Monday, November 9, 2015

ドラマ (Dorama) Time! 11

While I'm currently engrossed in my drama selections for this fall season, I wanted to write about a long-awaited sequel that I watched in between the summer and fall broadcasting seasons. That sequel is FIRST CLASS 2, the follow-up to summer 2014's 'FIRST CLASS'. By now the show is old news since it aired in the fall of 2014, but here I am getting to it now. Six months after leaving her post as fashion editor at FIRST CLASS magazine to pursue her lifelong dream of being a designer, Yoshinari Chinami (Sawajiri Erika) has managed to join the roster as a lead designer at TATSUKO YANO, one of the most venerable and avant-garde fashion houses in Japan. And let me tell you, the ploys and backbiting of this season make last season's antics look like hopscotch. Keep it cute. Trust nobody.

FIRST CLASS 2 (ファースト クラス) - Fuji TV/2014

This season focuses more on the business and office politics of the fashion industry, even more so than last season. In nearly every episode the TATSUKO YANO staff is given an assignment with the threat of losing their jobs or the company being liquidated if they fail, and so heifers back-stab accordingly. Basically none of the characters are loyal to anyone or anything except themselves, and the work that they produce. Which from an artistic standpoint somewhat makes sense, if you argue that competition and a strong sense of self-preservation advance the art of fashion (or any art, for that matter). But from a business standpoint it's just messy. They take the same brand and re-brand it at least 4 times, under 3 different names, with too many leadership switches and personnel changes to count.  All within less than a year. Why? Because people can't get themselves together and everyone's always out for number one.

Yoshinari Chinami, as the lead, is far from the goody two-shoes she started out as in the first season. But while 'FIRST CLASS' saw her as a rookie swallowed up by the fashion editorial world and devolving 'Mean Girl'-style to embody the cutthroatness of her colleagues/enemies, FIRST CLASS 2 has her using that acumen more as a seasoned vet. A self-assured, never-give-up designer who is concerned most about the quality of the work and the well-being of the staff, but also isn't unwilling to play the game and call people's hand if it means getting the job done.

I gotta say, I absolutely LOVED this second season!  It's not nearly as corny as the first, and they re-upped on their budget and writing so that the draamaaa is even juicier but also makes more logical sense, while everyone is  WERKIN' and SERVIN' and looking faaabulous in the process. Plus, the theme song "Brighter Day" by Amuro Namie is jammin'! The show still seems to leave us with the impression that all people,  especially all women,  are snake-like b*tches who can't be trusted. A message I don't particularly appreciate. But the drama is just so titillating and the plot is always keeping you on your toes that I'm cool with it. Thank you, FIRST CLASS production staff, for rightly using this second season as an opportunity to correct the pitfalls of the first. Bravo!

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