While today's K-Dramas and J-Doramas are certainly quite dramatic and emotional affairs, Japanese melodramas of the '80s, particularly those from Daiei Studio were some of the best in my opinion. During that decade Daiei TV drama series like "Ariesu Otome Tachi", "Yanesu No Kagami", "Furyou No Shojo Tachi", and "Ponytail Wa Furi Mukenai" were hopelessly melancholy, and weepy tear-jerkers with idealistic heroines who were confronted with incredibly difficult challenges and obstacles but who through their determination, inner strength and above all love were able to conquer all. "Stewardess Monogatari" (TBS, 1983) was definitely a classic example. While sometimes "over-the-top", sappy and contrived, it was a superb melodrama with heart. Daiei TV drama regular and former 80s J-Pop idol, Horie Chiemi is heroine Matsumoto Chiaki, a petite, clumsy and somewhat naive girl from a abusive home, who has always had ambitions in becoming a JAL (Japan Airlines) Stewardess. Following her dream she enters the JAL Training Academy where she meets up with handsome instructor Murasawa Hiroshi, a former JAL Purser who is set to marry Shindo Mariko, the rich daughter of a JAL Executive. While at first Murasawa is cold and cruel to Chiaki, a love develops between them, much to the chagrin of Mariko. Chiaki faces many challenges during her training (learning how to swim, memorizing flight times, learning English). Her efforts are further hampered by Mariko's spiteful attempts to crush Chiaki's dreams and Chiaki's manipulative stepfather who has abused Chiaki in the past. You can't help but route for plucky Chiaki to win against all odds and find true love. It is interesting to see all the special training that the JAL stewardesses must go through. After watching "Stewardess Monogatari" I have newfound respect for all stewardesses and what they must have to endure in their training. While somewhat dated now, the dramatic elements and themes still resonate soundly now than they did then. The theme song is appropriately enough Asakura Miki's cover of "Flashdance (What A Feeling)".
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