Ikemen desu ne Episode 1 Recap
So, I shall preface this by saying that I neither am totally loving this series, nor am I completely hating it. My harshest criticism, I suppose, is the fact that the cast seems lackluster. The band just doesn’t seem to have the same spark from the Korean drama, which is disappointing. Also, I am not a big fan of the lead actress…there’s just something about her and her horribly wanky facial expressions and her desperate attempt to actually act like Park Shin Hye. Plus, even though I know she is a professional singer [part of defunct jpop group SweetS], her voice doesn’t seem all that appealing to me. She is neither a bad singer nor a good singer – she is horribly average. Park Shin Hye in You’re Beautiful had a better sounding voice.
I do have to say that one of things that I find myself liking about the series is the pacing so far. The Korean version had 16 episode in which to do things and some stuff I could have done without. They have cut quite a few scenes from the beginning of Japanese version which I can honestly say I don’t miss, even if they were funny in the Korean version, they got a little annoying and actually seemed to have some horrible plot holes involved with them. Although, this drama has a LOT of childhood flashbacks. While it does give even more backstory right away, I am not entirely sold on them being necessary overall.
Ano, I think the biggest failure this series will have is the fact that certain actors are doing their best to embody the Korean versions instead of trying to create their own version. And, maybe they need more acting experience, they tend to fail epically in their portrayals. The closest ones to the originals actually might be Tamamori Yuta’s Katsuragi Ren [despite his flaws], Manda Hisako’s Mizusawa Reiko, and Katase Nana’s RINA. This might end up being more of impressions, but I will post the plot, as it does pretty much follow the same storyline with some big diversions.
So, where to start? At the beginning. And in this drama’s case we have Miko and Mio as children sitting by a windmill looking at the stars. Miko wants a star and her twin Mio tells her its possible to touch stars if you pray hard enough. We then cut to the adult Miko [Takimoto Miori] who just wakes up and falls backwards in her chair. When she gets up she asks for forgiveness for sleeping instead of studying. She then realizes she is late and runs off (she tries to run in Park Shin Hye’s random way and utterly fails). She falls flat on her face, dusts herself off after seeing that she luckily missed crushing a flower and continues running to mass while Mabuchi Hajime [Yanagisawa Shingo] looks from her to a picture of Mio. She makes it to mass where she apologizes to Mother Superior for being late.
Later that night, Mother Superior warns Miko to work hard to study in Rome and not to disappoint her deceased father. Miko promises she will study hard as all she has ever wanted was to become a nun. She then looks up at the night sky and wonders if her brother is working hard as well. Cut to A.N.JELL performing at a concert to screaming fans. Now, does anyone else find their performance subpar? In the Korean version, I don’t know, I fell that the performance was just better as Jang Geun Suk, Lee Hong Gi, and Jung Yong Hwa really gelled as a band and seemed to be totally into the performance. Since all six are professional entertainers with performance experience under their belts, why does the Japanese A.N.JELL come across as so lackluster? There doesn’t seem to be any emotion to the singing and they seem to have almost zip in stage presence. Seriously. I am happy to say that the Japanese versions of the original Korean songs are not that bad at all. Although I keep singing along in Korean every time “Promise” is played.
Reporters wander in. Now, here we have a trio of sleazy reporters instead of just one. It looks like there is a head honcho who will essentially be doing Jang Won Young’s Mr. Kim, but still. They are doing their best to find scandalous information on the band in order to get a big scoop. Will the succeed? Mr. Kim never did.
