Takahashi Yumiko [高橋由美子] A very under-rated actress who stole the show from Esumi Makiko in the trilogy of the manga-inspired J-dorama series "Shomuni" which aired between 1998 to 2003.
In "Shomuni", her acting chops shone way ahead of the others, not only because of the role she got, but because of the execution.
Ghost story teller, tortured lover, eccentric psychic-cum-fortune-teller, she soared through all of these very roles with flying colours in "Shomuni"...and her facial expressions change very quickly to bring out the quirky stories in "Shomuni.
Long time someone gave this actress the credit she richly deserves.
ShomuniFan's dramas (5)
GTO [麻辣教師] Rating: 10/10 Sorimachi Takashi shot to fame because of this comedic drama.
He plays a reformed gangster-turned-teacher with a habit at staring at the cleavage of women. The excellent scriptwriting showcases the pretentious nature of plenty of teachers I've been taught by, and the humour is not to be missed.
Saikou no koibito [最高の恋人] Rating: 5/10 (Bought & Watched) I blast whoever who wrote a script as mediocre as this.
The plot is so darn slow and too much of it is predictable to the point that you even beg the scriptwriter to break up the couple or kill of one of the two or even both characters!
The bright side of it is the acting of Takahashi Yumiko. That's not to say the other actors/actresses aren't any good, they're competent.
I give it a 5 because the soundtrack is quite well done and because of Takahashi Yumiko's acting. Otherwise it deserves a 4, since it rhymes with "bore".
Shomuni [ショムニ] Rating: 10/10 (Bought & Watched) A refreshing breath of air from many other dramas. Very politically incorrect.
It features high-and-mighty female secretaries, personnel department heads with a zeal for cutting costs in the company, incompetent executives at the helm of the company who have love affairs...
You may think that from the description I gave above, it is some Tolstoy-esque drama of high intrigue, but it isn't. It's a comedy which showcases seven Shomuni -which is a short form for shomunika, or "General Affairs Section 2" - employees (usually people talk about the 5 pretty and 1 not so pretty females and forget about the male section chief) and their ordeals and private lives.
A little background: Shomuni is known as the graveyard for employees, where the most condemned female employees are sent to, with no chance of promotion. The personnel department and the head honchos of the company put them there just so that these employees would one day voluntarily resign (instead of sacking them as this would mean forking out compensation pay - I deduce) because their jobs are brainless and meaningless. Changing light bulbs, organising parties, changing toilet papers for your whole life, anyone?
Each of the six female characters in Shomuni is easily remembered according to her seating position in the Shomuni department (there's a reason why each lady sits where they do in the department office, which is actually the company storeroom).
Tsuboi Chinatsu - The outspoken lady presumably sent there because she is frank and blunt. Has a complicated social life and is very good with men.
Miyashita Kana - An elegant lady rarely seen having lunch at the company cafeteria. Presumably posted there because she rarely does anything and is not fired because of her unorthodox connections with board members. Nobody knows her past.
Tokunaga Azusa - The oldest (and ugliest) female employee in Shomuni. She hopes to get married and is interested in playing the stock market. Nobody knows how she ended up in Shomuni because presumably she has been there for so long.
Himukai Rie - The most interesting character in Shomunika. Presumably posted there because she may scare off her colleagues and employers. Again, no info on how she ended up there.
As for the sole male member of Shomuni...
Inoue Koji - As Chief of Shomuni, he does very little aside from feeding the female tabby cat that has been in Shomuni for as long as anyone can remember.
Two more members would join this mortley bunch - Tsukahara Sawako (in fact the Shomuni story started from HER perspective), a 21-year-old female who frequently makes mistakes, as well as Maruhashi Ume, a genius in many ways but has trouble getting along with people around her.
Strong acting, good soundtrack and kooky sense of humour.
Shomuni 2 [ショムニ 2] Rating: 9/10 (Bought & Watched) Had me laughing very hard after Shomuni 1.
Hosyo Mai looks more beautiful this season.
That aside, a new character has been put in: Kamiya Shintaro (played by Sawamura Ikki) is now the chief security officer of Manpan Corp...The role isn't particularly interesting or intruiguing like the female Shomuni members.
Watch out for Personnel Department Chief Terasaki's (played by Takahashi Katsumi) becoming Acting President of Manpan in a middle episode as well as the hilarious last episode of this series.
Shomuni Final [ショムニ ファイナル/庶務二課] Rating: 7/10 (Bought & Watched) The 7 Shomuni characters (let's not forget Inoue, shall we?) can act pretty darn well...and episodes 1 and 4 is a big laugh.
I review this after I've watched the entire Shomuni saga from the very first episode to the very last Special (Shomuni Forever), and I have to say the scriptwriters have had their creative juices sucked dry...Episode 6 was way too predictable and I was tempted to switch off my DVD player.
But as always, there are two parts to a joke: the joke itself and how the person tells it...even if you know the joke after hearing it for tens of times, the way a good joke teller tells it to you can still make you laugh. And laugh I did, though not too full-heartedly.
And if you're a fan of Rie (like I am), you're going to hate this: She will not appear very often throughout this series.
The "7" I give does not factor in the disgust I have for the scriptwriters who failed to give Takahashi Yumiko's character a storyline; that actress's acting had stolen the show from Esumi Makiko in seasons 1 and 2.