Saturday, July 13, 2013

Recap:// Attention Please Episode 1

Attention Please is a 2006 Japanese drama starring Ueta Aya and Nishikido Ryo.  It's about a rough and tumble boyish girl named Misaki Yoko who was raised by her father and brothers.  When her band breaks up and her crush, Tsukasa, leaves for Tokyo for a job, life changes.  The band sees Tsukasa off at the airport and the boys admire the cabin attendants.  Misaki says that even she could wear the uniform.  Tsukasa says he'd like to see that, and Misaki suddenly has a new goal.  It won't be as easy as changing clothes, though, as she soon finds out!

The band plays its last show to a mostly empty room.  Afterwards, they talk about how they will have to get jobs soon.  Misaki thinks its too troublesome and wants everything to stay the same.

As the boys run off to pee, Misaki starts to confess her feelings to Tsukasa, but changes her mind.  The next day, Misaki goes with the boys to see Tsukasa off at the airport.  

The band admires the cabin attendants, saying that they would like to date one just once, and how the uniform would make them fall in love.  Misaki says she could put on the uniform too, but they tease her and say it's impossible.  Tsukasa tells her that he'd like to see her in one.  He gives her his old ring since it doesn't match with his new professional style and tells her that it will bring her luck in getting a job.

Misaki receives a postcard from Tsukasa inviting her to visit him if she's ever in Tokyo.  Since her mother died when she was young and she was raised with her four brothers around her dad's trucking company, Misaki has always hung out with the boys.  Even though she seems unsuited to being a cabin attendant, she decides to give it a try and studies to make it through the interview.  Once she arrives at the actual interview dressed in her punky street clothes and sees everyone else in suits, she quickly grabs one of the other girls and convinces her to switch outfits.

After passing the interview, Misaki arrives in Tokyo.  However, the room she booked has been rented out to someone else since she neglected to send in the down payment.  Luckily there is a woman who needs a roommate, Yoshimura Chiemi, played by the hilarious Yamasaki Shizuyo.  The woman seems a little eccentric, but Misaki likes the space and agrees to rent with her.

On the way to orientation, Misaki gets jostled at the subway station and her ticket flies out of her hand. She suspects it got stuck in the book of the man next to her and insists on checking it.  When it doesn't turn up, he leaves with her yelling for her ticket, and security comes to have a chat with her.

After that, Misaki really has to run in order to avoid being late.  She finally reaches the Induction Ceremony Hall with five minutes to spare.  Still, she finds that she is the last to arrive.

She reluctantly takes the last seat available, right in the middle of the front row, and proceeds to drowse through the speeches given by the director and instructors.  Everyone notices her unprofessional attire and obvious boredom.

After the ceremony, Misaki is greeted by Wakamura Yayoi who is the woman she had switched clothing with for her interview.  When they reach the classroom, Misaki is dismayed that there are only women there as she's more comfortable around men.  Hirota Saori and her two cohorts immediately begin criticizing Misaki's appearance.  Misaki, though, thinks she looks cool.  Sekiyama Yuki enthusiastically introduces herself, and the cliques seem to be established with three on each side.

Mikami, the instructor, walks in while Misaki is tryiing to allay everyone's nervousness by saying that their teacher is probably an old lady with bad breath.  The first impression is complete!  

After the class where Misaki was lacking in every way, she takes Wakamura along to explore.  They end up in a hangar where Nakahara is working.  Misaki recognizes him as the man from the subway station and accuses him of taking her ticket.  She is insulted when he is surprised she's training to be a cabin attendant and calls her unlady-like.  

Wakamura drags her away and they go to eat at her family's soba shop.  Misaki makes a good impression on Wakamura's father with her flattery and enthusiasm.

On her way home, Misaki witnesses a man escaping from a balcony.  A moment later a woman comes calling for "Tsutsumi".  After Misaki sends her off in the wrong direction, Tsutsumi comes back and tells her he'll buy her a meal.  He writes his number on her hand and tells her to call him.  "Gross." she says.  She returns home and as she takes off her boot, she finds her subway ticket stuck to her sock.

The next morning, Misaki just makes it to class before the instructor.  She's made to repeat her entrance, this time following the rules of taking the stairs and not running.  She gets a warning for being late.

