From left to right: Tanihara Shosuke, Yoshitaka Yuriko, Daigo, Karina, Tamaki Hiroshi, Kanjiya Shihori, Matsuda Shota, and Kojima Hijiri
This drama aired back in 2009 and many has labelled it as one of their must watch rom-com. Can’t believe I left it in my to-watch shelves until now. The cast features some notable actors like Tamaki (Nodame), Karina (Summer Nude), Matsuda (Liar Game), Yoshitaka (Tokyo DOGS) and Daigo.
For ease, I’m going to refer actors by their original name instead of character name. Too confusing to learn all eight names if you know the actors’ real names better.
4 neighbours of a top-floor condominium find themselves stuck in an elevator when the power goes out in Tokyo. 3 men 1 girl bonded immediately and finds out that poor Tamaki Hiroshi has been dumped by his girlfriend, Shihori. The next day, our psychologist, Tanihara, explains the concept of Love Shuffle to the other 3 as they all face problem with their relationship. Instead of letting their lovers find some other random guy somewhere out there, why not exchange with each other to let your significant other realize that you are the best? The next step required all four of them to present their partners together and discuss their project.
Tamaki the IT manager (who knows NOTHING about IT) brings his fiancee, Shihori, and we learn that he is desperate to keep things working as his high status job and lifestyle is given by Shihori’s father.
Karina the trilingual translator brings her rich but overly attached boyfriend, Daigo.
Matsuda the flamboyant professional photographer brings his lover, Hijiri, who is a man-eater and already has a husband.
Our doctor Tanihara brings a suicidal patient, Yoshitaka, which is the main reason he established a love shuffle.
They shuffle by pairing Queen and Jack cards of the same suit and this shuffle occurs every week. For now, I foresee that Tamaki and Karina may be a lasting pair but I’m not sure about the others. It is indeed interesting to see shuffles occur because sometimes we may be too quick to judge whether a couple can work. Then again, put one and one together without chemistry, nothing may happen. Despite so, I see it not just being a kind of omiai (match-making) because it shows how human beings affect each other. In the second episode, we see Matsuda bring out Karina’s deepest feelings, Shihori enjoying her new company aka doctor, Tamaki tries to prove Hijiri that she is more than just a man-eater and Daigo who tries to connect with Yoshitaka.Of course not everything works well as some are still attached to their original partner i.e: Tamaki and Daigo.
The comedy is present here however I find it not as funny because they are mostly puns referencing to older Japanese shows or variety shows that I’m clueless about. It is still cute and it know when to dig our character’s past. As they progress to understand each other, we the audience see the deeper characters they are as well. At the same time, I’m busting my brains to predict the final pairs. BUT a J-dorama does not necessarily provide us happy endings so the ending is really unpredictable as of now. They could pair back to their original partners or make new pairs or just carry on with life after learning a life lesson from project Love Shuffle. Thus, there is definitely something to look forward to in each episode.