“M Ai Subeki Hito ga Ite” Episode 1 Review

On April 18, the first episode of “M Ai Subeki Hito ga Ite”, the drama based on the rise to fame of Ayumi Hamasaki (played by Kalen Anzai), premiered. I have watched the first episode and have several thoughts.

This episode consists of scenes from the early 00s and the mid 90s. In the 00s scenes, Kalen does look like Ayu. But in the 90s scenes, when she smiles, Kalen reminds me more of Tomomi Kahara rather than Ayu, given that she has dark hair in those scenes.

The hair. The hair. The hair. My first issue with the drama was the hair! Ayu’s pigtail wig! I was immediately shocked by how cheap it looked. It looked liked part of a Halloween costume, not even a wig that would be bought on its own. But this wig was just the first in a series of cheap, synthetic wigs that Kalen wore to play pre-debut Ayu.

There were these weird full face shots of Kalen, where she repeated what someone just said as a question to herself. I feel that they were trying to give an air of naivete, but it just came across as dumb.

I actually don’t mind Kalen’s acting, I just don’t like the childishness of her pre-debut Ayu.

The introduction of Masa, the character based based on Max Matsuura, is dramatic for no reason. It’s as if he’s preparing for battle when he’s just going into work at A Victory (the name for Avex here). The clenched fists. The leather jacket and jeans combination in front of the office building. The dramatic music…

Speaking of music, the background music on this show is so over the top, to the point of parody. Whenever Himeno Reika, Masa’s eye patched-wearing secretary, appears there’s this weird porn-like background music. There’s a moment where Ayu is asked to sing by Masa on the spot and the background music makes it seem like she’s making some life or death decision.

But there is good music in the show. This episode showcased music from the Tetsuya Komuro boom, with lol standing in for trf as the group USG. It has been said that this drama is a way of promoting Avex’s newer acts, and lol is featured quite a bit in the club scenes at Velfine, the name for Velfarre, Avex’s club during that era.

Continuing this theme of promoting new Avex acts, this episode also sees the genesis of OTF, which is based on Every Little Thing. Masa discusses the group’s creation with founding member Mitsuya, played by Da-iCE’s Wada Hayate. I don’t know if this is true or not, but if we’re linking this drama to reality, Every Little Thing was created to lessen the dependence on acts produced by TK., who in this drama is named Tenmei Kira.

Tenmei makes an appearance in this episode. He looks like an aged, less plastic version of Matt Kuwata, dressed as TK back in his 80s TM NETWORK days. This isn’t how TK looked in 1994.

Another time issue I had was that Masa had an iMac G3 on his desk in one scene, four years before the computer was released.

Someone that plesantly surprised me with their acting was GENERATIONS’ member Alan Shirahama. He plays A Victory producer Rukawa Sho. His character is a bit of sleazy goofball, someone that seems like they would work in the music industry.

The end of this episode… THE CHEESE! After being denied entry to a dinner with Masa due to Reika’s interference, Ayu sings a winded rendition of globe’s “DEPARTURES” outside the restaurant. Masa hears her and meets her outside. After deciding to work together now that Ayu’s left her old management, Masa speaks of building a “rainbow bridge” for Ayu. The “rainbow bridge” is a reference to “BOY MEETS GIRL”, the trf / USG song that was playing at Velfine the night that Ayu and Masa first saw each other. The song talks about talking a “rainbow bridge” to one’s dreams. After making this reference, a rainbow magically appears across the dark night sky above Ayu and Masa. THE CHEESE!

That’s not to say “M Ai Subeki Hito ga Ite” isn’t enjoyable though. I did like 90s Avex and camp aspects of the drama and plan on watching the other episodes.

For those of you that want to watch it as well, the subbed verison is available here. Special thanks to Blitz Fansub for subbing the drama!