“Kurofuku Monogatari” gets high ratings for their pilot episode at 9.3% (11 pm time-slot). I must have underestimated Nakajima Kento’s popularity or maybe tons of AKB wotas have tune-in for Yukirin. Anyway, I was not impressed with NakaKen’s acting in “Bad Boys J” so I watched “Kurofuku Monogatari” with so-so expectations and let’s see how it turns-out.
Here is a quick recap of Kurofuku Monogatari : Episode 1
The story starts with Kogawa Akira (Nakajima Kento) as busies himself for his entrance exam the next day at the school where every high school students wants to go- Tokyo University. However, for Akira, aiming for ToDai is like trying to reach the stars, it’ll be his third time and he is losing confidence.
His mother’s words isn’t helping either, he was too pressured that during the exam day, he rushes out of the exam room because the stress he has felt has turned psychosomatic.
Akira decides to go back to his hometown, Shizuoka, where his Doctor dad still insists that he takes the exam at ToDai. He gives him pamphlets of preparatory schools that he can go to. In fairness to Akira, he did go to the prep school but his classmates treats him as a fool after learning that it’ll be his third try in ToDai.
Feeling that the world is against him, Akira goes to a bar where he got drunk, got kicked-out for the lack of money, and end-up wandering around until he felt asleep in a back alley somewhere in Ikebukuro.
In the midst of drunken stupor, he sees Kyoko (Nozomi Sasaki), a pretty lady who is being harassed by three goons lead by (Kaname Jun). Kyoko is being recruited by a different host club and before they can force her, Akira springs into action by telling the goons that a lady must be treated properly.
Well, he’s still drunk and he get some beating while Kyoko pretends to call the police. The goons make their escape and Kyoko tries to console Akira by giving him her handkerchief. She gives him a smile before she leaves for work and that’s when Akira thinks he has fallen in love.
Wandering along the streets of Ikebukuro, Akira sees a front door sign with Kyoko’s picture in it as the no.1 host of Juliet. The waiter assists him inside and Akira takes a seat on one of the bar’s plush sofa. When he sees Kyoko mingling with other guests, he gets enthralled by her beauty leaveing his mouth wide open when Miki (Kashiwagi Yuki) arrives.
Miki sweetly introduces herself and Akira can’t help but stare at the luscious cleavage being offered for his eyes to feast on. Well, just like any typical hostess, Miki serves him drinks while she asks questions about Akira and pretends to be interested. Of course, they can’t just drink so she also asks for some fruit and cheese. Few minutes later, Miki gets called on because she got designated by a different customer, leaving Akira behind, and another girl comes in brandishing her smooth long legs. Akira can’t help not to feel being close to heaven with all the attention that gets.
Until the bill comes in and he has no money whatsoever. Yuji (Nakao Akiyoshi) and Nobori (Yasui Kentaro) was left with the task of making him pay while Harada (Yamamoto Yusuke) smokes nearby. Yuji threatens him to call the police or his parents to settle his bill. Akira pleads to let him work as a waiter to settle his bill because he’s sure that he can do “this kind of thing”. His statement irks Harada and says that they do their work with pride and if Akira thinks that he can just hang around with hostesses then he’s wrong. Harada doesn’t want brats like him in but Boss (Takenaka Naoto) has the last say and hires Akira in.
It’s Akira’s first night of work and he immediately goes to Kyoko to ask if she remembers him but she gives him a cold shoulder and says that she has no idea who he is. The real work starts and Akira is finding the work not as easy as it looks. He gets reproach by Yuji for his posture and the like.
At the girls’ locker room, the girls are talking on how Akira might not last long in their type of job. Miki decides to bully him when he enters the room to get the trash can. She asks him to pull her dress zipper down because he can’t reach it and asks him if he wants to help her with her bra. Akira was just dumbfounded and Miki tells him that he shouldn’t believe things like that easily. She also tells him that she will never go out with a staff. In short, the staff are the hostesses (cast) servant.
Speaking of staff and hostesses, Akira receives another slap on the head from Yuji for speaking to Kyoko too casually. When he asks on why Harada openly talks to Kyoko, Yuji says that it’s because Harada is Kyoko’s manager. As it happens, some staffs can get promoted as a manager to service one cast (hostess) and manage her work. Akira thinks that being a manager is cool but Yuji tells him that they are just really slaves for the “princesses”. As managers, they are responsible to make sure that their cast arrives on time at work and the cast even demand things like buying them their tampons.
Even though Akira looks unreliable, he comes to work early to memorize the “bottles” for each customers. He memorizes each bottles and their respective owners the way he memorize things at prep school– with the use of flash cards. While Akira is talking with the boss, the owner- Kanzaki (Kitamura Yukiya)- arrives and later on, Akira gets called at his office.
At Kanzaki’s office, Akira was asked about the difference between the sex industry and the hostess industry. Akira says that the sex industry is about the woman’s body while the host industry is about the drinks. Kanzaki agrees with Akira’s analogy but says that in the hostess industry, the girls are the product. How is that different with the sex industry? Anyway, Kanzaki tells him that he will let him manage a cast.
