Hello. I am Benjamin Wagner, this is my blog and today I dive into the deep and mysterious world of… ramen?
Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish that, like many things we now associate with being Japanese, has origins in China. Alongside sushi and tempura, ramen is one of the most well known Japanese dishes outside of its homeland and in big cities in the UK (where I am from), it is not uncommon to see a few restaurants selling this delicious blend of noodle and soup.
But I’m not sure I’d write a manga about it.
Yep, as you might have guessed, today’s topic is the live-action adaption of Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San (literally translated as Ramen Lover Koizumi) , a manga that has been adapted into an anime as well as this drama adaption. Funnily enough, the anime adaption occurred three years after the original run of the drama but it was the anime adaption that introduced me to this little ramen centred universe. Whilst I enjoyed the anime, I found myself in the position I often do with slice-of-life shows and I was simply left feeling that the show struggled to carry its concept for a 12 episode run. I just felt that the formula became overly repetitive and that the characters and the comedy didn’t do enough to alleviate this feeling. Sure, I liked them, but I came away feeling like this show was forgettable. And this was in a time where I was making a concerted effort to watch every anime in a season. So, yeah, this one sort of blended into the background for me.
This is why I was interested in this drama adaption. There are only four 20 minute long episodes so the running out of steam thing should be a non-issue. And, as there are only four episodes it should be easy to bash out a review in time for supper…
Sorry, inner thoughts leaked out there.
So, we will now find out if this story about a ramen loving girl managed to captivate me or is it as mediocre as the anime adaption. Find out as I review Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San.
Many Japanese manga and anime that I consume focus on stretching one key premise as far as they can; similar to the three-step method Nintendo use for designing 2D Mario levels. This drama adaption of Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San is no different and through the four episodes, we follow our titular heroine as she indulges her desire to eat ramen as frequently and as passionately as possible. Koizumi is joined by Osawa Yu, an energetic high school girl who is passionate about… spending time with pretty girls and her friend Nakamura Misa, a more typical high school girl who cares about fashion, her weight and her image with her friends. Whilst Koizumi would much rather eat ramen by herself, she often finds herself sharing the experience with these two classmates who begin to endear themselves to her as the narrative progresses. These girls eat ramen, talk about ramen and enjoy their youth together.
And that’s it. And that’s all it really has to be. With only a four-episode run, an earth-shattering plot isn’t something that this show needs. The characters simply need to be likeable and provide interesting knowledge about the delicious topic. And they do.
So with the little synopsis out of the way we move on to the standard two questions regarding the acting and story.
Do the character interactions and the story make the transition to live-action drama gracefully?
Surprisingly, yes. As stated earlier, I have watched the anime adaption of Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San but I have not read the manga. This means that I am familiar with the feel of the original work but not an expert by any means. However, as a passive reader of this blog can probably ascertain, a zero-stakes slice of life, make me feel good story is very much my 大好物( Favourite dish) and this show fits that mould very well.
The first episode introduces us to our three main characters; Misa comes across as a little selfish, Yu comes across as a little creepy and Koizumi comes across as a little rude.
But these criticisms are meant in a good way.
Right, I’m going to justify this. These first impressions were strong building blocks for these characters to grow out of as the show progressed. With each meal they ate together, the more I liked the characters. Misa shows a more vulnerable side that allows her to treat her friends in a different way. Yu still loves pretty girls but becomes a little more respectful of Koizumi’s boundaries. And Koizumi begins to open up to her new friends as they share their ramen eating hobby. I found that this was something that the anime struggled to do, despite sharing some storylines. An example of this would be an episode where Misa’s boyfriend breaks up with her for some incredibly petty reasons. Her friends then spend the episode fussing over her to make her feel better. The difference here is Koizumi making a special effort into making Misa feel better by taking them for spicy ramen; i.e., giving Misa a reason to cry which allows her to cover her embarrassment. This sort of nuanced character moment is something I found lacking in the anime and I was impressed to find it here.
So, overall, I found the adaption of each individual storyline to be something I was impressed by. But there was something I didn’t mention above. And that was the comedy. This show is funnier than I had expected for one reason. A reason that wasn’t present in the anime.
These three characters inexplicably turn up at each location the party end up eating at and provide useful information about the restaurant. They initially appear in Ramen Jiro, the first shop that Koizumi and Yu experience together and they act as both comic relief and an encyclopedia of useless ramen knowledge. Be it the thickness of the noodle or the right way to eat the extra spicy version, this group of three-act out every time Misa or Yu make a stupid choice and then act surprised and joyful about Koizumi’s incredible knowledgeability. Their over the top reactions add an extra layer of comedy to a show and that bit of variety gives the formula more staying power than I had initially thought.
So the story is good? What about the acting? Is it alright?
Overall. It’s not bad. There is no real standout performances but nothing that stands out as bad either. I found Misa’s actress, Furuhata Seika, to be most appealing but that is probably just because I find her cute. She fits the selfish but golden-hearted girl well and is charming. And whilst I think the Jirorians actors do well, they do the same thing every episode and I don’t think there is very much that 100 other actors couldn’t have done.
But that isn’t really the point here. As long as everybody does what they are supposed to do, the show will be good enough. Not every show needs to aspire to be an all-time classic and, much like ramen, this show is a nice piece of comfort food.
Does anything else catch your eye?
Don’t really have much to say about this, do you?
I mean, I enjoyed this show a lot. But it doesn’t do much more than provide a base level of enjoyment. The camera work is okay. The acting is serviceable and doesn’t take anything away from the story; which is also good. It just doesn’t do much more than being good. So that’s why I give Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San:
Ramen Daisuki Koizumi San: 7.0/10- A good watch but it is just good.
And with that, my short little review is done. I have been Benjamin Wagner and I endorse this message.