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Massan (2014-2015)


This a rarity where I will feature just one drama but I started this drama this weekend and I find it not only informative but extremely entertaining! A morning serial drama, “Massan,” NHK’s morning dramas run for six months and largely focus on the lives and experiences of women in Japan.

Sumire (Massan’s sister), Ellie and Massan


Stars
Charlotte Kate Fox as Ellie
Tamayama Tetsuji as Kameyama Masaharu (Massan)
Izumi Pinko as Kameyama Sanae
Maeda Gin as Kameyama Masashi
Hayami Akari as Kameyama Sumire
Nishida Naomi as Okazaki Chikako
Takahashi Gentaro as Shima Ji
Nishikawa Kiyoshi as Tanaka Daisaku
Aibu Saki as Tanaka Yuuko
Natsuki Yoko as Tanaka Kayo
Shirai Akira as Yaguchi
Eguchi Noriko as Yoshiko
Hamada Mari as Catherine Taneko
Oikawa Izo as Haru-san
Ishinichi Tsutsumi as Kamoi Kinjiro

Synopsis
“Massan” (Native title マッサン) is based on the true story of Taketsuru Masataka and his Scottish wife Rita Cowen. The son and heir to a brewery with a passion for making whiskey travels alone to Scotland to learn more.”Masataka is first Japanese person to produce whisky in Japan when he opened his own distillery in Hokkaido in 1934. The drama shows a unique way of viewing Japanese virtues, and cross-cultural hospitality, while gaining an understanding of the differences between Scotland and Japan. The drama offers a unique view of growing up “Japanophile. Source: Wiki-d.addicts and MyDramaList

My Thoughts So Far
I like dramas that are different. I also like true (or loosely based) stories. What has surprised me so far is the fact that from one episode to another (each episode is only 15 minutes), none of the story is lost. I’m not familiar with many of the cast except for Aibu Saki who I’ve seen many, many times but based on the 3 weeks of the drama I’ve seen so far, the acting is superb and surprisingly these praises also include Ms Fox who is a relative newbie not only to the Japanese audience but all audiences; this is her first work.

Her command of the Japanese language is impressive and like so many non-Asian actors we’ve seen in dramas, I think her command of the language, for a female actor, is one of the best. This is also the first non-Asian lead in a Japanese drama ever. She definitely has reached a comfort zone with her co-lead, Tamayama Tetsuji, who I’ve never seen before but I have several of his dramas on my PTW list. The drama is portraying how Ellie and Massan cope with the difficulties of an international marriage, challenges in making Japan’s first locally produced whisky, as well as Ellie’s struggles with understanding the Japanese culture.

This drama began airing on NHK, September 29, 2014 (Monday-Saturday) and will run until March 28, 2015. Granted the episode count is 150 but when you do the math, it really isn’t more that 37 1/2 episodes total. So far, the episodes are uploaded one week at a time. I am hoping that it is continued to be subbed as the first 3 weeks have been. I’ve really enjoyed this “Fish out Water” drama as we watch Ellie morph from a Scottish Miss to a proper Japanese wife. This drama will feature scenes from Osaka, Hokkaido, Hiroshima Japan as well as Glasgow, Scotland.

Where to Watch
I’m downloading it and making it available via my Plex shared library (see Plex Info) and it is available on Gooddrama

If this drama continues to be subbed, look for my finals thought next year after it completes.

Taketsuru Masataka and his Scottish wife Rita Cowen

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