Rich Man, Poor Woman Episodes 1-5 Impressions

So after seeing last year’s Shin Godzilla (シンゴジラ), starring Ishihara Satomi, I decided to check out the 2012 J-drama Rich Man, Poor Woman and I’ve gotten through the first five out of eleven episodes. These are my thoughts so far.
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The Plot

So Rich Man Poor Woman follows Natsui Makoto (Ishihara), a University of Tokyo student struggling to find post-graduate employment, as she ends up working for Hyuga Toru (Oguri Shun), an eccentric man who lucked into fame and fortune through his tech startup NEXT Innovation (this capitalization is required) after identifying herself as Sawaki Chihiro.

The Main Characters are Idiots but Oh-So-Good-Looking

It’s clear that Rich Man, Poor Woman is a drama intended for a female demographic that probably doesn’t work in the tech world, but I thought that for a supposedly intelligent main couple (every Toudai grad I ever met was a genius), Toru and Makoto don’t seem to behave the way one would expect.

It’s clear Toru’s character was created because the writer read Steve Jobs’s and Steve Wozniak’s Wikipedia articles once, namely by making him an eccentric jerk who also suffers from prosopagnosia, a disease rendering one unable to remember faces. What the writer probably failed to pick up on was Jobs’s genius being knowing what people would want in a personal electronic device, be it a computer or a smart phone. Jobs would never have had the, “MY PRODUCT IS BRILLIANT! HOW DO THESE MORONS NOT KNOW HOW TO USE IT!?!?!?” meltdown that Toru did in episode 4.

Did I mention Toru is a jerk? Well Makoto fell in love with him anyway. And it’s to the point where even after Toru fired her after finding out Sawaki Chihiro was in fact not her real name that, Makoto skipped a job interview to save NEXT Innovation. I thought people get into Toudai because they are good at prioritizing their needs and wants!

It might be because Toru is played by Oguri Shun, who is extremely popular with Japanese female audiences (again, the target demographic) and thus that is enough to override his personality flaws.

At the same time, Ishihara Satomi might have officially replaced Hirosue Ryoko as my celebrity crush. She was cute in Shin Godzilla, but was drop-dead gorgeous in Rich Man, Poor Woman. Seeing her dressed in some really nice clothing didn’t hurt her case at all.

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Bros Be Bromantic

Of course there’s also the bromance between Toru and NEXT Innovation co-founder Asahina Kousuke (Iura Arata). In the span of about one episode, Kousuke went from being content in Toru’s shadow to completely green with envy in a transition almost as abrupt as Anakin Skywalker deciding to turn to the Dark Side. Oh and his sister Yoko (played by Aibu Saki, who reminds me of Hara Sachie) has a crush on Toru.

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Some bromantic tension

Some Fine Threads You Got There!

Since this is an Asian drama, I feel compelled to talk about how the characters are dressed.

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I get that Toru is supposed to be eccentric. That said, I found the suit he wore in the first episode, as you can see above, to be a total eyesore. I proudly wear pinstripes on a charcoal suit, but the pinstripes contrasted with this royal blue suit. Toru also made the mistake of matching his tie color (thankfully tied in a four-in-hand knot as opposed to an obnoxious Windsor) with his suit, making it look like some kind of uniform.

As the series progressed, Toru made better decisions with his suit colors (as you can see in the smaller picture with his charcoal suit and silver tie) but I still wasn’t crazy about the fact that he stuck with lapels that extended all the way out to his shoulders, which looked ridiculous with his narrow face. Basically every other male character (and by extension every Japanese man I’ve seen in real life in Tokyo) on the show wore a suit better than Toru did. Then again, because he’s a tech CEO, he is shown to be much more comfortable in what looks like sleepwear and thus the character probably isn’t very well-versed in wearing a suit.

That said, the costumer did well with Makoto as they transitioned her from being a frumpy jobseeker (wearing exactly the black suit you would see everyone wearing at any Japanese job fair) to walking, talking advertisement for Giorgio Armani.

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The first episode made a particularly big deal over Makoto’s purchasing new shoes and featured a montage of her trying on different Armani outfits. As a guy, I’m totally ok with seeing Ishihara Satomi trying on nice clothing.

Stay tuned as I finish the series soon (might be accelerated by the fact that today I’m nursing a cold) for my thoughts on the remainder of the series.

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