If you watch Japanese dramas you will soon discover Takuya Kimura, one of their most famous actors. He’s been in A LOT of tv shows. I’m going to talk here about Long Vacation, his first starring role. He was informal and appealing and had a Mane of Glory before it was a thing.
Long Vacation aired in 1996, which is a ways back. I watched it on Youtube and the picture was a little fuzzy; ok for casual watching but not very good for getting screencaps. That’s why this first picture isn’t that clear. We begin strangely enough with a woman in traditional Japanese wedding attire running down a city street, holding on to her headdress, clopping along in geta – a kind of wooden sandals. That must be harder than running in heels.
She has been stood up at her wedding and is making a beeline for the groom’s apartment. He is permanently missing; all she finds is his roommate, Sena, who lives there with a grand piano. He has a degree in music and has been entering piano competitions in hopes of becoming a concert pianist. The jilted bride is Minami, a fashion model who means well, but is very pushy. She steamrolls over the poor guy and camps out in his apartment, since the groom took all her money and left her high and dry. Sena lets her stay, feeling somewhat responsible. This picture says it all: she is cheerful and ebullient whereas he is wary but trying to be nice.
The first couple of episodes are difficult to get through because Minami is so obnoxious, but she does improve. Minami takes no notice of anyone else’s feelings at first, and is pretty clueless in general. Neither losing her job nor her bridegroom bothers her very noticeably. Minami doesn’t seem a good companion for Sena, who is the responsible type and worried because his professors complain he doesn’t put enough feeling into his music. Here we see Sena looking cute, Minami effervescent, and her brother Shinji just being hot. The other women are Ryoko, a pianist Sena has a crush on who is favored to win the competition, Minami’s best friend, and Shinji’s girlfriend who is trying to keep Ryoko away from him.
The plot revolves around the piano competition, Minami’s new job and boyfriend, and Shinji vs. women in general, but the most interesting thing is what happens as they all get to understand each other better. It is odd to hear Minami worry about Sena being too idealistic and unable to cope with the world. We are surprised by the advice Sena gives Ryoko when she talks to him about Shinji. I think some of Sena rubs off on Minami and Shinji as they start thinking things through and having some pretty thoughtful conversations. And Sena learns from the two of them how to open up emotionally instead of being a hermit with his grand piano. Underlying all this is the question: Do Opposites Attract? How does it work to chose someone with a similar personality vs someone very different.
I really liked this drama. It has funny scenes and touching scenes, and is well done with no overacting – the bane of Japanese comedies. The characters come across as real people, and I liked them all and cared what happened to them. The ending is pretty cute. Make sure you watch through the credits or you will miss it!
I have actually also finished another Takuya Kimura show called Hero; I’ll be talking about it next. I liked it even better than Long Vacation. If you have watched his dramas, please comment and let us know which are your favorite!
Dramas With A Side of Kimchi