It’s been a while since I watched a Japanese dorama (that is what Japanese dramas are known as). So when I had one full day to myself and could only spare 10 to 11 hours I picked this J-drama expecting it to be a no-brainer, highly clichéd, damsel in distress rescued by a handsome rich man kinda light watch. But much to my surprise, this show was anything but that. Never judge a show by its name. The show is nothing like its name. I am still wondering why is it even named as Rich Man, Poor Woman? Maybe it is a clever attempt by the show makers to imply that some people are rich with money but lack warmth in life while some people are warm and cheerful but lack enough finances to survive. Whatever the reason may be, the social status of the protagonists was definitely not a significant element in the show. The show’s title is highly misleading and please do not expect any rich man helps poor girl kinda drama here. Now that any preconceived notions have been cleared, let’s check out what is good and what is not so good about Rich Man, Poor Woman.
Rich Man, Poor Woman (2012)
Rich Man, Poor Woman is an 11 episode long Japanese dorama. It is about a man, Hyuga Toru (Oguri Shun), a boy genius who owns an IT company named Next Innovation at the age of 29 years. Hyuga suffers from a rare disability because of which he is unable to remember people’s names and faces. At a job fair, he happens to insult a young girl who idolises him and is hopeful of working for him someday. Enraged, the girl shows off her memorising skills, which amazes his friend and business partner Asahina Kosuke (Arata Iura). Before leaving the auditorium, the girl tells Hyuga that her name is Sawaki Chihiro (Ishihara Satomi). Hyuga is nonplussed at the mention of her name. He sees himself intrigued by the girl and finds a reason to meet her again.
Sawaki Chihiro reaches home crestfallen for being rejected by yet another company. A few days later she receives a call from Next Innovation saying that the Hyuga wants to meet her. She is ecstatic thinking that he is probably impressed by her and will offer her a permanent position at his company. However, Hyuga laughs at her assumptions and instead offers her a temporary job where her good memory can be useful to him. Sawaki does her work well, impresses Hyuga’s client, and then becomes an integral part of a huge project. What started as mere curiosity over Sawaki’s name develops into a gradual liking for the clumsy yet hardworking girl. Meanwhile, Sawaki just cannot stop herself from falling for the intelligent, successful, and soft-hearted Hyuga.
(Here I have stuck to the show’s title and focused only on Hyuga and Sawaki’s relationship but the story has more than just this.)
Hatke Hyuga: Hyuga’s character is admiringly unique. He is good at his work and is arrogant as he sees himself indispensable. He is a simple man who has big visions for his company but hardly cares about himself. At the same time, he is trusting and forgiving and does not hold a grudge against people who stab him for their selfish needs. Despite being betrayed and humiliated by his closest comrade he doesn’t forget the good memories they shared in the past because of which he not only forgives him but also helps him make a graceful comeback. Where do we find such people? Only in drama land!
Compact and Precise: I am thankful to the writers for not stretching the ‘find biological mother’ angle too much. Hyuga’s mother did not care for him but he was stuck with her name and wanted to know more about her. When he does find her there is no typical mother-son reunion like in most dramas. He now knows what matters to him in life and goes straight after it without stopping over matters of the past. Similarly, all the other angles in the show were dealt with in a precise manner and nothing was stretched beyond reason so there was no scope for boredom.
Production Value: I have this complaint from most of the J-doramas that I have watched. Even the latest doramas look like they are more than a decade old. Some doramas look like old Taiwanese shows. Is it just me or anyone who watches J-dorama feel that?
With less number of bad weights, the show stands as an average drama that isn’t bad for a one time watch. I started watching the show hoping for a light-hearted rom-com but it surprised me, in a good way. It wasn’t the cheesy office romance I presumed it to be and was a good watch. Producers of the show created a 2-hour long movie titled ‘Rich Man, Poor Woman in New York’, focusing mostly on Hyuga and his lady love’s life together as a couple and another short movie titled ‘Rich Man, Poor Woman Zero’ that shows how Hyuga built his business empire from the scratch.
I give the show 3 out of 5 rating. If you want a break from K-drama’s then go for this one. Rich Man, Poor Woman is not high on romance but has a decent storyline that will keep you engaged.