After the concert, the group, their manager, and their president go out to dinner. Now, Tae Kyung was a perfectionist and all that jazz, but he didn’t criticize his members as much as Katsuragi Ren [Tamamori Yuta] does. He complains of Yuki [Yaotome Hikaru] and Shu [Fujigaya Taisuke] losing the beat. Now, in the Korean version, Jung Yong Hwa’s Shin Woo is pretty good at giving stuff back to Jang Geun Suk’s Tae Kyung. In this series, Shu seems a little cowed by Ren. That’s not how that should be at all. [In the Korean version, Shin Woo makes a crack about noticing how Tae Kyung’s voice cracked in one part of the song.] At this dinner, it is announced that A.N.JELL will be getting a new member and a person to share vocals with Ren who absolutely abhors this idea. Now, I have to say, Tamamori is really good at looking angry. He wears the same angry face throughout this entire 2-hour episode. Seriously. He does try Jang Geun Suk’s sneer, but just can’t manage it. We see a very different manager who seriously caters to the president like crazy in a way that Ma [Kim In Kwon] never did with Ahn. We also see a president [Takashima Masanobu] who seems slightly psychotic. Sure, Ando still uses those random English phrases, but he has a very split personality that you did not see in Jung Chan’s Ahn. One moment he is the suave president Ahn portrayed and the next moment he is an angry man you want to steer clear of.
Oh. And Ren? Yeah. Apparently Tamamori-kun decided to play him as ALWAYS angry and thinking he is better than everyone else. Tae Kyung did not really have that kind of vibe in the Korean version. Sure he was uptight and annoyed a lot, but he never really gave off this “pissed at the world” attitude that Tamamori’s Ren does.
The next scene is an older, glamorous woman arriving at an airport and staring at the huge A.N.JELL billboard. Needless to say, it’s easy to see that she is playing Kim Sung Ryung’s Mo Hwa Ran. This disadvantage to having watched the Korean version is to basically know all the secrets all ready. Plus, I don’t think the Korean version let you know that the woman was Tae Kyung’s mom as soon as they let you know that Mizusawa Reiko [Manda Hisako] is Ren’s mother.
The next day Miko is cleaning the statues in the garden when she notices a newly married couple. She then begins daydreaming about marriage and falling in love and almost ends up making out with the statue. Seriously? I really don’t like them portraying Miko in such a light. Park Shin Hye’s Go Mi Nyeo may have been a bit silly and daydreamed a lot as well, but she never did anything as hokey as that. It’s a different aspect that I just don’t like. Plus, Mi Nyeo was always more naïve when it came to such things and wasn’t really all that curious. That’s why it took her awhile to realize just what she felt for Tae Kyung. Mother Superior comes up at that moment and wakes Miko up before she kisses the statue and asks her about her ticked to Rome. Miko sets off for it and Mother Superior warns her that a strange man has been reported in the area to which Miko seems unconcerned about.
Miko sets off and gets the feeling that she is being followed, which she is. She then sets off running to a gazebo where she grabs a stick and hides. Next thing we know, Mabuchi pokes his head around the corner saying he isn’t a strange man and Miko lets him have it with the stick to the head. Ouch. She then runs and Mabuchi gets up and runs after her saying he needs to talk to her about Mio, halting her screaming and running. He then passes out. We then cut to Mabuchi telling Miko the good news about Mio becoming a part of A.N.JELL, which, of course, Miko knows nothing about. Mabuchi explains who they are and Miko is happy that her brother’s dream is finally coming true. She goes to leave, but Mabuchi stops her and says that Mio’s dream might fail. Miko asks why and Mabuchi bows down and begs her to save her brother by disguising herself as Mio. This request shocks Miko.
Instead of the long chase scene and trying to talk Miko into it, the next seen is Mabuchi dragging her to A.J Entertainment HQ. Miko protests, but Mabuchi manages to convince her to do it by saying it will save her brother. Before more can be said, A.N.JELL arrives at the scene causing the gathered girls to run screaming to their van. Like in the Korean drama, Miko is enamored by their “angelic” appearance. Each boy casts Miko a look as they walk by. While Miko is still in statue mode, Mabuchi puts the clothes in her hand and propels her to change.
