao are living together. This turn of events leads way to not only the slowest burning love story between two teenagers, but also to the introduction to a character who makes you question why Nao likes him at all. It doesn’t take long though before Nao finds herself almost hating her new housemate, and you finding yourself wanting the secondary love interests to ‘get the girl’, even though you know there is no way they will.
After finding at watching some other JDramas as well, (one, Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (2013) is very similar in premise), it is easy to see this plot line as a popular trope. This is understandably so, you can’t help but get sucked into the series of endless mistakes being made by Nao in her persute or Uehara, or even get on board with the cycle of rejection her childhood friend Daichi (Sakurada Dôri) endures at the hands of his unrequited love for Nao. It is here you realise you beginning to not really like Uehara at all, as the main love interest he is surprisingly standoffish, quick tempered, and in some cases just plain rude, redeemed only – in the eyes of Nao – by his handsome face and popularity. Daichi, on the other hand, is doting, kind, and for one he actually likes her. So while you know that Uehara will always have Nao’s attention, you can’t help but sympathise with Daichi, and even after just one episode, you can tell this will be a somewhat frustrating show to watch.
Yet, somehow, you still want to know more…
After just one episode with a love sick female lead, and an almost unlikeable love interest you can see there is still a certain charm to the show which you don’t see in ‘western’ drama shows, and it is this which draws you in. You’d expect the main character to be likeable, tolerable even, but Nao – though sweet and good intentioned – is completely oblivious to the feelings of those around her in her persuit of Uehara, and you find yourself endlessly frustrated by her antics. Uehara on the other hand isn’t much better, as a love interest he is almost unreachable, and increasingly more rude as time goes on, even if it is provoked by Nao’s occasional stupidity. It is here you find yourself completely invested in the fate of the side characters: Daichi and his love for Nao, her two similarly clueless best friends, and the guy who works at the Ramen Café. Not many shows could manage to hold an audience with such a frustratingly unlikeable main pair, yet Good Morning Call (2016) has cleverly collated humour, charm, loveable side characters, and the pull of such a ridiculous premise to keep you watching.