Hero on Edge: Buzzer Beat review!


Finally!! I have finished watching Buzzer Beat! After having lots of hesitations even considering to watch it and I know this review might be a little late, but after the last episode I feel like it deserves a some space in this blog. Does this mean that “boozer beat-o” is slam dunk? Or should we call a foul?

The plot: Yamapi plays a professional basketball player named Naoki who seemed to have it all: good looks, the perfect girlfriend (Aibu Saki), and a promising career. He has what it takes to become a basketball star—if only he doesn’t crack under pressure. You know how some people have this ability to do really well at the last minute even though they were doing crap the whole time, Naoki is the complete opposite. He starts amazingly (in everything, even in his personal life), but only ends up failing halfway; which is why everyone is starting to give up on him. He then meets a free-spirited violinist, Riko (played by Keiko Kitagawa) who sees something in him that no one else does. Then there’s the head coach Kawasaki (Ito Hideaki) who falls in love with Riko, a situation which will endanger his and Naoki’s professional relationship.

Sound interesting? Hmmm… Not much. For me, it seemed a bit like “One Tree Hill,” which by hype was built up as a story about basketball, but will end up drilling teeny bopper love stories around characters who exchange boyfriends and girlfriends. Thus my hesitation. But this weekend I was on house arrest and was too lazy to move a finger that I popped in Buzzer Beat. The first episode didn’t really grab my attention, but by the second, third and fourth, I had to smack myself for not giving this drama a Halelujah Chance! (sorry lame pun)

***

The CAST

Everyone and their grandmother knows how Yama-goldfish has these mannerisms when he acts (or lack thereof), so I started watching not expecting anything. I mean, why force the guy to be all expressive when it has been carved on stone that he is, and will always have dead fish eyes. He’s got like a total of three facial expressions: (1) When he’s angry = furrowed brows. (2) When he’s sad = staring into outerspace. (3) As for all the other emotions, he just does this (sometimes adorable, sometimes overdone) mouth thing, as though he’s saying chu!~


So I resigned to just focus on the eyecandy and stop whining. Hotdayuuum they had Yamapi and the rest of the basketball-playing cast walking around half nekkid for a good half of this drama and I just couldn’t peel my eyes away.


Pi and Ito in a tub of “strawberry bath.” I swear, there’s probably like 10 or more scenes were Pi was either taking a shower or sitting comfortably in a tub. Can’t say no to that, right?



Plus there’s this EPIC scene where Pi was being teased by his teammates for his manboobs for being bigger than a girls’ and he goes and touches it LOL


BUT. I have to say, in complete honesty and seriousness, Pi has very much improved in this drama. I know I may not be an expert in figuring out if an actor’s really good or not, but having watched most of his previous dramas—Nobuta, ProDai, Kurosagi, Stand Up—he’s definitely delivered more expressions and heartfelt scenes in Buzzer than any of his other works. Somehow, as I watch him, I felt a bit nostalgic and a little sad, remembering how he literally grew right before my eyes—from a scraggly, skinny, awkward boy to the man he is now. Maybe I should stop calling him Pi or Yamapi. He’s a man now and apart from his occasional fail/dorkiness, you can see that he’s really matured.

There’s this part where he had his heart broken by his girlfriend (Aibu) and he was trying so hard to contain his emotions (because he didn’t want Riko to hear over the phone), crying inside so much that it hurts. That scene was heartbreaking, it’s almost as if I felt his pain. He really played his character well. Naoki was insecure and always hesitates dilly-dallying at the most crucial moments; the type who would just shrug off annoying incidents for fear of confrontation. He was living in a bubble where all he had were his basketball and his dreams. Little did he know that the world outside of him is crumbling—his girlfriend is losing interest, his contract, team and company were not doing so good and he’s slowly realizing that maybe, just maybe he was not meant to pursue his dreams.

Saki Aibu plays Natsuki who is everyone’s dream girl. She’s nice, gentle, very pretty, prim and proper—but ONLY on the surface. She and Naoki had been dating for 2 years but as time goes by she gets unsatisfied with him and feels like there’s no stability between them. Little does everyone know that she’s a BAD GIRL smoking Seven and even going as far as sleeping with a guy who’s on the same team as her boyfriend. OUCH. But really, I LOLed hard at Japan’s association of “smoking” and being badass. Anyways, at first I didn’t really understand what the hell she was bitching about. Naoki has told her of his plans of marrying her and he’s an all around super nice guy. He sends her long, cheesy text messages with pictures of the sunset, he cooks and cleans for her… Yet she calls him a big “loser.” So what gives?