When Miko reappears she is dressed as her twin brother Mio and seems very uncomfortable. Mabuchi exclaims how perfect she looks and takes her to see Ando who is way over the top when greeting him. Ando takes a closer look and even removes Miko’s cap. Miko averts her gaze and head and Mabuchi begins to worry. Luckily, he doesn’t notice Mio is really Miko and congratulates her on becoming more of an ikemen. The contract signing begins and after Miko puts down Mio’s name, Ren shows up to issue a challenge. He won’t accept Mio until he hears him sing. Unlike the Korean drama, Ando agrees to this [instead of Ren dragging Miko to the practice room and locking themselves in]. Then the other two band members show up. Mabuchi tries to stop it, but he is easily cowed by Ando. When Ren goes to rip up the contract, Miko finally sings [sounds like “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”]. Everyone is awed by her “amazing” voice. It’s not amazing. It’s average. Ren angrily runs out of the room while Shu and Yuki happily greet Mio and welcome her to the band.
Afterward, Mabuchi comments on how Mio and Miko sound alike and Miko comments that she is happy to have saved her brother’s dream. Their mom was a singer and their father a composer, so the twins definitely inherited their parents’ talents. Miko says that isn’t true and says she is off to Rome for two years to study to become a nun. Mabuchi says he will drive her and demands that she stay there and wait for him. While Mabuchi is gone, Miko looks down on her ring and remembers how one day, her brother promised on the ring [her mother’s wedding ring given to Miko by their father], that he will definitely allow Miko to see their mother again some day. It’s like the drama is really working hard to establish the reason why Miko would actually stay and keep living a lie. It isn’t to save her brother’s dream, but rather to save her own of meeting their mother again some day. It also really explains the importance of the ring Miko wears, which wasn’t explained until like the 2nd or 3rd episode in the Korean version.
Meanwhile, the A.N.JELL members are having a photo shoot and Ando says that once Mio is official, they will produce a new album and have a new tour. Afterward, Ren responds that he still hasn’t accepted Mio. It doesn’t matter if Mio can sing well, what matters is if Mio can work hard. If Mio can’t, then Ren will never accept him. Ando warns Ren not to bully the new member. As they walk, they pass by Misuzawa Reiko. This causes the group members to stop and turn [all except Ren who pauses and then starts walking away]. Ando tells them about Miss U’s fame. Misuzawa then stops and looks back at the retreating backs of the A.N.JELL members.
Mabuchi, instead of taking Miko to get her ticket to Rome, takes her to a beautiful house with a lovely garden. Miko is absolutely in love with the house and garden. Mabuchi shows her around and shows off all the great features. Mabuchi then asks if Miko wouldn’t like to live in such luxury. Miko immediately replies she would love to and Mabuchi says that she can. Does some weird movements like he’s lighting and smoking and then throwing away a cigarette before he’s back on his knees begging Miko to pose as her brother for three months. Apparently her brother got in a drunken fight and broke his nose so he’s in the US getting it fixed. Seriously. A drunken fight. Oy. And I am not to keen on Miko’s more shallow side here where she is enraptured by the grand house. So much for going to be a nun.
The other members then come in and comment on Mio moving in already. This really seems to shock Miko to see that the other boys live there as well. Mabuchi ushers Miko out and says that it is just a tour. Miko asks how can he expect her to live there with that. Mabuchi tells her not to worry about such a thing and Miko very vocally says she cannot live with them. Ren overhears this and tells her to just quit since they are all serious about the band and don’t need someone liker her. That night Miko sits in the temple praying for forgiveness as she could not protect her brother’s dream.
The next day Ando asks if everything is ready for the press conference introducing Mio. Mabuchi says everything is going well and Ando replies that Ren told him Mio was absolutely not going to show up. Mabuchi then pleads to God that everything works out and he won’t be fed to the fishes. He goes to see Miko who refuses to see him as she won’t change her mind. She is bound and determined to go to Rome and become a respectful nun. Mother Superior tells Miko she would love to see her become a nun, but Miko needs to be aware of the vastness of the world and the different kinds of love. She wants Miko to follow the best path for herself.
That night Miko sits alone and recalls starwatching with her brother. Miko always complained about missing their mother and wanting to see her. Mio told her to just look at the starts and believe that their mother is one. It’s far away, but always watching out for them. One day, Miko will definitely be able to reach out and touch the star. I have to say that Miko seems to think more about her brother than Mi Nyeo seemed to.