After class they see a flight crew in the hall.  The captain stops to ask them if they know Mikami.  His pilot trainee keeps trying to flatter the captain and Misaki recognizes him as Tsutsumi.  He grabs her and pulls her away before she can expose the events of the night before.

Mikami blackmails him into buying lunch for her and her friends.  Asou, who is the epitome of cabin attendants and Miss April of the JAL calendar, walks by with her friend and calls Tsutsumi a crow.  He follows after them and Sekiyama explains to the other girls that since Tsutsumi is a trainee, he has no stripes on the sleeves of his black jacket, therefore he's a crow.  How does she know these things?  Turns out her father is a pilot.

During training, Misaki is constantly being corrected.  As Director Dazai and another instructor observe from the window, the instructor says she doesn't look serious.  However, Dazai says she seems like she has it in her.

That night, Misaki's roommate leaves with instructions not to enter her room.  It's abrupt and mysterious.

Another day of training and Misaki is criticized for her English pronounciation, saying "fright" instead of "flight".  Next the class takes a tour of the hangar and Hirota's group insults Misaki.  Misaki's loud retort makes her look like the troublemaker. 

To top it off, she trips and falls into a cart, grabs a power cord to stop herself, and interrupts the work of the engineers.  In Dazai's office, he gives Misaki a friendly caution to be more careful.  The other instructor exclaims that she's glad she isn't in her class.  Mikami asks Misaki to reexamine what she thinks a cabin attendant is.

Back in the classroom, Hirota and friends talk about how unsuited Misaki is for the job.  Wakamura stands up for her.

Misaki goes to the hangar to let Nakahara know she found her ticket.  She goes on to complain about having to study things that don't matter.  Nakahara asks if she isn't embarrassed to be saying such things, and tells her that it's really not cool.

On the way home, Misaki thinks of Tsukasa and goes to visit him.  She tells him that she became a cabin attendant and reminded him that he had said he'd like to see her in uniform.  He says that he was joking at the time because she really wasn't suited for it.  Just then, his live-in girlfriend arrives and Misaki leaves. She questions why she became a cabin attendant since Tsukasa doesn't even see her as a woman.  She throws his ring into the river and cries.

The next day, Misaki doesn't attend class.  Hirota's group says she's probably on her way back to her hometown.  Wakamura calls her, but Misaki is at the arcade and ignores the call.

Mikami sees Misaki playing basketball and asks if it's really okay for her to walk around in dirty clothes with holes in them.  What if a customer saw her?  Misaki says she didn't want to become a cabin attendant anyway, and all they do is serve tea and water in the sky.  Mikami asks her if she's just running away from the things she can't do.  That kind of person can't understand what the job means.  She tells her to take a close look at her failure.
Misaki thinks about all the criticism she has gotten from the instructors, other students, and Nakahara.

The next morning, she waits for Nakahara.  She tells him not to say "It's really not cool." to her again.  Then she goes to class and tells Mikami that she doesn't know what it means to be a cabin attendant, but she doesn't like to lose, so she'll show her.  Mikami informs her that her zipper is down.

At first glance, this drama is light-hearted with exaggerated comedy, but in typical Japanese style, it stresses the importance of being earnest and doing your best.  I like the fact that Misaki is a hot mess and doesn't understand concepts that are common sense to others.  She doesn't change easily, but she also has a good heart.  When I think about the various jobs I've had, I realize that there's a bit of Misaki in all of us. Though she's an extreme case, I can really relate to her.  There is so much room for character development that watching her transformation will be very satisfying.  Hopefully the affect her enthusiasm has on others will be equally fulfilling.

Nishikido Ryo plays the serious counterpart to Ueto Aya's, Misaki.  I hope his character has a chance for deeper expression as the drama unfolds.  For now, though, I'm enjoying his stern looks and sexy smiles.  I love that Aibu Saki has a large role in this as Wakamura Yayoi.  I first saw her in Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) and thought she was wonderful.  I'm also a fan of Maya Miki who plays instructor Mikami. Incidentally she also had a part in Zettai Kareshi.  And lest I forget, Koizumi Kotaro!  Suffice it to say, the supporting cast is awesome.

Attention Please received an average viewership rating of 16.37%, so going into this I'm expecting a lot. From what I've seen so far, I don't think I'll be disappointed.

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