Then slowly I understood how she felt. There WAS something lacking in Naoki. His good point became his bad trait. He’s got no passion (see lame kiss above). He’s nice, but TOO nice. This scene was when Natsuki asked Naoki to kiss her again, and when he did, it was just plain flat. Pathetic to say the least. Bore. Not that she was asking for him to grab her by the hair and start making out with her hardcore (okay, maybe she was asking for it a little) but all she wanted was for him to put a little more feeling to it. She tried her best to feel something for him, to ignite her feelings from when they first met, but everything just fizzled. A girl can only do so much when all she and her boyfriend ever does are eating french toasts and playing video games…. at a sleepover. But that didn’t justify her cheating and lying to his face. Overall, Aibu gave a good performance, considering the fact that she’s always played goody-tooty roles.



Bad girl indeed. Caught in the act cheating.

Keiko as Riko Shirakawa. I’ve always been a fan of this girl, I think she’s not your typical cutesy actress. She’s chosen her roles pretty well and the characters she’s played are diverse. Here she plays a violinist who’s working part time while at the same time failing every other audition she goes to. So in a way she and Naoki had something in common—they were both at a crossroad where they had to decide whether to face reality or keep on going for their dreams. She’s really good in this drama, especially in the scene where she was saying goodbye to Naoki, she was crying like it was the end of the world. And she’s got this natural appeal that lights up the screen. Though her character is pretty stereotypical for a lead actress—free-spirited, a bit quirky, messy yet adorable at the same time. Oh and now I get how some people think she looks like Ariel Lin. But she’s a cross between Leah Dizon and Ariel for me.

Ito Hideaki was the cardboard character for the perfect guy who gets dumped for the lead who’s obviously more messy and unfit for the girl. Snore. I almost forgot he was even there. Sorry but Hideaki can do better. He’s done lead roles in other dramas, which is why I wonder he even considered taking this. Even his character as a former-player-now-coach was as dry as cardboard.

I did like the supporting cast though. Maya Miki playing Naoki’s mother? Felt like she was a bit young for that, but it kinda made sense. She was a divorcee and a cool mom who gives good advice. Though that’s always what Maya plays. Kanjiya Shihori who plays Mai, Riko’s best friend, was hilarious in this drama. If not for her (and Junpei’s) randomness and comedic relief the whole thing would’ve been one big sapfest.

***


Favorite scenes!


Even though it’s a breakup scene, I like this part because the way they were sitting just told the whole story of how their relationship went.

Scenes at the park. A lovely setting. The “Love makes me strong” billboard is the theme of the story.



Signature goodbye salute.



Damn. Can you belive Pi’s waistline?



They kiss again. And again.


And again. I was surprised, Pi, or rather Yamashita kissed so good! It wasn’t the typical forced brush on the lips kinda thing but real, heartfelt deep kiss. They really had great chemistry. They are SO dating. Well, at least I hope the rumors are true!



And there’s a bed scene! Well, not really, but lots of cuddling involved.



Can’t go without the obligatory piggyback ride scene.


My fave scene of all! You should watch this part, it was really touching!


***

The bad parts: Some parts seemed a little too rehearsed, Idunno, like it just didn’t seem natural. While Pi and Keiko’s acting has improved, there were still parts where they lacked depth. The ending was pretty much disappointing. The part where the violin instructor goes “Love makes us strong” was a complete WTF moment for me. You know the drama’s gonna end cheesily when at the end either the title or some overused phrase will be mentioned at a crucial moment. And I’m not gonna deny, the drama is ridden with cliches. So many “so-near-yet-so-far” moments. Lots of missing each other by a fraction of a second. The basketball scenes were a little dragging (as some of the other parts) and I still find it difficult to believe that Pi as playing a professional basketball player. For a basketball drama there was little to no sports action. He did look like he worked hard on it, but his idol looks (and hair) were a bit distracting. Come on, he was playing basketball with trendy cropped pants and really nice polo/ plaid shirts! Loved his Nikes though. Anyways, I did like how they were able to connect basketball and music (with Keiko hearing Pi’s dribbles as the note “do”). Buzzer Beat reminded me of another coming-of-age drama “Orange Days” starring Satoshi Tsumabuki and Shibasaki Kou. But it wasn’t able to achieve the effect of youth standing at a crossroads towards adolescence, of the dilemma about growing up or sticking to ideals. Overall, the drama was good, albeit being a little forgettable. A must watch for Pi-Keiko fans. B’Z’s OST is a killer! The way each episode ends was exciting, it’s just a shame that they had to resort to such an ending.