The next day when Miko arrives at the airport to head off to Rome Mabuchi is there to greet her. Miko immediately turns to run away and Mabuchi yells out that the real reason Mio wants to be a singer is to be able to find their mother. If Mio becomes famous then their mom will see him and search them out. Miko then recalls how her brother and she were bullied by other children for being unwanted and abandoned by their mother. Mabuchi then leaves Miko with the clothes to transform into Mio. It is her decision. Will she protect her brother’s dream in order to help find their mother? Mio sits conflicted. What should she do? She listens to the MP3 player which has “Without a Word” on it. Mio sits and cries. Looks like she feels guilty for destroying her brother’s dream.
The press conference is about to start and Mio is nowhere to be seen. Ando is getting annoyed and looking for Mabuchi who is hiding in fear while Ren smirks as he honestly doesn’t think Mio will show up after their conversation the other day and what he overheard. Miko sits at the airport and finally decides to pursue her brother’s dream in becoming a singer and finding their mother. The press conference is already under way when she goes through the transformation into Mio. When it looks like Mio isn’t going to show up, the doors finally open and Miko is there as her brother and goes to stand on stage with the rest of the band. Ren, needless to say is surprised and probably unhappy over this turn of events. Shu is happy that Mio turned up as is Yuki. Meanwhile, Miszuawa watches the conference and wonders if “he” is becoming more like her. Miko also vows to stay Mio until her and brother’s dream can come true.
Miko moves in the house the next day as Mio. She is not happy at all that Mabuchi is just abandoning her alone with the guys. Mabuchi tells her not to worry as they believe she is a guy, too, so they won’t attack her or anything like that. Yuki comes and drags Miko out to sunbathe. Of course that means shirtless. That’s one thing, obviously, Miko can’t let happen. Shu is already outside catching some rays. Yuki then turns the house on Miko. She laughs and runs away, having fun at first. Ren watches on from the kitchen annoyed by their loudness. Miko then notices you can see her chest bindings through her white shirt and turns the hose on Yuki’s face before running inside where she crashes into Ren who says he will never accept her. Shu tells her not to worry and Yuki tells her to worry and then lists all the pet peeves Ren has [along with his food distastes and allergy]. Shu says he’ll clean up and tells her to go change. Yuki then does a friendly punch to Miko’s chest horrifying her and sending her fleeing to her room. Can she really pull this off.
The party for Mio’s joining A.N.JELL is under way and we get a special guest appearance from Koda Kumi who wishes Mio good luck. Miko had no idea who A.N.JELL was, but she knows who Koda Kumi is! We also get a special appearance by NANA [Kojima Haruna]. In the original version, UEE doesn’t come in until…after episode 3 or so, but we have NANA here from the beginning. Along with some really weird person who I have no idea who they heck they are supposed to be and I have no idea why we need him [Tanoshingo as Toru]. NANA gushes that she’s a huge fan, but Ren pays her no mind. This, of course, gets NANA fired up to get Ren to look at her because NOBODY can resist her.
Miko gets trashed, sees a sign pointing to the rooftop and she goes up. She sees Ren and asks if he is there to see the stars as well. Ren notices that Mio is drunk and is not happy. He goes to leave the roof to get away from her, but when Miko climbs up on the edge of the roof to try to grab stars, he stays, panicking that she will hurt herself. At this time Yuki and Shu show up and both are immediately worried about Miko’s being on the ledge of the roof. Miko keeps stretching to reach the stars and finally falls backwards and twisting around and we get the classic scene from the original. The three boys rush to save her and next thing we know there is the vision of them all sleeping together wearing white with flower petals surrounding them.
