Well acted and enjoyable Japanese TV drama series.
There's no close equivalent of Japanese TV drama series in the U.K. The genre seems to be self contained and intended for the home viewers, but that need not deter audiences outside Japan from watching and enjoying them too.
The title 'Tadaima Manshitsu' can be translated as 'Full House' or 'No Vacancies', though one set of VCDs which is available calls it 'Love Hotel Story' which is in fact what the series is about. The establishment concerned is 'Hotel Ailean', and each 45-minute episode features characters and events associated with the hotel. Although each episode has an individual storyline there is also an underlying continuity represented by the attempts of others to take over, close down and in one case even burn down Hotel Ailean. The series was first televised in TV-Asahi from October to December 2000.
When the series opens Momo Kurita (Kanako Enomoto) is a school teacher, who on learning of the sudden death of her mother, the proprietor / manager of Hotel Ailean, returns there to take over these responsibilities. Kanako is no newcomer to drama series, for although only 20 when this one appeared she has been a regular since the age of 15 and has built up a considerable following during that time. The difference here though is that in her previous series Kanako has played teenagers or young adults, whereas as Momo she has to appear mature enough to take adult business decisions and at the same time handle a love interest in the handsome form of Kazuki Sawamura, who plays Sakoshi Makita in the series.
Kanako's many modelling and magazine appearances in recent years may have raised her to idol status among young Japanese people ( especially teenage boys! ), but this may also perhaps have obscured the fact that besides being very beautiful she is also a really talented young actress. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched her in previous series, but it is still worth pointing out.
Here as Momo she leaves us in no doubt about her acting ability .Momo is perhaps a more subdued character than some of Kanako's earlier roles, such as 'Yuuko' in the 1999 series 'Kawaii Dake Ja Dame Kashira' (1999) or even 'Karen' on 'Otonashi Karen-san' from 1998, though it seems more probable that because she's an adult Momo really is a more mature person. Whichever is correct, Kanako copes easily with all the demands of the role. She's always a pleasure to look at, and makes clever use of her voice and body language particularly in situations which give her opportunities for forceful expression. As for the romance angle, well for most of the time it's a pretty low key affair, probably for the reasons already stated. But when Momo decides enough is enough and goes on the initiative, things start to happen. She invites herself round to Makita's apartment, and in no time at all the romance heats up. Just watch for Momo's expression as the scene fades out - have you ever seen such ecstasy on a human face? Actually I have, when as 'Yuuko' in the 1999 series previously mentioned Kanako got what was probably her first romantic screen kiss. And she's so ravishingly pretty that who could resist kissing her ? But if this was just acting, then she's absolutely brilliant at it.
After that it's plain sailing towards the obligatory happy ending. Makita ditches his fiancee, arrives just in time to rescue Momo from a buring hotel bedroom where she was being held hostage by an obsessed admirer, and there you have it.
The series must have been well received by Japanese viewers because there's talk of a sequel, and this in itself is unusual since there is no shortage of fresh ideas and new storylines.
You've probably guessed that I'm a dedicated Kanako fan, and I'll not try to deny it. Why should I? Besides being beautiful she's also a very talented young actress. Good acting is good acting in whatever language it takes place, so for me the language barrier does not matter at all.
Kanako's acting ability is more than enough to overcome such difficulties and whether you understand Japanese or not you will know exactly what Momo is saying and thinking. So why not recognise and appreciate her talent? Watch this series and I don't mind betting you will soon be back for more Kanako. p
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