Friendly rivalry between two teenage girls as they study at college and then find jobs in the big wide world
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1  
1999  

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Series cast summary:
Kanako Enomoto ...
 Yuuko Sugiyama (unknown episodes)
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Friendly rivalry between two teenage girls as they study at college and then find jobs in the big wide world

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Drama

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1999 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Isn't Being Cute Enough?  »

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A top class performance for so young an actress
17 October 2001 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

'Isn't being cute enough?' asks the title's question. My answer would be that a girl cuter than Kanako Enomoto has yet to be born. And when that girl does arrive, she'll be doing well to be half as good an actress as Kanako is in this series. Impossibly slender, incredibly beautiful and amazingly talented, 18-year-old Kanako's performance as Yuuko should be the envy of actresses twice her age. It's a shame that Kanako's acting ability has been overshadowed by her beauty and idol status, because she is a natural actress if ever there was one.

Since before her 15th birthday Kanako had been developing her acting ability and by the time this series appeared she was rating star status. Did she deserve it ? Well, just compare her performance as Yuuko with that of her co-star and real-life friend Sayaka Yamaguchi, who plays Setsuko. It's not the first time these two young actresses have appeared together, and in 'Kawaii dake' both of them get plenty of opportunities to show their ability. The series is all about the ups and downs of their friendship and rivalry as their characters go through college and find jobs afterwards. If the scenes where the pair of them go disco dancing don't get you moving then nothing will !

Sayaka is good, don't get me wrong, but for me she doesn't make the character of Setsuko 'come alive' in the way that Kanako does for Yuuko. Kanako really gets inside Yuuko's personality. She seems to become her character and live as her. It's much more than just acting, and all done so effortlessly.

Does the credit belong to the scriptwriters ? Partly, perhaps . But having watched Kanako's performances in series both before and after this one, it's apparent that this ability to 'become' a character is something she has always possessed. Here as Yuuko, Kanako seems inspired by the character. She knows exactly what Yuuko would say and do, and she conveys that through her acting. ( My theory is that the character of 'Yuuko' is based on Kanako's own! ). Examples of her skill are many, but among the best is surely the scene where Yuuko is called upon to make a speech at Setsuko's wedding. Overcome by emotion at the thought of losing her best friend, Yuuko is so distraught that she can hardly string two words together, but the way Kanako portrays this is superb. Her voice, facial expressions, body language, everything is just perfect. I don't know how she did it, but in this scene Kanako took her acting on to a higher plane.

O.K., I'm an out and out Kanako fan. I don't try to hide it. And I'll not try to hide the fact that good though it is, 'Kawaii dake' is by no means a great series. It's about 2 or 3 episodes too long for a start, because the plot runs out of steam after Yuuko and Setsuko leave college, and too many loose ends were thrown in to fill it out to the required length for television. Some of the 'padding' is pretty obvious and unnecessary, for instance why were the numerous video clips of a previous Kanako character ('Otonashi Karen-san' from 1998) included ? It's really even worse than that, because apparently these scenes were newly filmed for 'Kawaii dake' - if they went to all that trouble, why not make a whole new 'Karen' series ? Everyone else they would have needed was in the cast of 'Kawaii'.

I'm sure some of the credit for Kanako's terrific performance was due to the other members of the cast. I particularly liked Naomi Kawashima's performance as 'Sensei' ( Setsuko's and Yuuko's college teacher ).

In 'Kawaii dake' Kanako was working with people she knew well and had appeared with before. Compare the cast list of 'Kawaii dake' with that of 'Iguana no musume' from 1996, and there's virtually no difference apart from the addition of Sayaka Yamaguchi in a co-starring role. When 'Iguana' appeared TV Asahi must have realised they were on to a good thing, because the cast were kept together first for 'Otonashi Karen-san' and then again for 'Kawaii dake' the following year. A Japanese friend tells me that this group is known as 'The Children of Iguana' ! Well, no harm in that if it produces results like this.


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