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13 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you gave this drama a try. I’m sure you’re so sick of me badgering you all the time. lol. I do agree that i didn’t care much for most of the basketball scenes and i don’t know why they tried to market it as a “sports” drama when it’s essentially a romantic one. Maybe to get ratings from guys? *shrugs*

    The ending was a tad rushed but despite its cheesy, corny moments, the touching ones kinda outweigh them. I really liked Aibu Saki in this one. It’s just good to see her do something other than a naive and cute heroine.

    Their cuddle scene (*kyaaa*) was just so… natural. I’m so jealous. Ugh! Seriously i may have to re-watch that episode. lol.

    Btw, my sister’s dying for one of yamapi’s watches! The white one is so darned cute. The marketing person for those must be a genius for having Pi wear one in every color rofl.

    • OMG that bed scene killed me!! And the one where they were kneeling and suddenly hugging. And the first time Pi realized he loves Riko then rushed to her apartment and risked 5 meters of distance LOL omg they always fall to the ground because of intense hugs!! I seriously seriously fell in love with Pi again. All the Korean abs and hotness made me forget for a second that he’s my first love LOL okay fangirl creep here. I agree, you have to watch it by first leaving all cynical thoughts behind. There were unrealistic scenes, cheesy lines but hey, it’s got it’s own charm. And yeahhh I was checking out Pi’s arm bands/accessories and shoes in EVERY possible Nike color!! Made me want to buy the white and purple ones if they had it for girls. UGH i so want to kiss Pi now that I’ve seen him actually kiss a girl LOL. Except when he kissed Aibu, that was lame.

      • Yeah the Aibu one was so typical but it’s probably for the story, it’s so unsatisfying! I just couldn’t stand the other guy though. I was literally getting the heebeejeebies whenever she had to cuddle up to his sleazy greasy nothingness. Yech. Ew. If his job is to be hated from the beginning then yeah he’s great.

        I never thought Pi had it in him to REALLY kiss someone. I was like, it’s such a waste of yummy lips if he doesn’t know how to use ’em. It totally made me wonder what else he’s been hiding under those moobs and fisheye stares!

        Girl you gotta check out Urban Outfitters or Zumies! The brand is Nixon but it’s practically the same. My sister found one in white, purple and blue and now i’m starting to want that purple one! >__<; I believe it was around $55 which isn't that bad! haha!

      • LMAO I love how you put it. Greasiness is a major no-no. But what can we do, she got tired of Naoki the super duper nice, clean-freak guy who knows how to cook french toast. She got bored so she looked for his total opposite—a sleazeball bum who uses hair gell too much LOL. Anyways do you have a link for Urban Outfitters? I wanna see!! Where’d you see it?

      • I’m just glad she found the error of her ways in a non-cheesy fashion and ended up with her biffle. The fact that he’s also not gay is a plus. haha.

        *facepalm* How could I have not talked about his manboob exposures? Super happy fan dance everytime he’s half nekkid. ^__^;

        Urban Outfitters: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&navAction=jump&id=16338303&search=true&isProduct=true&parentid=SEARCH+RESULTS&color=40

        Zumiez has more colors: http://www.zumiez.com/catalog/product/view/id/29400

      • ZOMG I want the purple and white ones! Or blue! Actually the pink one looks good too! AHH can’t choose~~ Maybe the white one so it can go with any outfit? Are you gonna get one? $55!! Should’ve seen this before I asked my mom to get me new boots at Macy’s! I think I’ve seen 2PM endorse one of these for during their Again&Again perfs! I swear I’ve seen a pic of Jay and Taec wearing purple and green! ugh if only I can find that pic!