When Miko wakes up she is immediately freaked to find herself sleeping the living room with the boys. She gets up and rushes to her room wondering what happened as she completely blacked out. She then finds the cut on her lip. Oh no!! She had a kiss with one of them? It can’t be counted as a kiss, it was a head on collision where the lips met, but whatever. Yuki comes and yells at her for what happened and Miko apologizes, but Yuki tells her to apologize to “aniki.” Miko rushes out where she runs into Shu who offers her some tea to get over her hangover. Miko then apologizes to him and Shu reveals that not only did Miko inadvertently “kiss” Ren, but vomited on him, too. We then get to see the entire scene and hear Ren’s scream. Nice. I hated this part just because Miko kept having these stupid romantic fantasies about each of the supposed kiss situations. It did not suit the mood or situation at all. Plus, during each one, she nearly kissed both Yuki and Shu. Bleh.
Miko rushes to apologize only to find Ren fresh out of the shower. She apologizes, rushes out and Ren decides he has to brush his teeth once more after he thoroughly cleaned his body. Meanwhile, Miko brings lime water and a candle as an apology. she puts the drink down and notices the music scores. she drips wax and goes to clean it up, but it was hot and she jumped back hitting the shelf. It didn’t tip, but her sweater got stuck on it which sent things crashing down, turning on the fan which blew the scores near the flame. Ren comes in at this and sees the disaster. He yells and Miko who apologizes, but then the scores catch on fire. Ren hurries and throws the drink on top and the other two rush in, shocked by the state of things. Miko apologizes and begs for forgiveness which Ren won’t give. After what just happened, he wants Miko gone, pronto. Miko rushes out of the room. Is she really leaving?
Nope. She recalls her and her brother’s promise and the real reason Mio wanted to be a singer. she will not leave. She goes up to Ren and apologizes once more after he yells at her for not leaving. She tells him she won’t quit and won’t give him anymore trouble. She then bows and asks to be allowed to stay. Ren does what Tae Kyung did. He leaves instead. Shu tells her not to worry as Ren will be back after he calms down. Yuki then scolds her for being an idiot and puts her in a headlock. This makes Miko scream, surprising Shu and Yuki who wonder what is wrong. Miko apologizes saying she was shocked and Yuki replies with he should be the one saying that. Miko rushes off apologizing and Shu warns Yuki not to bully Mio too much.
Shu then recalls helping carry Miko out after the incident. He noticed her thin wrists and then he inadvertenly hugged her when she almost fell. He knows. Not surprising as he was the first to realize in the original. Meanwhile, the reporters wonder why Mio and Ren were carried out of the party. They couldn’t have been asleep, so they must have had a fight! Considering it was a party, I am surprised they just didn’t guess drunk. Meanwhile, Miko does her best to clean up the mess she made in Ren’s room. Shu comes in and tells her everything will be okay as Ren will come back after awhile. He may be uptight, but he’s not a bad person. Miko says it is all her fault and Shu looks at her and smiles. He doesn’t hate her – he’s not bored when she’s around. He then starts helping her clean up. First watch, Shu grated. Second watch. Maybe not as bad as I originally thought. He grows on you. still not as good as Yong Hwa, but not as atrocious as I thought.
**MAJOR PLOT DEVIATION AHEAD**
Ando has gotten another charity request in for A.N.JELL. He doesn’t want to turn this one down, but Mabuchi points out that Ren is not interested in doing charity work whatsoever. Be that as it may, Ren doesn’t publically do charity, he always donates money quietly. Ando really hopes that Ren will change otherwise he will eventually fail. Ando comes up with the plan of having Mio do it instead, in a way to spur Ren on.
Mio finally finishes cleaning up Ren’s room [she noticed a single CD by Misuzawa Reiko]. Meanwhile, Ren goes to a hotel where he notices a poster of Misuzawa. He then sees her and she approaches him, congratulating him on his success and song composition. Ren tells her that he is a celebrity now, too so she should not talk to him so openly unless she wants people questioning their relationship. That would make things uncomfortable for her. Misuzawa asks to talk to him, but Ren has nothing to say to her and walks away with her staring after him.
