You're my Pet


Reviewed by: tokyo.moonlit

October 29, 2006

Rating: four-point-five

Japanese Title: Kimi wa Petto

A long time ago, in a certain kingdom, there was a princess who couldn't shed tears. One day, she found a cardboard box with a dog in it on her way home. The dog was really a human, but because he was so happy to have been rescued by the princess, he became a dog and came to live with her...this princess who couldn't shed tears would shed beautiful tears, only in front of the dog... Kimi wa Petto is the sweetest and most hilarious Japanese series (dorama) that I have seen in a long time. I must admit that the storyline seemed a little strange at first, and I actually hesitated before watching this – thankfully, Matsumoto Jun’s stellar performances in Hana Yori Dango and Gokusen I prompted me to give this a try – but I am so glad I did! If you’re looking for a light, sweet, and wacky little series that won’t require too much emotional investment, you have to watch this.

This 10-episode drama aired in 2003 in Japan, and was adapted from the popular manga of the same name, by Yayoi Ogawa.

Main Cast:

Goda Takeshi/Momo – Matsumoto Jun
Iwaya Sumire – Koyuki
Hasumi Shigehito – Tanabe Seiichi

Plot:

Iwaya Sumire is tall, intelligent, and successful, an elite Tokyo University graduate who is a rising journalist. She is always so calm and composed that her colleagues nickname her a “Noh” mask. Surrounded by shorter, less successful men and weaker but cuter female co-workers who are all wary of her talent, Iwaya has always been, deep down, lonely. Even her ex-boyfriend cheated on her, because he felt inferior next to her.

After a stressful day at work, Iwaya returns home and finds a box outside her apartment block. In the box is a sleeping boy who is injured. He reminds her of the dog that she had had when she was a child, and so Iwaya brings him home and tends to his injuries. When he asks her to let him stay with her, she says that she will accept him – as a pet. To her surprise (she had only said that to drive him away), he agrees.

And thus begins the new phase in Iwaya’s life. The 20-year-old boy, whom she names Momo, is warm and affectionate, and genuinely happy to see her every evening when she arrives home. She washes his hair for him, cleans his ears and cooks for him. In return, he is there for her when she is sad. Momo is the only person in front of whom Iwaya shows her tears (she had never cried in front of anyone else before); he is the only one with whom she feels comfortable enough to shed her “Noh” mask and be her true self – a fan of wrestling, a smoker, and above all, a fragile woman who needs love and support.

But then Hasumi, a former colleague of Iwaya (and someone on whom she had a crush for many years), is transferred to her company, and the two meet. Iwaya realizes that she has to give either Momo or Hasumi up…

Characters:

Matsumoto Jun as Momo:

Matsumoto Jun is a fantastic actor. I first saw him in Gokusen I and Hana Yori Dango (for which he won 2 well-deserved Best Supporting Actor awards), and he was wonderful in portraying either the intelligent, aloof, but warmhearted Sawada Shin or the arrogant, childish and bad-tempered Doumyouji, but I couldn’t quite imagine him playing a role like Momo. He has silenced all my doubts in his show…here, he is affectionate, adorable and mercurial, yet sensitive and perceptive at the same time. There was always the danger that Momo could turn out to be a one-dimensional character, and the danger that it would become too weird (he is supposed to play the role of a pet, after all), but Matsumoto Jun handles this role so adeptly that you never see him as a dog, but as a whimsical and affection-needing boy who also has a great capacity to love. His mischievous grins, big-eyed faux-innocent gazes, and jumping hugs and cheek kisses when he is happy, as well as his brooding, troubled expressions and inner loneliness, are all well-emoted and perfect.

Koyuki as Iwaya Sumire: I think she is perfect for this role. Her cold, elegant features and stature suit Iwaya’s stony exterior, but Koyuki also manages to bring a warmth and inner need to this outer façade of calm. You never dislike or feel turned off by her (and this could easily happen, seeing as how she is unfriendly and distant most of the times); instead, you feel that she really needs someone like Momo with whom she can be herself. Koyuki manages a fine balance between being cold and aloof, and being lonely and fragile. In one scene when she scolds Momo for having interrupted (he pretended to bark!) when she was with Hasumi, her face is exasperated and angry and amused and laughing and flustered all at the same time – she is a wonderfully nuanced actress.

Tanabe Seiichi as Hasumi Shigehito: This guy had a pretty good role – the tall, successful, gallant and good-hearted guy, in love with the same woman for four years. He could so easily have made viewers fall for him…but somehow, this never happens. There is something lacking in his portrayal of Hasumi. I am impressed when he rejects the advances of another woman, and when he is patient and caring towards Iwaya, but nothing more than that. He doesn’t manage to bring out Hasumi’s confusion or worry…all in all, his portrayal was rather flat.

What I liked about the show:

- the well-paced and absorbing storyline
- the wardrobe (Iwaya wears elegant, smart skirts and suits, while Momo wears baggy, slightly grungy, but adorable, sweaters and jeans)
- the cute soundtrack
- the interesting premise

What I didn’t like:

- many of the supporting characters, who were kind of annoying, especially the psychologist

Favorite scenes:

- each time Momo runs to hug Iwaya when she returns home
- Momo comforting Iwaya when she cries
- Momo ‘barking’ to stop Hasumi from kissing Iwaya
- Momo playing tricks when he is unhappy with Iwaya
- When Momo asks Iwaya if he can sleep next to her in bed
- Momo removing Iwaya’s makeup for her when she is drunk and asleep
- Momo kissing Iwaya gently when she gives him flowers after his performance
- Iwaya and Momo wrestling and playing video games
- Iwaya punishing Momo when he ‘misbehaves’
- Iwaya giving Momo a jumping hug when she sees him at the retreat
- Momo tossing Iwaya’s plate absentmindedly over his shoulder when he is happy that she might go watch his dance
- All of Momo’s mischievous looks and grins

Conclusion:

I want a Momo too!


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