Amidst a myriad of Korean Dramas, I finally made some time to watch a Japanese dorama (drama). The main problem with watching J-dramas is that it is difficult to find a dorama with good subtitles. J-dramas are full of Japanese phrases and idioms and the actual joke or meaning of a scene is often lost in translation. A dorama may actually have good dialogues but all that is lost owing to poor subtitles and foreign audiences are left disappointed at being unable to catch the actual point of a scene. Thankfully, this drama had decent subtitles with meanings of certain Japanese phrases used in the show. It was a little inconvenient to pause and read the little titbits flashed on top of the screen nonetheless, it was good to learn a few Japanese terms.
Pride is considered to be one of the best Japanese sports based romantic drama. And, believe me, it really is that good to be praised so highly by dorama fans. The show feels like a 90’s Hollywood film, probably because of Freddie Mercury’s ‘I Was Born To Love You’, which is the show’s theme song. Since I have always enjoyed watching 90’s Hollywood films so for me this show was like a trip down the memory lane when life was less about text messages and chats and more about meeting people personally and spending time with them. So, let’s have a look at what makes this dorama so special and praiseworthy.
Pride is an 11 episode long Japanese dorama that shows the life of a corporate ice hockey player Satonaka Halu (Kimura Takuya) for whom life means ice hockey. He admires and looks up to his coach Kengo Anzai (Saburo Tokito) who advises him to never take women seriously as getting into a relationship could affect his game. Following his coach’s advice Halu starts dating Aki Murase (Yūko Takeuchi) on a contract basis after he learns that Aki is waiting for her boyfriend who left for the US two years ago and hasn’t contacted her since then. Halu tells Aki that they can date each other as they both are lonely and need someone to be with. He suggests that they can date as long as her boyfriend is abroad, and the day he returns they will part ways and never see each other again.
Though Aki is loyal to her boyfriend, she is also tired of waiting for him and agrees to see Halu’s arrangement. Initially, Halu seems like a heartless jerk to her but as time passes she gets the know more about Halu’s past from his friend and teammate Yamato Hotta (Kenji Sakaguchi) and understands that there is more to Halu than his rough exterior. Sweet and caring Aki understands Halu like no one else. Halu falls hopelessly in love with her, much against his own principle of never dating a woman seriously. However, before he can take their relationship to the next level, Aki’s boyfriend reappears from nowhere forcing her to make a tough choice of selecting one of the two men.
Plot: The plot revolves around a man’s Pride. Halu is a man who has had a tough life and has nothing but his pride to cling on. Hardships have hardened Halu so much that now he only aims for the best and despises anything that isn’t up to his standards. Throughout the show, Halu is shown to pick his pride over everything else. Even when he knows that he can stop the woman he loves from going to back to her boyfriend, he doesn’t do so because begging for love would amount to crushing his pride. He financially supports the coach’s family after his death only to keep his wife from marrying another man. He wants the coach’s wife to spend the rest of her life as a widow mourning the death of her husband since he knew how much the coach loved her.
I personally do not support such traditional thoughts. It is just that the dorama has beautifully depicted the importance of pride to a man.
Back-stories: Each of the important side-character has a back-story that explains his or her behaviour and choices in the show. For instance, Halu’s teammate Ikegawa Tomonori is a good-looking rich brat who lives life recklessly. He throws away money (literally too) on women and booze. People only know him as the rich playboy, who has no care in the world and will one day inherit his father’s business when in reality he is actually an illegitimate child of his father’s mistress and his father is ashamed of acknowledging his mother and him. To compensate for the lack of father’s love his mother gives him a lot of money to live a lavish life. He, however, is shattered by the reality of his birth and splurges money looking for happiness.
Every episode touches the life of one character and explains the reason why they are so passionate about ice hockey and how Halu plays an important role in their lives.
Bromance: Since this is a sports drama, there is plenty of bromance. You get to see the camaraderie that sportsmen share with their team. Actually, the one thing common in most sports drama is the bro code of ‘bros over hoes’. And it feels nice to watch men share such a bond with their friends.
Romance: Halu is the man with a painful past and Aki is a sweet naive woman looking for love. He brings love like a challenge in her monotonous life while she brings warmth in his life. They complete each other and even when they do not acknowledge it, people around them can clearly see how perfect they are for each other.
Takuya’s chiselled face and a muscular body makes him the perfect ice man. While Takeuchi’s innocent face and soft voice make her the very lovable Aki. They effortlessly bring their characters to life. Together they share great onscreen chemistry.
Slow Paced: The story progresses slightly slowly. Some scenes are dragged unnecessarily. But that is just a handful of them. The show is otherwise quite engaging.
The show has enough of good weights to be called a good dorama. I wanted a good romantic drama to keep me entertained over a rather boring weekend and Pride had me involved a 100%. Its soundtracks, story, and cast were all put beautifully together. I enjoyed every episode of this classic Japanese dorama.
I give Pride 3.5 out of 5 rating. If you want to start watching Japanese drama’s do start with this one as its video quality and dubbing is much better than most other J-dramas. If you are looking for a good sports/romantic drama then Pride should be your pick as it seamlessly combines the two and brings you an almost flawless drama.