5-ji Kara 9-ji Made (From Five to Nine) is a getsu-9 drama starring Yamashita Tomohisa and Ishihara Satomi based on the manga series of the same title by Miki Aihara .
The story opens with the female lead, Sakuraba Junko, attending a temple funeral. Her clumsy ways cause an embarrassing scene and the monk officiating the ritual ends up with ashes on his face.
Junko is a 29-year-old English conversation teacher who aspires to work in New York. She is too focused on her job so the fact that she hasn’t been on a date for a long time worries her family. Soon, the family members decide to set her up on a blind date with a religious man who comes from a good family background.
The man happens to be the monk whom she accidentally threw ashes on.
Yamashita Tomohisa plays Hoshikawa Takane. As a monk, his role doesn’t require him to have complex facial expressions. There is beauty in subtlety, however, even that subtlety is nowhere to be found. It is quite hard to guess the feeling that he’s trying to convey in every scene.
I used to be able to tolerate his dead fish eyes but these days, I’ve been watching many dramas featuring a lot of talented actors, and the other Johnnys are continuously improving so I just can’t help but criticize his wooden acting.
The shoujo aspect works just fine since Yamapi has a beautiful manly face but there’s an explicit need for some dramatic, slowmo, rainy day effect and the works, just to make the audience feel the chemistry. These moments could’ve been more swoon-worthy if only his expressionless eyes didn’t get in the way.
The drama also stars other swoon-worthy actors as supporting cast. Absolute Boyfriend Hayami Mokomichi plays Arthur, Junko’s co-teacher and resident heartthrob of their English academy. Itazura na Kiss’ Yuki Furukawa plays Mishima Satoshi, one of the students who obviously has a thing for Junko.
A little later, a new general manager from the US arrives and it’s Kiyomiya Makoto played by Tanaka Kei. This time, it’s Junko who seems to have a crush on him so there’s a possibility of going towards the direction of the usual love triangle trope.
But what makes this drama tolerable is not the presence of these good looking guys but the romcom appeal and acting prowess of Ishihara Satomi.
I didn’t like her before because the first drama I saw her in was Kimi Wa Petto. Most of her roles are clumsy and leaning towards annoying but Ishihara has the charms that will grow on you. I like that her character, Sakuraba Junko, is not the usual shoujo woman who goes head-over-heels in love with the abusive lead guy. It’s actually the other way around. She’s a determined career woman who dreams of going to New York.
Thanks to her, it was a solid first episode and even though I dropped Yamapi’s recent works (Flowers for Algernon and Close Range Love), I’m glad that I gave this one a try.