Harada is against it and Akira also says that he doesn’t have the confidence to manage a cast. Not to mention, Akira is set to managed Miki, probably one of the most problematic girls in the bar. Miki feels like she’s being cast-out for having Akira as her manager and she has more to say until the boss says that it was the owner’s decision. Well, that shut her up.
Miki proves to be a challenge as she didn’t report for work the next day despite promising Akira to be arrived by 9PM. Akira has to faced two old men who are too pissed that Akira’s promise got broken. One of them even pours wine on Akira’s head and it certainly wasn’t his lucky night as one of his high school classmate arrives.
Not only does Akira’s high school classmate is super cocky, he even designates Kyoko along with two other girls for his friends. The cocky classmate isn’t done in showing his superiority over Akira and tells his friends and everyone else who can hear that Akira have failed ToDai twice and tells him that he should not do part-time work at that kind of place since the world of the night is filled with dropouts. Akira has no say to that and went on doing his job.
Akira’s lack of retaliation irks Harada and gives him a punch when they are cleaning the place. Harada tells Akira that he is obviously ashamed of their job because he didn’t even tell the guys that he’s working full-time and not part-time as what they have thought of. In the end, Harada tells him that he’s not fit in their world and Akira runaway.
Akira receives a call from his mother, who has no idea that he had stopped going to prep school. Feeling lost again, he goes to the prep school the next day only to be seen by Kyoko. Akira skips prep-school and accompanies Kyoko to a swimming club where the two got to talk while Kyoko is in the most unflattering swimsuit ever. XD
Kyoko tells him that he should resign since he’s not suited in their world. When Akira asks why, Kyoko says that all of them who works in the nightlife have a certain darkness in them. They have been through a lot and they are not like Akira who came from a nice place. When Akira asks her on why she became a hostess, she says that she finds night life being magical. She adds that the night is kind to those who have the resolved to work hard and for those who have no resolved, they will face many difficulties.
Speaking of resolved, Akira comes to work and learns that Miki has resigned. Akira begs her to stay and Miki challenges him to lick her shoe. Showing his resolved, Akira kneels down and licks Miki shoe. Eeew. Well, Miki is obviously embarrassed for her own dare and changes tactic by telling Akira that she knows that he’s ashamed of working in their world so why would she believe in his words.
Akira chases over Miki, whom he found being forced to work in a shady bar by her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Hideto, owns 20 million Yen and Miki has to worked hard so she can pay his debts. Akira enters the scene and Hideto tells him that he can do what he wants with his woman. Akira says that he doesn’t care about Miki at all, he only cares about himself. Akira receives some beating from Hideto until Miki snaps back to reality and stops Hideto, the onlookers starts saying about calling the police and Akira uses that commotion to grab Miki away from her boyfriend.
The two end-up somewhere, Miki asks him on why he’s being so nosy and Akira says that he has decided to become her manager. Miki says that he’s not fit to be the manager and Akira shares his sorry story from running away from home, failing his entrance exam twice, and being forced to follow the future that his parents has decided for him. Well, everything else has changed when he met Kyoko and he starts thinking differently, he used to be ashamed of working in the night life, but he learned from someone that there is magic in the night. Akira asks Miki if they should look for it together, the magic in the night. He also promises Miki that he’ll always be there for her.
At Juliet the next day, one of Miki’s clients arrived and starts looking for her. Akira says that she’ll arrive shortly and Harada tells him that he should take responsibility and resign if Miki will not arrive. Akira agrees to his terms and he’s still confident that Miki has not gone back with Hideto. Well, soon enough, Miki arrives and Akira confidently says, “Miki-san, you have been designated. Will you please show the magic of the night to the customer?”
For the first time in his life, Akira has made a decision for himself and by himself.
Why do Nakajima Kento gets cast in roles were he gets beat up a lot? Is he masochistic or something? haha. Anyway, NakaKen as Akira is just bland, I can’t see or feel his frustration from all the stress that had accumulated from his parent’s pressure. Well, he tries to look the part of a pressured ronin but the only time where I really see him act was when he kissed Miki’s shoe, you can see sincerity there.
Nozomi Sasaki as Kyoko is full of eye candy but her eyes look detached sometimes, like she doesn’t have a connection at all with Akira. In fact, I can see more connection and chemistry between Akira and Miki especially when Akira made Miki faced him to say that he’ll always be there for her.
If the leads were so-so, the supporting cast are waaaaay better. Thankfully, there are experienced actors in this drama so it won’t look like that the entire drama is just a rehearsal. Kaname Jun is so cool and Yamamoto Yusuke is so convincing that I want to hate his character. Why the guy is only doing supporting roles lately? I have no idea. Oh, I always have a soft spot for Yasui Kentaro since “49” and biases aside, he acts better than NakaKen here. I guess this happens when one keeps on doing supporting roles, slowly but surely, you get more experienced than those who are always playing the lead. Let’s not forget the boss, he’s always effective in any character that he plays.
The plot is so-so and it makes you wish that there would be more instead of seeing Akira climbed to be the best manager in Juliet. For first impressions, “Kurofuku Monagatari” isn’t really my thing, but if you’re Nakajima Kento’s fan, you might just overlook everything else.
Usual credits apply.