The group gathers together where Ren immediately turns down the charity idea from Ando who then says that its okay because Mio can do it. This incites Ren to go back on his statement that he will never do such things, which is exactly what Ando wanted. However, when they get to the orphanage, the owner says that they cannot do the charity concert as they have a bad reputation and will just use the children for publicity like the last singer who came. This incites the band and Ren refuses to do the concert and walks out with an angry Shu and Yuki following. Soon Ando Mabuchi and Miko leave as well. I hated this part because the man attacked them without knowing anything about them. Ren basically grew up without loving parents and Miko was an orphan. So how could he belittle them like that? I must admit to not liking Ren’s attitude here at all as he was very violent. Tae Kyung would never have kicked the chair and walked angrily away after insulting the owner like that. I think his Tae Kyung is just WAY too angry at times.
Before they leave the orphanage, A.N.JELL are surrounded by kids who are happy to see them. They rush over to the owner who says their won’t be a concert as A.N.JELL aren’t who the kids thing they are and are just a bunch of liars. Really, this is why I hated this part. This incites Miko. She says that he is wrong and then begs for a chance to do the concert. The owner agrees if the band can come for a week and show that they are genuinely doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Ando and the rest of the band doesn’t like this, but Miko quickly agrees without consulting anyone else.
Back at HQ. the rest of the band doesn’t want to do it at all since they did not like the owner’s attitude or harsh words. Miko says they need to prove him wrong and Ren says its up to her alone then since she was the one who insisted. Miko takes up the challenge readily. Later, Mabuchi tries to talk her out of it because training and album preparations are just about to begin. It will be too much to go to the orphanage every day and do all of that stuff. Miko insists on doing it anyways as she wants A.N.JELL to be a great band that the kids can look up to. Shu overhears Miko’s story and finally understands why she is posing as a boy in the first place.
Ok. So, I suppose I could do a detailed recap for the rest, but there is no need. To break it down, Miko runs herself ragged going back and forth from the orphanage to training. At first she has no control with the kids at all and it is disastrous, but she finally manages to connect with the kids and win their approval while also softening the owner who didn’t think she’d be able to last. During this all, RINA comes in [the band’s official stylist] and agrees to help Miko out as Mio. She even does the whole two balls things which will later bring trouble. Of course, we have the whole shower scene with Miko freaking out and freezing seeing the naked guys and Shu saving the day with a towel over the head.
Shu helps Miko make a story for the kids and they share a very sweet and touching night together making it. However, after Shu and Yuki go to practice with Ren leaving Miko at home, she collapses from exhaustion. Even though Mabuchi explains the situation, the owner [who is disappointed] says a deal’s a deal. Ando calls Ren who has to make the decision to either help or let things fail. Ren does a u-turn and heads to the orphanage where Miko rushes off to after she wakes up and learns from Mabuchi that the deal was off. She is very touched to find Ren there, singing for the kids and promising them a concert. This also brings Ren a little closer to accepting Mio.
The day of the concert dawns and Miko watches it front the audience while the other three perform on stage for the kids. Um. Miko is part of the band now and is undergoing training. Why the hell wasn’t she up there with them performing for the kids, especially since it was her doing that the concert happened? After the concert ends, she is told to get up on stage where the kids cheer for her and hold up signs they made in secret saying how much they love “Mio” and A.N.JELL. Also during Miko’s excited jumping, she lost one of her balls.
Later Ando commands Ren, via a video call to go home. Ren agrees and then RINA calls Ando out. When he leaves, RINA and Miko go in to a separate room in Ando’s office to replace the missing ball. Ren hears what they’re saying and jumps to conclusions just like Tae Kyung did. The two then reemerge and RINA says that no one will ever know Miko is a girl. Ren is shocked and he’s got it on video!! He rushes to the studio to confirm it. He walks into the practice room [if they are a band, why do they study dancing? And why is Ren/Tae Kyung never at dance practice?] and grabs Miko up in a hug, feeling her chest. This shocks Miko and everyone else. At this time Ando and the head reporter walk in and snap pictures. See, the two aren’t fighting.
Afterward, Ren goes to tell Ando, but he is leaving with the reporter and won’t listen. Miko goes after him, happy that he has excepted her, but Ren turns around and reveals he knows her secret! What’s Miko to do?
Okay. Plot divergence wasn’t bad, but really wasn’t necessary at all. What other changes will be in store?