      • I think this was what he was actually wearing but I couldn’t find any other colors plus it’s too manly for me: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&navAction=jump&id=17740770&search=true&isProduct=true&parentid=SEARCH+RESULTS&color=040

        I’m definitely asking for the purple one since I’m a tad obsessed with the color. lol. Practically half of my wardrobe is purple so I guess I can matchy match haha. But i agree the white can go with everything. You just have to be reaaally careful not to get anything on it. I’m way too clumsy to pull that off. lol.

  2. i like your review^_^

    for this drama,i’m glad that pi act like a normal person,not as a cool person anymore such as in kurosagi and code blue.and i realise that there is a lot of fanservice for fans in this drama.lol.i thought this is more to sport drama but it ended up as romantic drama.lol

    same as you, i’m surprised that pi and keiko really kissed and i love aibu acting.she’s different in this drama compare in zettai kareshi.

    my fav scene is same as you^_^

    • LOL yeahh Pi was a normal person in this one! Kinda except for being a pro basketball player, his character is mediocre. In Proposal Daisakusen his character as Ken was a fail/dork but here he’s kinda low key. LOVE that scene! I replayed it a thousand times!

  3. THANK YOU FOR THE E-CARD <3!!! I'm not very nifty with e-cards (I can never find the FREE Hallmark e-cards :/) so I'll just thank you in this comment (lame, lol XD). I had great fun pressing all the buttons over and over again, listening to the different sounds XDDD. I hope you'll have a wonderful Christmas, and I look forward to more spazzing with you next year <33!

    Oooooooooo thanks for this 😀 I've been putting off watching the drama for ages (idk, the plot just didn't interest me) but after reading this review, I'll give it a go 🙂

    "Maybe I should stop calling him Pi or Yamapi." – NEVERRRRRRRRRRRR. Lol, I can't imagine calling him "Yamashita"; he will always be Yamapi/Pi/Dead Fish Eyes 😀

    And I totally agree with you on the 3 Faces of Yamapi theory. In fact, I'm pretty sure he only used one of those faces in Code Blue (though I haven't actually finished that so I can't say for sure…).

    And OT, but ARGH, ONE TREE HILL D; The first season was SO GOOD. I love watching hot boys play bball, and Lucas and Brooke had great chemistry ❤ BUT THEN IT ALL WENT DOWNHILL ;___; Now I don't even bother watching anymore :/ Btw, have you tried My MVP Valentine? Pretty old drama, but it's centred around basketball and the plot's decent 🙂

    P.S. PI'S MOOBS XD.

    • Hiiii girl! Long time no chat!~ You’re welcome and hope you’re doing great! LOL gotta love hoops and yoyo! They’re always made of cracktastic e-cards. OMG you have to watch Buzzer if only for Pi’s great kissing scenes with Keiko. It’s like they’re really into it LOL. And I didn’t even bother watching Code Blue! I feel like I’m gonna fall asleep right into the first minute. Though I love the cast but Idunno… Greys Anatomy bias! Anyways, I’ve been following One Tree Hill for a while too!! I love the random guests like the cuuute guy from Laguna Beach! But yeah it all went downhill and too damn melodramatic. I liked it when they were still in high school and stuff. and Oh, I heart Nathan!!

      MVP Valentine! How nostalgic!!~ That’s the one with the 5566 guy right? The other guy was cute too. LOL that was a really nice TVB series! Angela has improved so much! I remember my sister telling me how she looked like a chiuaua coz of her hair LOL!!

  4. wahhhh. my comment after watching this drama(after reading ur great review :D) — Yamapi REALLY looks like jang woo hyuk from H.O.T in buzzer beat. o___O

  5. Just want to say thank you thank you thank you for this review. I used to like J-Drama’s but for the past year and a half I’ve been watching K-Drama’s non stop and found it hard to enjoy J-drama’s again. However I thought I’d give this one a try after reading your review and I absolutely loved it.
    Although a bit corny at times with the whole “Love makes me strong” thing it was still enjoyable to watch. I mean I marathoned it in 3 days to the sorrow of my bandwidth.
    Natsuki’s character made the story even better. She plays a good villan but often I pitied her. Naoki just wasn’t the right type of guy for her. She needs a strong independent man who knows what he wants and how to get it. Also a passionate guy which Naoki obviously isn’t.
    I really loved the actress who played Riko’s character. She’s definately one I’m going to watch out for.
    Anyway. thanks again for the review. This drama has once again sparked my interest in J-drama’s 🙂

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